Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 on HP ProLiant Gen8 servers

HP latest series of ProLiant servers, Gen8 introduce  a new method of installing firmware and drivers. This posting will explain how to install Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 on HP Gen8 servers used as Hyper-V host and use the various HP tooling.

Intelligent Provisioning 
A new in method for driver installation  introduced in ProLiant Gen8 servers is Intelligent Provisioning. Instead of using  SmartStart media over iLO or having to download drivers before installation of the operating system can start, Gen8 server have recent drivers and firmware embedded on the server itself. See the User Manual for more information. Intelligent Provisioning can be used for the following operating systems (supports only 64–bit operating systems):

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
  • VMware

Unpack the server, boot and press F10  for Intelligent Provisioning when the server starts. Then some questions are asked about timezone, location of the Windows Server 2008  media (or other supported OS) , partition size. Thereafter the installation of Windows Server 2008 will start. Drivers for HP ProLiant servers are automatically installed in Windows.

This sounds all nice. However there is one disadvantage. Using Intelligent Provisioning the partition size cannot be set to any random value you want. In my case I wanted to install Windows Server 2008 on a 50 GB C: partition. This is more than enough to hold the operating system and the pagefile. The pagefile for the Windows Server Hyper-V parent partition can be rather small: around 6 to 8 GB. I wanted to keep the rest of the harddisk space for storage of virtual machines as initially the customer is not using shared storage. The minimum size of the c: partition using Intelligent Provisioning is 1,5 x amount of internal memory + around 20 GB for the operating system. As the BL460c Gen8 I used has  128 GB internal memory installed, the C: partition would be around 220 GB minimum when Intelligent Provisioning is used.

Installing Windows on a C: of 220 GB and later perform a shrink does not work. You will first need to move the pagefile before you are able to shrink more than a few GB. Even after the move the shrink is limited. I could  not shrink to 50 GB.

So this method did not work.

HP Smart Update Manager (HP SUM)
As I wanted to have a small partition which Intelligent Provisionig did not allow me to, I needed another way to install drivers. HP Smart Update Manager is a executable which can be used to install HP drivers on local and remote systems using Windows or iLO. HP SUM executable is part of the HP Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP).

Installation of the server starts by mounting the Windows Server 2008 ISO using iLO and install Windows as you normally do when no deployment tool is available. Adjust the disk layout as you like.You will notice some of the hardware is not recognised because drivers are missing. Attach the Service Pack for ProLiant ISO to Windows Server as a remote CD/DVD drive. Then browse to folder hp/swpackages. Start hpsum.exe. From here driver updates can be installed locally or remote.

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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