Aug 26, 2009

Gettin' my SharePoint on

For the past two days, I have been working on a SharePoint installation at the local school district. I have never installed SharePoint on Windows Server 2008 before this, so it was quite a learning experience. For starters, Server 2008 is WAAAAY different than Server 2003 (which is what I use every day). That's not a bad thing, just a bit of a learning curve that one gets while doing a bit of on-the-job training.

I found an installation guide online (if I think about it, I'll find the site and post a link. Otherwise, you'll just have to look for it like I did), so I printed it out. The guide was okay, but failed to mention a few VITAL steps. Sure, they probably assumed the person reading would know what they were doing, but why would anyone bother making an installation GUIDE and then assume anything at all!? Loco.

Anyway, one of the first things one must do in Server 2008 is add various Roles - that is, tell the server just what it is (or is not) supposed to be doing. The guide mentioned the Web Server Role (not to be confused with the Cinnamon Roll), but failed to mention the Application Role (not to be confused with honor roll). The guide also forgot to mention that one must select "Windows Authentication" and "Basic Authentication" in addition to the preselected "Anonymous Authentication." In plain English, you have to tell the server just how people (users) are going to access the information posted to the site. Took more than a few minutes to figure THAT one out.

The guide does have some VERY handy steps that involve creating users that have specific names and then assigning those users very specific roles (not to be confused with sit-com roles).

Another neglected item is that one must configure the server's FIREWALL settings to allow people who are not on the actual server (i.e., everyone else on the great green Earth) access to the sites created in SharePoint. That would have been handy to have. That would have saved about two hours of kicking and screaming. And, yes, I'm talking about me.

Eventually, I got most of the system up and going, but still had two areas that were giving me trouble. One: Users could not log in using Windows Authentication (that means they could not log on securely). The fix? Alternate Access Mappings. It's a setting in SharePoint. All SharePoint admins should make themselves VERY familiar with the concept. It saves a LOT of headache. The other thing? Search.

SharePoint Search is a very finicky beast. I found a different guide that (well, no so much a guide so much as an online forum with the fix) not only solved the problem at the district, but also solved the problem I've been battling for two years at my own installation! The fix? When configuring Search in the Shared Services Provider, the default option is to use the same login as the search account. But, it doesn't work correctly. Admins familiar with this will see things like "Access Denied" in their indexing logs (as opposed to fire logs). To fix this, there is an option to specify a user account for the indexing (called a 'crawl' - not of the watermelon variety, however). So, you specify the account, but use the exact same account as the search. I know, you're either thinking, "But, it's the same one you just told me I couldn't use by default" or you are thinking, "I have no idea what he is talking about, but I am reading this anyway hoping to find something humorous or something that isn't related in any way to this techy stuff." If you are thinking the latter, then, I'm afraid this post holds very little for you in the way of non-techiness and not more in the way of humor. If you are thinking the first part of that, then YOU ARE RIGHT! Yes, you use the exact same username and password that you thought you were using anyway. The difference? When you specify the account, there is an option to UNCHECK a box for "Do not allow Basic authentication..." Once you uncheck it, SharePoint will scream at you (I think), but tell the program you know what you're doing. And SAVE your settings, and crawl to your heart's content (as in "I feel conTENT" and not "I was looking for humorous CONtent!")!!

Another thing I learned during the SharePoint install came while installing it in VMWare on the tech's laptop. The Stand-alone version of SharePoint is missing a few key elements, but mainly there is no 'anonymous' access (that I readily saw) for the stand-alone all-in-one setup. That's not necessarily bad, but do not select that option in a production environment if you plan on allowing web surfers to view your site without logging in. Maybe I'm the only one that didn't know that, but this was my first time, so I'm sharing it with any other 'first-timers' out there.

Sidenote: If you are new around these parts (that is, new to finding out just what is popping into my head), WELCOME ABOARD! Feel free to "Follow Me" on the right, or remain anonymous. Actually, for your own sake, you're probably better off not telling anyone you visit here...

Okay, if you've hung around this long, I just as well give you something to laugh about. This is about me, so feel free to laugh at me or with me, which ever.

Some time ago, I had to attend a training on some new Professional Development web site the state was putting into place. During the training, we were required to log in to the system using a pre-defined, generic account. As I looked at the board with the login information, I could not understand why anyone would choose the username they wanted us to use, nor what the meaning of such a username could possibly be. It turned out, I had been putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. The account?


I read that as "De-Mouser," as in "one who removes the mouse."

I'll let you figure out what it REALLY says... And, yes, I admitted my stupidity to the roomful of techies. Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself....

1 comment:

  1. Off Subject Question:

    Have you used VNC Viewer much?