Windows Installation from USB Key

I was installing Windows 7 to a fresh hard disk from a bootable USB. When selecting the disk/partition onto which it should be installed I was met with an error about not being able to find a system partition. I followed several guides to no avail but eventually found the following instructions which worked perfectly:

  • Boot Windows installation from USB drive
  • Press Shift+F10
  • In console type diskpart.exe and press enter. In this program execute the following commands:
    • select disk=0
    • create partition primary
    • select partition=1
    • active
    • format fs=ntfs quick
    • assign drive=c
    • exit
  • Navigate to USB flash drive, in my case type: e: (could also be d: e.g. if you don’t have an optical drive)
  • xcopy e: c: /e /h /k
  • cd boot
  • bootsect /nt60 c:

Remove USB drive from computer and restart.
Install Windows as usual.

To remove the unnecessary menu item from the boot screen:

  • Run cmd.exe as Administrator
  • See boot menu list bcdedit
  • Find Windows Setup and copy identifier
  • Run bcdedit /delete {identifier}

Thanks to http://goo.gl/BXw5qR for their great guide!

Windows Home Server, Part 2

I awoke to an error message saying that a WHS installation script had failed. The “solution” apparently was to delete some registry keys, then on reboots that message would go away. But WHS didn’t have any shares created and certainly didn’t seem complete, so I dismissed this advice. Instead I turned to the log file.

Things made sense when I saw that it was trying to find the path X:files (HAH HAH very funny guys!) Since I had to remove the installation USB key before reboot lest it stay in a neverending install loop, this caused problems because apparently the install needed to access files that were on there (the X: drive) after the first reboot to run the ill-fated script; normally Windows installs copy everything to the hard disk as the first step of their installs to avoid this sort of thing. In any case, I restarted the server and reinserted the USB drive once Windows had started to load in the hopes that it would be mounted and available when the script started, and indeed it was as installation resumed. Annoyingly, a few other reboots were required so I did this USB removal/insertion thing a few more times, but it seemed to work. Regardless, I did go out and get an external DVD drive for future use in cases like this, and netbooks, etc.

WHS still didn’t seem right though. Device Manager showed several devices were unknown or had no drivers. Since WHS is based on Windows Server 2003, I looked for the appropriate drivers at Asus but there were none to be found. It seems that I am not alone in this regard as others are pleading with Asus to release W2K3 Server drivers for the AT5NM10-I board.

I can live with a non-optimal VGA driver for a machine that will be headless, but it sort of needs a functional Ethernet controller to be of any use obviously! Fortunately, the XP driver on the Asus install CD worked. I also ran the system install which cleaned up at least one other unknown device. I tried some other drivers which left me with a very uncomfortable feeling due to their error messages, so I decided to use that new external DVD drive and reinstall one more time.

Of note is that the DVD install was a lot slower than the USB install due to the slower speed of the optical drive. This time it said it would take over 50 minutes, but it ran flawlessly and other then the W2K3 Server driver for the Promise card, it required no intervention whatsoever as it went about its reboots. I installed the Ethernet driver and ran the mainboard install but left it at that. Perhaps a Windows Update will eventually locate suitable drivers.

Now I have my pristine Windows Home Server. First order of business was copying over 10 years worth of photos, a little over 26GB in all. This took about 35 minutes, and after being complete, all drives still report 99.9% free. Yes, it’ll be nice having 12TB to play with…