Home > General Development, Hardware and Software, Microsoft, Oracle, Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server, Windows Vista > Upgrading to Server 2008 on Dell Precision 670 #2

Upgrading to Server 2008 on Dell Precision 670 #2

March 11, 2008

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.

Installation

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

SoundMax Sound

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*

Programs

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 1.4.8.12137 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 (11.1.0.6.0) 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.

Performance

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.

 

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  1. Don Awalt
    May 17, 2008 at 4:22 am

    I have Windows Server 2008 x64 running like a champ on my Precision 670, but I have not found a version of the Adaptec RAID Storage Manager that runs. This is the software that lets you monitor the status/config of the RAID drives. Did you ever find one, or do you just assume if you ever have to re-config your RAID array due to drive failure etc., you’ll just boot to the BIOS config tool for RAID and re-config there?

  2. May 17, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Don-

    Yeah, I would just boot to the BIOS. I’m hoping that newer NVidia drivers and Oracle software catches up to Server 2008 soon so I can try upgrading again.

    I ended up dropping back to Server 2003 R2–there were simply too many performance and application issues.

  3. Antonio Medina
    July 14, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I’m trying to install windows server 2008 on my precision 670, I download the newest driver for the cerc controller. But everytime i try to install it windows 2008 setup tells me i’m installing a unsigned driver and that is not supported could provide some insite as to how you got windows 2008 working? Thanks

  4. rattler458
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