Sunday, April 10, 2016

Got my HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8


In my previous post, I mentioned that I ordered the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 to use it as a NAS. It arrived quite quickly from the retailer but as I was not at home when the delivery man arrived at my place, I had to go and collect it from a nearby distribution point.

The server came in a box that was much larger than I expected. When I took it out, it still looked larger than my desktop PC which was using a Silverstone SG13 case. Volume wise the MicroServer was only 1.5 litres larger, but the cube shape of it made it taller and appear bigger than the specifications suggested.

The server was very well packaged. This is an enterprise product so HP will not skimp on it.






I quickly opened the 120GB SanDisk SSD which I ordered with it and put it in one of the drive bays. I could not install it onto a drive caddy because they do not have support for SSDs, but I could simply plug the SSD into the SATA ports and slide the caddy in. The caddy did not touch the SSD and the SATA port was the only thing holding the SSD.  The SSD will eventually be installed in the slim optical drive bay but since I only have two hard drives at the moment, I do not have to move it there just yet.

The drive bays are, unfortunately,  not hot-swappable. I left the hard drives out for the time being.


Drive caddies (those grey parts have to be removed)

Then it was time for me to power up the server and start installing the OS. Before powering it up, I plugged an Ethernet cable to the iLO port so that it can be controlled remotely. I first logged into the iLO management software via Microsoft Edge browser (other browsers need some work to get there) and found the Remote Control section. From there, I could see what was going on on the screen and control the server.

The server was in a reboot loop when I checked, because it could not detect a bootable drive. I reset the server and once it had finished the POST, which is a super long process as it checks for a lot of things, I entered the F9 key to enter the BIOS. I had to change the operating mode of the disk controller AHCI from RAID which was set as default. I do not plan to use hardware RAID in the server to relieve me from potential complications. The data will be backed up manually.

After that, I rebooted the server and hit the F10 key to enter the Intelligent Provisioning section where I could start installing the OS.

MS Gen8 supports Windows Server 2012 R2 out of the box and that is what I was going to install. I first had to format a USB stick in FAT32 and copy the ISO file which I downloaded from Microsoft onto it. Then I had to plug it in and browse the installer within IP. It asked for few details like admin password etc. before the installation commenced, so that the setup could be performed unattended.

The installation of the OS went without a hiccup. After the installation, I configured few things in the OS but nothing major. There are a lot of things I need to do before ethical server is fully functional. I ran Windows Update and installed Windows Media Essential add-on (so that it can be used as a Dana server) and turned it off.

Then I plugged in one of the hard drives and powered up the server. Then I setup file sharing so that the files can be accessed over the network.

I managed to set it up without any major issues but I was very disappointed by the performance. Movies were constantly buffering. The files copy performance was very low as well, less than even 1MB/s. This was on my MacBook Air running Windows 10 in Bootcamp. I switched to OSX and I got close to 7MB/s. The movies weren't buffering anymore. Then I found out that the router which my ADSL provider provided me free of charge did not have gigabit Ethernet, so the server throughput was capped at around 10MB/s. The Wi-Fi was capped at single-band 802.11n, which was again lower than what the clients supported. My MacBook Air supported dual-band 802.11n. Basically, my home network infrastructure was lacking. I will have to do something about this soon.

I decided to keep the 2nd hard drive out for the time being and test how the server performed. If everything goes well, I will add it into the server and setup automatic backups.

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