Windows 2008 on IBM x335 - no-go!
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 | Author: Ozzik

well, here’s one for you:
I had to set up a server last week. It had to be win2008 on an IBM x335. Now, most of you will just say: so? Let me tell you. The chances you can get it to work are pretty much 50/50. In my case it was a big fat 0.

There are two things you’ll be struck by: optical drive and SCSI controller. The first one was not that much of a problem for me, but it sure can be for you. You see, the Redmond guys decided that in 2008 (and later) there’s no chance you have a CD-ROM drive in you server. Because all new servers come with DVD now. Which is true. But what about the older ones? As far as M$ is concerned: it’s your problem - deal with it. The only format win2008 comes in is DVD.

There are several ways to deal with that. Some choose to run BartPE to boot it up, some invent more sophisticated ways. You can google those methods. I actually dealt with it in an easier way (for me). I opened up the server, disconnected the IDE cable that led to CD-ROM and connected a simple PC DVD-ROM to the input. Next, I took an old PC, opened it up and hooked the power cable from there to the DVD-ROM. Powered up both and voila. Btw, you can’t boot the x335 from USB, if that thought ever crossed your mind.

So, as I said, that was an easier problem. The other one showed up later, and unfortunately was never solved. When you install the OS, it all goes pretty smooth, although takes a relatively long time. But when it completes and reboots you get stuck on a driver loading step. It never finishes it and just hangs. You can see it clearly when you try to boot it in the safe mode - you get the same result but at least you see that it’s stuck on “Loading crcdisk.sys”. Now that’s a SCSI controller driver problem.

There isn’t too much info about it on the net, but there is this topic, which everyone is referring to. To sum it up, the guy advises to update the BIOS and MPT(controller) BIOS with an IBM express CD or something. And then to download the latest driver from the IBM site. The links are in the article. Basically, your BIOS should be version 1.15 and your MPT version should be 5.04.07. Mine already was so it wasn’t relevant.

Here’s the awkward part. After saving the downloaded driver on the USB stick (yes, finally we have this option with windows), I relaunched the installation and when I got to the part where windows sees your hard drive, I added the driver. Surprise surprise! Windows said that I have no space left on the device and trying to delete or format the existing partition just gives errors.

Of course, normally I would try other hard drives, or maybe even another controller, but judging by the comments to that same post - there was no point. Most of the guys have hit the same problem.
Anyway, I tried all of the suggestions mentioned there: deleting and recreating the RAID, letting it synchronize first and then starting the installation, breaking the RAID and trying to install it on a single disk - nothing. All failed. Finally, I decided that wasting 2 days on this piece of shit was way WAY too much, and since we had it to be win2008, I took another server: x345.

Now, x345 is exactly the same server as x335, except that it is 2U and has additional SCSI (ServeRAID-4Lx) controller and capable of up to 6 hard drives. Oh, and it has another PSU. So I put it the 2 hard drives, configured the RAID1 via ServerGuide7.4 CD from IBM and installed win2008.

Now tell me, do you really think it was over? Come on.
Of course it hanged on bootup. Was there any other way?
The thing is that when I said “additional SCSI controller” - I meant it. So while all my drives were connected to and configured on the PCI adapter, the previous LSI was still active in the system and was still preventing this crap from booting up. So I had to enter the BIOS settings and disable the Planar SCSI.

After that - I couldn’t believe it myself - it installed fine and even booted up OK.
The downside to this trick is that if you have your server loose power for 3 times in a row or something, it will be reset to the default BIOS settings and it will be stuck in the BIOS screen waiting for your acknowledgment. But if you won’t remember to disable it again - it won’t work.

Anyway, some guys in that thread said they managed to install it. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to join their small community.

Update: After all the hassle, I decided to keep it simpler and just put the RAID card in x335, disabled the LSI in BIOS, transferred the drives and that was it. (Luckily I had a spare controller, so I didn’t have to actually take it out of the x345).

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