My First Windows Server 2008 RTM Install.

I could just as easily say my first 2008 install period.  I never installed the betas or release candidates… probably should have, but time has been at a premium lately.

So it started out innocently enough… I bought components to setup Server 2008 on 3 months ago — a dual core intel processor, 2x2GB sticks of RAM, a basic graphics card, ECS motherboard, and a couple of 250 GB SATA II hard drives… and what happens, I decide to bring them home from my office and set it up at home… only the system won’t boot… looks like a bad power supply at first — it starts up, fans spin for a second, then stop for a couple seconds… then come on again… repeat… repeat… But then I test the power supply on another system and determine it’s the mainboard.  I thought maybe I had the power and reset LEDs switched… I ended up replacing the ECS board with a Gigabyte board and new RAM as well… (subsequently realize MAYBE it was the RAM?  It was DDR2 RAM, but 533 and maybe the board(s) would only accept 800 on the low end…?  I’ll test that eventually… but I digress).

I get the new board in at the office and I boot the system.  All looks good – go into BIOS, make a few settings adjustments and setup a hardware RAID 1.  Once I have all that set and ready, I put the 2008 x64 DVD in and boot… ok… different process, but pretty simple and painless to start… I start noting things on the desktop system beside me – things like the time when I started, each step, and so on… I get to the point that asks which hard drive to install it on.  Problem #1.  Server 2008 does not see my onboard SATA RAID.  Wow… The one thing I’ve noted is that Vista and now apparently Server 2008 has pathetic driver support (at least built in).  When 2000 and 2003 came out, it seemed they supported just about every piece of pre-existing hardware that wasn’t ISA.  It was very nice… if I had a cache of older (but not THAT old) hardware, it worked fine.  Unfortunately, not the case for Vista or (again, apparently) Windows Server 2008.

Ok, before people start complaining I’m being to hard on MS because the board I have is so new, I’ll grant you that… still… it’s not THAT new… there has been time to incorporate SATA RAID drivers.  And I know, MS just takes what the vendors give them – MS themselves don’t create the drivers – they may certify them, but they don’t write them.  But lets face it… MS is a BIG, INFLUENTIAL company and they COULD have put significant pressure on other vendors to certify the hardware.  They also COULD have allowed Vista drivers to work with Server 2008 especially given that the code bases were supposed to merge with Server 2008 and Vista SP1.  And yes, I did try the Vista driver, but the 2008 setup process did not see it as a driver for my hardware.

So I moved on – I went into BIOS and setup the SATA drives to work in legacy IDE mode.  Then started setup again and all was well – or so I thought.  It saw both disks… that was the good part… I then created a 38 GB (or so) partition for C: and probably forgot to format it… but setup let me continue… it copied files… then tried to expand them… that’s when I found out my DVD was bad.  Of course, I didn’t think so at first, so I had to prove 2008 wrong — it was telling me it was a hard disk issue.  I rebooted and tried again, thinking I failed to format, so that’s why… I tried to format the partition I made in my first attempt… but strangly, I could neither format nor delete that partition. Oddly, I COULD expand it… but that didn’t solve anything.  So I created ANOTHER partition on the second disk.  Tried again.  Same error… so I booted the system to a 2003 install disk and completed setup on that.  THAT worked.  So the drives (which were new but had be transported more than internal IDE drives are meant to be in recent weeks) were checking out as ok, at least according to Server 2003.  Well… I guess it’s a bad DVD… it looks pretty clean, but there are a couple of marks… marks that under most circumstances I wouldn’t consider enought to cause a problem… but maybe some combination of the brand of disk, DVD drive, and quality of the scratches was causing this problem.

My first attempted burn seemed to go ok – I even burned it at a lower speed – 4X instead of 8X to a Fuji DVD-R.  Then I tried to boot, only to have it hang.  So I tried AGAIN, this time with a Memorex 16X DVD-R.  Nope… something caused a write error and Nero hung about 30 seconds into the burn… OK, ONE MORE TIME.  This time, I used a different DVD burner (I have two in the system) and a DVD+RW disk, burning at 2.4X.  That worked.  Go figure.

The install completed, no errors. At first I thought it was a super fast install, forgetting what setup warns you about early on – the process requires several reboots.  From the moment you insert the DVD in the drive until the first reboot (at least on a 4 GB system with 7.2K RPM 250 GB SATA II drives and a dual core Intel 2.33 CPU), it takes about 13-15 minutes (depending on how fast you read and assuming you, at best skim the license agreement).   Then it reboots a few more times and I’d say after about 30-35 minutes, you can have a Start Menu and desktop in front of you.

Now the fun part…

Ah, not so fast.  Yes, Windows Server 2008 BASE install is done.  But it does virtually nothing at this point.  Microsoft has altered the setup routine so that there are no roles installed by default.  This is part of the reason for the quick initial install.

To install the additional roles and features, you use Server Management.  An MMC 3.0 management tool that isn’t horrible and will likely grow on me pretty quickly.  But here’s where things got a bit annoying.

I added the File Server role, Hyper-V role, and

Who is this leew guy anyway…

So, in many respects, at least when it comes to writing a blog, I have NO CLUE what I’m doing here.  I mean, I know I want to write about the experiences I have in IT and with Microsoft Software in the hopes of furthering the understanding and encouraging people to THINK.

So, I guess I’ll begin by giving a little info about me –

  • Professional experience working with PCs, Microsoft Operating Systems, and computer technology in general since 1994
  • Certifications include MCSA – Windows 2000, A+, Server+, numerous Brainbench.com (which I’m generally not “renewing”)
  • Been helping out on www.experts-exchange.com, answering questions and more recently, as a Page Editor, since 1997.
  • Named Microsoft MVP in July, 2006, for the first of what I hope will be many more times.

I’ve worked a variety of environments – one large (1000+ users) for almost a decade and more recently, many small businesses.

Currently, I’m an independent consultant working with several small businesses and dealing with people who know absolutely nothing about technology to people who know enough to be dangerous.

I don’t pretend to know it all – I always try to describe processes and procedures with “should” and not “will” results because frankly, after a dozen years of working with computer technology, I know EVERYTHING, no matter how logical it should be, will behave in a way you don’t expect at least once.  Further, technology moves very fast.  What I know to be true today could well be false or have had a work-around found tomorrow.  Or even yesterday.  Technology is THAT fast moving.

So, that’s me in a nutshell.  I’ll try to follow up with posts here about anything… from Scripting to my theories on where Microsoft will go with their technology.  Any everywhere in between and outside those areas.  If you think I’m wrong, tell me (few people are shy about telling me, but thought I’d say it anyway).