Installing Windows 2008 R2 to an iSCSI target (Broadcomm NetExtreme II)

By | October 11, 2011

We have a lab at work for the various sales engineers to use. We’ve done a home-brew boot-from-iSCSI farm of servers so we can change boot luns pretty easily, based on a NetApp FAS270 (old cheap but reliable for the moment.)

I had the iSCSI initiator in the BIOS set up and could see it logging into the FAS270. The problem was that if I had the CDROM selected as secondary boot (so I could install an operating system to the new LUN), it would attempt to boot from iSCSI (good!), fail (normal, no OS yet), and then log out of the iSCSI connection before continuing to boot from the CDROM (secondary device). Windows wouldn’t see the target device for installation.

If I put the CDROM first, then the NetExtreme BIOS wouldn’t log into the iSCSI target, so Windows installation again would not see the target device for installation. This differs from IBM x3650 M2/M3 servers which will initialize the iSCSI connection first, no matter what order the boot device is, and work “as expected”.

The trick is to put the CDROM second, but hit “CTRL-D” after the initial login to the iSCSI initiator. The iSCSI boot ROM actually warns you “Hit Ctrl-D if you don’t want to boot from the iSCSI target” or similar. Hitting Ctrl-D tells the Broadcomm chipset to skip iSCSI boot, but stay logged in to the target. So the target LUN is visible, the system boots from CDROM, and the Windows installation can install to the iSCSI device.


13 thoughts on “Installing Windows 2008 R2 to an iSCSI target (Broadcomm NetExtreme II)

  1. Pingback: Chuck S. Mayumi

  2. Tom Bradford

    Wow!. Thanks for posting this! I don’t normally support setting this up, but decided I wanted to try and figure out why we couldn’t see the targets in Windows setup. If it weren’t for this post, I could have been on this call forever.

  3. Tom Bradford

    One thing to note – and this may be due to newer firmware on the Broadcom NICs – there is not a CTRL-D option displayed during POST. However, in the NIC settings (CTRL-S) you need to set the ‘Boot to iSCSI Target’ to ‘One Time Disabled’. This holds the connection open as you described above.

  4. Bill Plein Post author

    I can’t recall clearly, but I believe that the CTRL-D was an option that one could hide or enable somewhere. This is an older R710, so things might be a little different now. If you have any other notes and tidbits you stumble upon for iSCSI on Dell, feel free to update it here!

  5. Mel

    Guys I know this post it’s old but I can’t get the initiator(broadcom) to connect to the iscsi target md3220i so I can start loading windows 2008r2. OS CD boots to start the load but it hangs when it can’t find the iscsi target and I think it’s because of the nic driver.

    Your help is Appreciated,

  6. Bill Plein Post author


    I can’t tell you the specifics of the Dell iSCSI array. In the case of the NetApp, here’s the important bits:

    – Make sure that your boot order is iSCSI first, CD/DVD second.
    – When Broadcomm NIC discovers the iSCSI device, hit CTRL-D when it tells you “hit CTRL-D to skip”. Do this for each connection if you have multiple.
    – The CD will then boot AND it will see your disks on the iSCSI device.

    If you don’t hit CTRL-D, then the BRCM initiator logs OUT of the array! Hence the CD not seeing anything.

    If you boot from CD first, then the BRCM initiators are not turned on yet, so you won’t see any disk.

    Finally, are you sure that you have all the iSCSI information correct? That’s a must.

  7. Mel

    Thanks for your quick response, but on this Dell Power Edge R620 diskless server I don’t get the Ctrl+D option so don’t know what to tell you there. I did noticed right before I was leaving work that the virtual drives I had created on the md3220i were cleared out by one of my co-workers, so I will have to recreate them again tomorrow when I’m at work. I will also re-check and make sure my iSCSI information is correct. In the mean time if you can think of anything I might be doing wrong please let me know


  8. Bill Plein Post author

    My recollection is that you need to enable the CTRL-D option in the BRCM bios screens… not the Dell BIOS screens that control the high level functions, but the BRCM itself, it has settings.

    During the iSCSI startup, do you see it connect to the Dell iSCSI array? If not, you probably have wrong iSCSI connection info. In our case we don’t use CHAP as it’s a controlled lab, so we have to have the IP and IQN information in there correctly.

    The Netapp shows console messages of the connections and disconnections of iSCSI initiators, so it makes it easy to see what is going on…

  9. Witold

    During start, on DELL R620 with broadcom 57800, I see that initiator connect to target. On array I can confirm that. Than I type ctrl-d. Still logged in, instalator of win 2008 r2 starting. Than, for a moment installator stop, and on array site I see that initiator disconnect from target. Than after next, next on win 2008 setup, I can’t see any disk. So, during booting of instalator, thay disable iscsi initiator… why ?

  10. Shannon

    Bill, I know this is old but I can’t tell you how much frustration you just solved for me. BIG THANKS!!!!

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