SBS 2003 To Do List and Advanced Setup Issues (book excerpt from Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices)

hi – I am harry brlesford, author of the Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book and I am posting up the SBS 2003 book a few pages per day until SBS 2008 ships! Today we discuss the TO DO LIST and a couple of advacned setup issues!!!

harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation, www.smbnation.com

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The To Do List Lives!

After you successfully log on for the first time, the SBS To Do List, on a page titled “Complete the configuration” shown in Figure 3-27 automatically appears. Figure 3-27

To Do List is your starting point for the SBS deployment experience.

BEST PRACTICE: Also at this stage, a “balloon” appears in the lower right advising you to configure the Internet connection for your server. This is the second link on the To Do List titled “Connect to the Internet,” which we’ll do in just a moment. You may close the lower left balloon.

In the Chapter 4 I pick up the SBS deployment process using the SPRINGERS methodology. You will also complete the To Do List and learn about the Server Management console.

Advanced SBS Setup Issues

After you’ve installed SBS several times, you’ll likely recognize many of the following advanced SBS setup issues. It’s also likely you’ll see a thing or two not mentioned here. If so, be sure to share your wisdom with some of the SBS newsgroups and mailing lists listed in Appendix A, “SBS Resources.” Let’s face it—SBS is an evolving culture (oh, and an evolving product too), so you’ll some day, some way, have something to share with the SBS community.

OEM Setup Scenario

Microsoft is perhaps most proud in the SBS 2003 time frame of its improvements to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Prenstallation Kit (OPK). SBS 2003 can be set up out of the box in about 15 minutes because of an Active Directory improvement that allows for renaming the computer and domain post-SBS installation. Needless to say, this might change how you view SBS 2003’s deployment both as a customer and a consultant. See you in Appendix E where I discuss the OEM approach more (with screenshots!).

BEST PRACTICE: Okay—last mention of my SMB Consulting Best Practices book, but I truly go into the consulting ramifications of the shorter SBS 2003 setup cycle in said text and how to make money at it as an SMB/SBS consultant. ‘Nough said!

One Source for Source Media

Two topics, not part of the detailed SPRINGERS methodology, are nonetheless of interest to the SBSer. First, you can copy all four SBS 2003 CD Discs to a partition on your server (e.g., Drive D) and perform the installation from this location. Why would you do this? Because this prevents you from having to swap the discs during the later steps of the SBS setup process. And just how did I learn this, you ask? Let’s just say necessity is the mother of invention. When developing a training course whereby students would actually perform the installation, I concluded that the SBS 2003 source installation files should be located on a second partition. Why? Because this prevented delays in the class when students forgot to swap discs (e.g., students take a coffee break and the machine simply waits for the next disc). Also, hard disk input/output (I/O) is

significantly faster than CD disc I/O, resulting in a faster, in-class SBS installation experience. (This is important when you’re trying to teach SBS 2003 in a one-day course format, let me tell you!)

Second, if your server is a late-model cream puff, to borrow terms from the automotive industry, you might be able to use the DVD media that ships with SBS 2003. This single DVD disc contains all of the SBS source installation media at a single source. Unfortunately, most of my small business clients don’t drive such cream puffs, but you get the point here: A late model server machine may well have a DVD device installed, saving setup time.

The Exchange Server 2003 Pre-Prep Maneuver

Another hidden hook in the SBS 2003 setup process is to save time in the later steps by “pre-preparing” Active Directory for Exchange Server 2003. You may recall that one of the longest phases in the later part of the SBS 2003 setup process was the amount of time Exchange Server 2003 took to modify the Active Directory schema. This time can be minimized (but not completely eliminated) by running a command after the Windows Configuration routine early in the SBS 2003 setup phase completes. Here are the steps to run this command that modifies the Active Directory schema for Exchange Server 2003 before the SBS Setup Wizard proceeds to install the applications.

1                    Place SBS Setup Disc #2 in the CD drive on the SBS server machine.

2                    Assuming you are logged on as the Administrator, click Start, Run, Browse.

3                    Navigate to the following location: \exchsrvr65\setup\i386\setup.exe. Click Open to close the Browse dialog box.

4                    In the Open field of the Run dialog box, append the command with /Forest Prep, so the total command would appear as \exchsrvr65\setup\i386\setup.exe /Forest Prep.

5                    Click OK and the command will execute. The Active Directory schema will be prepared for Exchange Server 2003.

 

So the big question is, why would you do this? Simply stated, you would do this if you wanted to save time during the last part of the SBS setup process. I’ve done this so that when I demonstrate the SBS setup process to clients and

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students, we don’t have to spend up to (or more than) 30 minutes watching Exchange Server 2003 prepare the Active Directory schema. Let me tell you, when you are in front of a crowd, those minutes seem like hours!

Unsupported Devices

Every SBS installation has a right way and a wrong way to do it. There is the easy way and the hard way. There is the “follow the rules way” and the “break the rules” way. Surprisingly, you’re likely to try, suffer, cheer, celebrate, and curse all approaches during your tenure as an SBS guru. So far, I’ve demonstrated only the SPRINGERS methodology for installing SBS (which I believe to be a “best practices” methodology for installing SBS). Now, and I’m addressing the most advanced guru SBSers amongst us, let’s break the rules and understand why you would do so.

Without question, one of the greatest SBS installation challenges today is that of managing your library of current drivers from third-party vendors. By that I mean, when you install and maintain SBS, you have the latest drivers from the vendors of the components attached to your system. This is extremely important because operating systems are built and released at a certain point in time. Although the periodic release of service packs allows the operating system to refresh its library of drivers, in no way can an operating system hope to ship with the latest and most current drivers from all of the third-party vendors. It’s a common and daunting challenge that confronts system engineers everywhere.

What’s the bottom line? If you have unusual or new drivers, you need to specify F6 when installing SBS in the early character-based setup screen (immediately after the character-based setup process commences, which would be while disk 1 is still in the floppy drive if you selected to set up SBS with the four disks instead of booting directly from the CD disc) when you are asked to specify additional controller and adapter cards. And when you communicate that you want to specify drivers, you often have to specify the drivers for existing controller and adapter cards, because the setup’s auto-detection has not been stopped. That is, once you press F6, you’ll likely have to specify all controller and adapter cards, not just the unsupported one you were trying to add.

BEST PRACTICE: So of course there must be a Texas tale to

accompany this section, and here it is. There I was on a sweaty

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summer Saturday afternoon installing SBS (prior version, but example still applies here) at an accounting firm called “CFO2Go” in Bothell, Washington. For some strange reason, the SBS installation kept “hanging” or stopping right when the networking components were being installed. It was all very strange and I tried the setup a couple of times. No luck. I even tried installing the DNS, DHCP, and WINS services manually thinking something was hung up there. Heck, I even tried manually installing Terminal Services in Remote Administration Mode. Lo and behold, it turns out the SCSI card was an older Adaptec brand card that had been misidentified by the underling Windows operating system during setup (this was actually Windows 2000 Server). Once I downloaded the correct and supported Adaptec driver for Windows 2000 Server, it worked just fine and I was able to sail right past my blockage. Clearly this isn’t an SBS 2003 example, but is included here for reference purposes to help you think how you might solve some setup failures (if any should occur) in SBS 2003.

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