Windows 7 on a Dell R710 PowerEdge Server

I never thought this would work but I have a Dell PowerEdge R710 server as a home lab box and I was able to get Windows 7 Ultimate running on it.  I know, it sounds like a goofy idea but hear me out...

WHAT YOU CAN'T DO WITH WINDOWS SERVER

Here are the frustrating things about having a Windows Server that also acts as your personal computer:

  1. The cost...when you're just trying to run some VMs, who wants to pay big $$ for Windows Server?  I'm not running a multi-million dollar company...costs are important.
  2. Zune software...(and some other personal/user-based software like games) won't install or have problems and are generally unsupported on a server OS.
  3. Certain soundcard and video drivers are incompatible or flakey (my USB soundcard for example)
  4. Running a VM off it that acts as your primary workstation is unacceptable too.  I've found the audio and video too choppy or lagging to want to do it long term...even with RemoteFX
  5. Many Bluetooth (Like WIDCOMM) drivers won't install on a server OS, nor would my Plantronics software...so if you've got a bluetooth adapter and want to use it on your server, tough luck. 

 THE GOOD NEWS

I have been using this R710 for like 6 months now but was using an eval version of Windows Server 2008 R2 so when that recently expired, I needed to do something about it.  I was going to install Xen Server or Oracle VM on it so I could still use it as a proper VM lab, but my server kept telling me it couldn't find the OS on those disks.  I'm sure I'm doing something wrong but I was getting frustrated.  So for the heck of it I put in the extra Windows 7 Ultimate disk I have laying around to see if that'd work.  AND IT DID!

There's really not a lot of special work needed to get Windows 7 working on a Dell R710 server as long as you have a wired internet connetion right out of the gate. The install went off without a hitch.  And then once windows was installed, there were some drivers that were missing but after running Windows Update and making sure the hardware drivers were updated too, everything was installed and working with really no extra work.  The updates I would have done anyway, it didn't matter to me that there were a few extra checkboxes for hardware drivers under the OPTIONAL section.

All the apps I wanted to install all installed fine.  All the drivers I had for my hardware worked just fine.  Now I just needed to install VirtualBox to do the VM thing and I'm set!

SUMMARY

So I can honestly say with 100% certainty that Windows 7 Ultimate (a workstation OS) WILL install successfully on a Dell PowerEdge R710 server.  Who knew?

 

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