Dell R200, Can It Run Windows XP?

A Dell R200; can it run Windows XP?

Seems that question has been asked many times. Dell clearly states in their ‘Tech Specs’ that the only supported OS types are server related. There is not a client type OS on that list.

However, if you search the internet for R200 and Windows XP you will find many a person trying to get this to work. I did not find anyone that was successful when first I looked. I found much speculation, anger, and hate about the topic. No resolution to actually making Windows XP work on a Dell R200.

Now, let me tell you, it is possible.

However, let me warn you, it is not a supported configuration by Dell. This means something goes wrong hardware wise, sure they’ll replace the hardware, they will not reload or support the OS build and the replacement hardware may not work.

Now keeping the above in mind, and that all information I give you is not warranted, implied or otherwise, and that if you follow these steps you are doing so of your own accord. Whatever happens happens, and I am not responsible for your actions or issues that may arise from following my steps outlined below. Again, remember, Dell says this doesn’t work and is not a supported configuration.

Well here goes!

  1. Put the Starter CD that came with your server in.
  2. Once it has come to the selection screen choose your language.
  3. Choose OS installation.
  4. A list of OS options appears. Select Windows 2003 R2 standard.
  5. Accept defaults for the installation (do not fill out product key when given the ‘option’ to do so).
  6. Once the Dell prep. CD has reach 74% it will “spit” out the CD and ask for the OS CD.
  7. Insert the Windows XP CD
  8. The CD will be rejected 2-3 times before it is accepted.
  9. After the installation files are copied the system will “spit” out the CD again and reboot.
  10. Follow along with the prompts when Windows starts its installation process after the restart process is complete.

You now have a working installation of the Operating System.

HOWEVER, you need some driver updates. ESPECIALLY the NIC drivers or the system is just a standalone box that can’t really do anything for you. This is probably not why you bought it though.

The nice thing here is that you have the drivers on the starter CD! DO NOT use the application on the CD to install the drivers. Instead use ‘Device Manager’ and browse to the location on the CD for the drivers.

Once you have that completed and the server has internet access everything else will be picked up when you do a Windows Update procedure. You will more than likely have to do the Windows Update procedure 2, 3, or 4 times before all the updates are completed.

Once you have done this you will have a working Dell R200 running Windows XP!

Remember, Dell states that this is NOT a supported configuration and you are doing this at your own risk. Personally I don’t know why one would want a server class machine (no matter how low ‘rent’ it is) to run a client side OS. Then again, I was asked by a client to make it work. I did, of course I had them sign a waiver. :p

As usual, if you have questions ask away here so we can share with everyone. Plus I get enough spam in my inbox. 😉

NOTE 11/10/2008:  Please ensure to read the responses below.  You will find changes in how drivers and installation behave.  Thanks to those who have posted their results, work-arounds, and updated successes!

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15 Responses to “Dell R200, Can It Run Windows XP?”

  1. This does not work for me.
    The Dell systems build util spits the disk out 6 times and then just hangs.

  2. what is the build verison you are using of the Dell utility?

    Is the XP disc a full version or are you attempting to use a upgrade disc?

    For my installs I used the 5.4 build of the Dell installation and a full copy of Windows XP(R).

  3. Please provide the driver location in the starter CD

  4. Replace Windows…

    Hmm, care to share some more?…

  5. This didn’t work for me – the Dell software hung at 74% (ver 5.4) but never accepted the XP CD even after 20+ attempts. Might have been because of the CD I was using – it was a full version of SP3, and an OEM copy so there might be some differences.

    What did work was using the Dell CD with your instructions up until the CD-swapping bit, then I did a hard power-cycle and booted from the XP CD instead. Within the XP installer I deleted the existing C: partition that the Dell software created (leaving the small partition with the recovery tools intact) and created a new system partition using all the remaining disk space. Installing XP onto that worked perfectly, and the driver installation from Device Manager worked fine too. Now my R200 runs XP just fine.

    As to why you’d do it, there are still a lot of applications where you’d like a small, rugged, powerful, cheap PC to run processor-intensive software on. Equivalent desktop machines generally cost more, and they’re very hard to rack mount…

  6. This also did not work for me.

    However I did get WinXP Pro SP3 OEM working on it. I did the same as Nick B. Windows loaded fine after the reboot, it was like a regular install.

    But, the drivers did not work for me, no matter how much I tried getting them off the CD, Windows could not find them. Good news though, the only drivers I needed (VGA and NIC) where downloadable online. The VGA I got from dell directly, they had a utility that worked just fine. And for the NIC adapter, Broadcom had the drivers on their website.

    All is good now.

  7. The original method and the reboot method from JZ and Nick B didn’t work either.

    I have the Dell boot CD version 5.5 (not 5.4) which stops at 27% and asks for the OS disk. I was trying to load XP SP3.

    Whether loading XP directly or through the Dell disk, the HD is not recognized. The HD is a mirrored drive on an SAS 6/iR. I also tried adding the drivers to the XP disk, bu there are already symmpi.sys drivers on the SP3 disk.

    Ideas anyone?

  8. Success!

    Unfortunately not with the methods above.

    Using nLite to create a Windows XP SP3 and SAS6 driver (for RAID) integrated install disk (XP version from dell.com) worked first try.

    Broadcom NetExtreme XP drivers after restart (also search dell.com)
    and the Windows 2003 video driver for the R200

    and several hours of Windows updates.

  9. +! to what Nick B says. I just found this site searching how to install the NIC drivers. Skip the Dell install disk, throw an XP disk in and just kill the existing C: partion (I also left the unnamed partion).

    The VGA driver on the Dell disk worked for me, but I had to go to this site to get the Broadcom NIC driver for XP
    http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/netxtreme_server.php

    I’m using mine for data acquistion with an instrument which only works with XP. The R200 1U size makes it nice to throw in a portable rack. Now, off to try some pci-e video cards. Wish me luck!

  10. To CP: Hi, did you find SAS6 drivers for XP or you used W2k3 drivers when creating nLite CD?
    Thx

  11. Another method that works (if you have USB floppy)

    I downloaded the SAS 6 driver from Dell here: (big URL so made Tiny: http://preview.tinyurl.com/dhclrw ) and extracted it, put it on a floppy and connected a USB floppy drive and did an XP Pro SP3 install and hit F6 when prompted for addtional driver disk. Nlite is cool to build CD but if you have a USB drive, this is quicker (if you’re doing only one). Note: The SAS 6 is used and supported on Precision Workstations and that’s where this driver is linked from.

  12. Wesley Trio Says:

    Hey very nice blog!!

  13. Thanks Everyone for the great info! Brock’s solution worked great for me.

  14. Well folks, looks like I spoke too soon. Using Brock’s method, the installation stopped after formatting the hard drive and asked for the SAS drivers again. This time, however, it would not recognize the USB floppy. So I followed CP’s lead and slipstreamed the drivers and SP3 onto my install CD. The installation ran like a champ. Now to integrate the NIC and Video drivers…

    Thanks to All!

    Bob

  15. if someone looking for a Windows 7 Proffessional 64bit installation. It worked for me with the Dell Starter Cd – Method described in the main post. Insted of “Windows 2003 R2 standard” i have choose “Windows 2008 .. 64 bit”. After a reboot you will have to insert a Win Server Cd – just place the Win7 Cd. From this Point it is a normal Win7 installation.

    Ther are no Driver issues, however i have a non Raid configuration.

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