Lewis' Blog Tales from the trenches of information technology


Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 on the HP Proliant DL380 G4

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Just some quick notes. Hopefully, these will help someone else at some point in time.

(N.B.: I' ve had this sitting in drafts for a few months, now, waiting for me to follow up. I don't want this to wait, so I'm renaming this "Part 1," and will follow up with subsequent notes as time permits. The server is up and running - painful, but I finally got it - so I'll provide as many of the gory details in time as I can.)

Most of you who regularly read my blog know that I'm no fan of the Windows operating paradigm. It seems that with every release, the OS gets more bloated and performs more slowly. Server 2008 is no exception.

A former tech of mine extolled the virtues of 2008, particularly 64-bit. I am unimpressed.

The hardware:

HP Proliant DL380 G4
(2) Intel Xeon 3.40GHz CPUs
(6) 72.8GB hot pluggable 15K RPM Ultra SCSI drives, conigured as single RAID 5 volume

Previously, this server was deployed at another client's location running Novell OES 2 Linux, 64-bit. Other blog posts concerning that installation may be found here:http://www.2rosenthals.net/wordpress/?p=30/ and http://www.2rosenthals.net/wordpress/?p=47/ . Ultimately, I had OES 2 Linux x64 singing. Unfortunately, the client relocated his office and we had to downsize his system considerably. I ended up migrating his data to a NAS device doing RAID 1, and set up printing direct to the printers. This left me with a spare DL380 G4.

The OS:

The particular client where the server is now deployed has need of Blackberry Enterprise Server for GroupWise. Thinking toward the future, I decided that the best route to take would be to just go 64-bit, and as Microsoft saw fit to not release a W2K3 patch for a known memory leak exposed in the Blackberry Enterprise Server 5 platform, W2K8 seemed to be the only remaining choice. I ordered a 5-user package of R2 x64.

Physical installation:

I racked the server easily enough, connected both onboard NICs and the iLO to the three 10/100/1000 unmanaged switches in the cabinet, and connected a set of KVM cables.

My next step was to ensure that the firmware was up to date, so I burned the latest HP firmware DVD (luckily, another DL380 G4 had a DVD-ROM installed, so I swapped the CD-ROM in this one for the DVD drive) and booted the server from it. It turned out that the iLO had new firmware available and the RAID controller, as well.

OS installation:

I had difficulty burning a SmartStart CD (bad media, and no spare - fresh - discs with me), so I reset NVRAM & BIOS defaults from BIOS setup and booted from the W2K8 R2 std x64 DVD, and away we went.

I didn't really have much to do during this phase. I got it started, and then left the client's office, figuring I'd check in remotely later on.

That evening, I logged into the new server from an iLO remote console session, and finished the base install.

Proliant Support Pack:

The fun begins...

Naturally, I wanted to get the latest PSP installed on the box (8.50, for W2K8 R2 x64), so I downloaded that (slowly, as the network performance on this box is simply dreadful under this OS) and ran it, as usual. Imagine my surprise when it refused to install some things based on "missing prerequisites." Hmmm...

Looking at the list, I see the need for SNMP. Well, that makes sense (sort of), so I went to the server configuration applet, down to the Features folder (everything is a "folder" these days...even file system directories...but I digress), and selected SNMP services (the service itself, and the WMI provider, just in case).

Meanwhile, I noticed that the Network Configuration Utility not only hadn't been installed, but wasn't even on the list. I'd already installed Firefox (thankfully, as IE makes me itch, particularly IE 8), so I went to the downloads page for the DL380 G4 on HP's site, and looked for it. Sure enough, there was the package. So, I downloaded it to the PSP directory, and attempted to run the executable. After extraction, it came back to me with "OS not supported." Nice. Some further hunting in the HP support forums pointed me in the right direction, however, and after setting the compatibility for the installer executable to - get this - Windows 7, the package installed without a hitch.

More on this may be found in the HP forums.

Stay tuned for subsequent additions to these notes!

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Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. One comment, and one observation.

    The first is I’m annoyed that you cannot download pre-slipstreamed OS discs from Microsoft and the OEMs with the latest patches, service packs, and model specific drivers. The only reason Linux and BSD do not have these problems is because all the drivers make it to the core kernel. With windows genuine disadvantage, they can make the downloads freely available, but if they wanted the license key before hand and a windows live id I’d be ok with that. This would save a lot of the sort of annoyance you write about here.

    Second, I’m surprised you think IE8 sucks more than its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, I only use IE to run IE only websites, and to test how my websites look in IE. However, the browser has been progressively sucking less with each version.

    On a final note (ok one note, one observation and one piece of unsolicited advice), I’d suggest you give chrome a test drive. These days I use chrome (or chromium on my ubuntu netbook) as my daily browser, Firefox for development purposes, and IE for testing IE compatibility and crappy websites.

  2. Good comments, all. 😉

    Slipstreamed Win installs with factory drivers: These are available from the manufacturers (at least I know that HP has them). Unfortunately, they usually entail having to purchase the OS package from the manufacturer (not freely available, even if you *do* have a legitimate software license), which, as you point out, makes very little sense…

    Perhaps more annoying to me is HP’s claim that the G4 is fully Server 2008-ready, because it’s obviously not (or, probably more likely, their driver packages are not fully ready).

    Going somewhat OT for this post:

    IE4: “Standards? What standards?”

    IE5: “Oh, those standards… Security? What security?”

    IE6: No, that’s not fair. Let’s not even go there… The least secure browser platform on the planet required for use by the largest number of financial institutions for “security purposes.” Yep. Makes perfect sense.

    IE7: “Hey, look! I can do tabbed browsing, too!”

    IE8: “I’m IE7 with a new version number, so I must be better!”

    Seriously, I have found *all* Microsoft browsers to be rather lame, since IE4, the first (IIRC) version which was a true departure from Mosaic’s original code, on which the earlier versions were built. Still, I’ve been a Netscape user since before Netscape. 😉

    I just find little innovation in IE, even the latest versions (I’ve only seen 9 once, and don’t have it running on anything). Firefox and SeaMonkey seem to do everything I want in a browser, and perform quite well (Firefox 4 is amazingly quick, particularly on Linux and eComStation). IE owes its fast startup, of course, to so many browser-related dlls already being dragged into memory (and producing lackluster desktop performance as a side effect).

    Chrome is a bit spartan for me. Frankly, I use Chrome when booted from a Gparted Magic USB stick. Other than that, frankly, my idea of a streamlined browser is Firefox. I’ve had Chrome installed on SuSE and Windows (no build available for eCS), and have yet to find it do something which Firefox does not.

    I do love your constructive use of IE, though; well put!

    Back on topic, but briefly:

    I’ve found Server 2008 x64 while stable (okay, that box is only running ONE application, or to be more precise, one group of related applications: Blackberry Enterprise Server 5, a topic for another post) to be decidedly lacking in “get up and go” on the desktop. Maybe it’s the RAM “constraint” of only 4GB under 64-bit Windows, but frankly, this box – which screamed with a 32-bit OS (NetWare) and did exceptionally well (after much hammering and pounding into shape) under SLES 10, just feels like a pig now (opening windows and manipulating the desktop is like a 386 with 128MB RAM running Windows 98). No surprise, though.

  3. Lewis,

    I should have pointed out that I meant up to data slipstream install ISOs. I’m sure if I bought a Dell now, or maybe a month from now it would have a SP1 install CD. Also, I don’t know about HP, or dell servers for that matter, but the dell reinstall disks that come with workstations and laptops don’t have the network drivers built in. I always had to download them after the fact.

    Also, I’ll admit Firefox 4 might make me switch back, but chromes builtin PDF rendering gives chrome an advantage until firefox 5.

    I never had the misfortune of running BES, so I can’t comment on what that does to performance, but the last Win2k8 box and Win2k8R2 cloud slice I had to admin were pretty snappy desktop wise. Did you turn aero off and install the latest video drivers (if you were not RDPed in)?

    However, to be totally honest I got real good at not having to RDP into windows thanks to WinSSHD (not free but worth the license). That or cygwin sshd, and investing some time learning powershell will let you do most administrative tasks from a ssh prompt like a civilized sysadmin. I know exchange has very good powershell support, as does IIS.

  4. Ah, yes, those pesky updates, huh?

    I can’t speak for Dell, as I don’t support Dell hardware, but your point is well taken: you’ll perhaps get a customized install disc, but after that, you’re pretty much on your own, with no pre-built updates in the iso. Agreed. As for NIC drivers, the HP ones (slipstreamed install discs) seemed to be pretty good, but then anything is possible as time marches forward. I haven’t seen one in some time.

    Built-in PDF rendering, eh? That is indeed a nifty feature, I must admit.

    Only access to this box is via RDP, and I do have Aero turned off (immediately, if not sooner). Thanks for the pointer about WinSSHD; I’m used to using SSH on other platforms, but had simply accepted my options on Windows as being RDP or VNC (or via the HP Remote Insight Board).

    Thanks, Justin!

  5. I have a very similar configuration.  2 DL380 G4, one with a CD, one with a DVD.  Did you have to do any reconfiguration to have the Server with the CD recognise the DVD drive?  Trying to install Server 2008 R2 on second Server and it will not boot from the DVD drive.  Still thinks it's a CD.

    • Bruce: Sorry for the really, really late reply…

      This was so long ago now, that I don’t recall any BIOS settings to change for this. In fact, in some instances, with other Proliants, I’ve just hot swapped the drives (well, obviously not when I’ve needed to boot from optical media, but after). I do have a DL380 G4 in the rack, here (no OS on it at all, right now), but it already has a DVD in it. If I get some time one day soon, I’ll try swapping that for the CD in the DL380 G2 in the same rack, and see what comes of it.

  6. I know this is necro posting, but how did you get the ILO driver installed on the G4? I downlaoded the 2K3/2K8 driver and keep getting unsupported OS; even in compat mode for 2K3 or 2K8

    • No worries, Justin! We’re all friends, here. 😉

      This goes back so far, I can’t recall. I’d have to actually run another install to find out. What version of the iLO driver are you trying to install? For compatibility mode, you’ll definitely want to stick with Win 7 and not 2K3 or 2K8.

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