Thursday, January 7, 2016

Configuring a fresh/clean Windows Server for software installations

I frequently have to work on setting up Windows Server for either installation or development purposes, so I usually have to repeat a common set of steps over and over on all of the servers that I set up.  When I set up and configure my own servers or virtual machines, I have all of this scripted and imaged so that I can set up my environments within a matter of minutes, but I usually have to repeat these same steps on environments built by other companies/network administrators, so I do not always have the luxury of using my own set of images as a base configuration.

Therefore, I usually have to perform many of these steps manually.

Here are the common steps that I follow when setting up any Windows server environment for my development and installation purposes:

  1. If the server is an older server such as Windows Server 2008 R2, I will usually have to install .NET Framework v. 4.5.2 and Windows PowerShell v. 4.0
  2. In many cases, I have to go in and turn off Internet Explorer Enhanced Security so that I can download any additional software that I need.
  3. I usually need to test and verify connectivity to other servers, so I will usually install the Windows Server Feature for Telnet Client.
  4. I then proceed to install my most commonly used alternative browsers such as Google Chrome 64-bit and Mozilla Firefox 64-bit.
  5. On some Microsoft sites, I have problems downloading their software due to restrictions in providing a mix of secure and insecure content on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, so I install Opera browser as my backup in the event that one of these other browsers cannot download some Microsoft-specific content.
  6. I go into Windows Firewall and open any ports or allow any programs that I will need to use for my installation and development purposes such as for FTP, SMTP, SQL Server, Oracle etc.
  7. I run PowerShell an initial time to make sure that the ExecutionPolicy is set to either RemoteSigned or Unrestricted (Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned)
  8. I use the PowerShell ISE frequently, so I usually pin an instance of PowerShell ISE to my Windows Taskbar.  I also configure the PowerShell ISE properties to "Run as Administrator" by default.
  9. I usually use the Command Prompt very frequently as well, so I end up pinning that to the Windows Taskbar also and configure the properties to "Run as Administrator" just as I do with the PowerShell ISE.
  10. I like to have a backup PowerShell IDE available for my development other than PowerShell ISE, so I will also install Idera PowerShell Plus, pin it to my Windows Taskbar and set it to "Run as Administrator".  
  11. In the event I may have to install software from an ISO image, I usually install ISO mounting software such as Elaborate Bytes Virtual CloneDrive.
  12. More often than not, I also require an FTP client at some point in time, so I will usually install the FileZilla 64-bit FTP client.
  13. When I am doing some sort of installation or development, chances are that I will need to perform some types of file or folder comparisons at some point in time, so I will usually install a file comparison utility such as Scooter Software's Beyond Compare or Sourcegear's DiffMerge.
  14. Most instances of servers that I set up require either SQL Server or tools to manage SQL Server, so I will also usually install SQL Server Management Studio (at a minimum).  
  15. Most Windows servers I set up end being ASP.NET Web Servers, so I run a PowerShell script to install IIS and its associated features for ASP.NET.
  16. I am usually very dissatisfied with using Notepad as my text editor of choice, so I will also frequently install Notepad++.
Once I have all that in place, I am ready to begin my Windows server installations!

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