WD DX4000: Installing Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

With a bit of wrangling and some brain surgery from the folks over at Home Server Show forums, I was able to successfully get Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials up and running on my Western Digital DX 4000 server. There really is no trickery to this, and honestly it could not have been any easier. You don’t even really need a TightVNC Bootable USB to craft your subsystem if you set things up right for auto installation. However, there is one small issue I encountered that baffled me for a few days and I’ll cover that caveat a little later in this post so you can learn from my mistake.

 [note: autounattend.xml file fixed]

Brief:

There are a couple ways to get Essentials on the box and in this article I will really only go into the easy way to do this. The more complex method does have its’ merits and is useful, especially for a use case called remote restoration. This is where you basically take a bootable USB and remotely reimage the thing to a zero state. It’s a way to get a factory restoration done to the box. To make this work though, you need to make the DVD yourself. Yep, that’s a bummer. And in my humble opinion, it just isn’t necessary for small scale or one time deployments. If you desire to setup a hosting service, become a deployment services manager or work a large lab, then it could be a great benefit. You can find some of the steps linked above, have fun.

 

Get Started:

Ok, enough of that stuff let’s get into the skinny of how simple it is to get Essentials installed on the DX4000. As a matter of fact, I’m going to make it so simple for you you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this yourself. And to that I say, because you just didn’t have the spare time… like I apparently did.

 

    Step 1: Download

Download the TVNC_autounattend.zip file from my OneDrive. It contains two versions for your use. One does and the other does not include commands for TightVNC. Both scripts will wipe disk zero (0) and create 4 partitions (RE, EFI, MSR, and Primary). In order to be able to use TightVNC, you still need to add the bits to both indexes of the BOOT.WIM file (see my previous articles on how to do that). You will need to edit both files and change any areas with XXXXX to the correct properties for installation. These fields are for your license key, name, company, administrator password etc… Just don’t forget to do that or you’ll be wondering why it doesn’t work.

 

    Step 2: Prepare a fresh installer

Mount your Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials ISO or DVD and copy the contents into a fresh directory somewhere. You’ll need to mount both indexes of the BOOT.WIM as well as index one (1) of the INSTALL.WIM and inject the RST drivers for installation. Commit the changes, then copy the contents onto your prepared bootable USB.

 

    Step 3: Install base OS

Place the freshly made installer USB in the first slot on the back of the DX4000, hold the magic button and boot… The installer will kick off, wipe the disk and create the partitions for the system. After the installation has completed its’ initial phase, which you can watch if you so choose using the TightVNC version, the system will reboot and hang beautifully forever.

 

    Step 4: Power Down and help UEFI

After a few minutes, the installer will complete the base preparation and reboot. However, there is one required file needed in the root of the EFI partition to tell the DX4000 where the boot loader is. There is probably a way to automate this part, but I’m skipping it for now… Power off the system.

  • Place your trusty WINPE Bootable USB in and with the magic button, boot it up.
  • Logon with VNC and fire up DISKPART.
  • Select the volume that is labeled “System” and assign it a letter… perhaps the letter “S” would do.
  • Exit DISKPART and change directories to the root of the S:\ partition.
  • Create a file called “startup.nsh”. To do this execute the following command: S:\notepad startup.nsh
  • Paste the following text into the file, save it.

 

fs0:
cd EFI\BOOT
BOOTX64.EFI

 

  • NOTE: If you want the LCD messaging, you’ll need to grab the LCDTXT.EFI program from the original system prior to doing anything, or grab a copy from the Western Digital Recovery ISO. Copy it into the root of the EFI (system) partition along with the startup.nsh file and change the file to pump a message:

    fs0:
    LcdTxt
    LcdTxt 0 “LOADING OS ”
    LcdTxt 1 “PLEASE WAIT…. ”
    cd EFI\BOOT
    BOOTX64.EFI

    Step 5: Power Down / Up

After adding the one required file, power down the system by executing WPEUTIL SHUTDOWN and pull the USB. Power on the system and wait.

 

    Step 6: Make some coffee

I’m not going to explain how to do that J

 

    Step 7: Open RDP, Have Fun!

It takes a few minutes to complete the process and I generally sit with a command prompt open pinging the server to see when it comes online. Even after it starts responding, RDP services take a minute or two before becoming accessible… just have patience. Fire up your remote desktop connection, you should be presented with a lovely logon screen. Enter the credentials you inserted into the XXXX spot for it in the autounattend.xml file and logon.

Figure 1: Enable Discovery

 

Figure 2: Essentials PowerShell is starting…

 

With your patience being tested, wait a minute or more and you will eventually see the Essentials PowerShell script fire… let it do its’ thing as soon thereafter, the Configuration Wizard will be launched and do some scanning. Congratulations, you should get a cookie for your coffee.

 

Figure 3: Configuration Wizard

 

 

The End:

Now, “if” you are interested in setting up Essentials for multiple deployments… this is where the complexity starts. You’ll need to kill the configuration wizard and do some monkeying around with the registry, get sysprep’d, and capture partitions to hold zero state images. But that is it. I do not plan to jog those exercises, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. But I hope this gets you started, the only thing left to do is setup the system properties, and a few reboots later.. Essentials is working like a charm.

 

The Caveat:

I’ll just simply say this, do not use an allocation unit size (AUS) greater than 4K for your installation partition (C:\). While the operating system seems to handle this all well and good, for whatever reason the Configuration Wizard will fail if you say, use a 64K AUS. Why? No idea.

 

On That Note:

One thing to keep in mind, do not change any system properties until after Essentials has completed installing, such as NIC teaming. Just wait until Essentials has completed. You do not need to install any special drivers for Windows 2012 R2 Essentials to do NIC teaming on the DX4000, the adapters have integrated support and the built in teaming features are… quite good.

 

Windows RE partition? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. Not only does the installer branch that out of your installation partition… it gives you an opportunity to modify it for a way to add some remote capabilities. Indeed you can have a way, that if the system boots into emergency mode, to access it via TightVNC. I will be writing another article on this, which breaks down the steps necessary to do this as well as create a remotabootable (I can to make up my own words) WINPE/RE USB for such cases. See you in the next article and … good luck out there!

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43 comments on “WD DX4000: Installing Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
  1. tswalker says:

    My apologies to anyone who grabbed the autounattend files from yesterday after my post. Apparently I failed to change the “Windows Partition” from letter W to C from my grunt tests. I’ve updated the file now,… sorry! 🙂

  2. Dan Fain says:

    So do I follow the steps in your 1,2,3 post and then add this in? I’ve never been able to get this to work. My unit has been turned off for a couple of months now.

    • tswalker says:

      Hi Dan, You’ll need to do part 1 (build the TightVNC USB) for this one. Part 2 and 3 are mostly not necessary as I’ve provided the autounattend.xml file that you can edit and add your name, license, etc..

      You will need to add the Intel RST drivers to the install.wim and boot.wim (index 1 and 2), create an installation USB and copy the contents of the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials to it (with the WIM files that have your RST drivers added). Put the autounattend.xml file to the root of that USB, and boot the DX4000 with it.

      After the first restart, you’ll want to shut it down and boot again with the TightVNC USB and create the startup.nsh file (noted above).

      I’m working on a more comprehensive autounattend.xml that launches powershell to do it all, so after that first reboot, you don’t have to do anything.

      I should have that ready this week.

      • Dan Fain says:

        I’m going to order some new drives so I’ll wait for the new file. Thanks. Can you let me know when you have it ready or if you want someone to test it.

      • tswalker says:

        Sure thing Dan, I’ll post it up here for sure.

        Is Essentials the server version you’re targeting?

    • tswalker says:

      Hey Dan, can you tell me a little about the drives you are planning to use? (e.g.: all as a single array presented as disk 0, or?….)

      scratch that… i’m going to send you an email.

  3. jmaas says:

    I am trying to locate lcdtxt.efi can’t find it on the WD recovery iso or the support files for the DX4000, any idea where to find?

  4. Ryan Hendrickson says:

    HI, I don’t suppose you can share the ISO and I can just update the .xml file with my cdkey?

    • tswalker says:

      Hi Ryan,

      I’m sorry but the ISO’s from Microsoft are, well.. Microsoft’s, and I believe it would be a violation of their license agreement to redistribute those. However, if you’re a student or starting your own company you can get access to them through one of their highly recommended programs such as BizSpark or DreamSpark.

      • Ryan says:

        I am sorry – it’s creating the thumb drive that is giving me a problem. I have been trying two ways and i am getting myself confused. yours seems like the more simple way but i’m having problems creating the thumb drive. I was wondering if you can upload a ISO of the thumb drive and i can just restore to my thumb drive.

      • tswalker says:

        Hi Ryan, sorry you’re having troubles… you can try this link to a version I made a while ago that should be ok and free to use that can be used with a bootable USB ( http://1drv.ms/1u4nxMZ ). However, you will still need to make the USB yourself, which is pretty simple. I have some instructions here (link) in my first article on building server 2012 under “step 6.” Don’t feel too down about it all though, if you have not done these types of setups before it can be a bit complex at first to get a grasp on everything as there are so many steps involved.

  5. Ryan says:

    Hi – So i have a DX4000 and i’m trying to installed windows 2012 Ess. I have that ISO i’m just not good enough to create the ISO that would install it on the DX4000 using WinPE. I assume in your unattended.xml i would just change the product key over to mine and it would install is that correct? I have been fighting with this for 4 days now 😦 Sorry and I hate to ask.

    • tswalker says:

      There a few areas with the “XXXXXX” entries in the autounattend.xml file that would need to be edited with your specific information: ProductKey, FullName, Organization, and Administrator Password Value.
      Placing this file in the root of the bootable USB along with your data from the installation ISO should be all required to do the installation. However, if you are having some troubles you may want to consider using the TightVNC version that will allow you to remotely monitor the installation (see my other reply to a link to a sample that you may be able to modify for your own use).

      • Ryan Hendrickson says:

        Right I see where i need to change the XXXX figures and that tis not a problem. I also noticed on your one drive you have a the ISO for the bootusb but you have it password protected 😦 so i’m trying to cheat a bit b/c i don’t understand the building of the usbboot drive. you lose me right around the boot.wim file and having to so something 😦 I was just hoping you would let me use the password and uses your ISO or boot usb drive file.

  6. Ryan Hendrickson says:

    Also i’ve created the ISO on USB for the Windows 2012 Server and that works. I test on another machine and it boots up and installs with no issues. I am just not sure how to create the tight vnc boot up to install it and have the visualization of the install.

  7. Ryan says:

    bootable USB ( http://1drv.ms/1u4nxMZ ) — The link you provided when i download the attachment it requires a password to unzip 😦 Would you mind sharing the password?

  8. Ryan says:

    We are going to call you “The GREAT! TSWALKER!”

  9. Ryan says:

    One more question. i just need to extra the ISO for Windows 2012 Ess. to the SR2Install folder right. i don’t have to make any other changes?

    • tswalker says:

      pretty much yes, just copy the contents of the ISO into the SR2Install folder, edit autounattend.xml and replace any “XXXX…” stuff with your details.

      I put a few README.txt files in there, be sure to take a look through them….

      • tswalker says:

        correction: you will need to update the WIM files from the ISO to embed the needed storage driver support. I’ve included the drivers in the “drivers” directory in the 7zip file (in Drivers directory). Take a look at the readme.txt file, you’ll want to embed the LPCDriver, RST13.1, and SMBus drivers into the install.WIM and boot.WIM into the ISO files for the installation. Let me know if you need some assistance with that; however, I do cover how to do this in my earlier articles on installing Windows Server 2012…

        Just take a look at the README.TXT file in the root of the 7zip file, under “USB Layout” I briefly mention this and list what needs to be added with an example of how to….

  10. Kevin says:

    Hi,

    I used your prebuilt USB, and copied the files from the MSDN ISO, and installed the drivers into the boot.win and install.win directories, but I get this error when it gets to Installing WIndows: “The disk selected for installation (1) does not exist. Make sure the unattend answer file’s setting references a valid disk on this computer, and then restart the installation.”

    The automated diskpart steps all seem to say they complete to 100% prior to this part loading.

    From the CMD – diskpart I can see the Disk 0 (8TB), DIsk 1 (29GB), and Disk 2 (32GB). As well as Volume 0 through 4 (Master, Windows RE, System, , and Sentinel, all with Ltr assigned. The 29GB/Blank labeled one is my USB stick that I am using to install from.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • tswalker says:

      Hi Kevin, It is probably a mistake on my part somewhere 😀

      Were you able to access the system remotely with TightVNC? If so, you can break out of the WinPE installer at the error by using SHIFT+F10 to open a command prompt, run DISKPART to list the disk assignments.

      Use the DISKPART commands “list disk” and then “list volume” and verify the target. If I recall, it should be labeled “Sentinel”. You can then call the DISKPART command “select volume #” (replace # with the number of the “sentinel” volume), then list volume and list disk to see which is actually being referenced.

      In your case, as you’ve described the disks.. my guess is it should be referencing Disk 2 instead. But you should verify it, then edit the autounattend.xml file found in the root of the USB, adjusting the lines for DiskID found around line 23 (the main tag is “InstallTo” and “DiskID”, the field value for DiskID will need to be changed for your case).

      Also, since we are launching the installer from WinPE, if it errors I believe it will return you the WinPE environment without rebooting (can’t recall exactly), but you can actually make a temporary edit to the autounattend.xml to correct the value, and relaunch the installer by executing the following at the WinPE command prompt:

      (change paths to the USB drive, you may see it listed earlier in DISKPART when you listed the volumes and the info showed it as removable.. like letter G: or whatever)
      (change directories to \SR2Install)
      and execute the setup.exe program with the unattend switch and path the autounattend file (something like: “setup.exe /unattend:G:\autounattend.xml” )

      note: you can use notepad in WinPE to make the edits 🙂

      it will restart the windows portion of the installation without needing to take the USB to your workstation, editing the script, and restarting the unit.

      The change is only temporary for that WinPE session, so at some point you’ll need to fix the edits permanently.

      Give that a try and see if it corrects the problem and let me know.

      • Kevin says:

        That seems to have fixed it! Thanks a lot! The only thing that doesn’t seem to be working for me currently is your LCD script. I can run it manually from powershell, but in task scheduler it doesn’t seem to have any effect.

      • tswalker says:

        Sounds like it may just be a parameter that needs adjusting for the task. Here’s what the “Action” portion of my task looks like:

        c:\windows\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe -noexit -nologo -noninteractive -file C:\LCD\lcd.ps1

        just make sure there are no typos or quotes.. if it runs at the command prompt, it should run as a task.

  11. Ryan says:

    Questions: I got it working and isntalled and using the 13.1 I am not able to update the drivers though for the NICs. It tells me that i have not intel drivers existing and it shows me that i have Microsoft drivers. I am also receiving very slow transfers speed over a 2gig link all the way around. It will start at 112 Mbs and then drop to 0 and come back up to 2.1 Mbs and stay there the remainder of the way. What drivers did you download to update the NICs?

    thanks

  12. rthga81 says:

    I have enjoyed mucking around with the DX4000 but i have a Sinology DS1513+ that still just seems to be far more better for my needs. I was hoping Windows2012 R2 would meet my needs and make the unit more responsive with large files moving over but it has not done anything close to that.

    I think i’m going to restore back to factory default and sell the unit. I have had it for about a year now and i got the 16tb version. In another aspect i might buy a QNAP Turbo that can do the virtualization Station and I would be set with having an iTunes home server.

    I have been using ihomesever for iTunes and using the DX4000 as a headless iTunes media server and it worked perfect until it had a melt down from me tinkering. Thank god i had everything backed up.

    tswalker – my hat is off to you and I have posted a blog about how I did it. I am not a very smart guy with this WinPE stuff but I can hack around until i figure it out. I wrote blog and gave some easy instructions on how to do this with download of the ISO for restore.

    Hopefully that will help some. I also called your site out and have directed those looking for more details on how to do more specific things. I just don’t have the time to mirror everything you talk about here and doing the video’s that show how easy it really is.

    Again i thank you and I look forward to talking with you some more!

  13. Ryan Hendrickson says:

    Hey TS… Thanks for the link for the drivers. I have might have to give that another shot. I am a huge apple person; but i know windows to an extent. Enough to be dangerous. I have to say though after restoring back to default on the DX4000, i have been able to achieve 120/MBs transfer roots with no issues. it’s weird. I got the drives though and i might mess with it again.

  14. Greg says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the guide. Managed to get this up and running without to much hassle.

    Looking to use this box an an iscsi target for an esxi lab enviroment.

    Only thing is the fan is sat at 100% and is really loud, is there a way to get this to a more manageable level?

    Regards,
    Greg

    • tswalker says:

      Hi Greg,

      Take a look at this article which has a brief section describing the fan utilities. Building Windows Server 2012, part 2

      You will need to have saved a few files from the original WD installation (sioutil.exe for certain), which you setup in a powershell script and control the fan speed.. or just execute from a shell.

      let me know if you have any troubles.

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