Archive for April, 2007

Moving Exchange Server

April 29, 2007

Migrating from MS Exchange 2000 to 2003 this weekend, and thought I’d note a few of the not-so-obvious things I’ve come across. Hope it helps someone.

I built a small business network way back in 2001 to support a law practice, and the public folders on the MS Exchange 2000 Server are the hub of the case management, workflow, consultation scheduling. Because the end users felt comfortable using Outlook, it’s custom forms are basically the front end to all the other systems, including financials. It’s mission-critical, to say the least.

Like most small offices, we saved by purchasing one win2k server and making it do everything: domain controller, file server, exchange, etc., and with a handful of users, life was good and administration was simple. (we bought and stored an identical server offsite for disaster recovery).
Fast forward a few years, and the do-everything server is really grinding to fulfill its basic mission. I considered replacing the original server with a new Small Business Server 2003 setup.

Issue 1: SBS does not coexist with other domain controllers. Well, this actually is a myth, but I didn’t feel like messing with the AD, seizing FSMO roles. Plus why shove all the work on a single box again? But here’s how from Microsoft.

OK, so the plan was this:  get a second server, set it up as a member server for Exchange 2003, migrate the users’ mailboxes and mission-critical public folders.  Then decommission the Exchange 2000 server but retain it as the DC and fileserver.

We bought a Dell PowerEdge SC440 (what a deal), and I prepped it at home: installed Server 2k3 Standard and did not join to a domain. Brought it to the office and plopped on the network.  For a small organization, this can work, even thought the recommended hardware would consist of 6 or more disks: mirrored OS, mirrored logs, raid 5 exchange database.  SC440 only officially holds 2 disks, but has SATA connectors for 4.  Hmm.  Squeeze ’em into the empty floppy and second optical bay!  So OS and logs are on one disk set, with separate partitions, and Exchange database is on the second mirror set.  It’ll suffice.

Issue 2: it would not join the domain! Logged on locally as the Administrator, tried to join the domain with matching domain admin credentials, and get a goofy error such as “this account is not authorized to log in from this workstation.” Note: if your local admin account matches the domain admin account, just leave the credentials blank when it prompts you for them. Works.

Now I’m ready to install Exchange 2003 on the new box, right?  Sort of.  First you have to prepare the existing AD on all the other domain controller(s).  (BACK IT UP FIRST!).  The install walks you throug it: DNSdiag, Forestprep, Domainprep.  It was fairly painless.  There is an excellent reference here.  After the install, use Exchange System Manager to move the default Exchange database and log locations to the intended disks.

Exchange 2003 is in.  Now, how to get the folders over from the old Exchange 2000 server?  In ESM, it’s as simple as “move mailbox” to migrate the users.  The public folders have to be “replicated,” and this can take a while.  It’s doing this while I write.

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Ubuntu performance tweaks

April 24, 2007

Ran across this blog post on Digg and thought it was worth a note.  As I’ve noticed that XP Home runs a bit faster than Xubuntu on one of my computers (a core 2 duo).  Maybe it just needs a little tweaking still.