Building a New SharePoint 2010 Virtual Machine from Scratch – Even I Can Do It

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-18 10:36:00 EST”>
 Based on feedback from many people here and on Twitter, I’ve decided to build out my VM using Andrew Connell’s instructions. All of the admin types who have seen what I’m doing keep telling me things like “Well, if you want to do certain things down the road…” or “That’s not really the way a farm will be set up…”.  These are all maybes and shouldas, but why risk it?

As I said below, this is a VM purely for my own use, but I’m also finding it really useful and interesting to go through all of these steps to get the VM built. I’m taking lots of snapshots so that I can go back and change my mind without starting over, so it isn’t even all that painful to do so. I still think that the instructions below are useful for someone just trying to get their toes wet. Give it a whirl.
</UPDATE>

I’ve been limping along with a SharePoint 2010 (SP2010) beta virtual machine (VM) for almost a year now. A month or two ago something from Windows Update (I think) put it out of commission. Or maybe it just reached the end of its allowed life. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t playing nice for me anymore. I’ve been working with SP2010 in my client projects, so I didn’t care too much, but I finally got to the point where I really needed to have a playground VM on my laptop.

Because of all of the mumbling and grousing I hear on Twitter, in blogs, etc., I have assumed for a long time that building SharePoint servers from scratch is for the pros, not for some old hack like me. So I was dreading the whole thing. Turns out I should have trusted my own capabilities and the simplicity of the process more. The whole thing took me less than 90 minutes and I wasn’t even paying a lot of attention.

Here’s the “Installing SharePoint 2010 from the ground up for dummies” process. Of course, this assumes that you have the bits for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010 Server. I got mine from my Action Pack subscription. (One of the best deals on Microsoft software on the planet, IMHO.) It also assumes that you just want to have a single server playground for yourself.  I’m using VMWare Workstation 7.1 and I have the best laptop in the world, so your mileage may vary.

The first step was to create a new VM with Windows 2008 R2 installed. I didn’t capture all of the steps for this, but trust me when I say that VMWare makes this so easy it’s almost laughable. All you need to do is point VMWare at the ISO file and it knows exactly what to do.

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-13 11:19:00 EST”> I added in the screenshots from the Windows Server 2008 R2 install in case it is helpful to anyone. </UPDATE>

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Reboot

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And there we go! Once I had the OS installed I took a snapshot of the VM.

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-16 22:18:00 EST”>
Due to suggestions from several people, the most impactful being Bjorn’s comment below, I decided to take a few steps back and install Active Directory. Since I’d taken snapshots of the VM, it was pretty easy to go back and do that additional step at this point in the process. I used the very clear instructions that Andrew Connell put together on the Critical Path Web site. In the version that I used, the instructions for installing Active Directory start on page 13. Once done with this new step, I took another snapshot of the VM
</UPDATE>

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-17 22:51:00 EST”>
Initially I installed UltraISO at this point. Bjorn also pointed out in the comments that I don’t need UltraISO (as much as I love it) because I can simply mount the ISO for SharePoint 2010 directly in VMWare. Here’s what that looks like.
</UPDATE>

 

Next step, run the Prerequisite Installer. This is the program PrerequisiteInstaller.exe which is found in the root of the ISO. Here’s what it looks like as it runs:

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After a reboot, I took another snapshot of the VM.

Next up: SharePoint 2010 itself. Running setup.exe in the root of the ISO gets that rolling.

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I chose the second option: Server Farm. I only want a single server farm, but I’ve heard enough people say to never click that first button (Standalone) that I didn’t.

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When you close the SharePoint 2010 installation program, it immediately launches the configuration wizard, assuming you leave that box checked. The only choice I had to make here was to say “Yes’ in the second screenshot.

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Clicking Finish above pops you into the Site Creation page in the browser. I was prompted for credentials, but that seemed appropriate.clip_image034

Et voila!

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I’m not sure how that could have been any easier.

Note: for you admin purists out there, I’m sure that I broke a whole bunch of your rules and best practices. I’d love to hear what you think I did wrong, but remember that this is only a local playground VM for me, and me alone. My guess is that I’m just fine.

SharePoint 2010 System Requirements

In an article posted last week, the SharePoint team gave some more specifics on what we should expect for SharePoint 2010.  (Why do I keep accidentally typing 90210?)  According to the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog (and who would know better), SharePoint 2010 will require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 and 64-bit SQL Server.  Also, Internet Explorer 6 will not be a supported browser for SharePoint Server 2010.

So, what can you do today to get into the best shape for SharePoint Server 2010?

  1. Start by ensuring new hardware is 64-bit.  Deploying 64-bit is our current best practice recommendation for SharePoint 2007.
  2. Deploy Service Pack 2 and take a good look at the SharePoint 2010 Upgrade Checker that’s shipped as part of the update.  The Upgrade Checker will scan your SharePoint Server 2007 deployment for many issues that could affect a future upgrade to SharePoint 2010.
  3. Get to know Windows Server 2008 with SharePoint 2007, this post is a great starting point.
  4. Consider your desktop browser strategy if you have large population of Internet Explorer 6 users.
  5. Continue to follow the Best Practices guidance for SharePoint Server 2007.
  6. Keep an eye on this blog for updates and more details in the coming months.