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Picking the right OS for my server hardware

This may seem a bit backwards but I am trying to find a good OS to put on my HP DL580 G2 server.  It is a 4 Proc, HT 2.0Ghz server with 8GB.

I am trying to take advantage of the 8GB of memory and the hyper threading unfortunately it is not a 64bit CPU  (only 686 according to the install error) so 2008 R2 which was my first choice is out.

here is the caveat.  I am a Windows Admin through and through.  I have never installed linux (bare metal) or really done much with it.  I am just looking for some good advise on what I can do with this huge server before it ends up being a boat anchor.

FYI, I have 2 DL380 G2s sitting around also that may get tossed out with the bath water if I can't find something practcal to do with them.

Watch Question

Nothing stopping you from running Windows 2008 x86 SP2 on them.  If you are truly set on running Windows.  Otherwise I think you are out of luck.  Even if you get some virtualization software running it will still only run 32 bit guest servers.
EE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology Professional
You could go with windows server 2008 32 bit enterprise. Standard only supports up to 4Gb.

You probably found this, but for other experts who may be looking for an official answer on supported OSes, here it is: http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/us/en/servers/ws-server-2003-R2-archive.html

If you are okay with virtual machines, the best choice may be to put ESXi 3.5 on it and then you can install multiple servers from there.
Top Expert 2012

Take a look at the memory limits for the various OSes: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa366778(v=vs.85).aspx
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Either 2008 Enterprise (NOT the R2 release, which requires an x64 CPU) or 2003 Enterprise (either the original or R2) will support all of your memory.

As far as I know, the only the Enterprise editions of Windows Server (32-bit) will support more than 4 GB of RAM. If you can get a hold of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (not R2 as R2 is only available in 64-bit), you should be good. One project I worked on used Server 2003 Enterprise on 32-bit servers for our database servers.

Other than that, you might be able to upgrade the CPUs to 64-bit CPUs, but I'm not sure what the servers will support or how much it would cost to upgrade the CPUs.

Hope this helps.

Just as a follow up, here is the output (the relevant parts, anyway) from running systeminfo on our DB servers running w/ 16GB RAM:


OS Name:                   Microsoft(R) Windows(R) Server 2003, Enterprise Edition
System Type:               X86-based PC
Total Physical Memory:     16,374 MB

If it were a 64-bit server, it would show this:
System Type:               x64-based PC

Hope this helps.


TBone 2K.  Is 3.5 the highest version that will run?

Yes, I believe 4.x requires VT enabled processors (64 bit)
According to VMware (http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1003661) ESX 4 and 5 will only run on 64-bit processors.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

If you don't have a compelling need for the hardware, it may already be a boat anchor. That server has 1/12 the RAM of my current hardware used for virtualizing. With 4 processors I bet that it is an energy hog too. With only 32 bit processors your server isn't worth much now. If you can have a use for it - great. If not, get rid of it.
Distinguished Expert 2019
Good server to use in the winter to heat the home with, rather expensive to use in the summer.