Server Setup Question

Hello,

I have inherited two aged Dell PowerEdge 2650 servers. My goal is to get more acquainted with server hardware and setup, using these two machines. I can't get out of the door!

Each machine is identical to the other, and I am starting with just one at a time. I went to Dell's support site and downloaded all of the drivers and utilities and made a configuration boot disk. Setup and the BIOS/RAID BIOS doesn't seem to think there are any drives in the system, there are five. The error produced reads;

"Unable to determine boot device. Drives may not be initialized. Initialize using the BIOS utility, or check if the disks are connected properly."

How does one initialize the drives? There is nothing in the BIOS that is even close to resembling that choice option.

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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAsked:
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thompsonwirelessCommented:
You are probably going to have to initialize your RAID array if you have drives installed.  I believe that's what you're seeing.
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JustenCCommented:
When you boot the system you shold see Ctrl-R for the Poweredge RAID 3/QC go by. That's the 'BIOS' for the RAID card. Hit that then you can select and initialize the disks and create a logical volume from them.
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JustenCCommented:
When you boot the system you shold see Ctrl-R for the Poweredge RAID 3/QC go by. That's the 'BIOS' for the RAID card. Hit that then you can select and initialize the disks and create a logical volume from them.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
For a PE2650, you must Initialize the drives, then create a RAID array.  Then when you boot to the Windows CD, you will need to load the RAID controller (PERC 3/Di) drivers at the F6 prompt.  Depending on the SP level of the 2003 CD you are using it may already have the RAID drivers in it, but if it says no hard drives found AFTER creating the array, then you will need to load the drivers.

Alternatively, you can use the System Build and Update Utility to install the OS (if your 2003 media is SP2) or use nLiteOS.com to integrate SP's and/or drivers.
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JustenCCommented:
I have to apologize for the duplicate posts, our proxy server helps me out on forums.

I was looking for the manual on the PERC and don't really see one separate. The next best thing is the Document CD here, it should have the step through for the PERC BIOS.:
http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&cs=2684&l=en&s=pub&releaseid=R171455&SystemID=PWE_FOS_XEO_2650&servicetag=&os=WNET&osl=en&deviceid=16819&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=1&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=0&libid=36&typeid=-1&dateid=-1&formatid=-1&source=-1&fileid=234169

Justen
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JustenCCommented:
I have to apologize for the duplicate posts, our proxy server helps me out on forums.

I was looking for the manual on the PERC and don't really see one separate. The next best thing is the Document CD here, it should have the step through for the PERC BIOS.:
http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&cs=2684&l=en&s=pub&releaseid=R171455&SystemID=PWE_FOS_XEO_2650&servicetag=&os=WNET&osl=en&deviceid=16819&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=1&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=0&libid=36&typeid=-1&dateid=-1&formatid=-1&source=-1&fileid=234169

Justen
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Oversight ... using addin PERC 3 it is an LSI controller rather than the onboard PERC 3, which would be Adaptec.  

The PERC 3/QC will be CTRL-M and you will first create an array in Configure>View/Add, THEN you must Initialize from the main Management Menu.  This must be done before the OS can see any drives.  THEN, if you don't see drives, you must load the driver for the PERC 3/QC.
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
I was able to get  the System config. CD to proceed, but instead of doing what it does, it claimed that it had to reboot to write a signature file to the drives (?).

Sure takes it's sweet time in rebooting...
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JustenCCommented:
The signature is a good thing. You should be set if you see the drive space as you expect it
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
Hello,

In the RAID setup, it show two logical disks. Disk 0 is a RAID 1, w/16.87GB space, Disk 1 is a RAID 5 with 136.48GB space. If I click "Skip RAID configuration", I get an error stating that 8.05GB free space is needed for a WS03 install. Clicking "Configure RAID" has me configuring Disk 1. Seems like setup is ignoring Disk 0. What do I have to do to disk 0 to get Windows to install there?  Thanks!
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JustenCCommented:
Firebar,
Go into the BIOS of the RAID card on boot up and makse sure you see all the physical disks you think you should. You might not have good drives or backplane. If you do, use the utility to select or change the bootable logical volume. If you don't need anything on the drives you can initialize them here also.

I have to apologize for the duplicate posts, our proxy server helps me out on forums.

Justen
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JustenCCommented:
Firebar,
Go into the BIOS of the RAID card on boot up and makse sure you see all the physical disks you think you should. You might not have good drives or backplane. If you do, use the utility to select or change the bootable logical volume. If you don't need anything on the drives you can initialize them here also.

I have to apologize for the duplicate posts, our proxy server helps me out on forums.

Justen
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
Justen,

It can see all of the drives in the Boot disk, it just won't let me configure both logical volumes at the same time, just one or the other. Perhaps that is something that will be done in Windows?

The AIC-7899 SCSISelect Utility is sought by pressing Ctrl + A. What does this utility actually do, versus the RAID setup utility (ctrl + M)?
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JustenCCommented:
The SCSI select utility should not have any disks under it. If it does, your backplane is incorrectly wired or your RAID is not enabled. It is for the onboard SCSI card when you dont pay for the RAID option.

Are there any physical disks in the SCSI select utility?


apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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JustenCCommented:
The SCSI select utility should not have any disks under it. If it does, your backplane is incorrectly wired or your RAID is not enabled. It is for the onboard SCSI card when you dont pay for the RAID option.

Are there any physical disks in the SCSI select utility?


apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
It seems stuck on "Configuring RAID 0, creating virtual disk", it has been at 0% for over thirty minutes.


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JustenCCommented:
This is after it wrote its signature and booted a couple of hours ago? That's too long. Really I would work in the RAID BIOS this time around. Who knows what you inherited. Initialize everything, create a new RAID1 and start clean. Then you can skip RAID configuration here.

apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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JustenCCommented:
This is after it wrote its signature and booted a couple of hours ago? That's too long. Really I would work in the RAID BIOS this time around. Who knows what you inherited. Initialize everything, create a new RAID1 and start clean. Then you can skip RAID configuration here.

apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
I would love to, but how. "The controls are not responding". I can create nor remove any drive configuration. This is what I have...


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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
To say I am a bit confused is an understatement right now. For hoots and hollers, I popped in the WS03 R2 disk to just to see what was what on territory I was familiar (Windows Setup), and it found both volumes. I chose the RAID 0 as C:\ and the RAID 5 as E:\, setup is running.  
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JustenCCommented:
Those are all the physical disks the first 2 are mirror the rest, raid 5.
The first menu displays an Initialize option, do that for every drive. It will clear the config likely.

Hit Escapefrom this screenshot above and you should see a Clear Configuration or New Config item in the menu, that will clear what you see here too. Then New Configuration from the menu it will bring you back to this screen but the drives will all say Ready, hit space bar, space bar to select the first 2 drives ('Ready' will blink) then Enter (twice if you see a small box that reads A-00) then F10 to the next menu to tell it to be a RAID1. You can ususally leave the rest of the settings default. Then escape out and select to Save the configuration and reboot to install the OS. You can come back later and configure the rest as a RAID5 in the smae manner.



apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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JustenCCommented:
Those are all the physical disks the first 2 are mirror the rest, raid 5.
The first menu displays an Initialize option, do that for every drive. It will clear the config likely.

Hit Escapefrom this screenshot above and you should see a Clear Configuration or New Config item in the menu, that will clear what you see here too. Then New Configuration from the menu it will bring you back to this screen but the drives will all say Ready, hit space bar, space bar to select the first 2 drives ('Ready' will blink) then Enter (twice if you see a small box that reads A-00) then F10 to the next menu to tell it to be a RAID1. You can ususally leave the rest of the settings default. Then escape out and select to Save the configuration and reboot to install the OS. You can come back later and configure the rest as a RAID5 in the smae manner.



apologies for dual posts, etc...

Justen
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
Despite my hapless screwing around, how did Windows see the two volumes and install on one of them. I would like to know what that is about. but am happy it is working.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
The Windows setup CD can see all existing partitions/volumes on the drives, so when it sees two arrays that have been properly created and initialized, it shows them to you and you have the option to install to either.  

The Dell installation disk only has the ability to create one array and one volume to install on (it can also skip RAID creation), but it cannot see multiple arrays/volumes to boot to.  It is primarily for straight-forward/basic configuration installs.  Any secondary arrays can be created in CNTL-M or from Windows using OpenManage Server Administrator after Windows is installed.
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aleghartCommented:
Firebar,
As others have suggested, you need to fix the RAID configuration with it's onbard BIOS before you go installing operating systems.  With your current setup, you have:

Operating system installed on the fastest volume (RAID0) with zero redundancy.  Over how many spindles/drives?  Any one of these drives fails, and you have unrecoverable loss of the operating system.  Also, you stated this was only a 8GB volume...so you're stuck with somebody else's old partitioning scheme.  You're stuck with Server 2003 or older, and must put data on another volume:

Data volume is RAID5, which is the slowest configuration, but does have redundancy.  If you don't need the max amount of storage space at the cost of performance, then you should be using RAID1 or RAID10.

As this is for your own education, it's best to learn it right.  By skipping any understanding of how a server actually works...you might as well install this on any generic workstation or even as a virtual guest with abstracted hardware.

If you want to truly learn how to setup a server, then NEVER accept settings left over from an old installation.  You have no idea how those RAID volumes were created or tuned.  Wipe it and start over.

My 2 cents.
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
I understand how to install Windows (and any other operating system) on generic hardware. See original post, I am looking for experience with server hardware, i.e. RAID and SCSI-based devices. Server hardware is hardly common in the desktop market.

I have Windows installed on RAID 1, in the first logical drive and data on RAID 5 in the second. I understand how RAID works and it's benefits/drawbacks. Configuring a Dell Perc 3/QC (which I have never done before, and where the docs where not congruent to the experience) was completely new to me.

I appreciate all of the great help. I am going to try this and try it again until it is second nature. Thanks!
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Jason WatkinsIT Project LeaderAuthor Commented:
Awesome tips, thanks!
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