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Windows Server 2003 Install vs. Windows Home Server on EX47x RRS feed

  • Question

  • In light of corruption issues, has anyone else considered this?

    I was just wondering if anyone else out there was so overly impressed with the HP EX47x hardware only to be disappointed with these corruption issues with Windows Home Server that they are unwilling to trust the OS, but can't bear to separate from the hardware.

    I do not want to focus on a discussion about the ins and outs of this [hopefully] rare possibility of corruption, but rather on anyone's thoughts on tossing the Home Server OS and using a clean Server 2003 install.

    Of course you would no longer have the Drive Extender and Folder Replication features, however, one or both of those are very possibly the source of the corruption issues.  You also lose the cute console interface, which I really think is a step in the right direction for bringing manageability of data to the masses.

    What you gain is a more reliable OS that only leaves you with the usual issues of data protection instead of worrying about the OS software itself destroying your data.
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 8:05 AM

All replies

  •  MediaSmartGuy wrote:
    In light of corruption issues, has anyone else considered this?

    I was just wondering if anyone else out there was so overly impressed with the HP EX47x hardware only to be disappointed with these corruption issues with Windows Home Server that they are unwilling to trust the OS, but can't bear to separate from the hardware.

    I do not want to focus on a discussion about the ins and outs of this [hopefully] rare possibility of corruption, but rather on anyone's thoughts on tossing the Home Server OS and using a clean Server 2003 install.

    Of course you would no longer have the Drive Extender and Folder Replication features, however, one or both of those are very possibly the source of the corruption issues.  You also lose the cute console interface, which I really think is a step in the right direction for bringing manageability of data to the masses.

    What you gain is a more reliable OS that only leaves you with the usual issues of data protection instead of worrying about the OS software itself destroying your data.


    I will not go into details but if used properly your data will *not* get corrupt.There are quite a few white papers on how this server is to be used.
    [/corruption talk]

    On to your next question, the basics of what your asking all depends on usage/purpose.

    Bottom line is the EX470 + RAM upgrade (4th Post Down) is really cost efficient. If you try and buy a system with those specs (hot swapable drives etc.) you will be way over the modest 579.

    I have turned mt WHS box into a web stremaing machine.

    Only for  apicture gallery. I ended up installing mysql + php onto the server that I put 2GB of RAM in and I am running a custom photogallery I coded.

    I could not be happier with my system.

    I also setup a FTP based system that will allow my family to upload images, however this is where the corruptiopn would come in.

    outside of d:\shares == Good
    Inside of d:\shares   == BAD

    You should only write to the d:\shares directory when accessing it via \\servername\sharename

    Never directly write to it and for heavens sake never put a PST on it.


    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:00 PM
  • I have the same feeling about the hardware, it is very slick, thus the desire to find any way possible to make it usable and reliable.

    You did not go into detail about the corruption issue, and perhaps there is brand new information about this that I have overlooked, but I have found nothing about any updates that solves the problem.  If the solution is to not save files from an application directly to a server (using \\Server\Share or a mapped drive to the same), that is just not an acceptable situation.  Of course certain applications are not meant to save data to any server (Outlook .pst files for instance), but not counting those exceptions I would think the same rules should apply to this server software as they do to any other.
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:03 PM
  • I don't have an opinion on the subject of installing Windows Server 2003 on the HP MediaSmart Server, except for this: you will need to attach a keyboard, video, and mouse to do so. There are no connectors for such attachments, and there is no published specification for the headers on the motherboard. So good luck.

    Regarding the data corruption issue, the most recent information I have from Microsoft is that they know what the issue is, and are working toward a solution. Resolving this issue is the WHS team's top (only, really) priority. I don't have any more details or a timeframe for when it will be fixed that I can share with you, I'm afraid. Until then, keep doing as Microsoft has recommended: don't edit files directly on your server.
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:43 PM
    Moderator
  • It is not necessary to attach a keyboard, video, or mouse to install an operating system.  For the HP EX470 MediaSmart Server in particular, there is undoubtedly some variety of built-in network boot capability, which I presume is how server recovery is accomplished.  There also appears to be a WinPE based boot loader, stored on a ~256MB flash medium which is integrated on or connected to the system board, and not ordinarily visible with the Windows Home Server build.
     
    At any rate, there is no need to wish me luck as I have already accomplished installing Server 2003.  This is not a task to be undertaken by the average user, but rather for those familiar with OS deployment procedures and interested in utilizing the fantastic EX47x hardware without being worried about data corruption (beyond the usual worries of data corruption that can happen to any server).
     
    Considering how far back this data corruption issue has been reported, and then how long it has been reproducible, it is obvious that either the development team lacks the resources to deal with the issue, or bureaucracy is intervening.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 7:29 PM
  • My point was that the average WHS user, or even the average enthusiast here in the forums, is probably going to have a very hard time figuring out how to install an operating system without a lot of guidance. The WinPE-based bootloader in that flash you found is speficially for reloading Windows Home Server from the HP server recovery CD, though it may be that you could find a way to load another OS (I don't know for sure as I haven't tried to load anything but Windows Home Server that way).

    KB946676 has only been reproducible for a little over a month; I don't think that's a very long time to have been working full-time on it considering all the additional moving pieces that the Windows Home Server components add to Windows Server 2003. The team is making progress, but aren't ready to announce a likely date for releasing the patch.
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 8:19 PM
    Moderator
  • I do not think the average user or even the average enthusiast is out there searching for a "specification for the headers on the motherboard" as was implied would be a required step to accomplish anything beyond running Windows Home Server on the HP hardware.  So that statement already put us far past the technical level and desire of the average user.  Anyone reading these posts is free to realize the content is beyond their level of understanding or outside their area of interest and skip over them.
     
    The reason I started this discussion was that I was wondering if anyone else out there had thought about or done anything like this.  Replacing Windows Home Server with a stock Server 2003 build is really not ideal; on the HP hardware for example you lose control over the LEDs (with some work of course this functionality could possibly be brought back). 
    Personally I would much prefer to have booted up the Windows Home Server, gone through the configuration and not given it another thought.
     
    What would be nice for the interim is to be able to continue to run Windows Home Server, but disable whatever feature is responsible for the corruption until a resolution is available.  That is assuming that whatever fix comes out can be trusted.  A month to solve a reproducible and critical data issue does seem like a really long time.  When a hard drive crashes, or a file system gets corrupted, you know that it happened and you deal with it.  From what I understand, with the current situation your file could be corrupted and you would be none the wiser with no indication that anything is wrong until you try to read the file again.
    Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:08 PM
  • Well I'm interested in any guidance you can give me, or hand holding. My EX475 will not except an external USB sound card, and I need audio feedback/prompting from it. So I am looking at breaking HP software that prevents me from loading an exteranl sound card, or changing the OS.    

     

    Thanks

    Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:59 PM
  •  JonTheTech wrote:
    Bottom line is the EX470 + RAM upgrade (4th Post Down) is really cost efficient. If you try and buy a system with those specs (hot swapable drives etc.) you will be way over the modest 579.

     

    Where did you get that idea?? The HP WHS box is a "pretty" looking but a very basic chassis with 4 hotswap SATA bays and 4 USB ports. That and a 500GB drive for $579?

     

    Let's assume the drive is $99 (fairly typical online nowadays).

     

    The specs for the HP EX470 say

    - AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor

    - 512MB RAM

    - No spec on the PSU.

     

    So, let's see.

     

    - AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor  = $36 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819104005)

    - 512MB RAM - I won't even try and compare. Hell, you can buy 2GB of RAM nowadays for $30.

    - No spec on the PSU - So, we'll pick up a typical, decent quality (You think HP uses Seasonics??) PSU = $20.(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817709009)

     

    Now, we need a motherboard for that Sempron, with 4 SATA ports, 4 USB ports and that eSATA (tough to find) port.

     

    Answer -  ECS AMD690GM-M2 AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $40 This motherboard is of course way more expandable than the custom motherboard in the HP, so I'll trade that eSATA port for the expansion possibilities.(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813135049)

     

    Running total till now = $126. :-)

     

    All we need now is a case, and a 4 bay SATA hotswap cage.

     

    Case - Rosewill generic mid tower case with four 5.25" bays = $21 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147095)

     

    SATA hotswap cage = $106 - Supermicro (http://www.buy.com/prod/hdd-moble-rack-for-cse-942s-600-5-hdd-sata-hot-swap-with-fan/q/loc/101/10344798.html) And that gives you not 4 but 5 hotswap bays.

     

    Total = $253. And this is all retail pricing, wholesale, it would be less than half to a third of this. And your hardware is more powerful and expandable than the HP hardware.

     

    Now:

     

    Retail price $579

                    -    99 (For the 500GB drive)

                    -   169 (WHS license)

    ----------------------------------------------------------

                   = $311

     

    So, by building it yourself, you get better hardware that is more expandable, faster, way more RAM, you still save $60. Now, the point of this exercise was not to save $60, hell, there's a value for "just buy the darn thing", but the point I was trying to make is that, the HP is bad choice, if you are buying it for anything other than the O/S it comes with. You could roll your own, much more optimally.

    Friday, February 1, 2008 3:54 AM
  • Unless you qualified for EPP through HP and got their 40$ rebate and free shipping, in which case the system cost $499, the hardware only contributing $231, and then there's all that mess with power cabling and data cabling each drive from the cage to the board... and it's sooo cuuuuuuute and power efficient.

    Oh, don't forget the opportunity costs of having to support this system yourself, including OS installation, configuration, and building the unit (these depend on how much you value your time, but probably not less than $15/hr for even an underpaid IT Technician). You're looking at at least an hour or two to get the OS installed, after the hour or two building it (depending on skill level), and the configuration, which would likely take hours and does not include the additional featureset provided by HP out of the box -- if you know how to properly configure Windows Server Products.

    The HP hardware doesn't need to be expandable. It supports 9TB right out of the box with no modifications. If you need more than 9TB then perhaps you are seeking the wrong solution via WHS (that assumes the current maximum disk size of 1TB which will increase). The RAM is upgradable to 2GB on the HP MSS for the same 20 bucks you're talking about above which makes it snappy and responsive.

    I see the argument towards building one yourself. There's a sense of pride behind it, but I sure as heck know that it was easier (and factoring in ALL opportunity costs) and cheaper to buy this pre-made appliance and stick it in a corner to start doing work right away.

    ...unless you meant "the HP is a bad choice (for me)"
    Friday, February 1, 2008 5:24 AM
  • I was trying to address this thread's question, that it wouldn't make much sense to install Server 2003 (or something else) on the HP hardware, as you could buy better hardware for less. Whether WHS is good fro you or not, is something only you can answer. Smile

     

    Friday, February 1, 2008 1:24 PM
  • Hi MSGuy...
    I have simple thing to ask... (as you make lot of sense to me)

    Would you be so kind and briefly elaborate on the procedure you have taken to reinstall to full 2K3.
    Im not decided yet, but I want to have an alternative...

    PS: I hope this and hopefully your post will not be "taken out" as pure evil...
    Beeing an MCSA I'm scared shi#less where my data may end up, as I have various experience...

    Thx
    Sunday, February 3, 2008 9:30 PM
  • MediaSmartGuy are you still with us ? Or is this a death thred and subject for you ?
    Wednesday, February 6, 2008 2:47 PM
  • This thread is actually very timely for me.  Although I don't have the HP, I went the route of a nice custom rig.  However, my reasons are the same for considering an alternate OS as I've been experiencing the data corruption with MS Access databases that I do actively use on the server.  I thought the whole point of a server was for central storage AND multi-user simultaneous access to that data, or is WHS not the tool for that?  I've had DAILY file corruption of databases that I and my employees access.  I've resorted to placing the back-end db onto a shared folder on one of the PCs to avoid this constant battle of having to rebuild the backend database.  I love the IDEA of WHS, but in light of this data corruption, I'm having second thoughts now about a means to house my precious data.  I'm NOT an experienced IT person so installing Windows Server 2003 or some Linux OS is a bit daunting to me, unless it really isn't all that bad.  I've build maybe a half dozen PCs over the years, but have very little exp. with networking on a scale offered by the more powerful OSs.  Any advice is appreciated.  Thanks.

     

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008 6:40 PM
  • Installing a clean Windows Server 2003 on a headless (no video out) system is not a simple task.  I would not recommend attempting this without having either a lot of experience with OS deployment or a lot of patience and desire to learn.
     
    There are generally two ways to do this on the EX47x series: one is to hook into the network boot loader used for recovery mode and push down an image, and the other is to use a pre-configured hard drive.  With either method you must have an installation of the OS pre-configured.  The most straight forward method is to take a hard drive to another system and install Windows Server 2003, then use Sysprep to prepare for an unattended installation.
     
    I attempted to write a guide here, but just remember this is not for the faint of heart, and now is starting to get really off-topic for this forum:
     
    HP MediaSmart EX470 -- Clean Windows Server 2003 Setup
     
    Pre-requisites:
     
    * Requires licensed Windows Server 2003 (integrated SP2 preferred) installation media
    * Requires Windows Server 2003 SP1 or newer Deployment Tools (download from Microsoft website)
    * Requires HP MediaSmart drivers to be gathered for unattended installation (scavenge from current EX47x installation and from SiS website)
     
    Instructions:
     
    * Gather drivers from HP EX47x system and SiS website (should have minimum of .inf, .sys, and .cat for each driver)
        - AmdK8, Marvell 61xx and Marvell Virtual Device, SiS RAID (from \Windows\OemDir on EX47x WHS installation), SiS AGP, SiS Gbe, and SiS VGA
    * Organize drivers into a directory structure
        - Drivers\AmdK8
        - Drivers\Marvell\61xx
        - Drivers\OemDir
        - Drivers\SiSAGP
        - Drivers\SiSGbe
        - Drivers\SiSVGA
    * Create Sysprep.inf using Setupmgr.exe included with Deployment Tools, or use sample file below
        - Add mass storage drivers (if the SiS RAID driver is not specified then the system will never boot)
    * Install Windows Server 2003 SP2 on a hard drive using another system that is ACPI-compliant (hyper-threading or multi-core preferred)
    * On first boot, skip updates and Finish the server setup to open incoming connections
        - If an ethernet adapter driver was installed with the stock setup, feel free to install updates before continuing
    * Enable Remote Desktop in System Properties (My Computer properties, or Control Panel | System)
    * Copy files required for unattended deployment to this fresh installation (use a flash drive or burn previously gathered files to a disc)
        - Copy Drivers to C:\Drivers
        - Copy Sysprep files from Deployment Tools to C:\Sysprep
        - Copy i386 folder from Server 2003 installation disc to C:\Sysprep\i386
    * Run Sysprep (ensure it is version 2.0, which will be displayed in the window title) with default options, and choose Reseal; this may take a while
    * After shutdown, disconnect the hard drive and install in the first HP MediaSmart drive bay (make sure there are no other drives installed)
    * Power up, wait for unattended setup processes to complete (should be less than 5-10 minutes), test Remote Desktop, install Windows Updates
    * The sample Sysprep.inf will configure the network adapter to use a DHCP assigned IP address
        - If you do not have a DHCP server (most gateway/routers will), change the settings using Setupmgr.exe to use a static IP address
        - Review all settings in Sysprep.inf after using Setupmgr.exe to edit since it does not always seem to put things back properly
     
    Addendum:
     
    * Sample and functional Sysprep.inf (change AdminPassword, ProductKey, [LicenseFilePrintData], ComputerName, and JoinWorkgroup to suit):
    ;SetupMgrTag
    [Unattended]
        OemSkipEula=Yes
        InstallFilesPath=C:\sysprep\i386
        KeepPageFile=0
        OemPnPDriversPath="Drivers\OemDir;Drivers\Marvell\61xx;Drivers\AmdK8;Drivers\SiSAGP;Drivers\SiSGbe;Drivers\SiSVGA"

    [GuiUnattended]
        AdminPassword="xxxxxxxx"
        EncryptedAdminPassword=NO
        OEMSkipRegional=1
        TimeZone=20
        OemSkipWelcome=1

    [UserData]
        ProductKey=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
        FullName="Name"
        OrgName="Company"
        ComputerName=Server

    [LicenseFilePrintData]
        AutoMode=PerServer
        AutoUsers=5

    [SetupMgr]
        DistFolder=C:\sysprep\i386
        DistShare=windist

    [Identification]
        JoinWorkgroup=workgroup

    [Networking]
        InstallDefaultComponents=Yes

    [Sysprep]
        BuildMassStorageSection=Yes

    [SysprepMassStorage]
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0180="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0181="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0182="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_1182="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6101="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6111="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6121="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6122="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6145="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    SCSI\ArrayMARVELL_Virtual_Device__="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mvnodrv.inf"

    Friday, February 8, 2008 5:29 PM
  •  kapone wrote:

     JonTheTech wrote:
    Bottom line is the EX470 + RAM upgrade (4th Post Down) is really cost efficient. If you try and buy a system with those specs (hot swapable drives etc.) you will be way over the modest 579.

     

    Where did you get that idea?? The HP WHS box is a "pretty" looking but a very basic chassis with 4 hotswap SATA bays and 4 USB ports. That and a 500GB drive for $579?

     

    Let's assume the drive is $99 (fairly typical online nowadays).

     

    The specs for the HP EX470 say

    - AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor

    - 512MB RAM

    - No spec on the PSU.

     

    So, let's see.

     

    - AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor  = $36 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819104005)

    - 512MB RAM - I won't even try and compare. Hell, you can buy 2GB of RAM nowadays for $30.

    - No spec on the PSU - So, we'll pick up a typical, decent quality (You think HP uses Seasonics??) PSU = $20.(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817709009)

     

    Now, we need a motherboard for that Sempron, with 4 SATA ports, 4 USB ports and that eSATA (tough to find) port.

     

    Answer -  ECS AMD690GM-M2 AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $40 This motherboard is of course way more expandable than the custom motherboard in the HP, so I'll trade that eSATA port for the expansion possibilities.(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813135049)

     

    Running total till now = $126. :-)

     

    All we need now is a case, and a 4 bay SATA hotswap cage.

     

    Case - Rosewill generic mid tower case with four 5.25" bays = $21 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147095)

     

    SATA hotswap cage = $106 - Supermicro (http://www.buy.com/prod/hdd-moble-rack-for-cse-942s-600-5-hdd-sata-hot-swap-with-fan/q/loc/101/10344798.html) And that gives you not 4 but 5 hotswap bays.

     

    Total = $253. And this is all retail pricing, wholesale, it would be less than half to a third of this. And your hardware is more powerful and expandable than the HP hardware.

     

    Now:

     

    Retail price $579

                    -    99 (For the 500GB drive)

                    -   169 (WHS license)

    ----------------------------------------------------------

                   = $311

     

    So, by building it yourself, you get better hardware that is more expandable, faster, way more RAM, you still save $60. Now, the point of this exercise was not to save $60, hell, there's a value for "just buy the darn thing", but the point I was trying to make is that, the HP is bad choice, if you are buying it for anything other than the O/S it comes with. You could roll your own, much more optimally.




    I for one have been down this road many times and when you factor in cooling and the desire to have a quiet system and something that isn't two feet tall the cost goes way up and the practicality goes way down.  In my opinion, and long term reliability is still unanswered because it is so new, the HP EX47x box is one of the more impressive integrated hardware offerrings I have ever seen.
     
    I would guess that for most, the HP unit with integrated WHS is about cost and simplicity.  Too bad about the WHS corruption issues, so there goes the simplicity, but the cost advantage (for hardware anyway) is still there considering you get a neat little integrated box with reasonable performance capabilities and no need to source a variety of equipment that will ultimately need to be stored in a utility room if you do not want to compete with the noise levels or spend a lot more money to quiet it down.
    Friday, February 8, 2008 5:50 PM
  •  ChiknNutz wrote:
    This thread is actually very timely for me.  Although I don't have the HP, I went the route of a nice custom rig.  However, my reasons are the same for considering an alternate OS as I've been experiencing the data corruption with MS Access databases that I do actively use on the server.  I thought the whole point of a server was for central storage AND multi-user simultaneous access to that data, or is WHS not the tool for that?  I've had DAILY file corruption of databases that I and my employees access.  I've resorted to placing the back-end db onto a shared folder on one of the PCs to avoid this constant battle of having to rebuild the backend database.  I love the IDEA of WHS, but in light of this data corruption, I'm having second thoughts now about a means to house my precious data.  I'm NOT an experienced IT person so installing Windows Server 2003 or some Linux OS is a bit daunting to me, unless it really isn't all that bad.  I've build maybe a half dozen PCs over the years, but have very little exp. with networking on a scale offered by the more powerful OSs.  Any advice is appreciated.  Thanks.

     


     
     
    This thread is really specific to the HP EX47x hardware.  It is very unfortunate that you and others are experiencing these corruption issues with WHS.
     
    The only advice I have to offer is to consider buying a low end off the shelf server with the OS pre-installed.  Most of the major vendors have such offerings for reasonable prices.  To keep the cost down you could add a couple of hard drives and use the software mirroring in Windows Server 2003 which seems to be quite effective and very easy to enable -- avoid software RAID-5, I cannot speak to reliability, however, performance is abysmal.
     
    As an aside, installing Windows Server 2003 is very similar to installing Windows XP.  Fundamentally, and I am sure there are those that would suggest otherwise and debate the details, but Server 2003 and XP are based on the same NT core OS.  If you were to utilize your existing hardware, you minimize additional costs to the price of the OS.  In the most basic setup, you can configure security just like you would in XP, and since you are already familiar with that it is pretty much the same thing.  Just consider there are no wizard-like interfaces and you need to use tools such as Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Computer Management | Local Users and Groups to configure security.
     
    Unless you configure a domain though, there are not a lot of advantages over just using XP to share files, except for software mirroring and more importantly the Shadow Copies feature.  This takes periodic snapshots of your shared files (morning and mid-day as I recall by default, but this is fully customizable).  If a user deletes or overwrites a file mistakenly, they can retrieve the most recent version(s) that are stored in the Shadow Copy.
    Friday, February 8, 2008 6:34 PM
  • Hey, hope you are still checking this MediaSmartGuy,
    I was wondering if you could provide a little more insight on installing server 2003 on the ex47x. I've followed the directions you put up as best I could, and it boots, as far as I can tell it runs through the unattended install, and then reboots. Problem is that after that it doesn't manage to boot into the OS; can't talk to it over the network at all, just has the health light blinking on and off.


    I'm sure I messed up somewhere along the way, just not sure how.

    Let me know what information you need from me, because I'd love to get this figured out, really want to use software RAID1 on these disks
    Saturday, February 16, 2008 4:10 AM
  • I don't quite understand the need to uninstall Windows 2003 with a shell on top in order to install windows 2003 without a shell on top.  Just stop the services and use the existing WHS instance!

    WHS is Windows 2003.  You can Remote desktop in to it and control it from remote desktop.  There is even a registry edit to allow changing the port for Remote desktop so that you come in on 3390 instead of 3389 (or something).  Having done that registry edit you can then just RDP into the IP:3390 (or whatever you choose).  Remote desktop from any other Windows machine over a local LAN is way fast, you really would not know you were not local. 

    Set up your shares, install software over the LAN.  Theoretically you could run SQL Server Express etc.

    In fact I am not even sure why you need to stop WHS itself.  Just add a couple of disks and not assign them to the pool.  Share them back out and you are done.  No?

    I built my own so I don't own an actual HP box to play with but it certainly seems like this should work.
    Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:43 AM
  • The problem is that not all of the features in Windows 2003 Server are present in the WHS version. For example if you wanted to use software RAID or use it as a Domain Controller. The services aren't available to do that.

    Yes, you could certainly run SQL Server Express, but what if you felt like adding an Exchange Server onto it? Would it recognize it as being WHS or would it know it's actually Server 2003? Since in the former case I doubt it would allow you to proceed with the install, much the same as it won't let you install it on Windows XP.
    Saturday, February 16, 2008 11:50 AM
  •  muise wrote:
    The problem is that not all of the features in Windows 2003 Server are present in the WHS version. For example if you wanted to use software RAID or use it as a Domain Controller. The services aren't available to do that.
    DCPROMO is definitely available, if you want to set up as a domain controller. (You could break core WHS functionality, but if you want to switch to Windows Server 2003, you don't care about that.)  I haven't tried to configure software RAID, but I don't see any indication that the required tools are missing.
    Saturday, February 16, 2008 2:33 PM
    Moderator
  •  John W. Colby wrote:
    I don't quite understand the need to uninstall Windows 2003 with a shell on top in order to install windows 2003 without a shell on top.  Just stop the services and use the existing WHS instance!

    WHS is Windows 2003.  You can Remote desktop in to it and control it from remote desktop.  There is even a registry edit to allow changing the port for Remote desktop so that you come in on 3390 instead of 3389 (or something).  Having done that registry edit you can then just RDP into the IP:3390 (or whatever you choose).  Remote desktop from any other Windows machine over a local LAN is way fast, you really would not know you were not local. 

    Set up your shares, install software over the LAN.  Theoretically you could run SQL Server Express etc.

    In fact I am not even sure why you need to stop WHS itself.  Just add a couple of disks and not assign them to the pool.  Share them back out and you are done.  No?

    I built my own so I don't own an actual HP box to play with but it certainly seems like this should work.

     
     
    For me the main concern is not an issue of functionality in WHS as compared to a full Server 2003 installation, but rather the issue of data integrity.  I do not want to run an OS that may or may not corrupt data in new and inventive ways without any warning, error, or indication that something is wrong.  The rebuttal argument I have seen many times essentially says to not use a server like a server, such as not to ever save files directly to a server from an application; that is an indefensible position to take.
     
    If the Drive Extender functionality is disabled or simply not used will that be enough to guarantee the corruption issue will be eliminated?  Microsoft has acknowledged they have had the capability to reproduce the problem for approximately six weeks, and to my knowledge it is still not solved.  Others may disagree, but six weeks is a really long time for such a serious issue, especially considering how long the problem has been out in the wild, with very little updated information as to the status.  I address this topic with a background in system level software development.  Perhaps something has changed, and the issue is now resolved, in which case I may just reformat and go back to using WHS.  The only problem now though is I am not sure I will trust it even when a fix comes out, considering how it has been handled up to this point.
     
    Anyway, as for installing Server 2003 on the HP EX47x hardware, it is evident that the discussion is becoming far off the agenda of this forum.  I started the topic over at MediaSmartServer.net | Hardware forum if anyone wants to continue.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008 2:35 PM
  • Installing a clean Windows Server 2003 on a headless (no video out) system is not a simple task.  I would not recommend attempting this without having either a lot of experience with OS deployment or a lot of patience and desire to learn.
     
    There are generally two ways to do this on the EX47x series: one is to hook into the network boot loader used for recovery mode and push down an image, and the other is to use a pre-configured hard drive.  With either method you must have an installation of the OS pre-configured.  The most straight forward method is to take a hard drive to another system and install Windows Server 2003, then use Sysprep to prepare for an unattended installation.
     
    I attempted to write a guide here, but just remember this is not for the faint of heart, and now is starting to get really off-topic for this forum:
     
    HP MediaSmart EX470 -- Clean Windows Server 2003 Setup
     
    Pre-requisites:
     
    * Requires licensed Windows Server 2003 (integrated SP2 preferred) installation media
    * Requires Windows Server 2003 SP1 or newer Deployment Tools (download from Microsoft website)
    * Requires HP MediaSmart drivers to be gathered for unattended installation (scavenge from current EX47x installation and from SiS website)
     
    Instructions:
     
    * Gather drivers from HP EX47x system and SiS website (should have minimum of .inf, .sys, and .cat for each driver)
        - AmdK8, Marvell 61xx and Marvell Virtual Device, SiS RAID (from \Windows\OemDir on EX47x WHS installation), SiS AGP, SiS Gbe, and SiS VGA
    * Organize drivers into a directory structure
        - Drivers\AmdK8
        - Drivers\Marvell\61xx
        - Drivers\OemDir
        - Drivers\SiSAGP
        - Drivers\SiSGbe
        - Drivers\SiSVGA
    * Create Sysprep.inf using Setupmgr.exe included with Deployment Tools, or use sample file below
        - Add mass storage drivers (if the SiS RAID driver is not specified then the system will never boot)
    * Install Windows Server 2003 SP2 on a hard drive using another system that is ACPI-compliant (hyper-threading or multi-core preferred)
    * On first boot, skip updates and Finish the server setup to open incoming connections
        - If an ethernet adapter driver was installed with the stock setup, feel free to install updates before continuing
    * Enable Remote Desktop in System Properties (My Computer properties, or Control Panel | System)
    * Copy files required for unattended deployment to this fresh installation (use a flash drive or burn previously gathered files to a disc)
        - Copy Drivers to C:\Drivers
        - Copy Sysprep files from Deployment Tools to C:\Sysprep
        - Copy i386 folder from Server 2003 installation disc to C:\Sysprep\i386
    * Run Sysprep (ensure it is version 2.0, which will be displayed in the window title) with default options, and choose Reseal; this may take a while
    * After shutdown, disconnect the hard drive and install in the first HP MediaSmart drive bay (make sure there are no other drives installed)
    * Power up, wait for unattended setup processes to complete (should be less than 5-10 minutes), test Remote Desktop, install Windows Updates
    * The sample Sysprep.inf will configure the network adapter to use a DHCP assigned IP address
        - If you do not have a DHCP server (most gateway/routers will), change the settings using Setupmgr.exe to use a static IP address
        - Review all settings in Sysprep.inf after using Setupmgr.exe to edit since it does not always seem to put things back properly
     
    Addendum:
     
    * Sample and functional Sysprep.inf (change AdminPassword, ProductKey, [LicenseFilePrintData], ComputerName, and JoinWorkgroup to suit):
    ;SetupMgrTag
    [Unattended]
        OemSkipEula=Yes
        InstallFilesPath=C:\sysprep\i386
        KeepPageFile=0
        OemPnPDriversPath="Drivers\OemDir;Drivers\Marvell\61xx;Drivers\AmdK8;Drivers\SiSAGP;Drivers\SiSGbe;Drivers\SiSVGA"

    [GuiUnattended]
        AdminPassword="xxxxxxxx"
        EncryptedAdminPassword=NO
        OEMSkipRegional=1
        TimeZone=20
        OemSkipWelcome=1

    [UserData]
        ProductKey=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
        FullName="Name"
        OrgName="Company"
        ComputerName=Server

    [LicenseFilePrintData]
        AutoMode=PerServer
        AutoUsers=5

    [SetupMgr]
        DistFolder=C:\sysprep\i386
        DistShare=windist

    [Identification]
        JoinWorkgroup=workgroup

    [Networking]
        InstallDefaultComponents=Yes

    [Sysprep]
        BuildMassStorageSection=Yes

    [SysprepMassStorage]
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0180="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0181="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_0182="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_1039&DEV_1182="C:\Drivers\OemDir\oemscs01.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6101="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6111="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6121="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6122="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_6145="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mv61xx.inf"
    SCSI\ArrayMARVELL_Virtual_Device__="C:\Drivers\Marvell\61xx\mvnodrv.inf"

    That totally worked and I totally love you for it.  I couldn't find the SiSAGP Drivers but it still worked.  I got stuck at one point because I had left Admin Password blank, intending to set one later.  I put an Admin Password in and tried again, and everything worked great!  I used your example Sysprep.inf and took out "Drivers\SiSAGP;" as well as changing the time zone to reflect my own.

    To anyone considering trying this, I found it very straight forward.  The only hard part is tracking down all the drivers.  I didn't have a working MediaSmart install (hard drive failed), so tracking down the SiS RAID drivers was a bit tough... If you find yourself in the same situation, just Google "Drivers for HP EX-47* MediaSmart Servers".  Anyway, I got my SiS RAID drivers from there, but the .zip didn't contain oemscs01.inf... so I just renamed the SISRaid2.INF in there to oemscs01.inf and it worked for me!  I was really worried this wasn't going to work (I don't even know what an ACPI compliant machine is, but I guess I have one?) but it was actually really easy...  Way easier than all the trouble I had trying to set up an Ubuntu server (never did get it working).

    Anyway, I'm very happy to have my server back online, and this info is invaluable for anyone who's had their Home Server get corrupted or their HD die (I blame the Seagate HDs, but I had a lot of file corruption before the HD up and died) and just hasn't had the time or money to invest in all new hardware.

    All you naysayers have clearly never been in this situation, and you're welcome to not install Windows Server 2003 if you don't think it's necessary.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012 11:45 PM
  • Thank you so much MediaSmartGuy...your instructions were spot on and my server has never run better!

    I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of slightly modifying your instructions and putting them on my tech blog here (I did give you some street cred):

    Nodak Engineering

    As a bonus, I've gathered all drivers and created an EX47x driver pack that will help anyone else interested in this venture (believe me it's worth the effort you put into it) as well as a modified Sysprep.inf.

    Again...thanks!

    Wallace Barnes


    • Edited by ndBarnes Thursday, October 25, 2012 5:46 AM
    Thursday, October 25, 2012 5:43 AM