Ronny Lam

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Windows Server 2008 R2

Sometimes you gather knowledge you weren’t planning on learning. For me that happened this week. To create a “SaaS” solution for our software at NetYCE we needed a windows solution to provide RDP to students and researchers that use our solution. We thought of trying W2008 for that purpose, although we really don’t need the latest and greatest.

The last time I needed Windows Server was 2003 and that one really changed from the 2000 version. I don’t know the whole Server history, besides that this R2 we are trying is the second version of 2008 and I thought that there was nothing in between, other than a couple of service packs.

My feeling is that the gap I felt between 2000 and 2003 is almost the same as with 2003 and 2008, especially the R2 version. Some things really changed and maybe they are for a good thing. User- management has changed in the sense that there is not a simple way anymore to create a default user. You now need some xml-like scripting to accomplish that, which is not straightforward. I was only able to create a default user directory, but was not able to create a real default user that could be copied. I still had to apply group and all kind of policy settings by hand for every new user. Thank god it weren’t that many, but still, in my Unix-world it is a whole lot easier.

Other difficulties where with Windows-update. I still cannot understand that I see failed updates in the log and that Windows-update is not complaining about it. Everything seems fine with a big green check-mark. Another thing is licensing. I cannot get my head around the licensing model especially in combination with RDP. Microsoft is totally not clear about that and the only way to know is to request a quote. Thank God getting a trial-license was very easy, just a click of a button, but I am really not sure that we should continue this. In my humble opinion the total package is to bloat and really not easy to manage. From a Unix perspective this Server-like thing is light- years behind something manageable and I suspect way too expensive.