Friday, December 10, 2004

Small Business Server 2003 Virginity Broken

I have done it!
I purchased today a small machine to operate as a server running Small Business Server 2003.
It has the following specs
2.6Ghz Celeron CPU
ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe M/b (Supports Dual DDR)
2 x 256 Geil RAM
128Mb Geforce Video Card
2 x 200Gb S-ATA Hard drives configured in RAID-1
Monitor Keyboard and Mouse and UPS

I am installing SBS 2003 now.

However the point of this post is to assist all the thousands of people out there who like me have tried to install a Windows OS (including XP, SBS2K3, Windows 2000 etc) onto a S-ATA RAID configuration.

The trouble I ran into is that when installing from either a bootable CD-ROM or the Windows XP install floppies (downloadable from Microsoft) you need to press F6 (really quickly as it has a short time out) as the install is starting in order to be able to let Windows install the S-ATA RAID drivers it needs to recognise the hard drive. Otherwise you will get to the point in the install where Windows says it cannot find a hard drive.

Lets lay out the actual steps involved here.

First you must have two or more S-ATA drives in your PC, correctly connected to your motherboard and powered up.
Second you must configure the BIOS to reconignise these drives, enable the RAID format and make them bootable.
Third you need to run the RAID configuration utility usually a CTRL + some other key combination that will flash up when booting. Here you need to ensure that the selected drives are configured in your required RAID configuration. RAID-0 for stripe and RAID-1 for mirror.
Fourth you need to boot from your OS installation CD or floppy. As it starts to install watch for the install status display at the bottom of the screen to state "Press F6 to install additonal mass storage drivers". HIT F6 NOW!
Fifth put your driver floppy in the floppy drive. When the install stops and prompts for the drivers hit S to specify a driver. This will search the floppy and locate the driver. Select it and continue. Windows will now continue to install.

But wait you say - what floppy! I never got a floppy with drivers on it - how and what and grrrrr!.

OK I relate.
First off you will need access to a another machine that is already working (not very great if this is your only PC!) Put your motherboard driver disk (you do have one don't you?) in the CD or DVD drive and put a blank floppy in the floppy drive. If you don't have a motherboard CD then you are going to have to locate the required drivers (m/b chipset drivers not promise or raid controllers) from their web site.

Then locate the chipset drivers on the CD and find a readme.txt file that explains what S-ATA RAID drivers you need for the F6 installation method. (Or something similar - they are all slightly different.) Follow the instructions to extract the files to your floppy. Sometimes there will be a MakeDisk.exe file (or similar) that will do this automatically for you.

The important thing to note is that you are looking for the chipset S-ATA RAID drivers, not Promise 378 or other raid drivers. These are usually for IDE RAID and will not work in this instance.

If this doesn't help you can try emailing me... longshot but I have done a couple of these now different ways and am getting used to it!

All of this is required because Windows OS don't natively support S-ATA RAID drives!