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A Busy Summer

As you might work out I’ve had a bit of a busy summer and haven’t had much time to spend writing articles for my blog – which is frustrating because of the number of things I’ve wanted to write about. In this Post I’ll summarise it as a way of drawing a line under it all and restarting the blogging.

First of all, I had some difficulty with my Subversion server and so, after I released Wiki Text Version 0.3, but was unable to tag it, I started to have a look at fixing it.

In the mean time, there have been family holidays (and School holidays), GCSE and A Level results, preparations for University (including a new Laptop), and I’ve been making a few small updates to the blog Theme. I also decided that I would get myself a Twitter account but couldn’t even find the time to update that.

My Subversion server is an old Windows 2000 Server I setup as a test environment just before I installed a similar server in a client office. I set up all my office PCs to log into the domain and use a copy of exchange to “backup” my emails.

It’s been on its last legs for a while now – Exchange hasn’t worked for a couple of years and I have been unable to access the shared drives on the server – although I could go the other way. And 10 minutes to boot up is just taking the mick!

The latest round of problems began when I tried once again to make some space on the system partition – I had around 300KB free! The disk is partitioned to provide System (10GB), Software and Data partitions.

Some time ago I added a second, much larger disk and copied the Data partition to that. I removed the drive letter assignment to the old data partition leaving just two accessible partitions on the first HDD.

Unfortunately, when I came to look at finding new space I found the old Data partition and, for some reason, believed it was adjacent to the System partition. I think that when I reassigned a drive letter to check it the order was confused. I planned to extend the system partition…

I needn’t repeat the scene when I discovered what had happened – suffice to say that I took a few moments to understand why none of the application icons appeared on my desktop any more.

Time for a Change

In a way, it did me a favour. I don’t think I lost any data – that was on the “new” Data disk but did decide that I didn’t fancy trying to recover all the software settings and repairing the server.

So, I checked my finances and a couple of weeks later purchased a collection of parts from Scan (http://www.scan.co.uk) for around £360 and built myself a fairly powerful new server.

Next problem was to get an OS. I used to have an MSDN subscription but that became far too expensive when I wasn’t doing much (paid for) .NET development. However, I had heard tell of the Microsoft Action Pack subscription which was targeted at small businesses like mine – a collection if Server technologies with a Developer specific version available that included Visual Studio 2010, etc. and all at a very reasonable price.

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011

Not long after I managed to setup my server with the latest version of Microsoft SBS 2011 – and I am very pleased with the results.

Although I have used Linux on and off over a number of years, I’ve never become completely comfortable with it – mainly because none of the projects I have worked recently have enabled me to use it directly.

Instead, I seem to spend a lot of time specifying various Windows, Red Hat and AIX servers for others to build – while I sit and write documents and exchange emails on Windows PCs.

As a result, SBS ticked all the boxes – and a few more besides. I was initially quite entertained by the ability to sit in front of the telly with the family while I “fiddled” with the server on a remote desktop. Trust me – it makes a difference.

Next, during configuration it detected my router and, once I’d enabled UPnP, configured it to work closely with the SBS server. I suspect this is more effective if you don’t power everything down every night… I haven’t worked out if I can set up an external URL for it yet, but when I do I expect to be able to access it remotely.

All of the set up tasks were simple using the SBS Console and it even came with integrated security software – usually a pain for servers.

Essential Software

For me, the next task was to copy all my data from the old to the new server – it took a while but I think I recovered almost everything.

Previously, I had used an Apache HDDPD install with the subversion server code – but that appears to be unavailable directly and I went for the Collabnet Subversion Edge package instead. Once I pointed it at my old SVN data and configured a couple of users in the htpasswd file I was up and running.

I used the TortoiseSVN relocate command to fix all my projects on my laptop and was finally able to tag Wiki Text at version 0.3.

It also took a bit of fiddling to find the updated drivers for my HP printer – not least because it’s not really designed for attaching to a server.

Conclusion

Well, in a way I’m glad my server finally gave up the ghost. I’ve got a nice, new, powerful, silent server and new software. And I’ve lots of new features and software to try out on it.

I can get on with my blog postings and other projects now – I’ll be playing with the updated Visual Studio and Expression Web tools and I want to get up to speed with some security and encryption technologies with Active Directory (e.g. LDAP authentication).

Now, I think my laptop’s looking a bit old…

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Posted in General, Windows

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