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Upgrading to Server 2008 on Dell Precision 670

February 28, 2008

I should have known.  Seriously.

Windows Server 2008I’ve written about some of the angst of moving to Windows Vista at work over the past few months, specifically getting my Dell Precision 670’s CERC 1.5/6 SATA RAID controller to work right.  I managed, for Vista, to hack the .inf files and it “worked”… just not real well.  Performance was horrid and the drives would just sit and think once in a while.

In the end, I rolled back to Server 2003 R2.  The past few months have been good—things have worked.  Visual Studio 2008 works, plugins, etc.  I couldn’t load Adobe PhotoShop CS3, but accepted that as a casuality to the war and have continued using Paint.Net.

So, I had a grand idea—upgrade to Server 2008 x64.  Things looked good, and, I assumed, I could hack the .inf files again if necessary.  The upgrade check came back clean—so what’s the worst that could happen?

A fire.  That’s the worst.  But, thankfully, nothing has caught fire (yet) over the past two days.

An Upgrade

I prefer clean installs over upgrades since I kept most all of my applications on my portable drive and well, I just like things to be clean, but for the sake of testing and brevity, was willing to make a concession to the war.

To upgrade, I had to uninstall a few applications:

  • McAfee Anti-Virus Enterprise 8.0 (and manage the upgrade before ePO noticed that it was missing and reinstalled it)
  • Microsoft PowerShell 1.0

PowerShell was the most annoying to uninstall—it’s not an application, but a HotFix and is listed as such in Add/Remove Programs.

After those, the upgrade proceeded.

“Your upgrade may take several hours to complete.”

Thankfully, it was time to go home, so I left it to install.  On arriving this morning, I was greeted by a new BSoD—the black screen of death—informing me that a driver was valid, but not signed properly.  I disabled the driver signature enforcement, but then the driver was no longer valid.  *boggle*

After that, I tried to roll back.  I must say that, if it worked, that’d be a great feature.  It said it worked, but on reboot, simply informed me that the boot sector couldn’t be found.  Stellar.

A Clean Install

My second attempt to install Server 2008 was a clean install—good deal.  Without a boot sector, the system was ready for a nice, clean installation.

That was a no-go.  Unfortunately, my “hacked” drivers were needed, but were not signed properly.

A Clean Install + “Disable Driver Signature Enforcement”

My third attempt involved hammering F8 while the DVD was spinning up.  After a few moments, I was greeted with the installation option screen.

Notice to Microsoft:  Allow MULTIPLE options.  I’d love to be able to select to disable TWO things—specifically, “reboot on exception”.  I’m not Superman, I can’t read the BSoD’s for the millisecond they’re on the screen.

Unfortunately, this installation didn’t like my “hacked” drivers, but DID like the unhacked ones.  I checked the original KB article that discussed Vista’s hatred towards the CERC drivers and didn’t see Server 2008 on there or a reference to other operating system articles—there might be hope.

There was hope, until the installation tried to reboot and BSoD’ed as it did with Vista.

A Friendly Ghost

Annoyed and unproductive, I did what any good, self-respecting geek would do—I reghosted my machine back to Server 2003 R2 with all of my tools.  I’m assuming the entire issue revolves around the CERC controller in the Precision 670, but don’t have another SATA Raid adapter sitting around to test. 

Dell Precision 690As my Precision 670 nears it’s End of Life (it’s over 4 years old now), I should expect some of the newer software not to work on it, or not work with components used in it.  As a friend and I were discussing earlier, running the latest software tends to require the latest hardware—whether that’s “right” or not, that’s just the way it is. 

So, for now, my IIS 7 testing shall remain in virtual machines as my “new” Dell Quad-Core Precision 690 was ordered, then reallocated to a new coworker.  I randomly go over and drool on it. It’s so pretty.😦

  1. your spellchecker
    March 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    “nears it’s End of Life” – “nears its End of Life”

    http://www.dict.org?

  2. March 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    @your spellchecker –

    Normally, I’d fix it, but this time… nahhhhh.🙂

  3. Don Awalt
    March 9, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Dell posted a driver for Windows Server 2008 on Feb. 29 – did oyu see it? Can you try again? I am hoping this works for you!

    Here it is:
    http://support.us.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R180080&formatcnt=3&libid=0&fileid=245742

  4. March 9, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    @Don-

    That’s VERY interesting–haha, the day AFTER and a driver is released. I’ll give it another try with that driver, thank you!

  1. March 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm
  2. March 11, 2008 at 3:06 pm
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