DELL PE1850 Domain Controller Upgrade to Windows 2008 R2

UPDATE May 20th 2010: DELL changed the location of the pdf’s I updated the links to them on this blog post as I see lost of people clicking on them. Hope this helps.

Just in case someone needs to do something similar, I’m posting some of issues I needed to resolve when I did an Active Directory upgrade for a partner’s IT department (September/October 2009). There was a need for Windows 2008 R2 DNS (for Direct Access), the Active Directory Recycle Bin as well as the desire to have as much servers as possible running the same OS to keep management easy. This is not an extensive manual of any tool used but it will give you some pointers.

The hardware in use was DELL. Seven Power Edge 1850’s servers spread around the country in corporate HQ and large branch offices. Those servers where 3 years old at the time and had 2 years support remaining on the contract. A hardware replacement or virtualization was not an option. So we needed to find out if the upgrade was possible. The good news was we could get our hands on a spare PE1850 for testing and if need be a "swing type" migration. But to reduce the work an in-place upgrade was preferred. The original installation of these domain controllers where x64 bit, otherwise that would have been a no go, W2K8R2 is x64 bit only. It was quite a smart and forward looking chap who did the original project. OK, I admit it was me, so this is blatant self-promotion. The anti-virus had W2K8R2 support; we got an updated agent for the UPS from the vendor, etc. It all looked pretty good.

I checked the following support documents on the dell website:

Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 for Dell™ PowerEdge™ Systems

Important Information Guide

Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008 R2 for Dell™ PowerEdge™ Systems

Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2

There found that all drivers and firm ware updates needed to support W2K8R2 on a PE1850 where available except for one and that was the driver for the raid controller, a PERC4e/si. That was a potential show stopper, but a driver was coming. So I kept a close eye on the DELL FTP site and around 3 September it showed up. Using the SUU 6.1 DVD or manually download installation packets I upgraded the firmware of the servers (BIOS, DRAC).

I also ran the upgrade advisor and found that we need to remove the Dell Open Manage Server Assistant version as the aging Dell® OpenManage Diagnostic Service used an unsigned driver (C:Program Files (x86)DellSysMgtoldiagspackagesPORTACCESSOR64.sys). All potential problematic software, unneeded tools and drivers like video, anti-virus, UPS … where removed as well as this makes any upgrade process less risky.

No Native RAID Driver

As the DELL PERC 4e/Si is not natively supported by Windows 2008 R2 we need to use the DELL driver (R227150.exe)
from the FTP site. You could put the drivers in a subfolder $WinPEDriver$ on the root of a volume that Windows can find during the upgrade (hard disk, usb thumb drive…). Now to make absolutely sure we didn’t have any issues with the raid controller we decided to inject the driver in to WIM files to build a custom ISO. That might be redundant but we wanted to have an ISO with all needed drivers for disaster recovery purposes anyway. The drivers need to be injected into the boot.wim and thee install.wim files using DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management from the WAIK for Windows 7 en W2K8R2) see The Windows® Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows® 7 @

We used the x64 bit versions of the tools as our WIM files are x64 bit

The following commands inject the driver into the boot wim file’s two indexes:







Index 1 is the Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) and Index 2 is the actual Windows Setup that you can run when booted into WinPE. DISM has a command to find out more info about the image files: DISM.exe /Get-WimInfo. The documentation in the WAIK is quite good. Read it!

The following commands inject the driver into the install wim file. You need to do that for any index you want or need (Web, Standard, Enterprise, core and full install …) Just paste everything you need in a cmd file and you’re good to go.




Video Driver Injection Hiccup

As we wanted to have a good screen resolution for the sys admins we also embedded the video drivers. The screen resolution with the native driver wasn’t very good so we looked around to find one that would work. We found the Radeon 7000M driver (ATI_Radeon-7000M_A00_R177829.exe) on the DELL website and also injected them into the boot.wim and install.wim image files using DISM. That way we didn’t need to update the video drivers after installation. Cool. Most video drivers are packed twice. The trick is that you still need to expand the drivers after you extracted them from the installer using WinZip, 7Zip, WinRAR or whatever it is your use or prefer. Otherwise you’ll get an error like this after dism has found the inf:

Searching for driver packages to install…Found 2 driver package(s) to install.
Installing 1 of 2 – D:DRIVERSDELLR177829DriverXP6A_INFCA_58688.inf: Error – An error occurred. The driver package could not be installed.For more information, check for log files in the <windir>inf folder of the target image.
Installing 2 of 2 – D:DRIVERSDELLR177829DriverXP_INFCX_58688.inf: Error – An error occurred. The driver package could not be installed.For more information, check for log files in the <windir>inf folder of the target image.

For more information, check for log files in the <windir>inf folder of the target image.  

Error 30

The command completed with errors. For more information, refer to the log file.

The DISM log file can be found at C:WindowsLogsDISMdism.log

If you look in the dism.log you’ll find an error code like 0x8007001E as the cause of the error. This is rather cryptic. Any way you can prevent this by extracting them:

Expand D:DRIVERSDELLR177829DriverXP6A_INFB_58469*.* D:DriversExpanded

Copy the expanded files into a copy of the original folder structure to replace the original files. Make sure that you repeat this exercise for any subfolder as well if needed or you’ll only expand none or only a portion of the files. When you’ve done that you can add the drivers to the WIM files. Beware that adding those large video drivers can take rather long.

Now that we have added all drivers to the wim files we write the customized installation to an ISO file (oscdimg.exe, WAIK). We can burn this to a CD to add to the disaster recovery kit or mount the ISO using the DRAC media.

"C:Program FilesWindows AIKToolsamd64oscdimg.exe" -n -m "D:W2K8R2WithDellPerc4esiDriverW2K8R2" "D:W2K8R2WithDellPerc4eDiAndRadeon7000M.iso"

Using the custom install we were able to upgrade the domain controllers fast and without any issues. All what was left to do after the upgrade was check if all was well with the DC. After that we had to clean up the post upgrade artifacts, install anti-virus, UPS software, Dell Management tools and provide for and schedule the backups.

So in in all we did 7 in place upgrades and now they have been running in native Windows 2008 Domain & forest functional level for over 4 months without any issues. Nice job. That’s the good thing about that partner, they always have some interesting jobs to do and helping out is always appreciated.