How To Deploy Windows Server 2012 on DELL UEFI Now–Notes From The field

The most current UEFI OS Deployment on a R810 is a bit finicky when you want to deploy Windows Server 2012 using the normal procedure & selecting “Other OS” as it’s obvious that the entry for Windows Server  2012 is not in there yet. The problem is that the Windows installer doesn’t seem to create the best practice UEFI partitions. It just seems to create a 320MB System Reserved partition and the rest is for your OS installation as Primary partition. In a good (by the book UEFI) install you’d see a layout like this (from Sample: Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions by Using Windows Setup):

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The reason for this seems to be that the firmware is still not 100% up to date for how Windows Server 2012 deals with UEFI installations. This I learned via my very helpful twitter friend Florian Klaffenbach

While an update for the system firmware is in the works and won’t be to long away let me share you how I dealt with this issue. It’s a bit more work but it get’s the job done. At least for me on a R810 with BIOS version 2.7.4.

I’m copying and adapting the step by step from Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Early Adopter Guide – Dell here and adapting it to how I worked around it. It’s “magic” Winking smile.

Installing Using Dell Unified Server Configurator

  1. Connect the keyboard, monitor, mouse, and any additional peripherals to your system
  2. Turn on the system and the attached peripherals.
  3. Press <F10> in the POST to start the System Services. The Initializing UEFI. Please wait… and the Entering System Services…Starting Unified Server Configurator messages are displayed.
  4. In the Unified Server Configurator window, if you want to configure hardware, diagnostics, or set changes, click the appropriate option. If no changes are required, press OS Deployment. => you can opt to start with a cleanly build VDisk. Which is best and should suffice. But is doesn’t. We’ll clean the disk later anyway later on in Step 14.
  5. In the Operating System Deployment window, click Deploy OS. The Configure or Skip RAID window is displayed. If Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is configured, the window displays the existing RAID configuration details.
  6. Select Go directly to OS Deployment. If RAID is not yet configured, configure it at this time.
  7. Click Next. The Select Operating System window is displayed with a list of compatible operating systems.
  8. Choose Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and click Next.NOTE: If Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is not listed, choose any other operating system
  9. Choose whether you want to deploy the operating system in UEFI or BIOS mode, and click Next => I do not get this choice if UEFI is already on in the BIOS settings
  10. In the Insert OS Media window, insert the Windows Server 2012 media and click Next.
  11. In the Reboot the System screen, follow the instructions on the screen and click Finish. If a Windows operating system is already installed on your system, the following message is displayed: Press any key to boot from the CD/DVD …Press any key to begin the installation. If you used a clean VDisk this is no issue
  12. In the Windows Setup screen, select the appropriate option for Language, Time and Currency Format, and Keyboard or Input Method.
  13. Click Next to continue.
  14. STOP => Select to REPAIR your system and launch a command line. Form there you start diskpart and run following commands on the disk where you want to deploy Windows Server 2012:
    • select disk 0
    • clean
    • convert gpt

      In my case this is Disk 0. This is what the installer should be able to do automatically with a clean disk any way but it doesn’t happen.

      Now DO NOT navigate to the X: root and launch setup again. Shut exit the repair console and shutdown the server.

  15. Start the server
  16. Press <F10> in the POST to start the System Services. The Initializing UEFI. Please wait… and the Entering System Services…Starting Unified Server Configurator messages are displayed. => DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING ANYMORE. It will take longer than expected but you will boot into the installation of Windows 2012 again.
  17. In the Windows Setup screen, select the appropriate option for Language, Time and Currency Format, and Keyboard or Input Method.
  18. Click Next to continue.
  19. On the next page, click Install Now.
  20. In the Operating System Install screen, select the operating system you want to install. Click Next. The License Terms window is displayed, click Next.
  21. In the Which Type of Installation Do You Want screen, click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced), if it is not selected already.
  22. In the Where do you want to install Windows screen, specify the partition on which you want to install the operating system. To create a partition and begin installation:
    1. Click New
    2. Specify the size of the partition in MB, and click Apply. A Windows might create additional partition for system files message is displayed. => NOW THE UEFI partitions on the GPT disk are created Open-mouthed smile.
    3. Click OK.Select the newly-created operating system partition and click Next.
      The Installing Windows screen is displayed and the installation process begins. After the operating system is installed the system reboots. You must set the administrator password before you can log in for the first time
  23. In the Settings screen, enter the password, confirm the password, and click Finish.
    The operating system installation is complete.

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Now, while this worked for me on the Dell R810 with BIOS 2.7.4,  I give no guarantees whatsoever. You’ll have to test it yourself or wait for the firmware update that is coming soon. Any way, perhaps it helps some of you out there!

32 thoughts on “How To Deploy Windows Server 2012 on DELL UEFI Now–Notes From The field

  1. Pingback: How to install Windows Server 2012 on PowerEdge Server with enabled UEFI - TechCenter - Blog - TechCenter – Dell Community

  2. Hello

    yes i waited for it…

    How much do you suggest to use Uefi instead of bios ? except obviously for the more 2tb disk and the different partiotioning possibilities.

    Regards

    P.S. well to be honest in my experience never found any particular advantage

    • Hello,

      Thanks for reading. UEFI is perhaps not that important now but I do it mainly to gain experience with it and for future proofing. Consider there other advantages of UEFI 2.3.1:Fast boot and resume, SecureBoot & BitLocker Network Unlock => while not important to all of us today going with UEFI allows us to implement them without reinstalling.

      Hope this helps.

      • Hello..

        Thx to you..

        i am agree. after i digged into this argument in the past some.. i assumed the same.. but those are very execeptional cases..
        and yes, of course in the future Uefi will become a must even in sme probably.

        p.s.
        like your blog..
        arguments are part of the real datacenter everyday practice..

        Bye

  3. Pingback: SOLVED: How To Install Server 2012 with the SYSTEM PARTITION and the OS Partition on the Same Disk - Up & Running Technologies Calgary

  4. Thanks for the post!
    I’ve struggled with R720xd (no DVD) to install Windows Server 2012 and R2 in UEFI but after some time realized that I could make a bootable USB Flash drive and copy the files from the ISO image to the USB. Just by haze i mistakenly formatted my 16GB USB drive to NTFS and that did obviously not work. NTFS and UEFI does not work! After reformatting the USB to FAT32 I could now boot from the USB Flash drive and install the OS.

    You could also actually mount the ISO image to iDRAC and install it from there, this is the supported way from DELL. Or use the Life Cycle Controller to deploy OS but then again you need to be able to boot from a USB or DVD and on the R720xd there is no DVD drive.

    Also note that if you already have MBR on your hard drive you need to get rid of that and convert it to GPT. What I did was to boot from the USB drive but instead of pressing the button “Install” Windows I clicked on “Repair” and started a command prompt. From there I could use DISKPART to clean the HD and create a new partition with GPT with convert command.

      • The post is from the field and comes in handy when you installed and re-installed Windows Server 2012 multiple times with BIOS and are not “work around” than guidance.
        But then if my post is neither useful or where it belongs, No problems, you’re then more than welcome to delete it. Thanks.

  5. Awesome awesome awesome!! Totally saved my bacon today while loading a used server for our data center!! 3 cheers for the walk through!!

  6. The latest Windows 2012 R2 Update 1 (DVD v4) will not work with USB and UEFI.
    The installl.wim has 4.4GB in size.

    FAT32 won´t accept larger files than 4.4GB .. 🙁

  7. This is madness I had a OTB Dell R320 with Windows 2012 R2 with x4 1TB drives on RAID5 with a 1.9TB and 800GB drives setup! I wiped to rebuild as i only wanted one large 2.7TB disk to split into two partitions. It took me ages to sort these until I stumbled across this post which is from 2012!!? Why would Dell not get this sorted?

    • This should be sorted out, never had the issue on R720 or later. I only have this issue on generation 11 hardware with Windows Server 2012(R2) and older BIOS firmware. I generally use R620/720/820 or later hardware. Did you deploy the lastes BIOS & firmware for the R320 and use the most recent W2K12R2 ISO?

  8. Thanks for your post. I had an issue where the only way I could boot from dvd on 720 to do a repair/recovery was through the steps above where you go into bios and tell the server your trying to install 2012. Thought I was losing my mind, then saw this and worked 1st time.

  9. Thank you for posting this, especially the Diskpart section. I am restoring image using Symantec System Recovery and always failed before reading your post. After clean the partition on target disk and convert to gpt it works smoothly.

  10. Have you run into issue updating this? Whenever I run Windows update on my R410 it seems to trash permissions on a bunch of services rendering the server unusable until i reload it

    • I have not been deploying Windows 2012 since we got 2012R2 and now 2016 which all install fine without any weird voodoo like this needing to be done with EUFI on both Generaton 11/12 and 13 servers. Make sure you have the latest firmware for everything and BIOS.

  11. Hi, I ran across this while installing 2016 data center on an R710. I’m having difficulty installing using a USB disk. I can get it to create the partitions and install, but after reboot, UEFI reports “Unavailable: windows boot manager”. It tried following your instructions, but it seems that I must use a DVD. However, Datacenter is too large for a DVD.

    Do you have any recommendations?

      • I only have idrac6 express. I think I have to have enterprise to mount virtual media. I’ll keep trying. I’m just hoping that there is not a problem with the implementation of Dell’s UEFI. thx

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