Ever find yourself having to look into the particulars of your servers' hardware? Maybe you go scrounging for the original invoice or for some email you were sent several years ago or the quote that was generated when you were about to purchase it? Well, stop. There's an alternative that you're probably going to like quite a bit. You can get your hardware to tell you about itself. Just use a command called dmidecode.
The name "dmidecode" might not ring any bells, but the "dmi" part of the name stands for "Desktop Management Interface". It's an API that allows you to gather information about the your system's underlying hardware. The command is designed to work on any Linux system as it was originally designed by a consortium -- the Desktop Management Task Force -- for gathering information and configuring systems.
The dmidecode command gets its data from the DMI tables stored in memory and presents it in a human readable format. The commands that you will probably like the most are commands like these:
$ sudo dmidecode | grep Vendor Vendor: Dell Inc. $ sudo dmidecode -t system | grep Product Product Name: PowerEdge R710
These commands show that the system that Linux is running on is a Dell PowerEdge R710. And, while piping the dmidecode's output to grep might seem a bit "much", you should note that the command generates quite a bit of output -- often more than a thousand lines. Looking for specific lines will probably save you quite a bit of time.
# dmidecode | wc -l 1046
Finding the serial number of the system:
# dmidecode | grep "Serial Number" | head -n1 Serial Number: FWZPXQ1
Finding out something about the CPUs:
# dmidecode | grep CPU Socket Designation: CPU1 Version: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5650 @ 2.67GHz Socket Designation: CPU2 Version: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5650 @ 2.67GHz CPU.Socket.1 CPU.Socket.2
Determining if the system has a RAID array:
# dmidecode | grep RAID Description: Integrated RAID Controller Integrated RAID
You can also learn about specific components if you know their type identifiers. For example, processors are type 4, so let's pull up information on the processors (much more than we looked at in the command above).
# dmidecode -t 4 | head -53 # dmidecode 2.7 SMBIOS 2.6 present. Handle 0x0400, DMI type 4, 40 bytes. Processor Information Socket Designation: CPU1 Type: Central Processor Family: Xeon Manufacturer: Intel ID: C2 06 02 00 FF FB EB BF Signature: Type 0, Family 6, Model 44, Stepping 2 Flags: FPU (Floating-point unit on-chip) VME (Virtual mode extension) DE (Debugging extension) PSE (Page size extension) TSC (Time stamp counter) MSR (Model specific registers) PAE (Physical address extension) MCE (Machine check exception) CX8 (CMPXCHG8 instruction supported) APIC (On-chip APIC hardware supported) SEP (Fast system call) MTRR (Memory type range registers) PGE (Page global enable) MCA (Machine check architecture) CMOV (Conditional move instruction supported) PAT (Page attribute table) PSE-36 (36-bit page size extension) CLFSH (CLFLUSH instruction supported) DS (Debug store) ACPI (ACPI supported) MMX (MMX technology supported) FXSR (Fast floating-point save and restore) SSE (Streaming SIMD extensions) SSE2 (Streaming SIMD extensions 2) SS (Self-snoop) HTT (Hyper-threading technology) TM (Thermal monitor supported) PBE (Pending break enabled) Version: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5650 @ 2.67GHz Voltage: 1.2 V External Clock: 6400 MHz Max Speed: 3600 MHz Current Speed: 2666 MHz Status: Populated, Enabled Upgrade: <OUT OF SPEC> L1 Cache Handle: 0x0700 L2 Cache Handle: 0x0701 L3 Cache Handle: 0x0702 Serial Number: Not Specified Asset Tag: Not Specified Part Number: Not Specified
That's a lot of information and probably more than most of us want to know, but for some people, this level of detail might be very important. And note that this output is only showing the first of the two CPUs to keep it from dominating this post.
And, no, you don't have to memorize the device types. You'll find a table like this in the dmidecode command's man page or you can reference this nice little post every time you get curious (I'd suspect the man page is a tad easier to find).
Type Information ---------------------------------------- 0 BIOS 1 System 2 Base Board 3 Chassis 4 Processor 5 Memory Controller 6 Memory Module 7 Cache 8 Port Connector 9 System Slots 10 On Board Devices 11 OEM Strings 12 System Configuration Options 13 BIOS Language 14 Group Associations 15 System Event Log 16 Physical Memory Array 17 Memory Device 18 32-bit Memory Error 19 Memory Array Mapped Address 20 Memory Device Mapped Address 21 Built-in Pointing Device 22 Portable Battery 23 System Reset 24 Hardware Security 25 System Power Controls 26 Voltage Probe 27 Cooling Device 28 Temperature Probe 29 Electrical Current Probe 30 Out-of-band Remote Access 31 Boot Integrity Services 32 System Boot 33 64-bit Memory Error 34 Management Device 35 Management Device Component 36 Management Device Threshold Data 37 Memory Channel 38 IPMI Device 39 Power Supply
You'll probably find that dmidecode knows a lot more about your servers' hardware than you'd ever want to understand, but the command makes it easy to fetch information when yoiu need it and doesn't require you to go scrounging through your file cabinet or your old email.
And you don't have to be anywhere near the systems to find the information that you need.
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