Installing windows server 2003 on a RAID volume without floppy disk

Posted on 2012-04-01
Last Modified: 2012-04-05
Hello experts,

I am in a location where there is no floppy disk drive available.

I have an HP proliant DL 140 G3 server with two SATA HDDs in a RAID 1array.

I am trying to install windows server 2003 but it seems to need the RID controller driver.

Is there any way to use CD or external HDD instead?
Question by:Muhajreen
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LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 125 total points
ID: 37793358
If there is a smartstart CD for that server boot the Server with that and you should have the option select your OS, and Windows 2003 should be included there. The Smartstart CD then prepares the system and will eventually ask you to insert your OS CD. If you have lost the Smartstart CD you should be able to download the iso from the HP site. With that CD you don't need any Floppies.

If there is no such CD available for that particular server, and if it isn't an SBS Server version of 2003, you should be able to create a 2003 boot CD with the the driver integrated. Check the following site for more help with that:

Or use the nliteos utility to do the same:
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

dlethe earned 125 total points
ID: 37793375
Go to; search for downloads under your model and look for the latest smartstart CD.  If one does not exist, google "slipstream" and this is a mechanism by which you make a custom Win2k3 installation CD (meaning you need a burner and lots of scratch space and time) with drivers pre-built.   Personally, I learned long ago that you just have to bite the bullet and bring both a USB-attached floppy carrier and an IDE-based floppy drive when you travel.  At least they fixed this nonsense in Windows 7.

Assisted Solution

TricksGuide earned 125 total points
ID: 37793837
DL140 G3 is an entry level server from HP and does not come with any SmartStart CD or Easy Setup CD. In this case, the best way will be to integrate SATA controller driver using nLIte and then implement the OS on this server.

Another workaround people follow is "disable RAID in BIOS and install the OS first. Then install the Storage controller driver in Windows using Device manager (Manual driver update option), later enable RAID back in BIOS.

Best of luck
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 37793883
If that controller doesn't have it, then disable the RAID in BIOS, keep it disabled.  Win2K3 does a fine job of software RAID1.  No drivers necessary and it will provide better performance unless you have a premium RAID controller with a battery backup anyway.

Assisted Solution

gortm001 earned 125 total points
ID: 37798540
Hardware Raid is the preferred way for Raid. It's as simple as that. Better performance, and you do not bother youre CPU with mirroring the drives. You do not need a floppy disk perse. You can put the driver on a USB stick, or burn it to CD, however, since you allready will have the Win OS CD in youre drive, that can be a bit problematic ;-)

Make sure you have disabled booting from USB in your BIOS, then put the USB drive in the server before booting so the drive is available when the setup starts.

Hope this helps.

LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 37798583
Hardware RAID is NOT the preferred way to do RAID.   Everything is relative.   On the high end, customers like google and some cloud providers are pure software-based RAID, but they handle petabytes.   NetApp, Oracle/Sun, and quite a fair number of NAS and SAN appliance vendors do it all with software RAID.    In fact, software RAID will always have the ability to provide better performance then any hardware-assisted device.   Some petabyte cloud suppliers are all using host-based software RAID.

At the low-end, are you aware that even the native Windows based RAID1 does read load balancing?  Whatever disk drive can process the data first does it.  The low-end hardware RAID controllers don't have that feature.  Can RAID controllers dynamically use your O/S RAM to cache I/Os as needed to improve performance and PREVENT I/Os from occurring?

Years ago software RAID had a performance penalty, but now with multiple cores the XOR work can be done in nanoseconds.   One thing a hardware RAID controller can't do is prevent I/Os.  Software based RAID stacks can and do gain overall performance by begin more frugal and not executing unnecessary I/Os.  The host-based RAID knows more about what is happening now, and in the future then any stand-alone hardware controller possibly could.   The software-based RAID can do calculations via DMA in nanoseconds while  you have to wait milliseconds to access disks with a hardware controller.

We write appliance software for many vendors, some use hardware-based controllers, others use custom or native RAID engines that layer above or within the kernel.  As such I can't tell you about some well-known products that actually are little more then a few MB of code that sits on top of LINUX or Solaris.  There is absolutely no "hardware" controller.

Expert Comment

ID: 37798843
Your examples here are, as you point out Unix based. I agree, that the software raid Unix, or for that matter Linux uses is way better then the software raid Microsoft puts in their products. Most of the Microsoft Software raid solutions I encountered, and that are quite a few, somewhere along the line get sychronisation errors, rebuilding of array's, not cleaning up their mess afterwards, resulting in a startup menu with one option to boot from the c: drive and more than 8 (really!) lines to boot from the secondary plex aka mirrored drive.

We are talking an HP server here, not a 25 cents sata-raid controller you can find on budget boards for a simple home PC.

So I can go along with your view, however imho a distinct difference must be made between Unix/Linux softraid and the Windows derivate. On a HP Windows machine my choice will always be using the array controller onboard, or if you want a seperate smartarray controller.

LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 37798877
The most likely reason you see such problems is that you have not chosen your disks wisely.   The issue is not so much the controller as it is choosing unsuitable disks.  Those standard desktop drives are simply unacceptable for any RAID mechanism that involves parity.

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