Saturday, August 26, 2006

windows 2003's RAID5 doesn't support hot-spare --- observed with help from the great VMWare Player

I finally found some scsi virtual disk image to be used for my Windows 2003 server, a virtual machine I set up inside the 'VMWare Player"  in prep for 70-290,  my first MCSE test. In the past weeks, I had a hard time to have more than 2 free (IDE) disks in order to simluate an environment where I can set up RAID5 volumes.

The successful count of the RAID-5 capability inside windows 2003 server:
  • lsiLogic is the controller type supported by the Windows 2003 server. busLogic is not supported w/o external driver.
  • run Device manager to remove the old/broken busLogic controller then re-scan for hardware change
  • run Disk Manager (diskmgmt.msc)
    •  initialize all four brand-new identical 500MB scsi disks
    • convert them all into dynamic disks
    • create a RAID-5 volume using 64MB on each disk: right click on one of them, select 'create a volume' from the pop-up menu, check 'RAID-5', select disks & sizes to create.
  • Nowhere, hot-spare is found in the create-a-volume wizard, or the resultant 3-disk RAID5 volume with one free dynamic disk available in the system
No wonder 'VMWare Player' is voted the best technology of the year by some IT pro magzine. Using 'VMWare Player', I just inserted a few entries to the .vmx configuration file claiming I have a few new disks and a SCSI controller now, on a suspended server. One the server is resumed, the controller & the disks are detected and installed properly. Can you imagine the hassle I would have had in a non-virtualized world. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh....
  • buy a busLogic SCSI controller, only to find it doesn't work.
  • waste time searching for proper driver, or return it and get a lsiLogic one to try my luck.
  • buy 4 scsi disk to set up 3-disk RAID5, only to find the 4th disk can't be used as hot-spare anyway
  • shutdown os, power off the box, open the case, screw driver, struggling with free dribe bays & cables, etc.
To have four SCSI disks on a SCSI controller, I just add the following to my blah.vmx:
scsi0.virtualDev = "lsilogic"
scsi0:0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0:0.fileName = "sda.vmdk"
scsi0:0.deviceType = "disk"
scsi0:1.present = "TRUE"
scsi0:1.fileName = "sdb.vmdk"
scsi0:1.deviceType = "disk"
scsi0:2.present = "TRUE"
scsi0:2.fileName = "sdc.vmdk"
scsi0:2.deviceType = "disk"
scsi0:3.present = "TRUE"
scsi0:3.fileName = "sdd.vmdk"
scsi0:3.deviceType = "disk"

VMWare player automatically added a few lines to the blah.vmx file after my lines too:
scsi0:0.redo = ""
scsi0:1.redo = ""
scsi0:2.redo = ""
scsi0:3.redo = ""
scsi0.present = "TRUE"

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