Moving To A 2-Drive Dell Optiplex Gx755 Usff

2 posts in this topic

So, after getting really tired of my custom mini-ITX Atom WHS with its horribly loud fans that required auto-shutoff and auto-on for quiet, I seized on a deal for Core2 Duo GX755's ultra-small form factor at $139. It took me quite a while to get it working (a day), but it turned out to be mostly Dell stupidity and a couple issues I hadn't realized.

My old WHS had two drives, one 3.5" and one 2.5" (with the system partition, don't ask). With the new-ish Optiplex (which technically has only one SATA port), I was able to fit in both drives by using a D-type Modular Bay enclosure for SATA drives (this part I had figured out in advance, and both items arrived about the same time). So the idea was to put the secondary (3.5") drive in place of the 80GB the GX755 shipped with, and to take the cheap optical drive out of the modular bay and replace it with the 2.5" drive, while also taking the 1GB RAM from the old machine and putting it alongside the 1GB already in the GX755. The enclosure I got was partially corroded (!!), but managed to canabalize parts from the optical drive.

The facts: Dell missed several drivers though I searched by service tag, ATA/Legacy mode only allows booting from the primary/3.5" drive, and in AHCI mode it booted very slowly, suggesting some kind of SATA conflict, possibly caused by the SATA/IDE bridge in the bay enclosure. I managed to track down the Gigabit, video, Intel AMT SOL and HECI drivers, and finally got the most up-to-date SATA Controller driver directly from Intel, but AHCI still wouldnt boot successfully with both drives attached.

I have hopes that I will get AHCI to work, and at least the AHCI controller driver itself is in place if I need it. If anyone is curious, you can force an AHCI driver to install on an existing operating system by selecting the existing controller and "updating" the driver to AHCI by picking the specific INF file provided, just ok any warnings. Reboot immediately and Windows will use the right driver, preventing a blue screen.

The only issue left is that the BIOS won't let me choose the modular bay as the primary drive in ATA or Legacy mode, which means that I had to unhook the primary drive, wait for the error, then reattach it while the BIOS switched to the bay.

Does anyone know a relatively safe way to make a WHS's secondary drives bootable? If I can place a boot folder and use bootsect on the second drive, then I should be ok: the 3.5" will take control from the BIOS, then simply pass it on to the 2.5" drive with the system partition on it. Otherwise I'll buy one of those low-profile flash drives, put the boot files there, then configure it to pass boot to the 2.5" drive. I'd rather have a self-contained solution, but if it will keep me from opening the case every time I boot, I'll spend the $5.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Upgrade to a WGS Supporter Account to remove this ad.

so after much aggravation trying to get NTLDR to operate off of a flash drive, I found a very simple solution which works very well: syslinux. Basically, after downloading syslinux.exe, and running "syslinux -m -a <drive>:", I create a simple configuration file, syslinux.cfg, and copied the chainloader module, chain.c32 on to the drive. The configuration is:

DEFAULT WindowsHomeServer

LABEL WindowsHomeServer

SAY Loading Windows Home Server...

COM32 chain.c32

APPEND hd2 swap

Now I'm just looking for a cheap low-profile flash drive

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Upgrade to a WGS Supporter Account to remove this ad.

  • Posts

    • I get the above error dialogue when I run the connector on my Win 10 pro client.  Followed the issue resolution on TechNet which say start cert service in IIS on server but this was already running.   I've downloaded the Win 10 connector with no joy also.   Please help.
    • Dave, can you clarify what you mean by this?
    • I had no problem with Windows 10.  However, I just completed the anniversary update and now the "Connector" won't run to conclusion.  It backs itself out and reports an unspecified error.
    • Apologies if I'm being stupid, but I'm having great trouble understanding how Lightsout backup and the Server Essentials 2012 backup work together (or fight with each other). I find the Lightsout documentation on this very unclear, and various threads have left me no wiser. I'd appreciate some help! Here's the setup: Lightsout is running nicely on the server. Before backups were set up, I established that the server hibernated when the clients were switched off. The server woke up when a client was powered up. (This behaviour broke when backups were set up.) The server is Essentials 2012, with a number of client laptops: a mix of Windows 7, 8 & 10. The Essentials backup window is 22:00 - 07:00. No backup settings are currently made in Lightsout. Here's what I'd like to achieve: At the end of the working day all the clients are put to sleep or hibernate (or switched off completely, I don't care which). Ten minutes after that, Lightsout hibernates the server. Sometime during the night (22:00 - 07:00) the server wakes up, then wakes up the various clients in turn, backs them up, and puts them back to sleep / hibernate / shutdown (I don't care which). Here's what actually happens (when I look at the uptime chart the next morning): At the end of the day (about 17:15) the clients are put to sleep / hibernate. (I tell the team not to shut down their client laptops because I assume the server can't wake a completely shut down client - is that correct?) The server does not hibernate. Approximately 90 minutes after the clients were put to sleep / hibernate, they all wake up simultaneously (around 18:45, but I don't know why this happens). The clients then stay awake all night. Later, from 22:00, some of the backups take place (but not all of them). The backups are spread wide apart in the 22:00 - 07:00 window with lots of time when nothing is going on at all. The clients do not go back to sleep / hibernate after their backups. ...can anyone suggest what combination of settings I should be using to get the desired behaviour? Here are the sort of things that are confusing me, but I can't find definitive answers (and each experiment I do takes 24 hours to give any results!): I know I can specify clients' individual backup times in Lightsout, but I don't know how long a client's backup will take, so I could have backups overlapping each other and causing a traffic jam. Should I worry about this? If I set Lightsout backups, what do I set for the Essentails backup window? What if it's not long enough to get all the backups done? If I make settings in the Lightsout backup dialog do I have to complete everything in that dialog box? Does this make the Essentials 2012 backup settings redundant? What about the Essentials 22:00 - 07:00 backup window, does that matter any more? I tried setting client backup times in Lightsout with an end action of 'sleep'. The backups didn't happen at all and clients all spontaneously went to sleep in the middle of the working day (the server / clients clocks all match, I checked). Can Lightsout wake up a client laptop that is completely shut down? Thanks for reading this long post and sorry if these seem like stupid questions. I already have WHS2011 / Lightsout running perfectly on another setup (where my backups take place during the day), but nocturnal backups are a new level of complexity for me!
    • Christopher wrote:  << And to clarify, if you want multiple backup drives to be cycled offsite, you MUST connect all of them at the same time when you set up the backups. >> I'm not clear about this. To the best of my recollection, I never connected both of my backup drives to the server at the same time,  For test purposes, I just initiated a recovery (using the WHS Installation Disk) with each of them hooked up.  The one that has been offsite and the one that backed up last night were both found by the "Repair an existing installation" procedure.  Perhaps I'm misreading your clarification.
  • Popular Contributors