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How to install the operating system on a Dell PowerEdge Server ? (OS deployment)


This article explains how to install an Operating System (OS) on Dell PowerEdge Servers, incl. step-by-step instructions and OS installation videos, e.g. Windows Server 2016 installation with LifeCycle Controller. It mainly applies to servers of 11th to 14th generation (e.g. R610, R620, R630, and R640) but also provides information for older devices.

Note: Ensure that the operating system you want to install is supported on your PowerEdge server. Find more details in the Troubleshooting FAQ section of this article.


Table of Contents

  1. Prerequisites

  2. Installing the Operating System

  3. Installation Videos

  4. Troubleshooting FAQs




1. Prerequisites


1.1. Update the Server


Before installing a new operating system, please update the server firmware to benefit all the features.

This article explains How to update a PowerEdge Server.



1.2. Installation Source


For installing the operating system, a source media has to be available to the server. The installation files can be provided through:

  • Optical DVD drive,
  • USB device
  • PXE network boot
  • Mounted ISO-file (through iDRAC Virtual Media)
Note: If you want to use an ISO-file for OS deployment, follow the steps provided in the article How to use the virtual media function of iDRAC to boot on an ISO image.



1.3. Storage Location


For installing the operating system on a virtual disk, ensure that a Software RAID or PowerEdge RAID controller is installed and at least two (or more, depending on the desired RAID level) hard-disk drives are available. In specific scenarios, OS can be installed on SD cards.




2. Installing the Operating System


Two methods are available for installing an operating system:

  1. Using LifeCycle Controller for Supported OS

    • Windows Server
    • Linux Based Distributions
Note: For the previous generation of servers, 9G and 10G, the LCC feature was not released. The alternative is to boot from the "Systems Management Tools and Documentation DVD" to access the live deployment interface. Find more information about SMTD deployment.
  1. Booting directly from the OS Media

    • VMware ESXi distributions
    • OS Installation on PowerEdge T20 / T30
    • Non-supported OS by LCC



2.1. Using the LifeCycle Controller


This is the preferred method to install the OS. The LifeCycle Controller simplifies the installation of the Operating System with the "OS Deployment" feature. When using this feature, drivers are pre-loaded before the installation process. The OS is smoothly installed as all components are well recognized by the OS.

Note: When accessing the LifeCycle Controller for the first time, a wizard will be displayed to assist the initial configuration. If needed, configuration steps are detailed in the manual:
Initial Configuration of the Dell Lifecycle Controller.


Steps to follow:

  1. Press F10 during boot to enter the Lifecycle Controller (LCC)



  2. Select OS Deployment in the left-hand menu



  3. Click Deploy OS

  4. Select Configure RAID First or Go Directly to OS Deployment depending on if you have a RAID set up already or not



  5. If applicable, follow the wizard to set up the RAID disk

  6. Select the Operating System: The boot mode can be set in BIOS or UEFI. The matching boot mode has to be configured properly in the "System Services" settings (F2)



  7. Select Manual or Unattended/Automatic install as needed

  8. Insert the OS installation media (DVD Drive, USB, Virtual Media of iDRAC)

  9. Follow the OS installation wizard (If Manual install has been selected)


Detailed information about OS Deployment steps can be found in the LifeCycle Controller manual.

Note: The provided list of Dell-supported operating systems changes based on the driver packs updated on the system. To update drivers, download the latest OS Driver pack associated with your server.




Figure 1: PowerEdge 12G Lifecycle Controller GUI



Alternative: Installing the OS on 9G and 10G Server with SMTD


For 9G and 10G Dell Servers, the LifeCycle Controller feature was not released. The alternative is to use the "Systems Management Tools and Documentation DVD ISO" file which allows after booting on the file to deploy a supported OS. This file can also be used to update any Dell Server just by booting on it.

Steps to install the OS:


  1. Download the ISO file and burn it to a DVD (or on a USB device)
  2. Boot on the DVD and proceed with OS deployment
  3. Follow the SMTD installation instructions and then insert the OS installation media.


Manual of System Management Tool and Documentation can be downloaded here (English only).

When manually installing an Operating System, the PERC driver may be missing. In that scenario, the drives are not recognized and no disk or storage place will be recognized for the installation.

Please download and manually import the PERC driver during the OS installation.

Article HOW11629 shows an example of PERC driver loading during the Windows installation.



2.2. Booting directly from the Operating System Media


It is possible to boot directly from the OS installation media to install the operating system. Some components of the server may be not recognized as the OS media may not include all the needed drivers. Drivers can be downloaded from the Dell Support site and installed later once the OS will be installed.

Steps to follow:

  1. Insert the OS installation media (DVD Drive, USB, Virtual Media of iDRAC) and boot on it.
  2. Press F11 during startup to select the boot device.
  3. Follow the OS installation wizard
  4. Once the OS is installed, manually install the missing drivers.


3. Installation Videos



4. Troubleshooting FAQs


4.1. Which OS is supported on my PowerEdge server?


An unsupported operating system may cause failures during the installation process or not work properly with hardware components.

Select your PowerEdge server to check which operating systems are supported:





4.2. Which licenses or subscriptions for the OS do I need?


For enabling all functions of an operating system, licenses (Windows and ESXi) or subscriptions (Linux) might be needed. Here you find links to the most common vendors of supported operating systems:


Licensing resources:

Subscription resources for:



4.3. How to find drivers on the Dell homepage?


If drivers for hardware components are not included in the operating system, download the missing software from the Dell homepage:


  1. Go to www.dell.com/drivers and choose the desired system type by entering the Service Tag or selecting the product type manually.

  2. Select the installed operating system, enter a matching Keyword in the intended field and press Enter.

  3. Now the corresponding drivers are shown below. Click on the download sign to receive the desired file.

    Download_iDRAC_Service_Module
    Figure 3: Software search on Dell homepage



4.4. What is the factory password for preinstalled VMware ESXi?


Since the 14th generation of Dell PowerEdge servers, a factory password is set for preinstalled VMware ESXi. The root password is the Service Tag of the machine. This can be changed during deployment. For previous server generations, there was no password set.

Find more details in the dedicated article Dell 14G PowerEdge: What is the Default VMWare ESXi Root password for R740, R640, and 14G Servers.





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Article ID: SLN129177

Last Date Modified: 12/04/2017 07:34 AM


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