20 December 2008

Howto install Windows XP with a RAID configuration

I have bought new parts in my computer. I bought a ASUS P5E-VM DO motherboard. I also bougth two hard drives since I wanted to configure a RAID system. The motherboard uses Intel ICH9 chipset (actually ICH9DO) for controlling the external IO (read: hard discs).

It was not trivial to set up BIOS to enable the drives in a RAID configuration since the mother board manual was not very helpful. It turned out that I first had to set SATA configuration to "RAID" in BIOS and then save the settings and continue the boot process. Just after the memory check a message flashed: "Press Ctrl+I" to configure RAID. It is a special configuration utility to configure RAID level and witch discs to include in the configuration. I configured RAID level 0 (striping)

When trying to install Windows XP I run into some trouble: Windows XP installation program cannot detect my RAID configuration. It turns out I need special RAID drivers on a 3.5 inch floppy drive. (Yeah a real floppy drive, no flash memory stick or CD-ROM would do). Since I did not have a floppy drive I ran into some trouble. After surfing the net I found I way to overcome this problem.

First I needed the RAID drivers from Intel. The drivers are packed into what Intel calles 32-bit Floppy Configuration Utility (f6flpy3286.zip). I downloaded this zip-file and extracted it to a folder.

Second I needed the nLite program. It is a very usefull program to customize a Windows XP installation disc. I loaded my original Windows XP disc into nLite. Then I integrated the downloaded drivers into a new Windows XP installation disc with nLite (to a local folder). nLite can then produce a bootable ISO that I burnt to a CD. So I got a brand new Windows XP installation CD integrated with my RAID drivers and it worked!

If you have a real floppy disc I guess that you can put the drivers no the floppy disc and press F6 during the Windows XP installation to load the drivers from the disc. But with my new CD there was no need for the F6-stupid-floppy-disc-press. I've heard that Windows Vista installation program has better suport for other medium (that is USB memory stick).

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