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New WHS build - install fails w/"could not initialize UI Subsystem" RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi, my first post here.

    Just finished building my second WHS box.  The first one, made from old server parts, went very well, so I really didn't expect the problem I'm having.

    The subject line tells the story.  And before you flame me, I have read all the related posts that I could find.  None of the suggested solutions worked.  I have the RAID option turned off.  I have tried (so far) three different DVD drives.  System BIOS is current. Tried various BIOS settings. Nothing helped.

    This new box is made from all new parts.  MB is a Supermicro C2SBA+II.  This has a G33 chipset with ICH9R southbridge.  It has 6 SATA ports.  It also has two IDE ports.  I have the DVD plugged in to the first IDE port.  Pentium Dual Core 5200 CPU. 4G RAM.  At present I just have one 320GB SATA drive plugged in. 

    Here's where I think the problem may lie.  The design of this MB uses a separate ITE8211 chip to provide the IDE ports.  This chip uses its own BIOS at bootup.  This is pretty much the same as if it had an add-in IDE port card plugged in, except that it's built in to the motherboard.  The WHS disk boots just fine, gets to the vista-like screen, and fails in about 30 seconds, when the configuring-setup progress bar is about 75% across.  This is a fresh OEM copy of WHS, with PP1.

    I'm guessing maybe the setup program can't cope with the DVD drive being on an add-on chip?  I really do not want to use a SATA DVD from a motherboard port, because it is my intent to dedicate all 6 SATA ports to my built-in 6-drive easy-swap enclosure.

    Can WHS install from a DVD that is connected to what is basically the same thing as an add-in card?  Is there a different add-in card that I could try?   Did anyone ever try installing from a SATA DVD hooked to, say, a generic SIL3114 add-in card?  I'm a very experienced PC builder and have loads of parts here that I can try, but I'd rather not spend the whole weekend chasing this.

    On a related note, is there any benefit from trying to use SATA AHCI?  I woud think that having NCQ available might help performance.  I know I would have to add drivers. At this point, I would love to get far enough to be -able- to add drivers!

    Thanks for any help or advice you can offer.

    Keith

     

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:15 AM

Answers

  • Ken, thanks for your thoughts on the matter.   I think you've probably discerned by now that I'm one of those people who don't plan on necessarily toeing the MS company line with this project, because where's the fun in that? :-)

    I think I've stumbled upon a passable workaround that will let me proceed.  While staring forlornly at the guts of the box, I noticed that the cheap USB-IDE adapter that I bought also had a SATA port on it.  Well, the IDE part didn't work well with a DVD drive, but hey, it couldn't hurt to try it with a SATA DVD drive, right?

    Right. Wow, what a difference.  The WHS install went exactly like it's supposed to, and very quickly too.  No issues at all, or at least none of any consequence.   No locked drawer, no slowness, no reboot issues with the drive.

    I think I'm going to button it up and call it good.  Thanks to all for your help.

    Now I can get down to the business of doing things to this box that MS didn't intend.  See you around.

    Keith

     

    Monday, January 26, 2009 8:21 PM

All replies

  • Hi Keith,

    besides that you at least could try to connect an SATA DVD drive (to one of the first 4 ports), some other questions and hints:

    Reset the Bios to it's default values and alter only the SATA controller mode. (What happens, if you change it to IDE?)
    How much memory did you reserve for your video card (if it is onboard)?

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:39 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks, Olaf.

    The BIOS has been tried with and without AHCI, and pretty much all other combinations.  Didn't help.

    More experimentation - I tried my own suggestion.  Removed the IDE DVD drive. Disabled the onboard IDE ports.  Put in a PCI SATA card. Put in a SATA DVD drive.   With this drive hooked to the SATA card, the result was the same, although it took much longer to error out.  So finally, I removed the SATA card, and hooked the SATA DVD directly to the motherboard.   As I expected, that did work.  In fact, it worked even when it was not hooked to one of the first four ports.

    [EDITED]

    But as I said, I want all 6 SATA ports for the hard drive bays.  So this configuration won't do.  I could use an add-in SATA card to run two of the hard drives. But what I will probably do is just find another motherboard.  I did have a P45/ICH10 picked out, but it had the same limitation.  (J368 chip rather than ITE8711, but I doubt that would matter.)

    At this point, based on my personal experience here, I would have to say that WHS simply can't be installed from a DVD connected to an add-on chip or card. For sure, not an ITE871x or SIL311x.   The software build apparently lacks the drivers/smarts to do it.

    [/EDIT]

    Thanks again,

    Keith

     

    • Edited by keith_u Sunday, January 25, 2009 1:32 AM correct my own error
    Sunday, January 25, 2009 12:01 AM
  • Keith, you're pointing at the wrong vendor for the cause of this issue, IMO. I would suggest you try, as an experiment, the installation of Windows XP or Windows Vista on that hardware. Based on your description, I would expect that you will have similar problems with your optical drive connected via IDE or add-in SATA card. Resolving this type of issue is often not easy, as it usually will come down to the motherboard and/or BIOS.

     

    Normally I would say you can simply remove the DVD drive after installing, but that will almost certainly complicate a server reinstallation should you ever need to do one; you would have to rearrange drives to get the DVD reinstalled and that might cause a number of issues.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, January 25, 2009 3:55 PM
    Moderator
  • Okay Ken, I will try some other installs, as soon as I get it put back together.  Should be an interesting test.

    A little more digging tells me that every current Intel-based motherboard uses a separate chip for the PATA/IDE, simply because the last southbridge chip that natively supported PATA was the ICH7.  ICH 8,9 and 10 have only SATA.   So the board makers have no choice, they have to use an add-on chip. 

    So my blanket statement might be a bit, um, premature.  That or else no one is installing from IDE DVD drives on recent Intel-chip motherboards.

    I thought about the removal of the drive after install, but I also realized that it would make a reinstall problematic.

    I have some other tricks yet to try.  Most likely I will end up using an add-in card for one or two of my SATA drives.

    Thanks,

    Keith

     

     

    Sunday, January 25, 2009 7:26 PM
  • My test server has an Intel ICH9R, and an IDE DVD drive. No problems. That's why I suggested you try some other installs. :)
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 12:30 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken Warren said:

    My test server has an Intel ICH9R, and an IDE DVD drive. No problems. That's why I suggested you try some other installs. :)




     

    Hmm, that's interesting.  With the understanding that you are not implying any sort of endorsement, could you tell me the exact model of drive and motherboard you have?  In particular, what add-on chip is used for the IDE port?

    I have been doing some testing!

    First I went with things connected like you would "normally" do it.  SATA ports for hard drives, and a DVD burner connected to one of the two onboard IDE ports.  Supermicro C2SBA+II motherboard, 4G RAM, Intel Dual Core 5200 CPU.  A 320GB SATA hard drive for testing purposes.  The IDE DVD used for most tests is a Sony burner about 2 years old.  This motherboard uses an ITE IT8211F chip to run the two IDE ports.  Internally it's on the PCI bus.

    OS installs that I tried:  (all are x86 versions) (Thank You Technet)

    WHS - failed during "Setup is initializing" with the CNIUI error (could not initialize UI).  My original complaint.  It never got to a point where a driver could be loaded.  (I tried having a driver floppy present during startup, and I heard it read the A drive, but it made no difference in the result.)

    Windows XP Professional SP2/SP3, and Server 2003 R2 - Failed with a BSOD STOP 7B unless the ITE chip driver was loaded via F6 and a floppy.  With the driver, the install worked normally.

    Windows Vista SP1 and Server 2008 - install worked normally. No extra drivers needed.

    Windows 7 beta 2 - failed with a suspiciously similar error of "can't find image" or something like that.  But it's a beta, and the DVD (home made) was untested previously.

    Ubuntu 8.10 worked fine too.  (grin)

    Then I moved on to some specific testing with WHS, changing hardware this time.

    First, as to the suggestion that I try different DVD drives. For me, this was a total red herring. I tried 6 different IDE DVD drives, 4 different brands, and there was absolutely no difference.

    Using a SATA DVD drive connected to a motherboard port - WHS installed successfully (as stated prior).

    Same SATA drive connected to a PCI slot SATA card using a SIL3112 chip - failed with CNIUI, as before.

    Same SATA drive connected to a PCI Express slot SATA card using a SIL3132 chip - the same CNIUI failure.

    Back to the IDE drive, but connected this time via a USB-IDE adapter device, to a USB port.  Guess what, this actually worked.  This motherboard can be set to boot from a USB CDROM, and it actually has real USB sockets on it, not just pin headers (rare).  However, this approach has issues.  Like, it's slow.  Over an hour for WHS to install.  And often the DVD drive will lock itself and will not open until power is cut and the device removed. Things like that.  I plan to try another brand of adapter to see if these issues can be mitigated.  If not, my main alternative (besides a different motherboard that may or may not help) is to use an onboard port for the SATA DVD, and use the aforementioned PCIe card to run the last drive slot.  Except for offending my sense of symmetry, and requiring a driver, that approach would work, esp. since I won't be using that drive slot anytime soon.  I would just rather not do it that way. 

    And there you have "How I spent my Sunday".  :-)

    This all leads me to a couple of questions for Microsoft, or anyone else who knows:

    Which port chips (SATA or IDE) *do* have support, in the initial Vista-esque part of the WHS install, particularly in the "Setup is initializing" phase?  Obviously they figured it out for the real Vista/2008 installer, but not for this faux-Vista WHS installer.

    Is there a way to slipstream in a driver that will be used by that portion of the WHS install? 

    Thanks for any further advice you may have.  This has actually been kind of fun, and I love a good mystery.

    Keith

     

    Monday, January 26, 2009 10:09 AM
  • I just checked that MB. It's an older item, and I was wrong. It's an ICH7, not 8, southbridge. So that won't help; nobody makes those any more...

    Generally, issues such as you describe come down to drivers. I always recommend people look at the Windows Server Catalog and choose inexpensive hardware with Server 2003 support (there is quite a bit) for critical components like motherboard and network interface. That way you know you're getting hardware that's known to work well with Windows Server 2003.

    As for "How I spent my Sunday", well I've done that a time or four myself. My wife doesn't always appreciate it, if there is something that needs to be done around the house instead.

    I really don't think that Microsoft is going to release a list of hardware known to work well specifically with Windows Home Server. Given that simplicity of configuration and use are design goals, most sales of WHS are expected to be via OEMs like HP and the ones that announced WHS-based products at CES this year. As such, hardware with WHS installed by the manufacturer is the closest you're going to come.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 4:27 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken, thanks for your thoughts on the matter.   I think you've probably discerned by now that I'm one of those people who don't plan on necessarily toeing the MS company line with this project, because where's the fun in that? :-)

    I think I've stumbled upon a passable workaround that will let me proceed.  While staring forlornly at the guts of the box, I noticed that the cheap USB-IDE adapter that I bought also had a SATA port on it.  Well, the IDE part didn't work well with a DVD drive, but hey, it couldn't hurt to try it with a SATA DVD drive, right?

    Right. Wow, what a difference.  The WHS install went exactly like it's supposed to, and very quickly too.  No issues at all, or at least none of any consequence.   No locked drawer, no slowness, no reboot issues with the drive.

    I think I'm going to button it up and call it good.  Thanks to all for your help.

    Now I can get down to the business of doing things to this box that MS didn't intend.  See you around.

    Keith

     

    Monday, January 26, 2009 8:21 PM
  • I'm going to recommend caution. Trying out a lot of different things is great on a test/lab machine, but once you put your server in production, you will be surprised at how quickly the family will come to rely on it, and how vociferously they will complain if it's not available. :)

    So what I would do is work with the server in a lab environment for a few weeks, and arrive at a small group of core features that you feel are must haves. Be cautious with anything you install via a remote desktop session or physical console; there is opportunity for causing fairly severe issues. Once you've chosen your feature set, nail it down and leave it alone.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 8:49 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken Warren said:

    I'm going to recommend caution. Trying out a lot of different things is great on a test/lab machine, but once you put your server in production, you will be surprised at how quickly the family will come to rely on it, and how vociferously they will complain if it's not available. :)


    So what I would do is work with the server in a lab environment for a few weeks, and arrive at a small group of core features that you feel are must haves. Be cautious with anything you install via a remote desktop session or physical console; there is opportunity for causing fairly severe issues. Once you've chosen your feature set, nail it down and leave it alone.

    Oh, absolutely.  I learned long ago about not mixing "experimental" and "production usage".  At least, not unless you're desperate.

    I have quite a while to test and play with this box, before I commit to using it for real.

    Keith



     

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:37 AM