knopp-fu on 2K SBS

July 4, 2005

I took over administration for a client with an old generation 1 Compaq Proliant ML350 running 2K Small Business Server. The previous admin had put all their network data including the Exchange store into compressed folders. Needless to say, things weren’t running well and they were running out of disk space.

I upgraded a 2 disk 18GB RAID 1 to a 3 disk 36GB RAID 5 on with a Compaq Smart Array 431 RAID controller. I called Compaq tech support to verify the procedure so I didn’t hose the whole thing in the process. It was pretty simple, update drivers and firmware, shutdown, insert new drive, boot to Compaq Smart Start CD, go to configure array and it automatically tells you there is a new disc and you will be upgraded to RAID 5. The whole process took about 3 hours.

Once it finished, it asked what to do with the free space. I was hoping to end up with one big logical disk, but it made a note not to do this on Windows 2000. So I ended up with two 18GB logical disks. Here is where I started to get into trouble. I figured I would convert them both to dynamic disks and span the storage partition across both disks. I ran into this once before but, forgot that a disk that has been upgraded from basic to dynamic cannot be spanned. Crap.

Well, I had a copy of Partition Commander, so I figured I would see what it could do. Booted into Partition Commander and all I saw were two big dynamic disks. Obviously PC can’t work with partitions on dynamic disks. I should have left it here, but I did something really stupid instead. I saw there was an option to convert dynamic back to basic disks. DON’T DO THIS ON A SYSTEM DISK!! What can I say, it was Saturday and I wasn’t thinking straight and clicked the OK button. It was going to take 2 hours to run. I left, went kayaking for a while and came back.

Upon return, it had completed and I rebooted the system. Windows started up, whew, that was a relief. At the logon screen, however, I get this:
Directory Services could not start because of the following error: The system cannot find the file specified. Error Status: 0xc000000f. Please click OK to shutdown the system and reboot into the Directory Services Restore Mode, check the event log for more detailed information.
crap!

Reboot into directory services restore mode to see what I can do. Log on, loading settings screen pops-up, then immediately logs off. This is not good. Time for google. It found one page.
Looks promising. Similar problem, maybe an easy solution. Little did I know what a PITA it is to get to the registry.

  • Could not connect over network
  • Neither the Windows 2000 or 2003 drivers for the Smart Array 431 would work BartPE or Winternals ERD Commander which are both XP based.
  • Windows 2000 Recovery Console saw the drive, but has no access to registry editing and despite requiring logon credentials will not let you copy files from the system by default (are you kidding me??). Also, the registry files would have been too big to fit on a floppy.

Knoppix to the rescue! Booted to Knoppix. Mounted system partition mount -t ntfs /dev/ida/c0d0p0 /ntfs. Copied /ntfs/WINNT.SBS/system32/config/system to my USB key. Loaded the hive off my USB key onto my laptop via regedit -> Load Hive.... Deleted the items under the key system/MountedDevices and unloaded the hive. I am halfway there. Now how do I get them back on the drive? I burned the file from my usb key to a CD and booted to the 2K recovery console off the CD again. It wouldn’t let me eject the 2k disk, so I broke out the trusty paper clip and forced it. I copied the system file from the burned CD into the old directory, rebooted and kept my fingers crossed.

Low and behold it worked! It did a chkdsk, rebooted, and started up with only an error about WINS failing. I trashed the WINS DB and it started up fine. The disk manager still sees the old dynamic disk as offline, but I’m not going to touch that one with a 10 ft. pole. Other than that, all is well except the 5 hours of wasted unbillable time, but better than attempting a rebuild with no media or license keys. Thank god its a long weekend!

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