Migrate to SBS 2008 from Server 2000

I thought I would share my migration experience in the event it might help someone else struggling with this issue.  Microsoft has no direct path for migration from server 2000 so the idea of such a move will keep an IT guy awake at night – thoughts of unjoining and rejoining the domain on every workstations dancing in your head.  There is a solution.  It’s a little clunky, but it works. Feel free to respond with a better or easier way, but here is what I did:

The migration obstacle is overcome by using an intermediate server with 2003 installed.  Basically, I installed a temporary copy of server 2003 on a laptop  (I’ll let you worry about MS licensing for the copy of 2003 which you will only need for about a day). After adprepping the old 2000 server, I ran dcpromo on the 2003 server and made it an active directory server.  Then I also made it a global catalog server.  Google the info if you need; the documentation is readily available.  Once the temporary server 2003 had synchronized all active directory information, I ran dcpromo on the customer’s server to demote it, making my laptop the master domain controller on the network.

You will need to Adprep the 2003 server now using the install DVD from SBS 2008.  Once this is done, I returned to the new SBS 2008 server.  Having created an answer file , I resumed the final part of the install in migration mode.  Again, Google proved invaluable for this part. My first attempt through the answer file was unsuccessful in getting the new server to login to the domain. I hadn’t installed and configured DNS on the temporary server.  This was oversight on my part but easily corrected.

Once the answer file was correctly navigated, the server finished the install.  I logged into the server and immediately opened the users tab in the SBS console and was disappointed to see all my users missing.  As a test, I tried to add an existing user account, but was informed the user already existed.  I tried a few more and they existed too.

 I opened Active Directly Users and Computers, bypassing the SBS console and noted that all my user accounts were there.  My groups were there too, but I had to add the appropriate users back to them.  A Google search quickly gave me the remedy for displaying my users in the SBS console by running the Change User Role wizard and selecting all users to add.

I finished promoting the new SBS 2008 to a global catalog server and then turned off the temporary server.  Users could still login to the domain without any problems.  I didn’t want to jump the gun, so I proceeded to configure other things on the new server to ensure everything was working properly.

My final step was to dcpromo the temporary laptop server back down to a member server and remove it from the domain.  All this might sound like a lot of work, but these steps saved a tremendous amount of time and made migration nearly seamless for the end users on the domain.

SBS 2008 Promises More but Delivers Less

I admit that I was more than just a little apprehensive moving a client to Small Business Server 2008.  I had minimal time to play  with it and learn its finer points.  Documentation is sketchy and sometimes incorrect since there were last minute changes to the final release.  Microsoft is rapidly addressing the issue.

I was pleased to learn that server migration had been greatly improved; disappointed to learn that there is no direct migration path from server 2000 to SBS 2008.   For more specific details on my migration see How to Migrate SBS 2008 from Server 2000. 

Once in the GUI, I began familiarizing myself with all the new menus and wizards.  I give Microsoft props on more wizard driven functions, but I despise their insistence in changing names and locations of certain features.  These are the same frustrations you’ve come to know going from XP to Vista.  Specifically networking and Exchange has some new terminology, sometimes for no apparent reason to this author.

Here’s where the less comes in:  

  1. There is no client installable Outlook 2007 included in the client apps folder.  I’ve heard the MS explanation but it doesn’t change the fact that your clients will have to pay for it and most are perfectly happy with their Microsoft Office 2003 suite with the 2007 compatibility pack installed.  I give Microsoft a big thumbs down on this move. 
  2. I defy any IT savvy person not affiliated with Microsoft to defend the built in backup solution for SBS 2008.  One word:  Sucks Royally! Ok, that’s two words but one wasn’t enough to describe the disappointment.  Simply put, it’s less customizable, has less features for backing up Exchange than expected, and  compatible with fewer backup solutions (eg. tapes)  Its more proprietary as well, making it harder to hookup to any old workstation to restore data to a temporary machine.  I would love to get a reply from someone that has gotten ntbackup to work on SBS 2008.
  3. The system requirements for SBS 2008 is much higher than SBS 2003 and Server 2008 standard.  Running only on a 64 bit platform, it is a major memory hog with 4GB being the minimum.  Equate 4GB in SBS 2008 to 256MB in XP.  I am running 8GB and it seems to work well, but I’m thinking of doubling that in the future.  Couple that with the CPU and storage requirements, and you better be prepared to lay some dollars down for good hardware.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it your bottom line will be higher.

Considering the above stripped out and dumbed down features, you might have noticed that the total cost of implementation is more expensive than with SBS 2003.  Factor in no Outlook licensing, the steep hardware requirements and the additional “familiarity” time, and you start scratching your head wondering if SBS 2008 is really worth the money.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Steve Balmer and Ashton Kutcher were going to bust into the server room and announce I had been punk’d.

Silverlight – still waiting for the silver lining.

What many Netflix users see when Watching Instantly

What many Netflix users see when Watching Instantly

So I’m enjoying a few days off during the Christmas/New Years’ holiday and then it dawns on me.  I’m not enjoying my new Netflix account, because I’m troubleshooting it instead. But wait.  Isn’t that what I do for a living?  So, I’m not really enjoying a few days off – I’m working and not getting paid for it.  I guess my free trial membership wasn’t so free after all.

 It seems that Netflix has turned to Microsoft using their Silverlight technology.  And like most Microsoft products, its not even close to being ready for prime time.  All I get is an error 1001 after the movie buffer.  I’ve narrowed it down to a DRM problem (digital rights management).  And before anyone responds with the usual, assume I’m not an idiot here.  Yes, I performed a clean uninstall/reinstall, cleaned temp files and caches, and yes I even performed the daunting task of rebooting my PC.  I’ve done things in the registry that no decent human being should ever have to experience.

I did research and further testing and the bottom line is this: Netflix “Watch Instantly”  is not watchable for any Mac users prior to Intel processors (PowerPC), and plagues a significant number of users on Vista.  Other anomolies include a number of hardware specific scenarios such as specific laptops that seem to have this problem as well.

Its a shame that a feature that had me at “watch” will translate into a cancelled account before Netflix makes dollar one from me. They have 12 days and counting…we’ll know soon.