A server for the home or small business

After having used such servers as the HP MediaSmart Server, the HP Proliant MicroServer, and various Dell servers, I decided to set out to see if I could build my own server for a reasonable cost with features I desired.

The intent of this build is to showcase a server that can be used in the home with Windows Home Server 2011 (yes, this build is somewhat overkill), and in home based / small businesses, with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials or Small Business Server 2011 Standard.

My requirements were as follows:

· Total cost could not exceed $1500. (Ideally, I wanted to stay at or below $1000.)

· All parts used must be server grade. By that I mean, must have 3-5 year warranty depending on part, and similar to parts used by the major server manufacturers.

· Must support future expandability. Must support large amounts of memory and case used must support addition of multiple hard drives.

· With Windows 8 and Windows 8 Server on the horizon, processor support for Second Level Address Translation (SLAT) and hardware virtualization were key to this build.

So what parts did I use?

· Antec VSK-2450 Mid Tower Case

· Intel Server Board S1200BTS

· Intel Xeon Processor E3-1230 (3.2GHz, 8MB Cache)

· Kingston 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 ECC RAM

· Western Digital RE4 Enterprise 1.0TB Hard Drive

Specs as configured:

· Intel Server Board S1200BTS

· 16GB ECC DDR3 RAM

· (1) 1.0TB Western Digital RE4 Enterprise Hard Drive

· Intel Xeon E3-1230 Processor

How does this build stack up to my requirements?

· Total cost: $1050+tax. I bought all the parts I needed from a local vendor instead of online and was willing to pay a bit more because of it. It is entirely possible to find these parts for cheaper online, but if you can, support your local businesses.

· Warranties on all parts are at least three years. Western Digital’s warranty is five years on enterprise hard drives, and on memory Kingston has a lifetime warranty.

· From an expandability standpoint, the case allows for up to 6 hard drives, the motherboard allows for 6 SATA connections, and the motherboard supports a maximum of 32GB of RAM.

· The processor used in this build supports hardware virtualization and SLAT, or as Intel calls it, Extended Page Tables. When looking for an Intel-based processor to be used for virtualization I suggest ensuring that it supports Intel-VT and Extended Page Tables. The Intel ARK tool, http://ark.intel.com, is a great resource for that type of information.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be showcasing more about what this server can do.

Pro tip–The one where cfg.ini would not be recognized

Figured I’d post this in case anyone else runs into this issue. I was performing an unattended install of Windows Home Server 2011 and the setup failed. I tried to use the same cfg.ini file again, however, setup didn’t like the file the second time around. Knowing that I hadn’t changed anything, I opened the file and noticed something strange. There was an additional line that Setup adds to the file once its used it.

The line added is located in the [WinPE] section and is called Processed=true.

In my testing, removing this line will allow the cfg.ini file to be used again.

image     image

                          Before setup runs                                       After setup runs

This tip applies to:

  • Windows Home Server 2011
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials
  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

Online help resources for WHS 2011 / SBSe 2011 / Storage Server R2 Essentials

This one’s a short post. Here are the direct links to the online help sites for Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011, and Storage Server R2 Essentials.

Windows Home Server 2011 – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/windowshomeserver2011

Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/sbs2011essentials/

Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/storageserver2008r2/

Tech-Ed North America 2011: Day 0 – Recap

After following the very poor directions given to me about finding the shuttle to bring me to the hotel, and being lied to and ripped off for 20 bucks (yes, I’m bitter.), I made it to my hotel, the Marriott Marquis in Downtown Atlanta. Check in was fairly effortless, and I’ve got a very nice room on an upper floor of the hotel with a great view of the city. For the week, Microsoft has invested in custom room keys, sponsored by Windows Intune, with an attached map of the downtown area.

After getting settled in my room, I met up with Randy Guthrie, Academic Developer Evangelist and some Imagine Cup USA Finals winners as well as other invited students, and had a quick bite to eat while waiting for everyone to arrive. Once everyone arrived, we made the 15 minute walk over to the Georgia World Congress Center, and along the way passed by CNN Center, World of Coca-Cola, and the Phillips Arena. While at the GWCC, took a quick walking tour of where keynote would be, the exhibit hall, bloggers lounge, etc. After the tour was over, we went out to dinner and then made final arrangements for the morning.

On Day 1 we’ll see announcements from Jason Zander and Robert Wahbe and from what I’m hearing these announcements will be interesting.

Here are some photos from Day 0:

Hands-On Labs for Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011 Standard, and Small Business Server 2011

Today Microsoft is announcing the availability of hands-on virtual labs for Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011 Standard, and Small Business Server 2011. These labs are intended to help end users and business decision makers alike evaluate the new products coming out of Microsoft’s Windows Server Solutions group. Available labs are listed below.

Windows Home Server 2011 Evaluation

This evaluation provides a hands on ability to experience the product including the following areas:

  • Adding a user
  • Using the client Launchpad
  • Managing PCs to ensure its health and security
  • Protecting the server and PC’s data
  • Adding server storage capacity
  • Using Remote Web Access

http://online.holsystems.com/portals/sbs/whs/

SBS 2011 Standard Technical Training

This 6 part Hands On Lab series explores SBS 2011 Standard in-depth including installation, configuration, server and user management and using the SBS 2011 Premium Add-on.

  • Planning and Preparation for Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Installing Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Managing Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Using Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Messaging and Collaboration in Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-On

http://online.holsystems.com/portals/sbs/standard/

SBS 2011 Standard End-to-End Walkthrough

This hands-on lab provides an end-to-end demonstration of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 Standard which includes the following areas:

  • Adding a user account
  • Connecting the user’s PC to the SBS environment
  • Managing the user’s PC to ensure its health and security
  • Protecting the server and PC’s data
  • Adding server storage capacity
  • Using Remote Web Access

http://online.holsystems.com/portals/sbs/stndemo/

SBS 2011 Essentials Technical Training

This 6 part Hands On Lab series explores SBS 2011 Essentials in-depth including installation, configuration, server and user management, client backup and health monitoring and using add-ins.

  • Preparing for Deployment
  • Server Configuration
  • Server Management and Monitoring
  • User and Client Computer Management
  • Client Experience
  • Cloud Services and Add-ins

http://online.holsystems.com/portals/sbs/essentials/

SBS 2011 Essentials End-to-End Walkthrough

This hands-on lab provides an end-to-end demonstration of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 Essentials which includes the following areas:

  • Adding a user account
  • Connecting the user’s PC to the SBS environment
  • Managing the user’s PC to ensure its health and security
  • Protecting the server and PC’s data
  • Adding server storage capacity
  • Using Remote Web Access

http://online.holsystems.com/portals/sbs/essdemo/

Upcoming events that I’ll be at

I’ll be attending TechEd North America 2011 in Atlanta, GA this year. As an IT Professional, I’m looking forward to all the sessions and networking to be had. (P.S. If you’re a vendor in the SMB space and will be at TechEd, send me an e-mail. (tom at tomontech dot com) I’m always looking for new things and would love to meet up.)

 

I’ll be attending the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in New York, New York this year. The Imagine Cup is an incredible event, with students from all over the world coming together and showing of technological solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.

Technote: Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Router Setup

Quick note for those of you that may be setting up Small Business Server 2011 Essentials servers and are using the online documentation, there is a slight error. Currently the documentation for router configuration links to the wiki article for Small Business Server Standard and the ports required for proper operation of SBS Standard.

The only ports that need to be forwarded for Small Business Server 2011 Essentials are ports 80 and 443. Although, to be honest, you don’t even need port 80. Just train users to use https:// instead of http:// to access the Remote Access website.

P.S. If you use Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, the same port(s) need to be forwarded as well.

How-To: Configure Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011

(UPDATE 04/11/2011 – Corrected error with sparseimage. Should be sparsebundle. Directions corrected.)

Note: These directions will not work with Mac OS X Lion as Apple has removed the necessary components to allow this functionality to work.

In today’s how-to, we’re going to setup Time Machine for a Mac client with the backups being stored on Windows Home Server 2011. These same steps should work with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials as well. (P.S. If after reading this, and you agree with me that setup could be easier, go here and vote.)

Step 1: Create shared folder on server

image

  • Click the Shared Folders and Hard Drives tab

image

  • Click Add a Folder, and fill in the details then click Next

image

  • Click Specific People, and then assign Read/Write permissions to the user account you wish to use on your Mac.

image  image

  • Click Add Folder,and then when the process is finished, click Close.

image  image

Step 2: Enable Network Volume Support and create SparseBundle file

  • On each Mac that you wish to back up, go to the Applications folder, then Utilities, then open Terminal and type the following command then press Enter.
    • defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.04 PM

  • We need to determine the MAC address of the Ethernet port (en0) to properly create the sparsebundle file. (NOTE: Even if you are using a wireless connection to backup, you MUST use the MAC address of the Ethernet port.) To do so, in the same Terminal window, type ifconfig and press Enter.  Look for the line starting with en0, and then look just below that for the line starting with ether and make note of the address on that line.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.42 PM

  • Now we will create the sparsebundle file that Time Machine will use. In the same Terminal  window, type the following command and press Enter. (NOTE: For the hard drive size, it needs to be the size of your hard drive. If you have a 160GB hard drive, then it will be ‘-size 160G’.)
    • hdiutil create –size <Hard Drive size>G –fs HFS+J –volname “<computername> Backup” <computername>_<MACAddress>.sparsebundle
      • Replace <Hard drive size> with the size of your hard drive
      • Replace <computername> with the name of your computer (Can be found in System Preferences –> Sharing) (Note: You may want to change the name to make it something short and simple.)
      • Replace <MACAddress> with the MAC Address you made note of in the previous step, leave out the colons in the address

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.21.54 PM

Step 3: Copy Sparsebundle to server and enable Time Machine

  • Close Terminal, then go to the Go menu and click Connect to Server, and type in smb://<ip address or name of server>, then press Enter. Choose the Shared Folder you created and click OK.
  • Browse to the location that the sparsebundle file was created in. This will most likely be the root of your user folder. (/users/<your username/)
  • Drag this sparsebundle file to the shared folder on the server

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.23.18 PM

  • After the file finishes copying, open System Preferences, and then click Time Machine

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.12 PM

  • Click Select Disk and select the shared folder on your server

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.27 PM

 

  • When prompted, enter the user name and password you wish to use and click Connect.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.40 PM

  • A countdown of 120 seconds should begin, and then once that countdown finishes, your backup should commence.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.46.06 PM  Screen shot 2011-04-10 at 1.01.47 PM

Congratulations! You’ve just configured Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011.

Microsoft’s “Colorado” Suite is on MSDN and TechNet

Yesterday, Microsoft made available for subscribers on MSDN and TechNet, Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (MSDN Only).

If you are a MSDN or TechNet subscriber, I highly recommend that you check out these releases. Please remember that MSDN and TechNet are for EVALUATION purposes only. If you like these products, please support the teams developing them, and buy them if you are going to use them in production.

Here are the hashes for the RTM releases:

Windows Home Server 2011

File Name: en_server_install_disc_windows_home_server_2011_x64_dvd_658487.iso

SHA1: A01A33EB26DE2A3E91C9C0371B549977173725F3
ISO/CRC: A1DFDE39

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

File Name: en_server_install_disc_windows_small_business_server_2011_essentials_x64_dvd_664391.iso

SHA1: 58FE96CD15B46107C0030713CB75A18B5FAFEF69
ISO/CRC: 1345F2EF

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

File Name: en_server_install_disc_windows_storage_server_essentials_2008_r2_embedded_x64_dvd_658486.iso

SHA1: 8225F23C29B3BD7C07F0E046B3E6E3AEBBE17DE1
ISO/CRC: 153960D2

To run MSCDCRC against an ISO file that you have downloaded follow these steps.

  1. Download MSCDCRC to the same folder that you downloaded the Vail ISO to. (Click here to download MSCDCRC)
  2. Open a Command Prompt window and navigate to the folder from Step 1
  3. Type “MSCDCRC <ISO filename.iso>” (without quotes)
  4. The integrity check will take a few moments to complete. After the check is complete compare the CRC and SHA hashes to the hashes posted above
  5. If the hashes match then you have successfully downloaded the ISO.

Released to Manufacturing: Microsoft’s “Colorado” Line of Products

This past week, Microsoft released to manufacturing it’s “Colorado” line of products (Aurora, Vail, and Breckenridge). Aurora is now known as Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Vail is Windows Home Server 2011, and Breckenridge is Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.

Microsoft is committing to making each of these products available for evaluation purposes only on MSDN and TechNet in early April. Below is a brief comparison of each of the products with link to Microsoft’s datasheets.

I’m extremely excited to see these three products launch, and can’t wait to see what OEMs and ISVs come with for hardware and software on these platforms. Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be sharing more about each of these products and how then can benefit you.

  Windows Home Server 2011 Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials
User Limit 10 Users 25 Users 25 Users
Computer Limit 10 Computers 25 Computers 25 Computers
CPU Socket Support 1 CPU Socket 2 CPU Sockets 1 CPU Socket
Maximum Supported RAM 8 GB RAM 32 GB RAM 8 GB RAM
Domain Join? None Domain Controller Yes
Data Sheet Click Here Click Here Click Here