Upgrading to Server 2008 on Dell Precision 670 #2
To start out, thanks to Don Awalt who a reply to my original post and relayed that Dell posted the Adaptec CERC 1.5/6ch drivers for Server 2008. I really appreciate that—the drivers worked like a charm (note: they also worked with Vista).
With a fully functioning hard drive, I decided to give Server 2008 another shot.
The drivers, as I said worked well, however, my Dell monitor’s SD card reader/etc. really confused the drive manager. It would detect the drives, but they ended up being W: and below. Unplugging the monitor’s USB cable fixed this, but caused some logistic fun as my keyboard and mouse were plugged into the monitor.
After the system installed, things simply worked.
Out of the box, I needed two drivers:
SoundMax on-board sound drivers
NVidia Quadra 4400 video drivers
My first shot was at the Windows Server 2003 x64 drivers; however, the installation crashed out. To work around that issue, simply installing the drivers (Server Manager > Configuration > Device Manager > expand out the Sound Card > Update Drivers..) from the disk worked just fine. The Setup added in a sound console I never used, so no real loss there.
NVidia Quadra 4400
Out of the box, the standard VGA driver is tragic to try to use, so high quality video drivers were a must. The Quadra 4400 is on the list of approved Server 2008 and Vista hardware. The NVidia site, unfortunately, doesn’t list Server 2008 (a quick email to customer service informed me that the Vista drivers were compatible).
The official WHQL 169.39 release for Vista x64 installed without any issues—until I kicked my second monitor on. For some strange reason, the second monitor dragged performance to the point I could get coffee while the screen refreshed. I backed up to the prior ForceWare (162.65) and had the same problem. Note, this was without Glass/Aero activated. :( If I turned the second monitor off (in the display properties), performance kicked back up again. *boggle*
While I could live a bit without my second monitor, I wanted to see what ran and what didn’t under Server 2008.
BlogJet – BlogJet, unfortunately, crashes out with an unhandled win32 exception. I tried a bit of tracing and didn’t get anywhere. Finally, I posted up to the CodingRobots forums, but no response yet. If I didn’t PAY for BlogJet, I may not care so much, but I use it daily and really (REALLY) like it.
Windows Live Writer – Heh, in the mean time, I figured I’d try WLW again since it is out of beta. That didn’t work. In fact, that didn’t even install.
Apparently, I couldn’t even use WLW on XP (since I use x64). Bummer.
Omea Reader – My primary newsreader worked just fine after I did a bit of hacking similar to how Vista works. I expected this.
Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite – Installed like a champ (as expected).
TortoiseSVN 22.214.171.12437 x64 – Installed just fine and worked very well.
Oracle Client 11g x64– The Oracle client didn’t have a clue what I was trying to do, unfortunately. I tried the 11g R1 (126.96.36.199.0) release for x64 Windows, but the installer kept crashing out. Ugh. I have a 32–bit VM that I use for Oracle work at the moment—it looks like I’ll be keeping it around.
Overall, the system responded “ok”.
While I realize the system specs may not be the best, the 670 dragged quite a bit more than it did with Server 2003 R2 Standard. Simply navigating around between windows took a bit more time (due to the sluggish video performance), Visual Studio starts quite well, but maybe it needs more than 4GB of memory as having a large web project really brings it to its knees.
I didn’t install everything, but what really got me was Microsoft Outlook’s performance. I have numerous Personal Data Stores that I store mail in (from the dawn of time) and the simple act of loading those data stores set the CPU ablaze. I assume it is a glitch, but it makes it unusable to keep Outlook all the time. The Oracle issue was another real annoying snafu as I use the Oracle Client libraries for SQLPlus and Oracle Developer.
At this time, for me, perhaps Server 2008 is a bit TOO bleeding edge with such touchy Dell hardware and the few software vendors that haven’t kept to the knife’s edge. In a few months, the landscape should be more intune with 2008 and the transition be a bit better.
The saving grace is that after each failure, I can simply reghost my machine back to Server 2003 R2 and all of my applications (since I don’t keep anything on my workstation). Heh.