Recently, a client was discarding an old Lenovo RS 160 server. This system seemed like a nice little box for a home server. Reasonably quiet, small (pizza box size) and the specs of the system were reasonable. So I picked up a couple of Samsung SSDs and was went about setting up a mirror.
Everything worked great, the LSI RAID controller saw the drives, I was able to setup the hardware level mirror, and reboot into Windows Setup. That's where the fun began.
Windows setup saw the virtual drive, but refused to allow it to be used for installation. Windows Cannot Be Installed to This Disk. After some initial frustration, I reviewed the setup logs. There, I found an interesting line (sadly, I don't have the verbatim text, but something to the effect of "The controller found a drive that is compatible but WARNED against use"
So I thought outside of the box... or rather, the setup routine. I bypassed it. I brought up a command prompt and then used DiskPart to prep the disk, DISM to apply the image to the disk, and BCDBOOT to prepare the boot for the system. After all was done (in about 15 minutes, including image drop), everything worked great!
Here are my steps:
1. Windows the Windows setup program that's complaining, press Shift-F10 to open a command prompt.
2. Start Diskpart at the command line.
3. Review the disks the system sees - type list disk and press enter.
4. Find the disk you want to use for your installation, lilkely disk 0, so type SELECT DISK 0 and press enter.
5. Remove ALL the partitions that may exist on that disk. (This destroys data so backup anything you want to keep first!). Type CLEAN and press enter.
6. Ensure the disk is a GPT type (requires BIOS to be in UEFI mode or the booting won't work). Run CONVERT GPT and press enter.
7. Create an EFI partition - type PAR EFI SIZE=512 and press enter.
8. Format the EFI partition as FAT32 - type FORMAT FS=FAT32 and press enter.
9. Assign the EFI partition a drive letter (this will be used later by BCDBOOT; I used G:, you can use any available drive letter). Type ASSIGN LETTER G and press enter.
10. Create the Partition for Windows to be installed on - type CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY and press enter.
11. Format the Windows partition by typing FORMAT QUICK and pressing enter.
12. Assign the Windows partition a drive letter. (I used F:, but you can use any available drive letter). Type ASSIGN LETTER F and press enter.
13. Quit out of DiskPart by typing EXIT and pressing enter.
14. Locate your install.wim file and list it's available installation images (I used an example path, D:\sources\install.wim. Make sure you use the correct path to where your install.wim file is located). Type DISM /Get-ImageInfo /imagefile:D:\sources\install.wim and press enter.
15. Review the list of images that are available and locate the index number for the one you want to use. Note it.
16. Run DISM /apply-image /imagefile:D:\Sources\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:f:\ (Again, I'm using a sample path; use the correct path to your install.wim (or whatever you've named the wim if it's custom). Change the index number to the index number you want to install as found in step 15. Change the drive letter of the applydir parameter to the drive letter you assigned the windows partition in step 12.
17. After the image applies, run BCDBOOT d:\windows /s g: /f ALL and press enter.
18. Reboot and enjoy your installation of Windows.
(I thought about making this an article, but I suspect this is a very esoteric thing I had to do, so it didn't seem like the article would serve much of a point... but I originally learned of this installation method for installing Windows on unsupported hardware where setup wouldn't allow it to be done and thought I could use it here. Knowing it's possible might help someone else!)
There are various "fixes" to allow setup on older machines, but I would not recommend those unless you fully understand what running it on an unsupported processor means. Does it mean you may not use features you are hoping to get or does it mean standard day2day processes will run slower or even faulty? Please inform yourself before considering these "fixes". Unfortunately, I have not come across a complete explanation myself. If someone has a document on "why not install win11 on my CPU", please add it here.