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Clean Vista Install on RAID 5 Volum

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December 24, 2007 5:32:41 AM

Board: GA-X38-DQ6
Drives: 6 WD 750GB RE2 enterprise drives
OS: trying to get 64bit Vista Ultimate on.

I have found answers about Vista installs on a RAID volumn but nothing that seems to apply to my problem which is;
I need a 6 750 drive array for a HTPC that I just put together.
Has anyone had success with a clean install of Vista on a RAID 5 volumn? Vista keeps telling me it can't find a drive or partition to its liking.

Any thoughts on the problem would be greatly appreciated.

LOR
December 24, 2007 7:01:14 AM

Can you tell us what the BIOS settings are for you RAID?

You'd normally have a driver disk (floppy or flash) made up, go into BIOS and set the RAID options you want, save and quit, throw Vista into the tray and boot from CD.

Last one I did on an ASUS P5N32-SLI board with Vista Business 64-bit only needed the BIOS RAID settings saved, and Vista found it, made up the partitions, and installed. No problems, no driver disk needed. It was with WD320's.

What is Vista actually finding (or reporting) during the installation?
December 24, 2007 11:24:53 PM

Bios settings are Southbridge RAID enabled and a RAID5 was built from the 6 hard drives, During install the RAID drivers for the chipset were loaded and VISTA recognized the 3.7 TB RAID drive but gave a message that the BIOS might not recognize the drive. Attempt to Partition and format met with no success as I got an error message saying that Vista did not find a volume that matched its criteria for install. I redid the BIOS rebuilt the RAID and got identical results.

UPDATE: From what I read on the Microsoft site, VISTA is rather picky about what kind of RAID you try and install it on a plain RAID I Mirror Vista has always worked just fine, easy install , no problems. It appears that stripped RAID volumes and Installation on systems of multiple drives of the same size are problematic. My RAID 5 of 6X750's fits into both problem categories. I was hoping some had solved this problem before I had to re engineer the inards of my machine.
Related resources
December 24, 2007 11:47:30 PM

did you make the raid array bootable in the bios?
December 25, 2007 1:10:46 AM

Excellent catch, It indicates it is not bootable in the RAID setup. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find how to make it bootable either. I would have thought it would have been an obvious step but can't find a thing anywhere.
December 25, 2007 1:24:13 AM

With earlier versions of Windows (and I have no reason to think this has changed in Vista), many RAID controllers aren't properly detected by Windows during installation. When the installation first starts to load from the CD or DVD, you are given an option to load a third-party storage driver from a floppy (by hitting F6 -- Vista might give you more options than just a floppy now, but I'm not sure about that). I have used this method quite a few times to load drivers for the RAID controllers, and then Windows would successfully install (and boot thereafter).
December 25, 2007 1:38:07 AM

That I have done, new and old version of drivers. Windows recognizes the drive but wont use it to install. The problem is that, as kg4icg pointed out, I didn't and can't make the RAID bootable in the <cntrl I> phase of the RAID setup.

Where Gigabytes example list a successful RAID build as indicating "status" = normal and "bootable" = yes,
mine says "status" = Initialize and "bootable" = no. (Initialize is in yellow).

I don't know what this means but I think that whatever is causing the status to equal "Initialize" is the problem. I can find nothing in the manual that tells me what this means. Is this something anyone else has seen?
December 25, 2007 8:46:15 PM

When you first go into the BIOS RAID utility by Ctrl+I, does it list all drives as Ports 0-5 and non-RAID disk?

After creating the RAID 5 volume, it immediately lists it as "Initialize" status instead of "Normal", and bootable is "No"?

Can you enter the volume to toggle between Yes/No for bootable?

I'm guessing you've tried and because of the "Initialize" status, it does not allow you to. From memory, I thought you just used your arrow keys to navigate around until you get to "Bootable".

Lastly, does the created volume list all the member drives on ports 0-5?
December 26, 2007 4:13:53 AM

Yes, all disk, 0-5, are listed and I did try to get the system to toggle between Yes and No and Initialize and Normal but no go. I spent last night experimenting and believe the issue may be that the size of the RAID volume. When i did a RAID 5 of three 750GB drives it came up as Normal and bootable with 1397.3 GB available, when I did a raid five of 4 750GB drives it came up with Normal but Nonbootable with 2095.9 Gb of space available. with a RAIS 5 of 5 or 6 750GB drives it comes up as Initialize and Nonbootable.

I believe i have found a two terabyte ceiling lurking in the Intel Matrix Storage drivers at the OS install level. Iam going to reconfigure my system, throw in a pair of 160GB drives on the Gigabyte chip for a mirrored operating system drive and see if the full version of the latest Intel Matrix Storage can build the 6 750GB drive RAID Volume. If not I guess I will have to get a third party SATA card thats a litle more up to date tha Intel's appears to be. With a 64 bit operating system there is no reason that I should be having problems at the two terabyte level.

I will be getting the parts in by 31 December if I'm lucky, then I will find out this works of if I have to find a PCI SATA RAID card that will allow a 3.75TB RAID volume. Wish me luck!
December 26, 2007 5:40:52 AM

Loreed,

Windows does not support booting from any drive larger than 2TB.
Looking for a new RAID card will not help.

The Best and simplest option is to partition your system so that the OS is on something like a 100MB partiton (More than Enough) and leave the 3.65TB as your DATA partition. There really should not be any need for one large partition.

Or as you stated, you could toss in another set of drives and mirror them to install to.

December 27, 2007 1:46:09 AM

Roger that, but Intel Matrix software at the floppy disk level doesn't like building them either and wouldn't make a any size partition I tried to build on the array "normal/bootable" so I am going to reconfigure the system and use a 160GB C: drive then build the data storage raid once windows is installed. If the latest full blown version of Intel Matrix Manager still balks above 4 750's then I am going to search for a 3rd pary card that will allow me to build a functional 6X750 RAID 5 data volume. If can't find one then I will just have to settle for two 3 disk RAID 5 Volumes and suckup the lost capacity.

Thanks for the help :hello: 
December 27, 2007 5:56:50 AM

no! when creating the raid in the bios just do a 100gig of it, it will still raid the 100 gigs with whatever drives you had selected, after you install vista and the driver during in stall you can come back to the bios and make other partions on the raid drive. then go to windows disk managment and format them partiions. I wonder if this is a vista limit thing. one other thing also is if one of the hard drives are bad you will not be able to fomat the raid, I ran into that problems when I build my system two 250 gigs raid0 bios showed good install drivers started vista setup gets to about 45% formating the HD then pops up with an error can't format drive, I can't remember the reason it gave
December 28, 2007 1:47:05 AM

Thanks, I will give this a try.

This is all experimental to me and I have learned a lot from the forum responsed I have received, I hope I can return the favor..eventually.
December 31, 2007 12:23:13 AM

Problem solved.

this is the reason for the failure:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/933925

'Error message when you try to install Windows Vista on a computer that contains multiple RAW hard disks: "Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation" '

Evidently having a number - somewhere beyond two - of unformatted hard drives of the same size connected to the mobo caused the Vista install engine to disolve into a quivering puddle of indecision. With the 6 750's unplugged the two 160's in RAID 1 allowed the install with no problems. Once the OS was installed and the latest version of Intel Storage manager was installed the 6 750's were placed in RAID 5 without a problem, though it will be another 6 or 7 hours before they finish initializing.

OK, on to the next challange.
December 31, 2007 3:58:31 AM

loreed said:
Problem solved.

this is the reason for the failure:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/933925

'Error message when you try to install Windows Vista on a computer that contains multiple RAW hard disks: "Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation" '

Evidently having a number - somewhere beyond two - of unformatted hard drives of the same size connected to the mobo caused the Vista install engine to disolve into a quivering puddle of indecision. With the 6 750's unplugged the two 160's in RAID 1 allowed the install with no problems. Once the OS was installed and the latest version of Intel Storage manager was installed the 6 750's were placed in RAID 5 without a problem, though it will be another 6 or 7 hours before they finish initializing.

OK, on to the next challange.

Using the Intel software to do an in-place conversion from RAID-1 to RAID-5? Cool...

A few thoughts though...

I've found a few references on the Internet that state the maximum size of a bootable partition for Vista is 2TB. This echoes a statement made by zenmaster.

So more than likely, your current level of success is due to the smaller RAID set you installed on, and the problems had little to do with the Intel RAID drivers. I'm wondering what's going to happen after you're done fiddling with that RAID set you're extending.

It will help alot when troubleshooting this sort of problem in the future, to be aware of the differences between physical disks, units, partitions, volumes, drives, logical drives, etc. and how operating systems interact with ordinary disk controllers versus RAID controllers and the part played by the RAID BIOS. The terminology can be a small obstacle here. Let's see if some examples help...

With an ordinary hard disk controller the OS will see each physical disk, the OS can create a partition on one of those physical disks, then the OS will create and format a volume on that partition, at which point the abstraction of the "drive" (the lettered abstraction that is, i.e. C:, D: , etc.) comes into existence.

If all the hard disks are plugged into a RAID controller, then you use a bootable utility or the RAID BIOS to define one or more units (an old-school term - some controllers will confusingly might use "array" or "volume", etc.), consisting of two or more physical drives in whatever flavor of RAID you choose. For example, with six physical disks you could create one unit using two disks in RAID-1, and a second unit with three disks in RAID-5 plus one hot spare.

After a reboot the RAID BIOS presents to the motherboard BIOS each unit as what looks like a physical drive, so the operating system will see these units and will have absolutely no cognisance of the number, size or geometry of the actual physical disks connected to that controller. The OS should not care what sort of RAID you've configured because it cannot see what's going on behind the scenes there. Using this above two-unit example with your hard drives, the OS would not see six 750GB disks, but one 1.5GB disk and one 2.2GB disk. The OS would then create a partition one one of these, etc.

It can get more complicated. Some RAID controllers can define multiple logical "drives" or "virtual disks" or "container" on a unit or "array" (love the inconsistent terminology, eh). And these should not be confused with the logical partitioning that the operating system can perform on the partitions.

Now as far as I know, since i'ts a 2TB limit on bootable partitions, so you should be able to create a single 3.7TB unit of all six disks, then allow the OS to create a small partition, just 100GB maybe, for the OS, then once the OS is installed OK you can use the disk management tool to utilize the rest of the space on another drive letter. If that doesn't work try using the RAID controller to create two logical volumes on the 6-disk RAID-5 array, one of around 100GB or whatever, and the second with the remaining space.

-B
January 1, 2008 2:59:33 AM

B,

THanks for the information, its hard to find specific information of RAID construction so your thought are most welcome.

I did not convert a RAID 1 to a RAID 5, that would be more than I would want to tackle. What I did was put a RAID 1 of two 160GB drives on the Gigabyte chip and install Vista on that. Then I plugged the 6 Data drives back in on the Intel chip and set them up as a RAID 5 (which is still initilizing but at 93%). THis way I had a stable OS before I tried to buly my big data volume. After it is initilized I plan to partition that volume into one small volume for music CD's and one large volume for movies. Thats the plan, it will be interesting to see if it actually works on a RAID of that size. I will post the results here as tomorrow is New Years day here in Alaska and I plan to spend it working on the beast.

Happy New Year to all!
January 2, 2008 9:12:25 PM

lol sounds like work but glad you got her going so far, and ya let us know the final outcome
January 3, 2008 2:51:53 AM

IT all went fine. THe data RAID5 went without a hitch as did partitioning it into a CD partition and a movie partition. I have transfered about a dozen each DVD's and Music albums and the system plays them to the setup monitor without a hitch. Figuring out sharing between Vista machines over a network, that was annoying.

Remaining steps:
- make sure the graphics card gets usable video and audio to my video processor.
- find a good remote control system to run the audio and video equipment (the HTPC will be remotely run from a laptop)
- transfer my CD and DVD collection to the HTPC.
January 4, 2008 5:33:09 AM

thanks for the up date and have fun filling it all up :) 

January 4, 2008 6:28:24 AM

IMHO, it's just not smart installing your OS to your raid 5 array.

put another sata drive in there seperate from the array, install your OS on that.

i have several systems setup that way. a single drive for the OS leaving the array ready for whatever.

one is a system with 9 total drives, 1 for OS, 8 for a 3.5 terabyte raid 5 volume
January 4, 2008 2:17:30 PM

valis said:
IMHO, it's just not smart installing your OS to your raid 5 array.

Nothing wrong with that really, except for some performance hit during writes, and that it adds to the troubleshooting effort if you experience trouble that somehow leaves your partition un-bootable. If that system is your only system, some forward thinking is needed to prepare recovery, driver and boot media.

In fact the OP's end-results - a RAID-1 for the OS and RAID-5 for the data, lines up neatly with a very common standard for high-availability high-performance systems, if you ignore the utilization of the, um, inexpensive motherboard RAID controller. Similar to your approach but with the addition of a mirror on the boot drive.

-B
August 13, 2011 4:57:26 AM

I thought I'd ask this question here as it pertains to the topic, more or less.

I have an Asus P5E3 Pro motherboard with six 1TB hard drives in a RAID 5 and I'm hoping to install Vista on a partition on that RAID.

My question is will the drives initialize fully in BIOS, either the RAID's add-on BIOS or the Asus BIOS, or will the initialize fully in the pre-installation 'program' of Vista? I know that the drives will continue to initialize after the OS is booted, but what about before, since I cannot install the OS until the drives are initialized. I don't think I need to load the driver(s) for the RAID in the installation 'program', as after the drives are ready it should appear, but I just want to make sure that my 4.6 Terabytes of RAID storage is actually initializing properly. I'm just not sure where the best 'place' is to leave the computer running so that the drives WILL initialize; do I leave it in the pre-installation 'program' or in BIOS- if so, which BIOS, the Asus Motherboard BIOS or the RAID's add-on BIOS... For past experience, 4.6 TB in a RAID 5 took about 30 hours to complete, and I'm already beyond that, so I'm not sure if I'm leaving it in the proper 'place'.

Any help would be awesome!
!