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A Real Fiddler RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am an engineer and was taught to read the manual only as a last resort. I've played with and completely broken three installations. I've done this by mucking with various things including, but not limited to, programming my own add-ins, promoting WHS to a domain controller, and playing with RAID configurations rather than using the drive extender. Well I've now read the manual and both of the books I bought.

    WHS has now worked its way into my network to such an extent that I do not want to break it again - but I still want to play too. The manual basically states that you do anything outside of the console at your own peril. WHS seems to be the most flakey of all the current MS operating systems and this advice cannot be emphasized too much if you want to rely on the services of WHS. So, to save me re-installing too many more times...

    • Has anyone documented what can and cannot safely be done with various aspects of the underlying Server 2003 OS?
    • Has anyone tried installing and running WHS in a virtual machine? If so, can two servers (one physical and one virtual) co-exist on the same IP network? The VM scheme will give me a an instance to play with and break, but also have a way to quickly revert to a working system.
    • Has anyone figured a trivial way to debug add-ins with Dev studio? Install Dev Studio on WHS and do it all on one box? Have I missed that part of the manual?

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008 2:39 AM

Answers

  • Bill, Microsoft's intent with Windows Home Server is for it to be an easy to use, easy to maintain "appliance" or node on your home network.  The intended interface for the average user is the Windows Home Server console, not the standard administrative tools.  Those tools are still there because they are part of Windows Server 2003, but you need to be careful when using them because, as you have learned, you can severely damage server functionality with them.

    There's no documentation as to what can safely be done (after all, this software is normally distributed pre-installed), but the two areas to be most careful about are anything related to security and anything related to discs or disc management.  Either of those offers ample opportunity to screw up your server.

    It's certainly possible to run Windows Home Server in a virtual machine, though it's not "supported" by Microsoft.  I run Windows Home Server in a virtual machine myself for testing various scenarios.
    Wednesday, March 26, 2008 3:48 AM
    Moderator
  • Windows Home Server is not available on MSDN or Technet, and will not be (for the foreseeable future). This is a decision that the WHS product team made some time ago.

    If you want multiple installations, but don't want to buy multiple copies of the software, you can install but don't enter a product key and don't activate. Then you will have 30 days before the installation will shut itself down. This will give you some time to test various scenarios, and is what I usually do.
    Friday, March 28, 2008 3:19 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Bill, Microsoft's intent with Windows Home Server is for it to be an easy to use, easy to maintain "appliance" or node on your home network.  The intended interface for the average user is the Windows Home Server console, not the standard administrative tools.  Those tools are still there because they are part of Windows Server 2003, but you need to be careful when using them because, as you have learned, you can severely damage server functionality with them.

    There's no documentation as to what can safely be done (after all, this software is normally distributed pre-installed), but the two areas to be most careful about are anything related to security and anything related to discs or disc management.  Either of those offers ample opportunity to screw up your server.

    It's certainly possible to run Windows Home Server in a virtual machine, though it's not "supported" by Microsoft.  I run Windows Home Server in a virtual machine myself for testing various scenarios.
    Wednesday, March 26, 2008 3:48 AM
    Moderator
  • Okay - stay away from security and disc settings. Very guilty of that in the past, and already very wary of those two in particular. Networking is high on my target list though. That seems to give issues too.

    So the VM seems to be the way to go. Is a second license covered in any way by my MSDN subscription? I can find keys and downloads for every other MS OS I can think of, but WHS seems to be conspicuous by its absence.

    Thanks

    Bill

    Friday, March 28, 2008 12:53 AM
  • Windows Home Server is not available on MSDN or Technet, and will not be (for the foreseeable future). This is a decision that the WHS product team made some time ago.

    If you want multiple installations, but don't want to buy multiple copies of the software, you can install but don't enter a product key and don't activate. Then you will have 30 days before the installation will shut itself down. This will give you some time to test various scenarios, and is what I usually do.
    Friday, March 28, 2008 3:19 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi!

    I also run a WHS in a VM for testing purposes, which works like a charm (although I have to say that the performance is drastically better in VMWare than in Virtual PC)

     

    As for debugging add-ins: Have you tried Brendan Grant's WHS Tab Test Loader: http://ihatelinux.blogspot.com/2007/09/windows-home-server-tab-test-loader.html ?

    This tool is very neat, because it kinda simulates the Home Server Console and allows you to test your add-ins on your dev-machine, without the need to copy the .dll to the server, restart the Console etc.

     

    Brendan also compiled a list of development-tips which are definitely worth a read if you start developing for Windows Home Server: http://ihatelinux.blogspot.com/search/label/WHS%20Dev%20Tips

     

    Regards, Alex

    Friday, March 28, 2008 4:07 PM