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Can Windows Home Server be installed to boot from an iSCSI target (running virtualised under Hyper-V)? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'm trying to install WHS on my Hyper-V host, using iSCSI storage presented as a physical disk.  The WHS installer sees the (250GB) iSCSI LUN and starts to install.  It chugs away creating and formatting a 20GB system volume but during the text-mode setup phase I have seen some file copy errors.  I can ignore these (making a note of the affected files) but the installer still fails (offering me the opportunity to view the installer log).  If I reboot then I get a Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt (on totally different files) and there is no repair option on the WHS setup (not that I can see).  I've been around this loop several times in the last 12 hours, each time seeing slightly different errors.

    I get the impression that this is not a supported configuration, but supported and possible are two different things.  Searching the web seems to turn up people who have this working (e.g. http://www.energizedtech.com/2009/03/home-server-as-a-guest-on-hype.html) and Ben Armstrong seems to suggest that my iSCSI setup approach is fine (http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2008/02/19/booting-hyper-v-vms-off-of-iscsi.aspx ).

    So, before I start pointing my finger at the iSCSI implementation, I wanted to check that I'm not missing something obvious on the WHS side... like that booting from iSCSI doesn't work and that I'll need to boot from a local VHD then use the iSCSI target as my data storage...

    If this was plain Windows Server I'd be fine, but I know WHS does some strange things with file systems!

    TIA, Mark

    Mark

    Mark Wilson (MVP Virtual Machine) - http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 2:27 PM

All replies

  • It's not a supported configuration, and I suspect that you will not be able to get it to work. You may also not be able to get a virtualized server to use an iSCSI target as a secondary drive in the storage pool. My experimentation suggests that iSCSI initializes it's disks too late in the boot process for Windows Home Server to see/use them.

    But do please let us know how it turns out, and if you get it to work, a write-up of just how would be splendid. :)

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 4:23 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for this.  I haven't had time to write it up completely but the basic steps were:

    1. Configure iSCSI on the Hyper-V host as per Ben Armstrong's instructions at http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2008/02/19/booting-hyper-v-vms-off-of-iscsi.aspx
    2. Create a virtual hard disk to store Windows Home Server (the iSCSI disk can be used for Shared Folders, etc. but WHS will demonstrate various setup errors if installed directly to the iSCSI disk... goodness knows why because the iSCSI target is connected before the VM is booted)
    3. Install WHS onto the VHD, with the iSCSI target also available to the Hyper-V VM as a secondary disk.
    4. Once installation has completed, install the Hyper-V Integration Components (which will enable network access to the WHS)
    5. Connect to the WHS console and continue as normal.

    The one part that I haven't managed to work out, and for which I would love some advice is this:

    WHS detects the VHD as a 127GB disk and creates a 20GB system partition.  It also reserves space for PC backups, shared folders, etc.  How can I move the non-system areas onto the secondary disk (so that I can then "shrink" the VHD to just the 20GB of WHS system)?

    I really do not want WHS using the VHD for anything other than loading itself (and I'd prefer it not to even do that!) - I'd like all of my data to live on the iSCSI target (i.e. the secondary disk) as that is fault-tolerant.

    M


    Mark Wilson (MVP Virtual Machine) - http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/
    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 10:30 PM
  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for this.  I haven't had time to write it up completely but the basic steps were:

    1. Configure iSCSI on the Hyper-V host as per Ben Armstrong's instructions at http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2008/02/19/booting-hyper-v-vms-off-of-iscsi.aspx
    2. Create a virtual hard disk to store Windows Home Server (the iSCSI disk can be used for Shared Folders, etc. but WHS will demonstrate various setup errors if installed directly to the iSCSI disk... goodness knows why because the iSCSI target is connected before the VM is booted)
    3. Install WHS onto the VHD, with the iSCSI target also available to the Hyper-V VM as a secondary disk.
    4. Once installation has completed, install the Hyper-V Integration Components (which will enable network access to the WHS)
    5. Connect to the WHS console and continue as normal.

    The one part that I haven't managed to work out, and for which I would love some advice is this:

    WHS detects the VHD as a 127GB disk and creates a 20GB system partition.  It also reserves space for PC backups, shared folders, etc.  How can I move the non-system areas onto the secondary disk (so that I can then "shrink" the VHD to just the 20GB of WHS system)?

    You can't.

    I really do not want WHS using the VHD for anything other than loading itself (and I'd prefer it not to even do that!) - I'd like all of my data to live on the iSCSI target (i.e. the secondary disk) as that is fault-tolerant.

    M
    Mark Wilson (MVP Virtual Machine) - http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/
    As long as you have sufficient free space on your secondary drives, WHS won't store any data on the D partition.
    Wednesday, September 9, 2009 2:03 AM
    Moderator
  • Cool that you got it working. :) And thanks for the step-by-step. I sort of figured that the only likely success scenario would be exactly what you did: create a VHD for the system disk instead of trying to use the iSCSI disk directly...

    As kariya21 has said, you can't control how Windows Home Server uses it's disks other than by making sure it has enough disk space available to keep the system drive (or VHD in this case) clear.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, September 9, 2009 3:57 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks @kariya21.  Do you know, if I rebuild the system, but only create a 20GB VHD for the primary disk, will WHS use that as the System disk and put the rest of the folders on the secondary disk, or will it just create a smaller system partition?
    Mark Wilson (MVP Virtual Machine) - http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/
    Thursday, September 10, 2009 8:26 AM
  • You can't use a disk of less than about 65 GB as a Windows Home Server system disk. The product will refuse to install, because it automatically partitions the disk into a 20 GB "System" partition and a <the rest> GB "Data" partition (as you've seen).
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:08 PM
    Moderator