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My Adventures in Installing WHS... RRS feed

  • General discussion

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    So...

     

    This may end up a little long, and for that I apologize in advance.

     

    I have gone through four attempts to install WHS.  This has not happened due to the sofware but due to a myriad of hardware issues.  I am putting this here as a means to either help or amuse the rest of you.

     

    Without further ado:

     

     

     

    Attempt #1

     

    My first install of WHS remains to be the most flawless install I have done.

     

    MSI KT4A-V motherboard

    1GB DDR533

    4x HDD (80, 60, 60, 30GB)

    IDE Controller Card

     

    I got everything running fine, even did a partial backup of my main PC once i got it up and running as well as putting some music in the appropriate shared folder.

     

    Attempt #1 died when i heard a funny noise and looked to see that an IDE cable was in contact with a fan.  I reached over to move it (while the PC was still running, of course...) and as a result of it being stubborn, I ended up shorting out the motherboard against the case.  1 motherboard has officially been added to the GCycle pile...

     

     

     

     

    Attempt #2

     

    I figured since I was building a server, I might want to use a server motherboard!

     

    Supermicro P6DGE GX chipset motherboard with 2x PIII800MHz/100FSB 256k L2 cache

    1GB PC100 SDRAM

    Same HDDs as attempt #1, with the addition of a 20GB drive that was previously the OS drive for this motherboard.  (WinXP Pro was on it)

    IDE Controller Card

     

    This build took me 3 days to get running once it was physically assembled.  The P6DGE claims to be ACPI compliant, but it is very weird because it uses another power management protocol called APM which is also built into the bios.  The three days was because it took that long to discover that turning on ACPI wasn't enough.  You also have to turn OFF APM to get the mobo to prioritize ACPI.

     

    I eventually got WHS installed with just the DVD drive and the main OS HDD connected.  Once I got it all set up and updated, I started connecting additional drives.  Being careful, I connected one drive at a time by shutting down, connecting one drive, booting up and adding that drive to the pool.  I did this one drive at a time.

     

    When I booted up the server after adding the 20GB drive (the one that still had a WinXP install on it) something really strange happened.  Boot went normally through bios boot, but then it showed a WinXP load screen that quickly disappeared and was replaced with the WHS boot screen.  A few seconds later, I got a boot device error saying it couldn't locate a boot sector on the FLOPPY DRIVE and that I needed to insert a disk and press any button to continue.

     

    WHAT?!?

     

    That error is now the only thing that that motherboard gives.  To the best of my troubleshooting abilities, it appears that I fried the MBR on both drives AND the bios on the Supermicro board.

     

     

     

     

    Attempt #3

     

    At this point in time, I was down to one last spare motherboard on hand.  It is/was a craptacular ASRock that had only one thing going for it - 3 ram slots that could take 1GB each.  Other specs were 2.4GHz Celeron, 1 AGP 8x slot and a mere 2 PCI slots - JUST enough to get me up and running.

     

    I hooked up the DVD drive and the 80GB drive for the OS and installed WHS.  Install was flawless.  This time I paid attention to where I hooked up each drive and which ones were master or slave, so I hooked up everything in one shot:

     

    80GB (os drive) IDE

    DVD

    2x 60GB IDE

    40GB IDE

    30GB IDE

    200GB SATA (plundered from my main rig since I didn't need it for space)

     

    They were set up to boot in the same order as listed above.

     

    When I booted up after connecting them, only the first 4 drives were seen by the OS (80, 2x60 and the DVD).  All 7 drives showed during boot in the bios screens, but just wouldn't all show once booted all the way up.  After some research and experimentation, I disconnected the DVD and hooked up the 80, both 60s and the 200 and they all showed up.

     

    The ASRock mobo is so cheap that the onboard bus cannot handle more than 4 drives of any type, and will only give the OS the first 4 drives in the order that they are connected.

     

    Failboard is Fail.

     

     

     

     

    Attempt #4

     

    This is the current build.  While it is not the final one, it is what will need to last me until the end of my trial period.

     

    ASUS A7V8X-X (plundered from a co-worker who bought a new pc)

    512MB PC2100 DDR

    GeForce MX 4 series (can't remember precise model, but it's low powered enough to have a fanless heat sink)

    IDE Controller Card

    80GB HDD for the os

    2X 80gb

    2X 60gb

    1X 40gb

    1X 30gb

     

    I had to remove the 200GB SATA drive due to what is apparently a physical flaw in the drive - it posts healthy in the console but clicks constantly.  It sounds possibly like the read head arm for the platters hitting the stops really hard.

     

    The remaining drives result in a 405GB storage pool.  I'll be upgrading the drives as I can - hooray for $58 500GB WD SATA drives!

     

    It's running fine.  There are a couple of things going on that I believe are due to the bios (which is not updated tot he latest available for the board) but I don't plan on messing with it.  It's working, and I really don't want to change that...

     

    As I upgrade the drives on this server I will be adding (eventually) two SATA controller cards as needed.  The main drive is IDE, but I won't change that out for a SATA drive until my trial period ends and I buy the OEM version of WHS.  When I do that I will be buying a more recent mobo/processor with SATA on the board and doing a fresh install.

     

     

    The moral(s) of the story:

     

    -Don't use cheapo boards.  Limited bus bandwidth sucks.

    -Don't use the Supermicro P6DGE.  It's an awesome board, but the ACPI compliance is not perfect and it is more trouble than it's worth.

    -Don't try to adjust cables with the server running.  Motherboards HATE that...

     

    My final step is now going to be calling the MS activation line so I can get it activated properly.

     

    For me, installing WHS was a bit of a chore, but I did it to myself.

     

     

    Vitamin J

    Monday, August 4, 2008 7:13 PM

All replies

  • I'm glad it all seems to be working out for you in the end. Smile

    One thing, though. You might want to get rid of those 6 tiny drives and replace them with a couple of cheap 500 GB drives. You're tying up a lot of power and drive connectors for very little gain in storage.
    Monday, August 4, 2008 9:55 PM
    Moderator
  • I don't like the 20GB drive being there either, but I needed every last gig I could squeeze into it right now.  Every single drive in the system will eventually be replaced with a SATA drive of at least 500GB in size (I have a fairly substantial backup and media straming requirements)

     

    Since I'm a bit strapped for cash, i'll be buying one drive at a time and replacing all of the storage drives.  Starting with the smallest, of course.

     

    Once I am able tog et a new motherboard and case, there will be a total of 7 HDD and 1 DVD drive in the system.

     

    I'm planning on getting a Thermaltake Armor+ case and whatever motherboard I can for a Core2Duo with onboard video and SATA.

     

     

    Basically, the current setup is as much for experimentation as it is for actual backup and media streaming use.  I'll worry about a proper setup once my trial has expired and I buy the OEM copy of the OS.

    Monday, August 4, 2008 10:03 PM
  • Final Build:

    ASUS P5Q LE

    Dual-core Celeron

    2GB DDR2 800MHz

    1x 1TB WD Caviar Black 32MB cache

    2x 1TB WD Caviar Green 32MB cache (will be adding more of these as budget permits)
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 11:32 PM