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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A (re)fresh Start

After a painful hard drive crash in my laptop I finally extended my home network and added a dedicated server machine with a RAID5 disk array to minimize future data loss from hard drive failure. This also allowed me to finally separate the web serving duties from my gaming rig, but it caused a couple of days of downtime for my blog while I was juggling hardware and reassembling and reinstalling the machines. Now everything is done and up and running again. And I think the only people who noticed that the blog was down were probably the comment spammers anyway ;-)

I am running Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit on my file server and Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit on my gaming rig. While this might seem a bit reverse it makes sense for me, since my gaming rig is also used for software development and 3D rendering jobs, and it has 4 GB of RAM as opposed to the 2 GB my file server has. Also, it makes automatic processing of recorded TV shows on my file server easier, as I use the excellent and free DVR-MS Toolbox software to automatically detect commercials for me.

That is also the reason why I am running Windows Vista and not Windows Home Server on my file server, since Windows Home Server is lacking any Media Center functionality which is crucial for me since I am using my file server with my Xbox360 Media Center Extender to play back recorded (commercial-free) HDTV programs.

I called this blog post A fresh Start because I am also getting back to the roots of why I started blogging in the first place. After my first (surprisingly popular) posts about different Subtext configuration scenarios on Windows Vista and IIS7 I fell into the habit of rehashing news from other blogs without adding a lot of value to it. Back in March I wrote a blog post about Upcoming Articles, unfortunately none of which ever got written. The problem was that I wanted to produce more content then I had time for while trying to match (or excel) the quality level of people that get paid to blog all day long.

Now, 9 months later, some of the beta products I wanted to write about such as Windows Home Server and Visual Studio 2008 have been released as final products already, and I better leave it to people such as Paul Thurrott to review and write about them in a more timely manner. I have been working on some of the programming projects I announced back then, but with a full-time job and family & friends I simply haven't had the time yet to bring the results into a format that others can understand and use.

So I am taking a fresh stab at my blog by doing what I did in the beginning: When I hit a problem that I cannot find a solution for on Google and I manage to solve it, I will blog about it. Consider this my mission statement! I had such a case today with my latest blog post about Virtual Server on Vista. If I don't have anything to write about in a couple of months, then I won't talk about things you can find on any other blog already. Most people find my blog through keywords and Google anyway, which means I don't expect anyone to ever hit this post and actually read it :-) It is more of a reminder to myself and a marker in time in case I look back at some point in the future and wonder what I have been thinking about.

Enough said, see you when I solve the next problem!

posted @ Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1:34 AM | Feedback (10)
Configuring a separate Virtual Server Administration Web Site with IIS7 on Windows Vista

I installed the freely available Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Enterprise Edition on my Windows Vista machine today and noticed that the setup did not let me add the Administration Web Site for Virtual Server on a different web site than the default web site. Instead the only option was to have it added as a virtual directory to the default web site running on port 80. However, I expose the default web site to the outside world (as a matter of fact I run this blog off that machine), so I did not want to have the virtual directory for my Virtual Server exposed to the outside world as well. Since I couldn't find anything on Ben Armstrong's blog about this I decided to share my findings here.

So what does it take to configure IIS7 on Windows Vista to have the Virtual Server Administration Web Site in a separate web site and a different port? Follow these simple steps:

  1. First of all, make sure you are running one of the supported editions of Windows Vista. Basically the Starter and Home editions don't even let you install IIS7, and Home Premium does not support Windows Authentication, so only the Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions have the required features.
  2. Before installing Virtual Server, you need to enable the right options for IIS7 in Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> Turn Windows Features on or off. See this post on Ben Armstrong's blog for details on which options need to be installed.
  3. Execute the Virtual Server installer.
  4. Open the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from Administrative Tools.
  5. You will see that a virtual directory called VirtualServer has been added underneath your Default Web Site. Right-click on the parent folder of the Default Web Site called Web Sites and select Add Web Site...
  6. Fill in a name. I used Virtual Server, but you can pick any name you want. You can use the DefaultAppPool with the web site, or you can create a separate app pool if needed. However, since the Virtual Server web site is CGI and not ASP.NET, I believe it does not make much difference either way.
  7. The Physical Path should point to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Server\WebSite or whichever directory you installed Virtual Server into. Make sure it points to the WebSite subfolder.
  8. Pick a port other than 80, so that the web site cannot be accessed from the outside world. If you want to expose the web site to the outside world, you should still pick a port that cannot be easily guessed by a stranger for security purposes. Even if someone guesses the right port the web site will not be completely exposed, since Windows Authentication will require correct credentials to display the web site. By default, the Virtual Server setup will use port 1024 if it creates a separate web site automatically (presumably on a Windows Server 2003 system).
  9. If you are not exposing the web site to the outside world, simply enter localhost as the Host header, otherwise enter your desired Host header. If you want to access the administration web site from a different computer within your network, make sure to also add a second binding to the actual host name of the machine.
  10. Leave the Start web site immediately checkbox checked and click Ok.
  11. Now click on the web site you just created in the web sites tree so that the configuration icons for the web site appear in the IIS management console. You can ignore the ASP.NET configuration settings, since as I said before already this is not an ASP.NET application.
  12. Open the Authentication configuration settings and disable everything except Windows Authentication.
  13. In Handler Mappings, make sure CGI-exe is enabled. If it is not enabled, right-click on it and select Edit Handler Permissions, then check all permissions, in my case Execute was unchecked and needed to be checked.
  14. Done!
  15. Open a browser and test your configuration by navigating to http://<hostname>:<port>/. If you entered localhost in step 9 and for example port 1234 in step 8, the address would be http://localhost:1234/. The Virtual Server Administration Web Site should come up successfully.
  16. You can now remove the virtual directory that was created by the setup from your default web site.

 

Troubleshooting:

  • If you open the web site in your browser and it offers you the CGI application as a download, you did not enable CGI execution on the web site. Make sure you followed steps 2 and 13 above.
  • If the administration web site comes up but says "Could not connect to Virtual Server. Access Denied. Please contact Virtual Server administrator to set the required permissions to manage Virtual Server.", then you did not enable Windows Authentication. Make sure you followed steps 1 and 12 above.
  • If you get a HTTP 400 Bad Request error in your browser, you probably didn't set up the host header for the web site correctly. Make sure you followed step 9 above.
posted @ Tuesday, December 11, 2007 12:57 AM | Feedback (15)
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Welcome! This is the blog of a .NET software development enthusiast living in Silicon Valey, California, USA. The opinions posted here are my own and in no way represent the opinions of my employer or anybody else.