Microsoft Small Business Server 2000 - Part 1(Introduction)

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jan 23, 2002


by Andy Goodman

This is the first of a series of articles on Microsoft Small Business Server 2000; the latest version of SBS. I had hoped to do this article on the process of an online upgrade from SBS 4.5 but I was never able to do a clean upgrade. So instead I will tell you how get it done via a clean install. Please don't misunderstand; I think this is a great product -- once it is installed and running. I have been using and supporting SBS since the very first version 4.0, then 4.0a, 4.5 and now 2000. (I will never understand Microsoft's version numbering algorithm).

To get started, the first thing you need to do before you touch anything is Plan. This new version of SBS depends heavily on Microsoft's Active Directory. One of the first decisions you have to make is the name for your Forest. This is the top level of the inverted tree that makes up the Active Directory. If you have a public domain name such as "company.com" then you will want to make the top-level "company.local"; this is to allow DNS to keep internal resources and external resources separate. Give a lot of thought to this name; it cannot be changed except with a complete re-install of SBS.

The next thing you need to plan for is where you are going to put the different components of SBS; unlike previous versions, SBS 2000 lets you spread out over more than one drive. Even if you are using a Raid 5 Array (which I heartily recommend), you should break it up into a few partitions. At a minimum, I like to make 6 partitions; one each for the OS, the Users Data, Roaming Profiles, Exchange, the swap file, and Server-based Apps. This makes backups and system maintenance much easier. If you are not running on a Raid Array, then you will want another partition for the Exchange Logs on a different physical drive from the Exchange Database Files.

You are also going to need to have in mind two username/password pairs for the installation -- one for the administrator account and another for the Directory Services Restore Administrator. These passwords are not easily changed and will usually break something if you try to change them, so pick them carefully.

Now let's talk about the hardware and getting it ready for SBS. SBS is and has always been fussy about the hardware it runs on. This is due to all of the services and applications running on one box. Take a good look at the HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) which you can find at http://www.microsoft.com/sbserver/evaluation/sysreqs/default.asp and also on the updated release notes page at http://microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/TechNet/prodtechnol/sbs/maintain/rnsbseng.asp. I promise you if you try to slide past these minimums you will be sorry. Make sure you have an approved network card and that it is plugged into a hub or switch before you begin the install. Also, if you have more than one NIC, remove or disable the one that will connect to the outside world. During the install process you only want one functioning NIC, and it must be the one connected to the internal network. In the first article of his new series covering Small Business Server, Andy Goodman introduces you to the latest version of SBS, Microsoft Small Business Server 2000. The initial articles steps through the basics of installing SBS 2000, including planning the install and ensuring your hardware meets the basic requirements.

As far as other requirements, in the real world you will need at least a PIII-500, 512 Mb of Ram, and 10 Gb of storage. Microsoft recommends two mirrored drives; I recommend at least a three-drive SCSI Raid 5 Array. But if you must, it will install to a single drive IDE system. Of course, you will also need a floppy dive and a CD-ROM drive. And you have to at least have Super VGA 800x600 with support for 256 colors at a minimum. Some more good news over previous versions of SBS -- you do not have to install a Fax Modem during the initial install. It can be added later; just make sure you get one listed on the HCL.

People always want to know what my machine looks like so here is a breakdown of my SBS2000 Server:

  • Cal PC Products 10 Bay Rolling Tower
  • Intel Pentium III 866 Processor
  • Intel D815EPFV Motherboard *
  • 512 Mb PC133 Kingston ValueRam
  • Adaptec 1000U2 PCI Raid Controller
  • 3 IBM DDRS-39130 U2W 9.1 Gb Hard Drives in Fan Cooled Carriers
  • Plextor UltraPlex 32TS CD-ROM Drive
  • OnStream SC-50 25/50 Gb SCSI Tape Drive
  • 2 Intel Pro/100+ Management NICs
  • USR Courier V.Everything External Modem


*Yes this is a desktop motherboard but for my use with only eight client machines, hitting the server it is fine (and at about 20% the cost of a server board).

Article Two tackles the preparation for moving the users' mail and data to the new machine.

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