Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 on a ThinkPad W510

ws2008 r2 blog logoNext week is the general availability date for Windows Server 2008 SP1.  It just so happens the 2/22 GA date is also National Margarita Day here in the US. I figured I’d better get this written and posted ahead of time.  Just in case someone wants me to judge a contest or something.  Grin.

For this install, I considered the various approaches someone might take to install R2 SP1 on the Lenovo ThinkPad W510.  For instance, you might decide to remove the primary hard drive or SSD and insert a new drive for Windows Server.  Swapping drives on the W510 is more of a hassle on the W510 than previous ThinkPad's because the bay is below the machine instead of on the side, like it should be. 

With that in mind, I decided to install R2 using the “boot from VHD” method.  The target of the install will be a single file on a high capacity drive in the W510 Ultrabay.  In order to do that, you’ll need the Lenovo Serial ATA Hard Drive Bay Adapter III.

There are really three or four phases to the following instructions.  The first set is prepping the environment for Windows Setup.  The middle set is the install of R2 into the VHD file and what I would call the core driver installs.  The last phase includes installing drivers and applications that are optional but nice to have. 

Make sure to go to the Lenovo driver download area and download all of the drivers you’ll need.  At a minimum you’ll need the driver for the Intel Ethernet nic in the W510.  It requires a manual install.  Once the OS is installed and running with the Ethernet nic, you can grab anything else you might want or overlooked.

Prepping the Install Environment

My W510 is configured with an Intel 160GB SSD in the primary drive bay, and a hard drive adaptor in the Ultrabay where the DVD normally goes.  In the hard drive adaptor is a 500GB Hitachi Travelstar 7200rpm drive.  This 500GB drive will most likely be replaced with their new 750GB drive soon. My R2 SP1 installation is going on the Hitachi drive via the magic of boot from VHD.

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As you call see, I already have Windows 7 installed to a typical volume on the primary storage device (SSD), and an installation of R2.  The Windows 7 install was from scratch last weekend and I used the Win7 Ent SP1 x64 integrated .ISO image.  The R2 is an old install already present on the hard drive I added to the BCD store with a couple of simple command. 

The R2 entry will eventually be deleted because there’s really no need to have two installations.  I am showing the BCD entries for two reasons.  First, you can clearly see the R2 path.  Our new R2 SP1 path will be identical but with a different filename. 

Second, if you don’t change the description you’ll have two entries with the same string after we are done.  That gets a little confusing but it is easily fixed with the BCDEDIT /set command and some additional arguments to change the description.

Creating the VHD File for Storage

  1. Run an elevated instance of CMD
  2. Dump your BCD store settings using the BCDedit > bcdsettings.txt command.  It’s nice to have that handy in case you mess something up later.
  3. Exit CMD
  4. Press the Windows key or click the Windows pearl in the bottom left of the Win 7 screen
  5. Right mouse click Computer
  6. Click Manage
  7. Click Disk Management
  8. Click the Action menu item
  9. Click Create VHD
  10. Enter the file location, VHD disk size, and verify the Dynamic disk type is selected. I size mine relatively small at 40GB.  This is important.  When the VHD boots, it will expand to this size.  In my case, I always need to have 40GB of free space on the Hitachi drive otherwise the OS won’t boot.  If you don’t want to worry about this, use a fixed disk type instead.
  11. Click OK.  You’ll see the VHD get created and mounted.  The end result is an uninitialized disk in the Disk Management list.
  12. Right mouse click the new disk and Initialize it.  I am still using MBR for the time being.
  13. Right mouse click the unallocated partition and select the New Simple Volume menu item.
  14. Click Next for size (we’re using it all)
  15. Click Next on the drive letter (most likely E:)
  16. On the Format dialog box, format it quickly but give the volume a name in the label.  I label all of my drives and volumes so it’s apparent which one I’m looking at.  I called mine R2SP1.
  17. After you click Finish, you are ready to install the OS.

Installing R2 SP1 to the VHD File

  1. Reboot your computer and boot from an external DVD drive with the R2 SP1 DVD.  If you don’t have an external drive but have a worthy USB stick, you can burn the integrated .ISO to the stick and use that method.  In this case I used glass.
  2. After Windows Setup is up and running (gray screen with the Install Button), do a SHIFT+F10 key combo to launch a CMD shell.
  3. Enter DISKPART to run the disk partitioning and volume utility
  4. Enter LIST DISK for information purposes. Commands are not case sensitive.  I am only using upper case for readability.
  5. Enter LIST VOL
  6. Enter SELECT VDISK FILE=d:\r2\r2sp1w510.vhd
  8. Enter LIST VOL
  9. Exit DISKPART
  10. Exit CMD
  11. Click Install Now
  12. Pick the Enterprise Full SKU for installation
  13. Accept the EULA after you read it fully (like you always do)
  14. Click the Custom option for the install
  15. Click the volume we created previously to select it then click next.  Ignore the warning about it not being a valid target.  It’s wrong.  Maybe someday the Windows product group will officially endorse and support this method for installation.  Right now they don’t.
  16. Setup should proceed as expected then reboot. 
  17. As prompted, enter an Administrator password
  18. Complete the “Initial Configuration Tasks”  I usually do the time zone, computer name, and change the Windows Update setting to check for downloads but let me decide what to do.  I certainly don’t allow downloads until I am ready much later.

Core Driver Installs

Assuming you followed my advice at the beginning of this article, you have all the needed drivers downloaded and available.  If you look at the Lenovo Driver Downloads area for the ThinkPad W510, you’ll see there are 80 installation packages as of 2/19/2011.  We are going to use about a third of that when it’s all said and done.  If you are only doing the core drivers, we’ll use a lot less.

  1. Install Intel Chipset drivers oss911ww then reboot.  It’s decision time.  Do you want to use the inbox driver that shipped with SP1 for your SSD and rotational disk, or do you want to use the Intel store driver or Intel Rapid Store Technology (RST) drivers?  For this install, I am going to use the inbox driver so I need to remove the Intel store driver.
  2. Launch Server Manager and go to the Diagnostics | Device Manager snapin area.
  3. Expand IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers
  4. Right mouse click the Intel ® 5 Series/3400 Series controller
  5. Select Uninstall from the context menu
  6. Check delete driver software for this device and click ok. Reboot.
  7. Install NVIDIA display drivers in 6md636ww.  This will give you multimon and higher resolution support for the remainder of the installs. There is a later driver package directly from NVIDIA at their website you might consider.  The both seem stable.  Please keep in mind all of these drivers get rev’d eventually so if you are reading this months after 2/19/2011, adjust accordingly.
  8. Install the Intel Ethernet driver from 6irf24ww_764.  Technically all you can do is run the package installer.  It doesn’t actually install and enable the nic.  We still have to do that manually.
  9. Launch Server Manager and go to Diagnostics | Device Manager
  10. Right mouse click the banged out Ethernet controller.
  11. Select the Update Driver Software menu item
  12. Click Browse my computer
  13. Click Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
  14. Scroll down the list and click Network Adaptors to select it, then click Next
  15. Click the have disk button
  16. Click browse
  17. Go to c:\drivers\win\ethernet\pro1000\winx64\ndis62 and select the e1k62x64.inf file.
  18. Click Open
  19. Click OK
  20. Select the 82567LM-3 nic in the list and click Next
  21. Click Yes on the compat warning dialog box
  22. Click Close. You’ll notice a few seconds after this driver installs that Windows Update will tell you there are some Important updates. As of 2/19/2011 there are 8 updates.  Ignore them for now.  We’ll install them a little later.
  23. Install the Intel wireless drivers in 6mws21ww
  24. Custom install
  25. Intel Wifi Link driver only.  If you have a need for diagnosing Wifi issues, you might install the Intel Wifi Connection Utility at this point.  It gives you some decent tools to tell you what AP you are connecting to, signal strength, what bands you are using, etc.  I don’t normally install this but it can come in handy even on the road.  Let the Intel install complete.  Now that we have the driver in place, we need to enable things in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.
  26. Launch R2 Server Manager
  27. Click the Features area and install the Wireless LAN Service feature from the list of available features.
  28. Left click the network icon on the bottom right of the task bar notification area so see the list of available Wifi networks.  Connect to the network of your choice. 
  29. Install the NEC USB 3.0 drivers from 6my206ww.  If you haven’t done so already, there is a firmware update for the USB 3.0 chipset in 6myf01ww.

At this point you have installed all of what I would call the core drivers needed to effectively use Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Hyper-V with the Lenovo ThinkPad W510.  However, you’ll notice in device manager there are still quite a few banged out drivers.  This next section installs many of the remaining drivers.

Installing Optional Drivers for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

  1. Go to the services list and start the Windows Audio Service.  Make sure to set it to Automatic or delayed start.
  2. Install the Ricoh multicard driver from 6hss74ww. Ignore reboot request.
  3. Install the webcam driver from 6nca19ww. I have not tested it’s operation yet.  Ignore reboot.
  4. Install the Ultranav driver from 6hgy31ww. Ignore reboot.
  5. Install the Ultranav control panel applet and utility from 7vgq14ww. Ignore reboot.
  6. Install the Lenovo LCD panel driver from 79oi22ww.  This actually doesn’t install automagically so you’ll need to do this manually using the .INF file at c:\drivers\win\monitor.  You’ll certainly want to do this if you are using the FHD screen and color sensor.
  7. Install the modem driver from package 6ima04ww.  I cancel out of the Netwaiting and Digital Live Detect installs that are spawned by this package.  I haven’t used a modem line in over 5 years, but you never know when you might need to fax something.
  8. Reboot
  9. You likely notice on the reboot a device driver install for the integrated smartcard reader fails.  You can fix that at anytime by looking at the details and telling it to get the best driver from the catalog servers.  I didn’t write down the exact steps but it’s pretty apparent what to do. Might as well do that now.
  10. If you plan to do any screencast capturing with Expression Encoder 4 or Camtasia from TechSmith, you must install the Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktop Experience feature.  If you want to run the Lenovo Power Manager, you are also going to need to install the .Net Framework feature.  Go ahead and install both sets of features using Server Manager.  This proceeds pretty slowly.
  11. Install the Power Management driver from 83ku11ww.  Ignore reboot request.
  12. Install Power Manager 3.40 from 83u415w0. Ignore reboot.  If you didn’t install the .Net Framework in the previous steps, it’s really required to use Power Manager.  .Net Framework 4.0 can be downloaded and installed here if you prefer.
  13. Install the Conexant audio driver from 6na127ww.  This is needed when using Camtasia and other audio capturing products.
  14. Install Hotkey drivers from 83vu54ww.  I do not install the magnifier or the new autoscroll feature in this package. Ignore reboot
  15. Install the updates via Control Panel | Windows Update.

Done!  Well, almost.  If you look at the device list in Device Manager, you’ll see the PCI Simple communication controller and Bluetooth still banged out.  You can install the Intel AMT driver from 6ir120ww if you just can’t stand it.  If you do, you can go to the Control Panel | Programs and Features area and remove the Intel AMT programs and services.  It will leave the driver in place but remove the overhead of the AMT services.

I don’t know anyone who has ever managed to get Bluetooth working in Windows Server 2008 so I just ignore it.  I use a wired mouse connected to a KVM switch in my home office, and the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 for my travels (or couch).

If you want to make Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 look pretty, you can set the Themes service to automatic and turn on Aero Glass support.  Enjoy!