My Windows Home Server beta experience

About the time that the Windows Home Server beta program was announced, I decided to give it a shot. The product looks interesting, and my biggest reservations came from lack of familiarity, and there's only one way to fix that. I applied, and was accepted. Woohoo!

So I started scouting for a suitable machine. I toyed with building up an old wreck I had laying around, but quickly came to the conclusion that by the time I patched it up to working order, I'd have sunk more into it that I'd like.

I was also trolling ebay, and noticed that some really nice old servers were going for not a lot of money. The bad news is that they're big and heavy, so shipping was expensive -- but not if I found one locally. Long story short, I ended up finding a Dell PowerEdge 2400 with a single 866mhz P-III processor, integrated SCSI and RAID, and 1gig of ECC RAM. I paid $59.

I wasn't ready to install yet, as I had no storage for the box, but that was easily remedied with a Promise TX4 SATA controller, an Asus SATA DVD, and two 320mb Seagate SATA drives from Newegg. I also found a second processor for $10 shipped. I was ready to roll.

When I got all the parts together, I did an install of W2K3 Standard just to make sure that all the moving pieces were working. No problem. Then, I fired up the WHS install with great anticipation, and got a minute into the install when it crapped out on me with a vague error about the UI.


I hit the forums, and posted my problem. I got a few suggestions:

  • Verify the checksum on the DVD image. Done.
  • Update your bios. Done.
  • Put the Promise drivers on a USB stick. Done.
  • Update the bios of the Promise card. Done.

All that, and no joy.

So, here I sit, waiting for a fix. Maybe they'll have a Beta 3.