August 2009 - Posts

Windows 2008 build fun and games.

I run a number of test servers at home, these are technically PCs running a server o/s, these currently number 6. I generally build these myself with a base spec of supporting 8GB ram in 4 slots, a minimum of a dual core proc and at least one x16 pci e slot. The latest builds ideally support 16GB ram and two pci e x16 slots.

The boards should support IDE and SATA drives and offer hardware raid for the SATA disks, with an extra raid card I can usually support up to 12 disks per server.

I've used these "Servers" for some time with windows 2003 and two windows 2008 x64 with sql server 2000, 2005 and 2008 and have been able to test federated servers, mirroring and replication across both x32 and x64 and so on.

I also 4 sata SSDs attached to a raid controller card, I plan to use the SSDs eventually for video editing but it has been interesting running various tests.

Anyway just now I've decided to take all my servers to Windows 2008 x64, but a couple of the builds hung part through with no indication of fault, at install I could see drives and dvd drives so all appeared to be ok.

What I discovered eventually was that I needed to install the jmicron drivers used for the motherboard during the install, the x64 Vista drivers do the trick.

If you've not used Windows 2008 then you'll find the whole experience "different", unusually my slightly elderly adaptec scsi raid controllers are no longer recognised by Windows 2008, no worries in Windows 2003 but it did stop me using a scsi boot install when i had install problems.

I think it likely if you're planning to install Windows 2008 on test equipment that you'll need to find x64 Vista storage drivers for your motherboard. Earlier this year I did take my PC to XP x64, having used Vista I wouldn't go that route, but sadly in the end I had to revert to x32 because despite the nice shiny Dell PC having a x64 sticker on the front there are no XP drivers for several areas of the motherboard. I also discovered that my expensive HP OfficeJet printer also didn't have an x64 xp driver. It's strange that my two £24 motherboards have happily taken windows 2000, W2K3 x32 and x64 and just now Windows 2008 x64 without issue, makes you wonder.

It also seems Tony had some similar problems with a dell server, my advice is to load all your storage drivers to a usb stick and when windows install gives you the option to add/scan for drivers plug in your usb stick and load them.

On the matter of x64 it appears that CU2 and CU3 post sp1 remove the ability to use the inbuilt reports from Management Studio, it appears this relates to x64 on Windows 2008 only. You would have had to do an install without BIDS and possibly the client SDK too. If you never ever work on your server direct then you'd not know about this I guess, all depends upon your working practices.

If you've not encountered Windows 2008 clustering yet then believe me you are in for a bit of a culture shock when you do. The nice people at microsoft sent me lots of links and some excellent book recommendations and of course they have a blog. I'm very grateful.

One strange discovery is that if you stop the licensing service you lose the ability to open the control panel. Windows activation also needs a couple of services running before that will work too. These issues didn’t arise from my own installs but from a build by a third party. Interestingly after a number of issues they have announced that they don’t support windows 2008. As this company supports a large part of a client infrastructure I found this somewhat worrying – I mean it’s not as if SQL 2008 and Windows 2008 are new, sigh !

Posted by GrumpyOldDBA with no comments