Archive for the ‘business’ Category

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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Dreamweaver replacement for Ubuntu Linux?

March 14, 2007

I’ve been trying Ubuntu (Xubuntu) Linux on a dual-boot system, and as I mentioned here, have been looking for a great replacement for Dreamweaver. Quanta Plus is one of the alternatives to consider, and I’ve got some first impressions, having used it for a few hours.

1) It’s not Dreamweaver. But it does support “projects” which remind me of the Sites used in Dreamweaver. It was a bit disorienting at first… was looking all over the GUI for an FTP or site setup dialog. Clicking on Projects brought up a window that seemed promising.

Project dialog

2) With the project set up, I noticed what should be a file tree in left side of the window, but it was empty, except for the root of the GMAT website. Where’s the files? There should be a GET button here somewhere. Hmmm. Here we go: right-click the root and select “Rescan Project” and you see this…

Add files to project dialog

This took quite a while, but then the site has a lot of files… and my cable ISP (Charter, ahem) has been very intermittent for the past 5 years. 10Meg down my arse. Oh well. After it scans, the dialog fills with a directory structure, and you can choose which files to add to your project.

3) Success! Files “added” appear in the left column.

Quanta Plus screenshot

First impressions? It’s usable and promising, but the code view renders a bit unpolished IMO. What’s interesting, and a bit scary, is that as I work on a file, it updates on the server via FTP. Normally, I would set up a local mirror of a site in Dreamweaver… and then send tested and approved files to the sky. Will dig around for a way to do this tomorrow.

What about Pligg

March 8, 2007

OK, so the latest website idea would really fill a hole in the local auto marketplace: a bit of a mix between digg.com, edmunds.com, craigslist.com. The juicy details are left out for now, at least until I get it further along. Oh sure, you’ve seen it before. Problem is, I cannot find a similar site yet… seriously.

I was planning to develop it in Coldfusion, but this would entail a few weeks worth of web app development, so in the spirit of leveraging other platforms, I’ve decided to look into pligg.

Uh, I guess this is a great “opportunity” to learn PHP and MySQL. Thankfully, there are great tips and a simple template for pligg on upstartblogger.