This past Thursday I was provisioning my first 64-bit X64 server. It's a lower-end HP DL145 that I am preparing for a branch office. I was excited about finally being able to get hands-on a 64-bit server, and loading up the 64-bit version of Server 2003.
This would also be the first production server that I will use that will have SATA instead of SCSI. I have always had a preference for SCSI drives, as the performance is simply unbeatable for a disk subsystem. I decided that for a small branch office file server, SCSI would be overkill, so I opted for the SATA version.
I have always had great experiences with HPAQ servers. I've always used Compaq servers, and when HP bought them, I stuck with my Proliants and have never been disappointed.
I was sort of surprised that the DL145 did not use the "normal" SMART START system that the rest of the Proliants use. I was a bit concerned about this, but, ok, I can live with that.
So, my first
DL145, after having discovered that you cannot hardware mirror/duplex the SATA drives, I picked up a SATA RAID card to put in the server. On the DL145, there are 2 pci-x slots that ride on a mini riser card in the center rear of the server. I removed the riser card, popped out the card blank on the rear of the panel, and placed the SATA RAID card in its slot. I then replaced the riser card, and noticed a great deal of play in the riser card slots. I then booted the server to configure the RAID card. Problem was, the RAID card didn't show up, most likely due to the excess play in the riser board as it sat in its slot.
So, the next day, with the new server that replaced the one with the bad slots (I was under a time pressure to get this puppy out the door, so I exchanged it instead of repairing it), I got everything configed and loaded Server 2003, 64-bit edition.
I then got to the point where it was time to load the 64-bit drivers for the NIC and video card, and the AMD chipset and processor. Please note, 32-bit drivers are not compatible with 64-bit operating system. The HP DL145 comes with a driver disk, that includes 64-bit drivers.
Problem is, HP put them on the driver CD in a 32-bit, self extracting archive, which means that as I built the server, I couldn't extract the drivers that I needed to get the NIC to work, from the server that I was building. Which meant I had to drag my lazy ass back to my workstation to extract the drivers and then burn a CD with them, go back to the server, and finally load the drivers.
It seems to me, that if you are going to put 64-bit drivers on a driver disk, that you would compress them in a 64-bit file format. This might seem trivial on the surface, but to me it shows that someone is asleep at the switch, and not thinking about how their products are used and built. I hope that's not the case, but this is a small red flag, and I will keep a sharp look out for more.