Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on Dell PowerEdge 1850, 2850
Many data centers have been updating their hardware to servers that support virtualization, so there are a lot of older Dell PowerEdge 1850s and 2850s available on eBay and Craigslist right now. I recently bought six of these for under $150 each, including shipping, dual hyperthreaded dual-core CPUs, DRAC, PERC RAID and plenty of drives and RAM.
While these 8th generation Dell servers are the last ones to not support virtualization, the latest Windows server operating systems run on them just fine and make a great development or low-cost production environment. This article solves a couple quirks when trying to get them up and running.
Windows Server 2008 will install on the 1850 and 2850 without any problems. If your server does have a RAID controller, however, Windows won’t be able to recognize the drives out of the box, and the appropriate driver needs to be provided prior to starting the installation.
At the time of this writing, the current driver for the LSI Logic PERC RAID 4e series cards is 126.96.36.199 A00.
I have successfully used this driver with both the PERC 4e/Si and the PERC 4/DC.
The only hardware not automatically recognized by Windows Server 2008 R2 is the Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC 4/P or DRAC 4/I). The Windows Device Manager will warn about three PCI Devices with the following hardware IDs:
There’s a single driver in the Systems Management category on the Dell support web site that will install all three of these. At the time of this writing, the current driver version is 1.0 A00 from 8/9/2009.
The default graphics driver installed by Windows only supports screen resolutions for up to 800×600. For higher resolutions, an updated driver for the embedded ATI 7000M graphics card needs to be installed.
At the time of this writing, the most recent driver appears to be ATI_Radeon-7000M_A00_R177829.exe from the Dell FTP site, supporting resolutions up to 1600×1200.