Jan 24 2008

Its linux… No its microsoft!

Whilst Linux has been doing what Microsoft has caught on to, now 2008 server will have the ability to work in an command line environment which is what they have called it ’server core’. This allows you to install and configure what modules / components you want the server to serve you with. Currently the Server Core allows for the following services to be installed and configured:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
  • DHCP Server
  • DNS Server
  • File Services
  • Print Services
  • Streaming Media Services
  • Windows Virtualization
  • Why would you want a command line when you can have such a pretty GUI, well there are many reasons.

    Reduced maintenance – Because the Server Core installation option installs only what is required.

    Reduced attack surface - Being that Server Core installations so are minimal, there are considerably less apps running on the server, which in turn will decreases the attack surface.

    Reduced management- Well this is a no brainier, there are obviously fewer applications and services are installed on a server running. 

    Less disk space required- Again same as above really, fewer items, and only the essentials means less space

    Better resourse allocation / usage   – Well there is not the GUI and background applications to start-up there is just what you have told it to do, Being that there is also less demand for system resources you could potentially use lower spec machines to serve.

    Lower risk of bugs – Reducing the amount of code, applications, files, services the list goes on, all of this can help reduce the amount of bugs.

    A quote from Microsoft

    “Customers will benefit from an extremely modular, low-footprint Web hosting platform on top of the already small Server Core,” Microsoft said in a press release explaining the addition. “Server Core is ideal for hosting the PHP scripting language and now runs 10 to 20 times faster than before as a result of improvements in IIS.”

    There is still said to be some GUI involved, such as the essentials, task manager, notepad, the control panel.

    There is obviously some limitations
    from MS once again

    “The minimal nature of Server Core creates limitations:

    • There is no Windows shell and very limited GUI functionality (the Server Core interface is a command prompt).
    • There is no managed code support in Server Core (all code must be native Windows API code).
    • There is limited MSI support (unattend mode only). “


    Owh and the other limitation is there is no upgrade feature, in case you decide you want to go to the full GUI, or you want to roll your 2003 Server to a 08 Server core, you need to re-install cleanly.

    Jan 23 2008

    Moving Microsoft CRM 3.0 To A New Server

    Moving CRM to a new server, was suppose to be an easy task, according to various Blog posts and Microsoft’s articles. Well i have news for them its not under some circumstances.

    What are these circumstances? If you are trying to reinstall CRM with a Host header, for example crm.domain.com.au. then expect lots of:
     CRM Error

    Why? Good question…. I cant answer that one, perhaps MS can?!
    However I do have a fix for you, simply install the CRM using the default or a website that you have created, ensure that the bindings are not set, by this i mean ensure that ‘all unassigned’ is set at IP address Level, use the port that you want (which i would assume is port 80 being std) and leave it at that. (if you have something using these details, you have a few choices, the easiest one would be stop the application and then install CRM and start it back up again after you have completed all your CRM restoration

    Once you have completed the install then add a Host header to your Bindings in IIS. The reason I was so persistent on using a Host header is because I had to as we have other web apps that are using the Server name, so therefore I was unable to use the standard server host name, as we were doing previously.

    So the steps in brief from start to finish.

    1. Backup you existing 2 SQL databases MSCRM and METABASE.
    2. Restore your 2 Databases to your New SQL server, using the exact same naming convention.
    3. Ensure your SQL Reporting Services are working correctly (yes you can use SQL 2005, as the installation is misleading and indicates that you can not)
    3. Start the installation App
    4. enter your Lic Key
    5. Agree to terms and conditions (make sure you read them and agree with them)
    6. Install any missing Components
    7. Enter your Organisation’s Name, again make sure this is exactly the same as the previous install
    8. Choose your install directory
    9. Choose the website or create a new one (I recommend creating a website Prior to the install or using the default, and remember about the bindings / host header issues)
    10. Choose your SQL Server and Databases
    11. Connect to the SQL Reporting Services Server
    12. Specify your Security account (default is OK)
    13. Input the incoming and outgoing SMTP servers
    14. The it does its check make sure you read all warnings that come up if you get any. Try to get the screen to have all green ticks, if its an error obviously you have to correct that before installing.
    15. Go and enter that host header in now, and then start any other applications that were using the same Bindings as the CRM IIS entry.

    Good luck

    Jan 22 2008

    Free hosted Website monitoring

    Normally with Free hosted Website monitoring solutions there is a catch, or there is a minimum number, which is rather low. I have just stumbled across what I finding to be an awesome well developed product.


     Its FREE, and so far there appears to be no limits, I just tried to add 8 without any problems, I find 5 is normally the magic number, for such a service.

    If that’s not enough to impress well this will; You can use yahoo widgets to keep an eye on your you status, and it claims to have response times of a very quick 10 second turn around….

    But wait there is more….

    If the Widget is just to much of a pain (which i think it looks quite good) then there is RSS feed that you can subscribe to, just add this into your vista RSS side reader.

    Other bonuses were you can have more then 1 recipient, 5 in total, and if you use a SMS service there is no reason why you cant incorporate this into it.

    Their slogan
    ‘The free website monitoring service that doesn’t suck’

    I am a believer, big 2 thumbs up from me!

    Jan 20 2008

    Server 08 New Feature of the day: Task Scheduler

    Looks like Microsoft have made some very nice and very much welcomed enhancements to the Windows ‘Task Scheduler’ The first this i notice when opening up (apart from the new 3 pane view) is there is a Microsoft –> Windows folder, under this there is a whole host of sub folders which contains pre-configured tasks, some of which are ‘Active Directory’ my favorite time saver ‘defrag’ there is also an interesting ‘Virtulization’ one there, whilst there is only one preconfigured under this one which is a ‘Guest Startup Task’.

    I am hoping that there will be more items to follow closer to the official release of the vitalization, some such as Create a snapshot, restore snapshot.

    None the less this is a big help that some of these pre-configured scripts now exist.

    The other items I have noticed on a quick setup of my own task, is there is first of all 2 options for creating a task, one being ‘Basic’ and the other is simply ‘Create New Task’ the basic is like almost everything now, you guessed it, a wizard.

    The ‘Create New Task’  is not, it shows you the tabs which are each step to configure the task schedule.

    Create New Task

    Whilst the options are almost the same the scheduler now offers some more functionality under the ‘Actions’ tab. They are:

    The traditional start a program

    NEW: Send an Email inc attachments

    NEW: Display A Message

    Whilst I am sure i could find many uses for the ‘display a message, I am more so happy about the email functionality, no longer do I have to write a batch file that calls a VBS email script when executing a job, or something of that nature, I can now go and setup my start program, following that i can then go and setup up my Email task. So this will start the app i have chosen, and then on completion will email me the attachment i have specified or an text email, notifying me.

    Well done Microsoft, this for me is another huge +.

    Jan 17 2008

    A better look at 2008’s firewalls

    As promised a better look at the firewalls built in to Server 2008. Firewall Screen01Firewall Screen01

    Below shows you the default screen when first entering into the ‘Windows Firewall with Advanced Security’ As you can see by default everything is turned ON, as it should be with any kind of firewall.

    Firewall Screen01Firewall Screen01Firewall Screen01Firewall Screen01 Now previously i said this firewall is kind of like a very light weight ISA server, Well if you have played with ISA you will see why. Go to Inbound Rules’ its located on the top of the first pane.


    And take a look at the huge amount of rules already preset and configured.

    What impresses me is the amount of control we now have from the firewall, with the last firewall, or the standard type firewall offered in XP sp2 2003 server etc, lets face it, it wasn’t very useful. This on the other hand could be of use!!

    If you right click on an existing rule you are able to edit it, You can apply the Rules directly to the Services or applications that you want to permit, yes you could do this through the old firewall, but again that was not the best of interfaces, and just found to be clunky. Then of course you have the ‘Users and Computers’ Tab here it lets you drill down further and allow only a particular audience, which is very nice and makes it very quick if your in an AD environment.

    You have a ‘Protocols and Ports’ tab, not much to say here, this is obviously a given.

    Scope again is really a given but again the previous firewall just didn’t cut it, this is looking much more promising.

    ‘Advanced’ Lets you choose which profile you want to actually apply it to the domain, private or public and of course which interface card, as you might have a server with one interface on DMZ and the other on the internal network. (i bet half of you are saying why the hell would you do some thing so stupid, well VIRTULIZATION my friends)

    There is Loads more Like monitoring, connection Security, These I will revisit at a later date.

    All in all, I think this is a much better firewall there is certainly alot more offerings in this, more flexibility, and something that could be seen as a entry level firewall. Although it might suit the needs for a small business, most people including myself will be sticking to our enterprise hardware firewalls.

    However there is no reason why you couldn’t use it as an internal firewall to block resources from internal users,  we always like more security, well at least I do…


    Jan 17 2008

    Server 2008 Firewalls

    Yes that’s right firewalls, not just one that we are all use to in 2003 Server, XP.  So if your trying to server up pages from your IIS7 and you are getting 403 error’s, and you have disabled the firewall in start –> control panel –> windows firewall. Well guess what your not out of the woods as I first thought.

    There is another firewall Administration Menu / MMC, where you ask? Its in the Administrative tools hiding. Its called ‘Windows Firewall With Advanced Security’.

    There will be three options or windows server has referred to them as Profiles

    there will be a:

    Domain profile
    Private Profile
    Public Profile

    by turning these off your pages will now server up, provided everything else is configured correctly.

    Keep posted I am bloging more about the firewall and its functions shortly, as its actually seems like a ultra mini light weight ISA.

    Jan 15 2008

    Elcom.com.au – 2008 bundled

    So We at Elcomdecided to get a bit ambitious and go for some Server 2008 technologies, the decision came from Elcom’s Technical Director, Craig Bailey, and of course we also wanted to see how websites, particular Elcoms CMS, ‘Community Manager.Net’ would handle it. So We decided to throw up the Elcom website (Company I work for if you didn’t already know).

     So the website www.elcom.com.au is now and has been sitting on:

    Windows Server 2008 RC0count down
    SQL Server 2008
    and its all complied under the latest and greatest .Net 3.5
    using Visual Studio 2008

    So was there any issues? Well No not really everything went surprising well, 2008 server has been installed on one of our servers for some time doing 6 servers of vitalization and I have to say I am impressed of the stability of the server and the other 6 servers. (refer to previous posts about this in more depth). So it seems MS so far have 2008 server pretty solid at the moment.

    As for the IIS component well this was the hardest part, i have played with II7 a few times now, on Vista when first release and 2008 server a few times also, whilst the concepts are all more or less the same i just cant get use to the whole graphical view, whilst some it make sense by separating components into there own area’s it just seems like there are so many more click to get something done. If only they could / would have something like ‘classic view’ Either or. At first i did receive 500 Errors, the logs didnt tell me much nor did the event log, But it came down to what seemed to be an ASP.Net error some how, i say some how because ASP.Net was installed according to the server manager, and was visible from the IIS manager but not in the Application pool, so i simply did the good old aspnet_regiis -i, and after a bit more playing and tweaking, it started serving up some .net pages.

    SQL 2008 well what can i say it looks like 2005 so that was easy no complications there.

    compiling 3.5 Framework, well that was super easy, why cause i didnt do it, that was one of the Elcom Devs.

    So all in all, it was a reasonably painless experience and so far so good, there have been no hicups so far! fingers crossed.

    Jan 7 2008

    2008 Server – Where is Indexing Service?

    Well this morning when i went to set up some indexing on some of a file system, I got a rude shock, i opened up MMC as i have done in 2000 and 2003 server and looked for indexing Service, and what do you know its not there, so after looking about 3 times through the MMC snap-in List’s, I then scratched my head for a little letting the shock settle in. (no not really, didn’t surprise me that much).

     So after looking through the roles and features i still couldn’t find it, i was really now starting to panic, I did find this useful blog postby Jose Barreto’s , which does show that they have included the Indexing Services within 08 also. However this is basically the same as 03 Servers, no enhancements, as it seems Microsoft have also now included what seems to be a new service ‘Windows Search Service ‘ better worded as a federated search, It seems this is the same search capabilities that is used within the Vista OS, where your searching is always kept fresh, due to the constant indexing. Its also said that they have taken the Search Service a little further in 08, what they are I am not sure yet, but you can bet I am sure to find out, look out for a future post on this…

    As for the indexing server turns out it is there, but in a place you would never have guessed.

    1) Start Server Manager

    2) Click on Roles in the left navigation pane

    3) Select Add Role in the Roles Summary pane to the right

    4) Select the File Services role and click Next

    5) Select the Windows Search role service

    And Vol-la, the where abouts was thanks to another blog post