Installing Debian on HP DL360e Gen 8

Recently purchased an HP DL360e Gen 8 1U server. I was expecting the installation to be pretty simple, but it was a bit of a struggle because of the lack of a free software driver for the embedded RAID controller, an HP B320i

The HP DL360e Gen8 is listed as being supported for RedHat 6 and Ubuntu 12.04 here

If you follow through the small print it does mention the B320i requiring a closed source driver from HP, so I'm annoyed with myself for not noticing that initially, but I thought this kind of nonsense was so last decade. I really feel cheated by vendors when they make these things so hard, and would prefer not to use them, but this organisation is an HP shop so not a lot of choice there.

Redhat provide some information on this also where they list some bad issues with the closed driver and ways to use Free software.

The BIOS with the shipped machine did not have the option to disable the B320i controller though. The resolution was to downgrade the BIOS to the older version from 04/04/2012 from. unpacks to a bootable DVD image, that can be used to run HP Smart Update Manager, and update BIOS and other firmwares.

After the downgrade, there became a bios option to disable the B320i embedded controller, and the drives just present themselves as connected via an HP SAS HBA. Debian detects them and they can be assembled into an array using the Debian installer and standard mdadm tools. I prefer that anyway, as I get better information about the RAID state and email alerts of failures etc, without having to install any additional HP software.