Working With SBS 2008, Part 2: Answer files and the installation

Continued from my last post. 

To move on with our migration, we need to go through the steps to create an answer file to define our new network, not only defining the name and IP address of our new server, but also the name and IP of our "swing" server that we’ll be running in Virtual PC on my workstation. 

A few housekeeping details were mentioned in the Reload Nuggets post that I’ll repeat here:  Unlike SBS 2000 and SBS 2003, SBS 2008 Premium does not include ISA Server!  You’ll need an external router or firewall device on the edge of your network.  It’s beyond the scope of this blog post to suggest a firewall, since it depends much on what, if any, services you need exposed on the Net and the resources you have available.   Suffice it to say there are numerous options, from a simple cheap broadband router, to a Linux-based junk-computer firewall, all the way to a member server running Windows 2008 and ISA 2006 (which you can do with the 2nd copy of Windows Server that comes with SBS 2008 Premium.) 

Next step is to run the SBS Answer File Generator, which is in the /tools folder of  SBS 2008 Disc 1.  Make life easier on yourself and just copy that whole directory to your XP or Vista workstation.  Run SBSAfg.exe.   These are the settings we’ll use:

Installation Type:  New Installation

  • Get Installation Updates: True
  • Run Unattended: False
  • Clock and Time Zone settings:  [set these as desired]
  • Company information:  [fill this out as appropriate]
  • Server Name:  SLAPPY [I name my machines after Animaniacs characters <g>.  Slappy’s a cranky mean squirrel]
  • Domain Name:  [your existing domain name, which will be "something.local" if you kept up with SBS best practices]
  • Password:  [you should know this one]
  • Domain Administrator Account Name: [you should know this too…]
  • DHCP is running on the source server:  False
  • Default Gateway:  x.x.x.1  [your router’s or edge firewall’s address]
  • Server IP address:  x.x.x.x 

Save the answer file (sbsanswerfile.xml) and copy it to a USB stick.  You do want to print the answer file from the program as well.  Make a hard copy and save it to XPS or PDF for reference.  This is something you’ll want to keep in your file or customer’s file when you do a "real" installation.

Boot the machine you will use for your SBS machine and insert Disc 1.  Plug in your USB key with the answer file and any disk drivers you might need.  Go through the dialogs and start the installation.  This part takes about 45 minutes.

After several reboots, you’ll see the wizard "Install Windows Small Business Server 2008" which will take you through the information you supplied in your answer file. 

There’s more waiting, more rebooting and finally:


Working with SBS 2008, Part 1: Single-Server Migration

The SBS 2008 Technical Preview is now out. Reload Nuggets has an excellent walkthrough if you are installing SBS 2008 clean.   If this applies to you, go there immediately and stop reading.  Otherwise:

I mentioned in my earlier post that I have a weird SBS site at home (in the corner of my bedroom where the network cables are coiled up, under my workbench.)  Microsoft officially supports two scenarios for SBS:  A new clean installation–which is virtually automatic, and a two-server migration where the old server is connected to the new one and files, AD, Sharepoint and Exchange are copied from old to new.

To be fair to Microsoft, there are very few SBS customers that are in a position to do a same-server migration.  SBS 2008 is 64-bit only;  SATV, like most other SBS shops, has a 32-bit machine and it cannot be migrated to the new SBS (though it can and probably will be migrated with the MS two-server scenario).

That was exactly my position when I first participated in the private SBS 2008 beta:  I have a 64-bit Tyan Tomcat 1000S (Opteron 1215) and 4 gigs of memory.  I did get SBS 2008 onto the machine and my personal shop migrated, albeit with enough rough edges to cut my fingers off.

We’re doing a Swing Migration.  Actually, we aren’t.  After much testing, I’ve found it is simply not feasible to perform a migration the way I had first thought.

This is the result of my trying to do a Swing migration:


Ha ha, "non-critical".  Sure.  Exchange and Sharepoint were missing and for some reason the install files were not on the machine and I could not find them on the DVD, likely buried in the disk image.  I really admire Jeff Middleton and wanted to perform his migration method, but it didn’t work out.  Stupid of me to blog about it before I even knew if it would work!  My fault, not Jeff’s.

But, I move on.  I used an answer file to get the machine named the way I like it and fit into the domain I already have, so that’s my next post.

Remembering Jeannette Moisan

Normally, I don’t post personal notes;  I keep those for my Salem blog.  However, I have to pay tribute to a woman without which I would not be in IT:

Jeannette and one of her foster children.

I’ve written more about Jeannette, her life as a foster mother and as an advocate for the disabled on my other blog.  While I love IT and love to work hard in my field, I must always remember the person who most helped me get here.  Jeannette was a great woman, a dear friend, and intensely proud of me and my choice of field. 

SBS 2008: I can finally say what I’ve been doing for the past six months

My colleague Phillip E. writes about Small Business Server 2008:

For those of us on the private SBS 2008 "Cougar" beta program, we have been privileged to have access to the new RC0 build of SBS 2008 since late last Thursday.

I think I can talk about what I’ve been doing for the past several months:  I was on the private beta for SBS 2008.  Microsoft still has the beta testers under an NDA for the beta bits that we tested, but I have my hands on the RC0 build and will give my impressions of it when I cut over to it on my personal box sometime next week.

Without going into too many details, I have a quirky home office with some weird requirements.  Combine that with a case of abandoned hardware (on a motherboard, no less!) and it was a very interesting beta!

As Phil puts it, SBS 2008 will be a steep(-ish) learning curve going from SBS 2003.  There’s a lot that’s different and I have had to resolve problems and make some decisions I’ve not made before in my testing. 

Vista, as you may know, makes some breaking security changes to try to enforce best practices amongst developers and users.  Windows Server 2008 similarly makes some changes, including Vista’s changes, but most notably how Windows Backup works.  There are also changes in SBS itself to be well aware of, especially if you are an SBS Premium shop (as is Salem Access Television.)

On the other hand, It’s been working out so far, since the post you’re reading is passing through my SBS box.  I’ve always been a big fan of Microsoft’s server products, and SBS 2008 is no exception.

I’ll be liveblogging my latest installation.  Stay tuned for that one.