We got a used (pre-owned?) server today at work so we could quickly deploy Team Foundation Server in our DMZ for collaboration with an outside firm. I was tasked with setting this beast up using a bunch of volume license stuff we bought and downloaded today (this has to be up by Monday, so I can't wait for disks to arrive in the mail). Well, I downloaded Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard from Microsoft's OpenValue website and burned it to CD-R with the "Microsoft Corporation.img" file in the boot options so it could boot normally. You know, the usual pain-in-the-butt for any non-OEM Server 2003 image you put together with fancy updates.
Well, right after the installation sequence would finish loading drivers but before it asks you to "press F8 if you sign your first born over to Microsoft" I kept getting a BSOD, and the error was UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME. Now, on the google, there are many, many articles on this issue. But it all revolves around a particular update that may happen on XP after a service pack installation. Generally, the solution is to use the Recovery Console because something got messed up in the boot record.
This wasn't my problem. Afterall, this was an empty hard drive (I just freshly wiped it using [email protected] KillDisk from my handy-dandy Windows PE "rescue disk").
The problem was I was barking up the wrong tree. The hard drive was fine. The unmountable boot volume was the CD itself. I found this out because when I popped in a TechNet Windows Server evaluation disk, it went right to the Windows installation screen, past the UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME error.
Now, I'm not sure if the cause was a bad CD-R, bad burn, corrupt download, or if I just forgot to include a folder in the ISO, but whatever it was, it was the installation disk, not the hard drive.
I dug through an old dusty box in the back of the server room, past the cobwebs, and found a volume license Windows 2003 RTM CD from the year 2003 (not even SP1 yet) and was able to install the operating system on the server and upgrade to SP2 and R2 after the fact. Okay, it wasn't in a dusty box. It was actually well organized in a CD booklet of server disks. :-)
Hope this post helps somebody else barking up the wrong tree. Your drivers and hard disk might be fine. It might be your installation disk!