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Is there a way to install Windows XP on an IBM x335 server?

When I boot from CD-ROM with the Windows XP installation disk, the screen is just blank.

Initial research indicates this may be due to the SCSI controller. I'll update as I find out more.


We need a license server for both Pspice and SolidWorks. Currently, our Pspice server is an IBM x3800 running Win2k with a dongle on the parallel port. The SolidWorks server is currently a Mac Mini running Windows 7 with a USB dongle.

I'd like to consolidate these two license servers onto a single piece of hardware. I have an x335 available, which has the required USB port and a PCI card can provide the parallel port. The SolidWorks server must be running WinXP or newer, hence the requirement.

If the parallel port and the USB ports can be properly seen by the Pspice and SolidWorks servers, respectively, when using virtualization, then one option is to install WinXP inside of Ubuntu server.

Update on March 24, 2011

I tried installing WinXP bare-metal onto the x335, but I was not successful. I'll admit that I quickly reached my threshold and simply bought a 1U SuperMicro system that had the required parallel and USB ports.

I did find a discussion on IBM DeveloperWorks about how to Install Windows XP on x3250 M2 4194. The last post in that thread states that the process described works on x335s as well. The process basically involves creating an unattended installation disk that includes the required LSI integrated SCSI adapter. I created an unattended installation disk, but I don't think I did it correctly as it didn't work.

What did work for me was to install WinXP inside VirtualBox running on Ubuntu. However, that seemed a little too convoluted, so for $100 I bought the 1U SuperMicro based system.

Hardware Configuration

  • Server: IBM x335, MT/M 8676-81X
  • Processor: 1x Xeon 2.6GHz
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • DASD: 2x HDD U320 36.4GB SCSI 10k
  • Media: 24x Max Slimline CD-ROM
  • SCSI Controller: LSI Logic 53C1020/Ultra320
  • Network: Dual Integrated Intel PRO/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Broadcom BCM5703
share|improve this question
This isn't something a sysadmin would commonly do. Can you explain what your goals are? FWIW, it's not a supported OS on the x335 hardware, so it's possible that the drivers just don't exist. Or you'll have to do something unsupported to get them to work.… – mfinni Mar 16 '11 at 16:33
We need a license server for Pspice and SolidWorks, which means we need WinXP or newer and need access to a USB port and a parallel port. We currently have the Pspice server on an IBM x3800 running Win2k, but I'd like to decommission that system. Also, Win2k isn't supported as a SolidWorks server, so we have a separate system (Mac Mini of all things) running Windows 7. Yes, WinXP on an x335 is clearly not a normal request, but I have the hardware available and am wanting to consolidate. – Matthew Rankin Mar 16 '11 at 17:03
OK, with the known risk of putting something critical on old hardware... my answer below for VMware ought to work. – mfinni Mar 16 '11 at 17:11
As long as the Pspice and SolidWorks server software can properly see the parallel and USB ports, I agree. I'm trying this recommendation now. – Matthew Rankin Mar 16 '11 at 17:12
How is trying to install a license server off topic on serverfault? I'd use Windows Server 2008, but we can't justify the expense in this case. WinXP on a server is a valid and cost-effective potential solution IMHO. – Matthew Rankin Mar 16 '11 at 17:20
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Install VMware or HyperV (assuming it's on the HCL) and install XP in that. That's an answer.

As I said in a comment above, "This isn't something a sysadmin would commonly do. Can you explain what your goals are? FWIW, it's not a supported OS on the x335 hardware, so it's possible that the drivers just don't exist. Or you'll have to do something unsupported to get them to work"

share|improve this answer
I installed Ubuntu desktop (to get the GUI), then installed VirtualBox, and finally installed WinXP. While that may have worked, I felt dirty after all of that, so I simply bought a used $100 1U SuperMicro based server that is effectively a rack-mount PC. WinXP installed on that with no problems, and it has both parallels and USB ports that are required for our license servers. Still, if I want WinXP on an IBM x335 in the future, your answer is the way to go. – Matthew Rankin Mar 24 '11 at 14:04
Yup, good on yer. VMware is a good option for old OSes that will end up having hardware- or driver-compatibility issues as they age and hardware moves ahead. You're not likely to get that old Netware 4.x box working on a server with SAS, but slide in a virtualization layer and Bob's your uncle. – mfinni Mar 24 '11 at 15:13

Installing XP on a normal consumer machine that had a SATA controller was a PITA. I can't see it working with a SCSI interface at all.

There is a reason it isn't supported by the vendor.

share|improve this answer
— Yes, there are two reasons IBM doesn't support WinXP on their x335 and other servers—revenue and internal rate of return targets. – Matthew Rankin Mar 24 '11 at 14:02

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