Moving to Windows Server 2008

Now that I'm working full time on SharePoint I wanted to move my environment to be more in line with SharePoint. What does this mean? SharePoint doesn't install on Windows Vista which I've been using for my two work machines so I've gone and reinstalled with Windows Server 2008. Here are the two machines I have:

  1. Lenovo T60P Laptop – 3GB RAM, 90Gb HDD, Intel T7400 2.16Ghz CPU
  2. Dell Precision 450 – 2Gb RAM, 72Gb HDD, 2x Intel Xeon 3.06Ghz CPUs

I installed Windows Server 2008 32 bit on both of them but I still wanted my machine to look like Windows Vista. Yes, I know these are Server OS's for Servers – but my job is on a Server product that requires a Server OS so that's what I want to run. Choosing Windows Server 2008 as your workstation install really requires an MSDN Subscription this is because the OS license for Windows Server 2008 is quite a bit more than Windows Vista but your MSDN Subscription will take care of that. These are two great resources that I used to make my install more like a workstation:

On Installing SharePoint

For SharePoint I needed to install SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition SP2, then Visual Studio 2005 SP1 both which require licenses. And then Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. I grabbed the downloadable that includes WSS v3.0 SP1 already integrated. When I installed WSS I chose custom install and specified a Web Front End only – this allows me to choose the SQL Server install instead of the internal database that a Stand Alone install goes with. This was important to me because I *might* want to view the database using SQL tools and the internal database isn't accessible.

Alternatively to WSS, I could have installed MOSS. The one with integrated SP1 for installing on Windows Server 2008 is here. You can run as Eval for 180 days with a key that's provided on the download page.

Next I needed the Visual Studio 2005 extensions for Windows Workflow Foundation and the Visual Studio 2005 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services. And I also installed the WSS and MOSS SDKs.

I made one config change on the machine for SharePoint and that is to open the C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\wss\VirtualDirectories\80\web.config and search for debug. I set it to true so that the Visual Studio debugger will attach automatically.

Next I installed all my other regular apps like Microsoft Office 2007, Virtual PC, Filezilla and a couple of Email compression add-ons.

Problems I Had

Even after following these guides there were still some things that didn't work how I liked.

  1. The first thing I didn't like was that I could not get Lenovo's excellent System Update utility to run on Windows Server 2008. It's just a tool that connects to their web site and gives you a list of drivers and apps that have newer versions for your laptop. So I had to do all this manually, no big deal I just really like that that app.
  2. Another was burning DVD's. I resolved this by using DVDBURN which is available from a Windows Resource Kit and is used to burn an ISO to a DVD. Then I got an ISO creating tool.
  3. Moviemaker is also missing. I even copied the binaries for this over from a Vista machine I have and it didn't work. So because of this I created a new 12Gb partition on my HDD and installed Vista. I was surprised how easy it was to repartition the drive in Windows Server 2008, I just ran the Computer Management in Administration tools, clicked on Disk Management and followed my nose.

Other Tips

I updated Windows Search to the new Windows Search 4.0 Preview. Really nice perf here.

One of the tips in the guides I linked to is to enable the Themes service so you can get the Vista round start button. I leave the Themes service set to manual. I turn it on when I want the Vista look and feel (I like the round button), otherwise it stays off.