January 2010


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Dell NX3000 rebuild to 5TB partition

The number 1 search on this blog still points back to the Exchange queue post I put up a couple years back, so here’s another bit of advice.

One of my clients recently bought a Dell storage server – the NX3000. It comes with 6 internal drive bays and a 15-drive storage bay. Not bad, really – kind of a pocket SAN.

Well, those 6 internal bays are filled with 1TB drives. Two of them are in a mirror with the OS on it.

That’s right – a 1TB mirror for the OS.

If you think this is a bad design, you’re right. If you want to do something about it, pay careful attention.

If you harrass them enough, they will tell you how you can download an install image that will allow you to install the system from scratch with your own settings – perhaps, say,  a 6-drive RAID5. Well, to get that large an array, you have to break the 2TB partition barrier by installing in EFI (GPT) mode instead of BIOS mode. The instructions for this are on Microsoft’s website somewhere. (I didn’t find them, the other guy did.)

Well, when I got there today, the “temporary, transitional IT guy” was about to bash his head on the wall trying to figure out what was not working. He spent a half-hour or so explaining the situation, then wandered off while I read his documentation.

Everything seemed to make sense, but a thought struck me while I tried to make it work: I was reading MS documentation and working on a Dell. The smart money said Dell had screwed with something somewhere and I should look for that first.

I went into the BIOS settings, into the Boot menu, and toggled the Boot Mode from BIOS to EFI. After that, the solution was to let it fail to find installation media and then go into the EFI settings. Select “Boot from file” and browse through the DVD to the <efi> folder, then run <boot.efi>. The system will bounce out of BIOS and immediately tell you to “hit any key to boot from CD / DVD…” and your Windows installation will start.

When you get to the part about selecting drive partitions, it should warn you that it can’t use the current partitions because they are the wrong type. Go to Advanced mode and delete all partitions, then create a new one. It should call it Partition 3 – this is correct, because it should have automatically created the two hidden partitions EFI requires. At this point, Windows should install correctly.

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