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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:37 am 
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Unable to resist tinkering with my server (HP X510), I took on a challenge to upgrade the onboard plain vanilla WHS OS to Windows Server 2008 R2. The X510 (and EX495) hardware is in its out-of-the-box configuration perfectly capable of running Windows Server 2008, unless you are looking for some heavy virtualization tasks.

I figured that the Server 2008 would give me a much more detailed control over my entire setup, and honestly, I was also curious to see if it could be done at all. The answer is yes, and if you are trying to do something similar, here are my notes.

I researched for a long time around various unattended USB-installations with little success, so I began looking for alternative and easier routes. I began wondering whether or not the trick would be to use a different computer to perform the installation on, and then simply transplant the operative system into the MSS. Of course just installing the entire Server 2008 OS on a desktop computer and then swapping the disk drive did not work because of the differences in the peripherals, like network adapters, mass storage controller devices and so on. I tried, but I immediately ended up with a totally unresponsive server (probably a blue screen or something).

Well, finally I managed to find a way of getting Server 2008 on the MSS. For a successful installation, this is what you need:

1) A Windows Server 2008 R2 installation DVD
2) A blank hard drive
3) A standard USB keyboard

Begin with replacing the internal hard drive of a standard desktop computer to a blank hard drive. This will be the OS drive of the new server, so choose the size wisely.

(You may wish to add additional disks in a RAID-5 array later, but since you will be using a software RAID-controller, the OS disk cannot be part of the RAID array. You can thus get away with a relatively small drive as a system drive. Having an unused 1TB disk at hand, I installed the OS on this, and added three 2TB disks in a RAID-5 array later on.)

Start up the desktop computer and insert the Windows Server installation disk to begin the installation process. The trick is to run the installation to a point where all the necessary files have been placed on the new drive, but before the server OS becomes aware of its surroundings and adapts the remaining installation to it. This point is the first reboot during the installation sequence. Wait until the installer starts the reboot process. As soon as the computer has shut down, but before it has a chance to restart, switch the computer off (pull the plug or whatever).

Now take out the half-baked drive and move over to the MSS server. Shut it down, and pull out all the drives. Insert a standard USB keyboard into the front USB jack. Insert the new drive into one of the available slots and start the server.

You will of course now no longer be able to see the rest of the installation, nevertheless, you will still be requested to perform a few input tasks with the keyboard, blindly so to speak. Since I had already done a dress-rehearsal on my desktop computer, I had taken notes about what to press and where, so it was quite a simple task. As long as you don't slip on the keys or rush ahead, it should work just fine. I actually performed this operation three times, just to be sure. Here is the cuesheet:

1. After the first start, the server will boot up. It runs for a few minutes until it reaches another reboot point. You will see that the health light at the front will go red, and then again turns blinking blue as the server finishes the reboot cycle.
2. Wait a while - three or four minutes will do. At this time, the installer has come to a point where it prompts you to change the administrator password.
3. Press ENTER
4. Type the new password
5. Arrow down
6. Type the password again
7. Tab
8. ENTER
9. ENTER again.

Wait a few minutes and grab a coffee to give the installer time to finish.

At this time the installer is finished, but you will still need to enable the Remote Desktop service and also configure the firewall to allow RDP connections. This sounds awfully complicated without seeing what you are doing, but is in fact remarkably easy to do.

10. Press Alt+K (simultaneously)
11. Arrow down
12. ENTER
13. Press Alt and then F
14. Press X
15. Arrow down
16. ENTER
17. ENTER

That's it!

You should now be able to find the server's IP-address on your router's web page. Use this to remote into the server and finish what is left of the installation, like entering the product key, changing the server name, configuring server roles, installing antivirus software and so on.

Oh, you will need to perform one final task, and that is to download and install the driver for the SATA storage controller. It is a Silicon Image SiI3531 and you can download the 64-bit driver from here:

http://www.siliconimage.com/products/product.aspx?id=80

Just a sidenote for the server savvy users: if you wish to reuse the DNS domain that you have registered for your MSS ("servername.homeserver.com"), do not forget to export the DNS Server Authentication certificates from the WHS and import them into the new Server 2008 setup before wiping the old WHS disks.

//Thomas


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:48 am 
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Thomas, you are a gentleman, a scholar, and an all-around badass. I could not for the life of me get my EX495 to boot from USB to install WHS 2011. This was a great idea.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:02 am 
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Any chance this can be done for windows 7 as well?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:04 am 
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How is the performance on the EX495? I have an EX490 with max memory and CPU upgrade. Wondering if it is faster/slower than the WHS v1.

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HP EX490
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz) + 4GB Mushkin (991762) Silverline RAM
- 2 x 2 TB WD20EARS + 1 TB (Seagate)
- 2 x 2 TB WD Elements USB (external for off-site backups)
- Running Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:15 pm 
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Just an update - I am still running this setup (X510 and Server 2008 R2) without a single glitch.

I had to restart the server after some of the Windows Updates, but apart from that, nothing. During the winter we had a power failure in the house that brough the server to an unexpected halt (duh!), and which forced the RAID array to be rebuilt. This took approximately 18 hours.

//Tom


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:23 pm 
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RamHawk wrote:
How is the performance on the EX495? I have an EX490 with max memory and CPU upgrade. Wondering if it is faster/slower than the WHS v1.


I cannot really compare, I suppose it is about the same performance speed as WHS... I am using the X510 in its standard RAM/CPU configuration and it is perfectly capable of handling everything I throw at it. But then again, it is a server so I don't use it for desktop use. I mainly use it for media streaming (to Popcorn Hour and a couple of Squeezeboxes), and data storage/retrieval. I know it is a overkill, but the rock solid stability of the 2008 R2 alone makes it worth the effort.

//Tom


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Hello,

I have a quick (hopefully) question that I really hope you can answer.

I'm running an EX495 that I just loaded Server 2008 R2 on using your guide (very helpful!). I can see the drives in "My Computer" and I can write/read just find from them. However, I've run into a snag while trying to get the SATA storage controller up and running. I installed the 1.5.20.1 drivers, and I believe I'm running the latest version of SATARAID 5, however I think I'm doing something wrong.

When I open up SATARAID 5 all the fields under both the 'device' and 'RAID Group' drop-down tab are all grayed out. Also, in the configuration window it shows that all my IDs are empty even though I have 3 other drives installed on the server. I'm curious if I'm just doing something completely wrong, but I would like to have some form of RAID in place before I start bringing over all my data.

Update:

Ok, I believe I'm running into issues because Windows is thinking that my drivers are removable, but I'm unsure if that would cause this.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:07 am 
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Hello,

If you are only using the internal bays, you actually don't need the SATA controller. This is only used to access external eSATA disks. I really don't know about external drives, I have three internal 2TB drives configured as a software RAID-5 array (plus a 1TB system disk).

//Tom


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:08 pm 
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mimoid wrote:
RamHawk wrote:
How is the performance on the EX495? I have an EX490 with max memory and CPU upgrade. Wondering if it is faster/slower than the WHS v1.


I cannot really compare, I suppose it is about the same performance speed as WHS... I am using the X510 in its standard RAM/CPU configuration and it is perfectly capable of handling everything I throw at it. But then again, it is a server so I don't use it for desktop use. I mainly use it for media streaming (to Popcorn Hour and a couple of Squeezeboxes), and data storage/retrieval. I know it is a overkill, but the rock solid stability of the 2008 R2 alone makes it worth the effort.

//Tom


The only problem I have with my current WHS v1 is that if I do a lot of file transfers to/from the server then it seems to get slow. I think it is only to folders that have duplication turned on.

Main example is when my wife opens a photo folder from the WHS and put it in thumbnail view. Locally the images show up very fast but on the server they are excruciatingly slow to show themselves. Grr... So, I can either go with WHS 2011 w/o DE or go with WinServer 2008. I have a good backup process so I don't necessarily care about DE at the moment.

I just can't make up my mind which route I should go.... WHS 2011 or Server 2008.... while still maintaining a slightly low-powered home server.

_________________
HP EX490
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz) + 4GB Mushkin (991762) Silverline RAM
- 2 x 2 TB WD20EARS + 1 TB (Seagate)
- 2 x 2 TB WD Elements USB (external for off-site backups)
- Running Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:14 am 
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just wanted to say this works for an install of server2008 enterprise r2 on an esx475 with 2gb memory.. i tried it last night.. worked third time lucky.. the first two failures were on the admin passowrd reset part.. the password i was using wasn't strong enough .duh...

many thanks to mimoid for the step by step guide :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:14 pm 
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Well, I followed these steps about 3~4 times. My EX490 is getting to some point and not moving forward. I try listening to the HDD noise to see if it is "installing" or just sitting idle.... but I can't tell. I installed WinSrv2k8 R2 on a normal PC and stepped through every item the OP mentioned and the instructions listed here are perfect. Maybe I need to load the Silicon Image SiI3531 drivers on the drive before I move it over to the EX490?!? Password I'm using works fine on the PC install. I even tried to move the full-install instance back to the EX490 and no such luck. I don't see the machine's IP showing up in my router.

I'm using a new 1TB HDD that is the same make/model as the OEM. I have 4 GB of RAM and an upgraded CPU.

I'm gonna buy a video header today to see what's going on. :( Didn't really want to spend the $ but I've been wanting to get the header anyway. Bummer. Was hoping it would just dump over on the half-baked drive.

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HP EX490
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz) + 4GB Mushkin (991762) Silverline RAM
- 2 x 2 TB WD20EARS + 1 TB (Seagate)
- 2 x 2 TB WD Elements USB (external for off-site backups)
- Running Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:24 pm 
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In response to my previous postings on installing Win2k8-R2 on my EX490....

1. In preparation of my move to Win2k8-R2, I made sure all data was backed up and that I had at least 1 good off-site backup. That took a long time to verify everything was up-to-date and off-site.
2. I turned off folder duplication on my WHSv1 and I could see a slight speed increase in my machine.
3. I removed 1 of my 2TB drives from the drive pool. I had plenty of room so that process went well (overnight). I'll use this as my main data drive in the new install.
4. I then used Vice-Versa to copy all my data over to this blank drive (overnight). This will be my main data drive on the new OS install.
5. I ordered my VGA debug cable and got it right before the weekend.
6. I ended up just installing Win2k8-R2 from the front USB port off a thumb drive onto my 1 TB drive (50GB partition). I still walked through the instructions step-by-step and I don't know what was going wrong before. I know I gave it plenty of time to reboot and load b/c that part actually went fast. I was giving it WAY more time. Either way, it is installed.
7. Installed the SiS SATA drivers. Added the roles of File Server and Hyper-V. Installed the Service Pack 1 and performed all other software updates (whew).
8. Added back my main data drive that I had copied the data from my WHSv1. Assigned drive letter, etc..
9. Created users and created all my shares I had just like it was structured from my WHSv1. Client computers didn't even notice a difference. :) That was my plan and it seemed to have worked.

With that basic install and configuration complete, the system is VERY responsive and I feel RDC is much faster too. SiS SATA is the only additional driver I had to install. Everything else is default Windows detected drivers. Keeping my new install's machine name and network name (no domain) the same allowed for no re-configuration on my clients. Only thing I have to do is delete the WHS connector program on each client.

I still have my original 1TB OS / data drive and the 2TB drive that make up the drive pool. If needed, I could pop both these in the machine and I'd be back up and running with my old configuration. Once everything is good, I'll use the 2nd 2TB drive as a replication or mirror of my main data drive.

So, I'm pretty happy with my install and how it went. Just took a long time to verify and move my data.

_________________
HP EX490
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz) + 4GB Mushkin (991762) Silverline RAM
- 2 x 2 TB WD20EARS + 1 TB (Seagate)
- 2 x 2 TB WD Elements USB (external for off-site backups)
- Running Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:34 am 
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I have question... I already plug in keyboard on front of EX490 but... there no light come on which is Caps lock, Num lock and Scroll lock... Hmmm... Are you sure this will work?


Thanks!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:35 pm 
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Great info, Thx!!!
Just an FYI for those in the future. WHS 2011 is built on Server 2008 jus so you know. The main reason for 2011 was to have larger then 2 tb drives.

I have installed Server 2012 Essentials on my Hardware upgraded x510 and it seemed to run ok, but built a DIY with a little more beef and went back to WHS V1 on the little server.

WHS V1 is still working fine for me, but I know many others are looking.
Good Luck all and enjoy!

I know there was a VGA adapter on ebay for the mediasmart servers which wasn't to much and helps.

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[X510 CPU/RAM/All 2 TB Red's] [X510 CPU/Sync'ed Backup/All 2 TB Hitachi's]
[X510 /2 in box]
[X710 LIAN LI DIY W2012E] Stablebit Drivepool [EX-503 LIAN LI 5-bay USB3 External]
:twisted: Fear the Cloud :twisted:


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 4:28 pm 
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cat139lyleb wrote:
I have question... I already plug in keyboard on front of EX490 but... there no light come on which is Caps lock, Num lock and Scroll lock... Hmmm... Are you sure this will work?


Thanks!!!


Did you jump JP2 on the mobo?

_________________
EX-495 w/ WHS v1
VGA / PS2 Keyboard_Mouse debug board
Q8200s CPU w/ two 30mm cooling fans
4gb G.Skill CL5 Ram
7200 RPM WD Gold
Rear Case Cover Mod

Plus a Few Spare EX490's to Tinker With


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