Microsoft Exchange Server 2010: Solo setup

You can configure Microsoft Exchange 2010 for unattended setup, if you need to take that approach in your environment.

Excerpted from “Exchange 2010 - A Practical Approach,” published by Red Gate Books (2009)

Jaap Wesselius

If your situation demands it, it’s possible to install Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 fully unattended. This may be useful when installing multiple servers, because unattended setup is actually less prone to errors. This process assumes you’ve installed all the prerequisite software, including IIS and the LDIFDE program ( to prepare the schema.

The first step in executing an unattended setup is to prepare the schema. This basically means upgrading the schema to a Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 level. There are several Exchange-related objects and attributes to add to the Active Directory schema. This can take a considerable amount of time.

To prepare the schema, log on to the server with administrator privileges. You’ll also have to be a member of both the Schema Admins and Enterprise Admins Security Groups. Open a command prompt, navigate to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 installation media and type the following command: /PrepareSchema

The command-line setup program will start and upgrade the Active Directory schema to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 level. If you have multiple domain controllers, wait until the schema changes have been replicated to all DCs in the forest before continuing with the next step.

After preparing the schema, now you have to prepare Active Directory for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Exchange Server 2010 organization is installed in the Configuration Partition of Active Directory. That’s why the installation account needs to be a member of the Enterprise Admins Security Group (Domain Administrators can’t write in the Configuration Partition).

Log on to the server, open a command prompt, navigate to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 installation media and type this command: /PrepareAD /OrganizationName:E14

Exchange Server 2010 will now prepare the Active Directory Configuration Partition using the previously mentioned “E14” Organization name. Please note the warning during setup: If you create a Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 organization, you can’t add any Exchange Server 2007 server roles.

If you want to check the progress of creating the Exchange Server 2010 organization, you can use ADSIEdit and navigate to the Configuration container. Open CN=Configuration | CN=Services | CN=Microsoft Exchange. Right there, you should see a new entry, CN=E14, holding the Exchange Server 2010 configuration. If you have multiple DCs, wait until the schema changes have been replicated to all DCs in the forest before continuing.

The next step in preparing the Active Directory environment is to prepare the domain that’s going to host Exchange Server 2010. Log on to the server using an administrator account, open a command prompt and navigate to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 installation media. Type the following command: /PrepareDomain

The current domain will now be prepared for introducing Exchange Server 2010. If you want to prepare all domains in the forest for Exchange Server 2010, you can also use the /PrepareAllDomains switch.

During the domain preparation, a container is created in the root of the domain called Microsoft Exchange Security Groups. This container holds the following Security Groups:

  • Exchange all hosted organizations
  • Exchange organization administrators
  • Exchange Public Folder administrators
  • Exchange Recipient Administrators
  • Exchange Self-Service users
  • Exchange Servers
  • Exchange Trusted Subsystem
  • Exchange view-only administrators.
  • Exchange Windows permissions.
  • ExchangeLegacyInterop.

When the domain preparation is finished, just make sure you wait until replication to all the DCs is finished.

The last step is to install the actual server roles. You can do this using the program with the /mode and /roles switches. Use the /mode switch to select the “install” option, and use the /roles switch to select which server roles are installed.

For an unattended typical server setup, log on to the server and open a command prompt. Navigate to the Exchange Server 2010 installation media (one last time) and enter the following command: /mode:install /roles:ht,ca,mb

The Exchange Server 2010 Hub Transport Server, Client Access Server and Mailbox Server role will now be installed in the default location, which is C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange\v14.

Check the Exchange installation

After installing Exchange Server 2010, you should check to ensure installation was successful. To begin, you should’ve noticed if anything went wrong during the installation because an error message would’ve been raised, and the setup program probably would’ve aborted. If not, the installation program finished successfully.

Check if you can log on using Microsoft Outlook Web App by typing https://localhost/owa into your Web browser. When Exchange Server 2010 is running fine, you should first see a certificate error message. This is normal behavior the first time you log on.

If the Client Access Server is installed, a self-signed certificate comes along with it. This security certificate isn’t issued by a trusted certificate authority, hence the error. In this case, though, it’s safe to continue. You should then see the logon page. After entering your administrator credentials, you should have access to the administrator mailbox.

You can also check the Services MMC snap-in on the newly installed Exchange server. It should contain all Exchange services. The last step is to check the event log of the Exchange server. There shouldn’t be any indication that something went wrong during installation.

Once you’ve performed all these steps, and checked to ensure the installation proceeded as planned, you are done. Setting up Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to unattended installation is a helpful option, if that’s what works best for you in your environment.

Jaap Wesselius

Jaap Wesselius is the founder of DM Consultants, a company with a strong focus on messaging and collaboration solutions. After working at Microsoft for eight years, Wesselius decided to commit more of his time to the Exchange community in the Netherlands, resulting in an Exchange Server MVP award in 2007. He’s also a regular contributor at the Dutch Unified Communications User Group and a regular author for Simple-Talk.

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