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Diary of A Madman: Setting Up An NT Web Serve



Hank continues his account of the setup of his NT Web server in this second installment.

by Hank Mishkoff


April 28, 1995 (11:10 PM)
I installed Windows NT Server! Well, sort of.
The installation procedure itself was ridiculously simple; it really wasn't any more complicated than your average point-and-click installation of your average Windows application program. But there were a few places in the procedure that asked me questions that I didn't quite understand, which made it difficult to feel confident that I was giving sensible answers.
In one place, as I recall all too well, I was told that if I made the wrong choice, I would have to repeat the entire installation procedure. Luckily, that was the only instance quite that dramatic; everywhere else, the procedure indicated that I could change the setup at a later time if I decided I was unhappy with my choice.
I'll provide more detail about the experience--but not tonight, because it's past my bedtime, and I'm getting punchy. Tomorrow, I'll review what I've done so far, figure out what I need to do next, and let you know what I've learned.

April 29, 1995 (08:05 PM)

Having decided that I had not been careful enough in tracking the problems I encountered when I installed Windows NT Server, I decided to do it again, and take better notes this time. So here they are.
  • Domain Controller or Server: I can't decide whether I'm supposed to set up as a Domain Controller or a Server. And if I make the wrong choice, the installation program tells me that I'll have to completely re-install NT to correct my error.
  • The default is Server, and I believe that's the right choice. I'm not real clear on what a Domain Controller is (even after having read descriptions in various parts of the documentation), but it seems to involve networks with multiple servers, whereas I'm setting up a web server on what is basically a stand-alone PC (although I may want to link up one or two other PCs at some point).
  • The main reason I'm uneasy about not choosing to set up as a Domain Controller is that there seem to be some security considerations involved in the choice. At first, I thought that if I didn't set up as a Domain Controller, I wouldn't be able to implement password security on the system, which would obviously be unacceptable. After reading further, I now lean toward the view that I can implement security even if I set up as a Server. If I'm wrong, I get to do this all over again, one more time.
  • Network Card Problem: The installation program tells me that "The current netcard parameters are not verifiably correct and may result in usage problems or system failure." I'm using a Linksys Ether16 LAN Card that doesn't have any DIP switches; instead, you configure it by using a utility program that comes with the card. I configured the card before I installed NT, but I wonder if the fact that the card is configured via software rather than hardware is confusing NT.
  • I'm hoping that the card will work anyway. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but the message says that the card may not work, which is not the same as saying that it will not work.
  • Network Protocol: The installation program wants me to select one or more network protocols from among NWLink IPX/SPX, TCP/IP, and NetBEUI. I don't think I need NWLink IPX/SPX because I'm not running NetWare. I think I do need TCP/IP because that's Internet protocol and I am, after all, connecting to the Internet. I'm not sure about NetBEUI--will I need it if I decide to link another PC to the server? Beats me. I think I'll go with just TCP/IP for now (the exact opposite of the default setting, BTW), and hope I can change my mind later if I need to.
  • TCP/IP Configuration: The installation program wants me to configure TCP/IP, but it's asking me to supply values that I don't have (IP Address, Subnet Mask, etc.). I'm assuming I can get this info from my Internet service provider next week.
  • When I continue the installation without supplying the TCP/IP information, I'm told that "The dependency service or group failed to start. This error prevented the network from starting." I'm hoping that this problem will disappear when I get the necessary info from my Internet service provider. (Hope springs eternal.)
  • When I complete the installation and start the system, it tells me that "At least one service or driver failed during system startup. Use Event Viewer to examine the event log for details." And tomorrow, after I figure out what Event Viewer and the event log are, that's exactly what I'll do.

  • Netscape Server Beta

    Netscape has announced that they're distributing beta versions of level 1.1 of Communication Server (their low-end web server). Level 1, the current product, runs only under Unix; 1.1 is supposed to run on other platforms, including NT.
    I signed up for the beta, but I'm not holding my breath, because Netscape indicated that not everyone who wants to get in on the beta program will be accepted. (Unlike O'Reilly, who give away a web site beta to anyone who has a pulse, I guess Netscape figures that they're in a position to be choosy.) And once I install WebSite (in a day or two, I hope), I'll switch web servers only if it looks like Netscape's product offers something important that WebSite lacks.

    UPS

    A quick and relatively minor note: I went to Computer City this morning and bought an Uninterruptible Power Source. (I always thought that UPS stood for "Uninterruptible Power Supply." Shows what I know.) It's an APC 600; I paid a little extra for the ability to hook up a serial cable so that it can tell NT when it's running out of juice so NT can take appropriate action and shut itself down gracefully. According to the documentation, I'll need to get some additional hardware and/or software to actually implement that feature. But I'd have to experience at least a 30-minute blackout before that even becomes an issue.
    The main reason I bought the UPS today is that we're supposed to have electrical storms here in Dallas tomorrow, and I want to be able to work straight through them. I usually shut down my computers as soon as I hear thunder; now I won't have any excuse not to keep working (sigh).

    Hank Mishkoff (hank@webfeats.com) was unable to make a living playing the blues so, like all failed musicians, he became a computer consultant. He currently runs WebFeats (http://www.webfeats.com/), a web-service provider in Dallas. At the time of this writing, he is about to start a new company named MultiWeb (http://www.multiweb.com/) in an effort to drum up more business so he won't have to take any more guitar lessons