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How to create a Windows Server ISO CD with RAID Drivers using nLite

In this tutorial, I will be showing you how to create a bootable Windows ISO which includes RAID drivers using the nLite program. This is useful for if your installation fails using server assistant and you want to go ahead with a basic bog-standard Windows installation; but your installation fails when you are trying to load the RAID drivers for the text-mode installation

This procedure is only valid for people who have decided to use ONBOARD RAID systems. If your server / computer has a dedicated RAID card, there is no requirement for this procedure because all the drivers are hosted on the dedicated card itself. The card maintains the RAID integrity, all you do is go into the container, intialise the drives and make containers for the install.

SO REMEMBER, ONLY FOR ONBOARD RAID!!!

Firstly you will need to download a copy of the nLite Installer program from the website as this program is required to create the bootable ISOs which have the RAID drivers slipstreamed into them. If the above links no longer work I have a copy of the program stored in the software downloads section of my website which has the original files I downloaded when making this file

Firstly you will need to install the software for nLite, I won't bother going through this as it's self-explanatory, and if you don't know how to install a program on Windows, you shouldn't be attempting anything like this in my opinion until your knowledge improves further.

Step by Step how to create the bootable image

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When you first launch the software, you will be greeted with the following screen, nLite allows you to create a bootable modified ISO for 3 varieties of the Windows operating system (possibly more on the newer versions). Primarily, you can modify Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 images. The correct language should be specified as default, so click on next.

 

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After you click next, the software will ask you where the Windows installation files are located. You can either specify a source folder containing the files already extracted (using 7-zip for example) or a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray Drive holding the Windows CD files. Click browse and double click the folder or CD containing these files

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Once the folder has been selected, the software will auto-detect the relevant files including the version, service pack, operating system and the file size of the current files on the disk or folder. In the above picture you can see I am modifying some local files on my computer for Windows Server 2003, Standard so I can reinstall the Windows Operating on my Dell Poweredge (as the installation is failing with server assistant). Click next to continue

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The first time you use nLite this window will be empty. It's basically so you can load some settings from a previous session. If you want to load a session with presets simply select it and click impport. Click next at this screen as it will be blank for the first time user

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This is where you can specify the additional options you want to modify your ISO with the program. In this tutorial we are going to be modifying the ISO so that it contains the drivers for the RAID image. So click on the option for "Drivers" and "Bootable ISO" because we want to burn the CD when we're finished. The selections will go green to specify they have been selected. Click next to continue

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You will be prompted with the following screen to select the drivers you want to use for your image. Click on the insert option and select either "single driver" or "multiple drivers" you will need to make sure you select the correct one as it could invalidate the CD if the wrong ones are specified. You need to have downloaded the drivers before hand. If you found this tutorial and you are installing the drivers for a Dell Poweredge Server you can download the drivers from the Dell FTP Website which you can then select your product and download before hand. You then extract to a folder with 7-zip. If you are using a Dell Product and aren't sure which drivers you need, you can go to the Dell Website and enter your service tag/express service code using the Dell Product Selector this basically looks up the data from the service tag or express code and loads the information. You can then see what equipment your hardware came with to identify the drivers you need to download. You then find the appropriate operating system you are using and extract the drivers ready

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Once you have found the appropriate drivers you can either download and extract them with 7-zip or select the .exe file using the program, it will then open the files and automatically prompt you to select the *.INF configuration file you need. I selected the RAID drivers for the Poweredge 2650 using the Perc3/DI RAID Controller for Windows Server 2003 - select a file and click open

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The screen will then prompt you with the driver information, leave the option as "Textmode" driver. For clarification, text mode driver is for when you are installing Windows from scratch and it loads all the drivers. The "Regular PNP" driver is when you have installed Windows and using the GUI, like adding a printer if you don't want to swap the printer discs etc. Once you have selected this and are happy with it click on the OK button

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Your drivers will then be selected and specified in the screen above this, if you want to add more simply repeat the process. Click next when you want to proceed

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When you are on the above screen, clicking yes will start the CD building process - let this run through until completion

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A quick screenshot showing the process is it continues

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When the process is finished, it gives you a completed result showing how much bigger the installation is. Click next to continue

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You will then be prompted with the above screen, you can create the ISO file be specifiying a save to location or burning it directly to CD. The options available are in the "Mode" selection at the top left field. I selected the option for Create Image

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Enter an image name and select a location to save the file to. Click save when you are happy

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When you click save the progress Window will be displayed above showing the current progress of the ISO creation. You will then get a result when everything is finished

 

 

That's it, burn the ISO with your favourite ISO burning application - I personally prefer to use Active ISO Burner and you're ready to go ahead with reinstalling Windows on your server and clear any issues with drivers not being available during the installation. Provided the medium has enough space you can load it with a few drivers so that there are no issues with the installation or any missed drivers (VGA, RAID, Network) and so forth.