So remember when I said keep it simple…

I really need to take my own advice sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

Here is the whole scenario. A few months ago, I saved a client’s SBS 2003 server without rebuilding it. Client was happy. Since then they have been getting odd ball disconnect messages for no rhyme nor reason. the main machine that was getting these had a bad motherboard, got it replaced under warranty. Everyone still gets odd disconnects and it causes corruption in a critical program when it happens too often. So I start doing the network troubleshooting, checking the server NIC, replacing cables, checking the wiring in the office, and changing out switches.

None of it does any good. So I decide to go ahead and update the server’s NIC drivers, and while waiting for the download, I go into the SBS console and notice something really odd. Licensing says they have only 5 licenses and a max usage of 6…

Head meet desk, wall and palm. Of course the client had an additional 5 licenses, but in the process of saving the server, it forgot that there were another 5 licenses. Re-add these licenses and voila! No more disconnects.

Now in SBS 2008 you wouldn’t hit this problem as they have removed the licensing service, and while yes you do need CALs, you don’t install them, and instead keep the paper on hand to prove that you are compliant when the BSA comes knocking. Chalk up another reason to use SBS 2008.

Meanwhile, lesson learned. Always check everything after fixing a server without rebuilding it.

SBS 2008 notes and observations

Now having completed a full SBS 2008 deployment, I feel I can give some thoughts and a more proper review of the system.

Overall SBS 2008 is a very nice and slick system. There are some nice changes to it from SBS 2003, but there are also some things that you do need to watch out for.

First the positives about it. The install process is very smooth and simple. Really a base preconfigure took an hour of my time and a couple hours to download patches and updates. The help files in the actual SBS console are way better than the help in SBS 2003. They actually explain how to move files and folders such as the user folders to different drives, something you had to look up on the net with SBS 2003. They also have gotten rid of the licensing feature, so while you still need to purchase CALs, you don’t install them directly on the server. The also have one wizard for setting the server IP and Internet connectivity. Also it will try to discover any router/firewall and attempt to allow you to configure it ( I did not test this feature out). Also you can set it up to automatically redirect user folders (i.e. My Documents) to the server with just the check of a box.

Downside though are somewhat more annoyances than anything else. First off, you cannot run the Internet Connection Wizard if there is another DHCP server running on the network (say from a firewall/router). This can be a pain due to hunting down DHCP servers. Also the password policy wizard I found to be incomplete. Considering this was a new network, and I gave users a default password that they were going to change after everything was set up, I had to go through group policy to change the fact that passwords had to be active for more than 2 days before you can change them. This decision was not available in the password policy wizard and did make things a little more difficult until I found the policy and figured out that it had to be set to 0 days and this was after setting it to undefined did not produce the desired result. Finally, my last complaint is updates. Basically that you actually have to tell the update system to search for more than just OS updates. If you don’t it will not find the Exchange, SQL, or other items that are part of SBS 2008 and will need to be updated (not to mention Microsoft trying to force IE8 down our throat by making it a high priority update).

Even with these few minor issues, I think that SBS 2008 is a definite step up from SBS 2003 and one that will be good for many future uses.

Tips, Ticks, and News

I figure what a decent way to start off the week with some links to some tips, tricks, and news.

First off is the news that Microsoft’s Free E-book Offer is back. Starting this Wednesday, April 15 and going through April 22, you can download 2 books from Microsoft Press, completely free. The more interesting one to myself is the Windows 2008 Small Business Administrator’s Companion.

Keeping on the Windows 2008 track Microsoft’s Technet Blogs have decided that this months weekly tip series is on Windows Server 2008. Week 1 and Week 2 have been posted and I have to admit, this is some real good information. Some of it seems quite simple, but as I’ve said before, how many times have you stupidly overlooked like the simple? I know I do quite often.

Finally it seems that the economy has hit the SMB Summit this year. Susan Bradley has more information at her blog, or you can just go to the SMBTN Blog. I say go and check out Susan’s blog anyways as she always has interesting posts with some good information.

And that is it for this Monday morning. More to come during the week, as I get to delve into the idea of 1:1 computing for schools.