I got this working - so these notes hopefully will help some people who want to use this type of system. These Microservers are great IMO as NAS boxes since they are small and consume minimal power while being perfectly adequate for file serving / Multimedia serving especially in a HOME and are much cheaper than a traditional NAS box with often proprietary OS and file systems. With CENTOS you can install what you like too.
after a lot of kludging around I finally got CENTOS 7 installed on my HP microserver with the built in RAID controller.
This server has one internal SD , one internal USB slot, 4 external USB2 slots, 2 USB3 slots , 4 HDD bays and one DVD (9.5inch) slimline bay.
IN AHCI mode -- no problem but limitation is you can only boot from the external USB2 devices or the internal SD / USB card or Disks in the ist two bays. I want to use all 4 of my HDD bays as data disks so booting from the SSD looked like an attractive option.
Now I've attached an SSD in the place where the DVD would normally be and obviously would like to boot from that -- if you do it in AHCI mode you can write GRUB to the SD card and then get GRUB to load the OS from the SSD -- not very satisfactory in my opinion.
(To attach the SSD - simply connect the SSD to the spare onboard SATA connector and the power via a SATA-->floppy power adapter - cost around 5 - 10 USD).
So the other option is to use the RAID controller.
But there are pitfalls for the unwary --
in the BIOS - create your ARRAYS -- I have 2 X 4TB HDD's, 2X 3 TB Hdd's and the 256GB SSD. So the first thing is to set the BIOS to use the RAID ARRAY and run the setup -- I created an array of 3 Logical disks -- 1 for the SSD, one for the 2 X 4TB HDD's and 1 for the 2 X 3TB HDD's. (RAID 0 as I'm using this as a HOME NAS server).
Now before you install the OS there's a hidden facility called Intelligent provisioning which will actually install the RAID Driver so you can install your OS.
However you also need to go into the BIOS again and choose ADVANCED ROM OPTIONS -- it's well hidden deep in myriads of options.
Choose ENABLE Virtual Disk --that's where the drivers exist (on the motherboard chip).
The other trap for the unwary is that when the Intelligent provisioning module tries to install the driver it will search for a "Bog standard old fashioned DVD". I used an external USB DVD as my install media - simply download your CENTOS 7 ISO and burn to DVD. The Intelligent provisioning module looks for an ISO. It has to be an ISO - bootable USB won't find anything - you'll get no optical media found.
Anyway re-boot your machine and at the prompt before the final boot choose F10 -- Intelligent provisioning.
The system will load the Intelligent provisioning screen (you don't need any network connection or HP's ILO).
When it asks after a few screens for how you want to install the OS choose MANUAL -ignore the drivers warning.
System will reboot and start your OS install from your CENTOS install DVD.
And -- ALL your HDD's will be visible too.
Hope this helps people - I know a lot who use these types of servers as Cheap NAS boxes and CENTOS is brilliant for running things like PLEX on.
My hardware is HP GEN 8 G1610T microserver with 16GB RAM and the |RAID controller is Dynamic Smart Array B120i
Doing this way saves hunting around for the driver, messing around with boot parameters etc. Working a treat.
Issues related to hardware problems
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