The vast majority of Windows Server 2003 installations proceed without a hitch. Before you start, however, you should be aware of some common sources of problems. A few precautions taken early can forestall nasty problems later on. This checklist assumes you are doing a clean installation, not an upgrade. See Chapter 2, "Performing Upgrades and Automated Installations," for an upgrade checklist.
One of the most significant changes in Windows Server 2003 is the use of Plug and Play (PnP). Both Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 obtain their PnP information from Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) in addition to the PnP BIOS. This can lead to resource conflicts and potential incompatibilities. Here are a few preparations you might want to make before installing or upgrading to Windows Server 2003:
Make absolutely, positively, completely certain that you are running with the most current firmware versions for your BIOS and all peripherals.
If the system has a motherboard that is more than a couple of years old, check to make sure that it is on the HCL. If not, some entries in the ACPI BIOS tables may not be compatible with the Windows Server 2003. For IA64, Microsoft requires that machines conform to the ACPI version 2.0 table requirements. All machines on the HCL meet this requirement.
Disable Plug and Play.
It might seem like a contradiction, considering the fact that Windows Server 2003 is a plug-and-play operating system, but you should disable PnP in CMOS before running Setup. Windows Server 2003 prefers to use ACPI rather than the PnP BIOS.
Remove UPS Serial Connections.
If you are running a UPS monitoring device such as the UPS support in NT or Windows 2000 or a third-party utility such as PowerChute from APC, you should pull the serial line connection before running Setup. This avoids a long, long stall during device discovery. After Setup has completed, you can reinstall the cable.
Disable hardware disk caching.
Only enable hardware disk caching if you have a system specifically designed to support caching under Windows Server 2003. Many incidents involving massive data corruption routinely get traced to unsupported hardware disk caches.
Prepare for multimedia devices.
Configuring multimedia devices can be infuriatingly time-consuming. Make sure all multimedia hardware in the system has Windows Server 2003 drivers, and verify that the makes and models match the HCL listing precisely. Double-check the vendor's web site to get the most current drivers. And after all that, you can still count on losing at least one afternoon sweating over a seemingly trivial glitch.
Set the boot sequence.
If you plan on running Setup locally at a server, you must boot from the Windows Server 2003 CD. There is no provision for running Setup from floppies. Be sure the boot sequence in CMOS is set to permit booting to the CD before the hard drive.
Prepare for dual monitors.
Windows Server 2003 supports using dual monitors. If you have a system with two video cards, PnP will detect both of them. One will be used by BIOS to display the character-based portions of startup. If PnP decides to declare the other adapter as the primary adapter, the graphical display will go to that adapter. So, if you have dual video adapters but only one monitor and the screen goes black during setup, transfer the monitor to the other adapter.
Use bus-mastering NICs.
Use only top-quality, bus-mastering PCI NICs. These cards cost only slightly more than their Programmed I/O (PIO) counterparts and perform much, much better. Heavy network users will benefit more from a bus-mastering network adapter than from a faster processor, all other things being equal.
Set EFI settings in IA64 servers.
The Extensible Firmware Interface in IA64 systems is used to partition drives and prepare other hardware. Drives must be prepared with GPT (GUID Partition Tables) rather than MBR (Master Boot Records).
Use 64-bit PCI cards in IA64 systems.
You will not be able to use legacy 32-bit cards in an IA64 system. Be sure to include in your budget any new peripherals that you might need to purchase, and make absolutely sure the 64-bit card is on the IA64 HCL, not just the IA32 HCL.
Perform the following checks to make sure the system is ready to store the Windows Server 2003 system files:
Get the most current mass storage drivers.
If the drivers for your SCSI, RAID, or ATA device do not come in Windows Server 2003, or the preinstalled drivers have been upgraded, you should obtain the most current driver and put it on a floppy. When commencing Setup, press F6. This will cause Setup to pause a little later and ask you for the mass storage device driver.
Remove non-critical devices from SCSI bus.
If you have items like scanners, tape drives, or other peripherals on the same SCSI bus as your mass storage, you may want to remove them until after Setup has completed. This avoids any potential conflict that might cause Setup to hang.
Check SCSI cables.
If you use SCSI drives, Windows Server 2003 demands tighter timing tolerances than classic NT. If you have a SCSI cable that's right on the edge of length spec, you might run into data corruption problems after upgrading.
Break software mirrors and legacy FT disk sets.
If you are installing over an existing copy of NT, you must remove all fault tolerant disk sets. If there is data in these disk sets, back them up then restore following Setup. This does not apply to hardware RAID.
Use standard disk access.
For IDE/ATA drives, verify that file I/O and disk access is set to Standard and not 32-bit or Enhanced in CMOS. Windows Server 2003 does not support the direct INT13 calls used by enhanced interfaces.
Removable media drives.
You can install Windows Server 2003 to a removable media drive such as an Iomega Jaz or Castlewood Orb drive. You would not want to do this on a production system, of course, but it makes for a flexible lab environment. If for some reason, you cannot make the removable media bootable, you can boot from a fixed drive and put the system files on the removable media drive.
Configuring Network Adapters
Network connection reliability and performance is often overlooked until after Setup when the machine becomes slow or unstable. Take a couple of minutes to avoid potential problems by taking some precautions:
Verify that the NIC is on the HCL.
Microsoft has officially retired several adapters in Windows Server 2003, most notably legacy Token Ring adapters. Still others were dropped because their drivers have caused problems with Windows 2000 or were identified as causing problems during the Windows Server 2003 beta. This includes many inexpensive and so-called "white box" NICs.
Resolve potential resource conflicts.
Windows Server 2003 uses PnP to discover and enumerate network adapters. It will attempt to identify legacy adapters and load the correct drivers. If you have a legacy adapter, make sure that you know the resources it uses. These include the following:
- I/O base address
Necessary only if the adapter uses memory addressing. All PC Card network adapters use memory addressing. Windows Server 2003 accommodates 16-bit memory addressing by remapping the onboard RAM to its 32-bit memory space. You should encounter conflicts only if you have multiple network adapters with the same RAM addresses.
- DMA channels for bus-mastering adapters
For legacy adapters, set aside the IRQ in CMOS so that the PnP manager will not assign that resource to another device.
Always avoid IRQ 9 when selecting resources for a legacy adapter. Windows Server 2003 uses this IRQ for IRQ Steering, a special table in BIOS that lists PCI resources and their interrupts. This table acts as an interrupt router that can be configured by the operating system to point at different interrupt service requests. IRQ Steering cannot be disabled in Windows Server 2003.
Shared interrupts may pose a problem depending on your motherboard and chipset. Some machines have no problem at all sharing six or seven devices on the same IRQ. Others are plagued by kernel-mode stop errors and unstable network connections when sharing just two devices on the same interrupt. If Setup hangs during network driver enumeration, this is a sign of a possible problem with resource sharing.
On IA32 systems, the Windows Server 2003 bootstrap loader, Ntldr, can load NT4, Windows 2000, XP, and Windows Server 2003 from any drive or partition. A boot menu stored in Boot.ini defines the path to the boot files for each operating system. On IA64 systems, the EFI bootstrap loader handles multiple operating system selection.
Ntldr can load only one alternate operating system thanks to the way the system designates the alternate boot sector. Ntldr stores the alternate boot sector in a file called Bootsect.dos at the root of the boot partition. When you select the alternate OS from the boot menu, Ntldr shifts the processor back to Real mode, loads the boot sector image from Bootsect.dos into memory at 0x700h (just as if it had been loaded by a standard INT13 call), and then turns control over to the executable code in the image.
If you need to boot more than two operating systems and one of them is not a Windows OS, use a partition manager such as Partition Magic or System Commander. If you want to maintain a multiboot configuration on your machine, you need to take a few issues into account:
NTFS version incompatibilities.
Windows Server 2003 Setup converts any existing NTFS volumes to NTFS 3.1. If you dual-boot between Windows Server 2003 and NT4, the NT4 system must be running Service Pack 6a to avoid a crash with kernel-mode stop error 0x00000007d, Inaccessible Boot Device.
If you have a test environment where you need to run Windows and Linux at the same time, you should take a look at the VMWare utility at www.vmware.com. A VMWare session can run Linux and any version of Windows inside a virtual machine. You can even simulate adding more drives.
Windows Server 2003 includes a Logical Disk Manager (LDM) service that permits dynamically configuring fault-tolerant volumes. Only Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 can read the LDM database. You cannot run other operating systems if you plan on using dynamic disks.
Separate windows partitions.
Microsoft strongly recommends using separate system partitions for each version of 32-bit Windows on a multiple-boot system. The various flavors of Windows have become too similar to keep them on the same partition.
NT4 service packs overwrite key system files.
If you install an NT4 or Windows 2000 service pack on a dual-boot machine, it overwrites the Windows Server 2003 version of Ntldr in the root of the boot drive. This prevents Windows Server 2003 from booting. Before applying an alternate service pack, make a copy of Ntldr and Ntdetect.com then copy them back when the service pack has been applied.
You should not run any disk utilities unless they have been certified on Windows Server 2003 or XP. Incompatibilities can cause damage to the operating system files.