After a horrible week fighting against CentOS 4 and our firewalls deployment. I’ve found several incompatibilities (albeit already documented) with this machines and CentOS 4.
There were 2 different problems affecting this machines.
Keyboard not working after kernel boot, non responsive.
This happens even when installing the machine, I had to install this machine in graphical mode (it works when booting in graphical mode) but it didn’t work at all on a forced text installation.
This bug can be solved disconnecting the USB subsystem in the BIOS, after that the keyboard is operative again.
Machine freezes with a kernel panic after approx 24h. of operation, no logs or traces left.
This one was a hard bone to catch! Did a memory test, updates both BIOS and network cards firmware to the last version and did several extended checks on the hardware, there was not a single error.
After roaming around the RedHat and CentOS forums for a while looking for an answer, I saw a similar error in RedHat RHEL4 (the one CentOS is based on) about an xServer that had the same problem. It seems the problem is realted with the old version of ACPI this motherboard has, and it only happens with 2.6.9-42.x.EL versions of the kernel, just adding the noapic option in /etc/grub.conf to the kernel boot solved the issue.
title CentOS (2.6.9-42.0.8.EL)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.9-42.0.8.EL ro noapic root=LABEL=/