SUSE SLES 11 on POWER8 install: Can’t allocate memory for kernel image !

If while installing SUSE SLES 11.3 on your POWER8 machine from the regular DVD media, you get this on the console after 5 seconds after booting:

  Welcome to SuSE Linux Enterprise 11!

  Type  “install”  to start the YaST installer on this CD/DVD
  Type  “slp”      to start the YaST install via network
  Type  “rescue”   to start the rescue system on this CD/DVD

Welcome to yaboot version r22.8-r1190.SuSE
booted from ‘/vdevice/v-scsi@30000003/disk@8100000000000000:1,’
running with firmware ‘IBM,SV810_058′ on model ‘IBM,8286-42A’, serial ‘IBM,02100EC7V’, partition ‘vm27′
Enter “help” to get some basic usage information
Please wait, loading kernel…
Allocated 02000000 bytes for executable @ 072c0000
   Elf32 kernel loaded…

SuSE Linux zImage starting: loaded at 072c0000-0917ad30 (4000000/0/00c3ba70; sp: 06a3fd80)
uncompressing ELF header done. (00000100 bytes)
Can’t allocate memory for kernel image !

EXIT called ok
0 >


Don’t PANIC!

This is a known problem and it was installing on my POWER8 but about the time we upgraded the machine to the latest System Firmware it stopped installing from the regular media.  That root cause  has not been tested. Your mileage may vary.

Go to here:

And download alternative SUSE SLES 11.3 media file  SLES-11-SP3-MINI-ISO-power8.iso

  • This is a 300 MB Network install DVD /  CD-ROM
  • From which you can use to network install (obviously)
  • Or continue to do an install from your SLES 11.3 DVD media.

Here are my hints from what I did to get installed.

I am writing Linux on POWER for AIX guys and so want to point out the easiest route to get up and running:

We are using a S824 with:

  1. PowerVM Hypervisor,
  2. dual Virtual I/O Servers (VIOS)
  3. the first VIOS has a virtual optical media library with both the regular install (but fails to boot now) SUSE SLES 11.3 DVD (file called SLES-11-3) and the above new alternative boot CD-ROM (file called SLES-11-SP3-MINI)
  4. The LPAR /Virtual Machine was created with dual paths to the two VIOS’s over vSCSI to Share Storage Pools to a V7000 pair and a virtual Ethernet
  5. This gives me disk mirroring and DR capabilities with zero messing about with disks at the Linux level, excellent performance plus VM Mobility with zero effort.

Set up the LPAR with both of the SLES media in loaded.

I use the HMC GUI to do this in a couple of seconds and it looks like this on the HMC:


Above the green circle are the two virtual optical .iso files and they are both connected to the Virtual Machine called vm27 in the red box.

From the Virtual I/O Servers point of view it looks like this below:


Above we have the two virtual DVD in green circle and in the blue box the Shared Storage Pool LU virtual disk but any disk type will work here. I am just a fan of SSP disks – can you tell?

I added the bootable SLES-11-SP3-MINI virtual DVD first and then the regular media from which we can install.

When I boot the VM, stop in SMS and get to the list of boot devices I can see this below:


Above in the red box is the two virtual DVDs.  Note: the L81 in the green circle this is the lower number – I think this means the first virtual DVD and that Device 3 was the one with the new bootable SLES-11-SP3-MINI image. 

To boot, type “3” RETURN for device 3, then type “2” RETURN for Normal boot and then “1” RETURN to confirm.  The new SLES-11-SP3-MINI media boots to the boot prompt as before as below



Now hit return and it should not show the problems we had.  If you watch carefully it will report “Install aborted” as it can’t find the install files on the SLES-11-SP2-MINI virtual DVD but then it automatically discovers the second installable SLES-11-SP3 containing the install files in the second virtual DVD and goes straight into the Linux Yast2 Installer from SUSE like this:



Note the graphics are working! How did I do that?  Never ever install Linux using the VTERM console from the HMC.

  • I use putty on my Windows 7 laptop to log-on to the HMC
  • Then set: export TERM=xterm
  • Then run: vtmenu
  • Selecting the machine by number and then the VM by number from the lists it displays.
  • Now you have a much better terminal emulator that can do cut’n’paste, resizing, larger fonts etc.



If you don’t have the regular install media in the second virtual DVD

It will still boot but then gives you options



Select 1  “Start Installation” and then 1 again for “Start Installation or Update”



With option 1 – DVD

  • BUT FIRST: If you force unload the now booted virtual DVD. Hint: on the VIOS (assuming vtopt4 device):  unloadopt -release -vtd vtopt4
    and then force load the regular virtual DVD. Hint: on the VIOS (assuming vtopt4 device and file name): loadopt -f -release -disk  SLES-11-SP3  -vtd vtopt4
  • Then you select option 1 and continue the installation



Or you could have the install media over the network

Go with option 2 – Network



You then get a series of questions as below – I add my responses. These will not work for you but it shows you the expected answers and will remind me :-)

For NFS:

I have previously prepared the SLES 11.3 installation media files for NFS installing:

mounted the DVD on my AIX NFS server:

  • mkdir /mnt4
  • loopmount -i SLES-11-SP3.iso  -o “-V cdrfs -o ro” -m /mnt4

Copied all the files out to a directory that is available via NFS:

  • cd /mnt4
  • mkdir /export/nag/SLES11-SP3/media
  • tar cf – . | (cd /export/nag/SLES11-SP3/media; tar xf – )

/export is already available as an NFS mount point to the world – Note: the SLES 11.2 media is a sub-directory of the mount point and the boot loader works that out, so you don’t need to make the SLES 11.3 media directory its own NFS mount point.

  1. You will be asked for DHCP = no
  2. Your IPv4 Address =  – It means the IP address of the VM you are installing!  Can a person have a personal IP address?
  3. Network mask (if you did not supply the /24 at the end of the previous question) =
  4. IP address of the gateway (if needed) =     or blank if you are on the same subnet and don’t need a gateway
  5. Domain name(s) =
  6. IP address of your Name Server =
  7. IP address of your NFS server =
  8. Enter the directory on the server = /export/nag/SLES11-SP3/media

I was then launched straight in to the Yast2 Installer screen as below:



Note: I changed the Language to proper English not Amecianese then Tabbed to “I Agree” and hit Space and then Tabbed to Next!!  Now we have three methods of getting to the SUSE SLES Yast2 Installer screens you can follow our nose and complete the install.  Just remember never ever use the VTERM console.


I have not tried the other network options but I am sure they have similar questions and then work as you might expect.

The End

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