HPC iSCSI deployment over PXE. No boot device. RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I am trying to deploy W2K8 HPC R2 (also W2K8 R2 Standard) over PXE to an iSCSI device. The problem is that during the setup process, it aborts the installation due to a missing boot device. The iSCSI target appears correctly in the device list for installation, but is marked as not usable by windows because there is not bootable device.

    the iSCSI NIC requires to be not bootable during deployment phase, and the Dell 1955 i am trying to deploy on, have no other bootable device (ex: virtual CD), of course i am trying to avoid getting a DVDDrive swapped between the servers on deployment. When i add the SAS Controller with a harddrive, even when the iSCSI target is marked as not bootable like before, it allows me to install in it.

    Any idea? solution? maybe i am missing any setup option?


    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 11:55 AM

All replies

  • Hello,

    Some questions for you --

    could you tell me which NIC you are using? it is a iscsi boot cabale nic or an iscsi hba?

    if your NIC is not capable of iscsi boot, have you looked at the gPXE option?

    Also,What iscsi target are you working with here?

    the documentation link below might help you, take a look.

    Web version of the guide on TechNet:




    The DOC download of the guide on the Download Center:



    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 6:18 PM
  • Hi Permita,

    NIC cards are a pair of Broadcom 5708S.

    One is set to boot from PXE and the other set to iSCSI mode, but on deploy time is a must (Vendor) not to have it bootable or it will loose the target if no bootsector is found.

    gPXE is not an option.

    As iSCSI array i have a FreeNAS box, so no "Windows Provider" available.

    Setup.exe is failing on the point where you would select the harddrive. The drive is there but as there is no other bootable device in the system, just dont like it.

    Yes i read both, not applicable to this example as no Provider is available in the Headnode.

    Any solution? Any W2K8 patched setup.exe available? any trick?


    Thursday, April 8, 2010 10:37 AM
  •  so if i understand correctly

    a) You want to iscsi boot your cluster, and you are willing to go into the bios of each of the compute nodes and put in the  iscsi target information.

    b) you want to have them boot from a FreeNAS box, which exposes an iscsi target.

    c) you are planning to provision the iSCSI target Array and create the LUNs and do the mapping for each compute nodes...


    it seems like you are doing all the work for the iscsi boot aspect :) , i woudl reccomend that you check the iscsi users guide which would help ou figure out why setup is failing with iscsi boot


    you might need to get in touch with the vendors for the iscsi array or the NICs to ensure you have the right firmware to allow you to iscsi boot.

    once your nodes have completed iscsi boot, and have hpc pack installed on them, you can add them to the cluster as pre-configured nodes.





    Monday, April 12, 2010 6:51 PM
  • Luciano -

    We might be able to help. We have software that not only includes the iSCSI Provider that Parmita mentions below, but also offers a Boot from iSCSI capability for your Broadcom NIC, when set for PXE - and provides the iSCSI Storage as well (software-based Windows iSCSI target). It is currently in beta, but we have an installer for it as well as some preliminary documentation - and it is for the Windows HPC Server R2 Beta 2 release - which I assume you are using?

    If forgoing using the HPC Cluster Manager for mass deployment, we can also individually install the compute node OS direct to iSCSI, using our current shipping software. Broadcom NICs can be tricky sometimes - we have some experience and Broadcom-specific documentation that help you to get your 5708s NIC booting from SAN, using PXE - all while still supporting the full TOE and iSOE capabilities of the Broadcom NIC.

    Let me know if we can be of help to you in any way.

    Steve Marfisi
    Double-Take Software




    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 6:22 PM
  • Hi,


    NICs are able to boot from iscsi after deployment phase (setting boot from iscsi target) and they get iscsi parameters from DHCP using vendor options/codes (60, 201, 203). The problem is when windows runs "setup.exe", does not recognize the iscsi disk as bootable when the deploy is being done using PXE from HPC.

    No harddrives, just 2 nics, one for PXE and one for iSCSI.

    From Broadcom vendor, this iSCSI nic card cant be configured as bootable because if there is no bootmanager in it, it will loose all iSCSI configuration = disk no more.

    So basically, i am stuck with the setup.exe from the windows installation, it does not allow to install if there are no bootable devices..

    Have also tried capturing an image from one of the DVD-deployed blades running on iSCSI. But after all the deployment going fine with that captured WIM, at 90% of hardware configuring (i think just before showing the login) exception arise and reboot happens. So no luck either.


    Steve, i am checking that FLEX option, could you please explain a little bit more how deployment is done? does it use WDS at all?




    Thursday, April 15, 2010 2:49 PM
  • Hi Luciano,

    We do not require you to set the Broadcom NIC for iSCSI boot, nor configure it via its  (the NIC's) hotkey to provice iSCSI session parameters. You only need to set it for PXE boot. Flex provides a way to pass iSCSI configuration in using PXE...the iSCSI configuration will surviive. In a nutshell, our first bootstrap picks up the root path options set in DHCP by the HPC Cluster Manager. Our 2nd bootstrap contains an iSCSI stack that uses this information to communicate with the assigned iSCSI target, using the information obtained by the first bootstrap.

    We do not use WDS at all. Outside of the HPC Cluster Manager, we would use our own PXE and TFTP services, as well as our Flex Management Service to obtain the iSCSI session parameters. But within the confines of HPC, we use the DHCP root path options that it populates. Our software was already designed to work with either DHCP root path options or use our own Flex Management Service.



    Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:55 PM
  • Hi Luciano,

    Double-take software has released a beta of our Flex for HPC solution for diskless iSCSI boot for Microsoft W2K8 HPC R2 compute nodes. Please let me know if interested in our beta program.



    Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:05 PM
  • Hi Luciano,

    Just out of curiosity, is there a particular reason why gPXE based iSCSI boot isn't acceptable? I'm guessing the issue you currently have is related to not having an iSCSI boot rom, to do the int-13 hook (which makes it appear to bios like a local disk). Typically this either requires a hardware iSCSI adapter, or explicit iSCSI boot rom code built into the firmware.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:27 PM