Building a SharePoint / PowerPivot 2010 Single Server Full Farm Virtual Sandbox

Posted on June 25, 2010 by

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With being up in the air and on the road more than not, having a portable SharePoint 2010 sandbox environment is a must for me.   The so called disconnected time on the other side of midnight is perfect for exploring SharePoint 2010’s integration with PowerPivot, Visio and Office 2010.  Over the past two days I found that building a single server SharePoint 2010 full farm is fraught with challenges masked in hours of reboots and frustration.  I was lucky enough to have our SharePoint Yoda, Shaun O’Callaghan (http://sharepointplace.blogspot.com), guide me when the dark side was strong.  Did I forget to mention an added layer of complexity arises when that single server is also your Domain Controller.

While this will not be the detailed story, being smart enough to let Shaun handle that in an upcoming post, I thought a few words of caution with the highlights or lowlights, it’s all about perspective, might be helpful.  I’ll start with a nod to Arsenio Hall’s thing that make you go hmmmm… Why is it that we need VMware to create a SharePoint 2010 virtual machine environment with no true Microsoft 64 bit virtual desktop options?

Simply put, do not even consider this if allocating a minimum of 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM to your virtual machine is just not possible.  Saying performance will be slow is a stretch as your CPU will be maxed out and computer unusable so save yourself the time and headaches.  If possible consider having your computer run under a 64 bit OS; mine machine is a Dell XT2 tablet with 5 GB RAM (I assigned 4 GB to the VM) running Windows 7 Ultimate – 64 bit with VMware Workstation version 7.1.

Building the Virtual Machine:

  • Start by building your virtual machine
    • Don’t be cheap here allocate a 100 Gb to the server hard drive
    • Also leave a few hours for this be created
    • Select Windows Server 2008 R2 64 bit, if possible, as your operating system
    • Windows Server 2008 R1 is also supported
    • Choose to install the operating system after the Virtual Machine is created

Installing the Operating System

  • Install your Windows server operating system
    • Once complete this will be a good time to run Windows Updates, trust it won’t be the last round of updates
    • Since this will soon be a Domain Controller you’ll need to make a registry change to “Disable the loopback check”
    • Assign your server the roll of Active Directory Domain Service
    • Set your Network adapter to have a static IP address and DNS Server
      • Remember to run ipconfig/all prior to the change and note your gateway, current IP address and DNS server settings.  Depending upon your network configuration you should be able to assign a static IP on the same range
    • Next run DC promo on the server
      • If you want to change the machine name, do it just before the DC promote
      • You’ll be required to reboot the server

Installing SharePoint

  • Start by installing all of the SharePoint prerequisite software
    • It is likely to fail on several of these installs, but don’t worry
    • Rerun the install a second time and those failed installs should now be successful
    • While not included on the CD, at some point, you will need to install Silverlight
      • SharePoint’s PowerPivot Gallery will not display without it
    • Being a Domain Controller SharePoint 2010’s Installation Wizard will not provide the option for a complete farm installation which is required for PowerPivot
      • To get around this copy config.xml from the CD’s Files/FarmSetup folder to your SharePoint server’s “C” drive
      • Open config.xml with Notepad
        • Enter your SharePoint license key in the PID Value line while removing the comment fields markers at the beginning and end of the line
        • Open the Command window and run the SharePoint install as follows:
          • setup.exe /config <full path to config.xml> e.g. Setup.exe /config C:\config.xml
          • Install SharePoint but DO NOT run the Configuration Wizard as the SQL Server 2008 R2 installation will handle this for you
          • If you forget and run the Configuration Wizard perform an uninstall of SharePoint and start all over again

Installing SQL Server 2008 R2

  • You’ll need SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise installed for Power Pivot
  • During installation, on the Server Role screen, select Analysis Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode option.  This is the second option on that screen. 
  • Be absolutely sure to choose “New Farm”.
  • Once complete you see two SQL 2008 programs groups, this is correct once from the initial SharePoint install the other from the SQL 2008 R2 install

Installing PowerPivot

  • Install Office 2010 or at a minimum Excel 2010
  • Download the Power Pivot add-in from http://www.powerpivot.com/download.aspx
  • Install PowerPivot, make sure it’s the 64 bit version
  • For good measure run Windows update one last time
  • You should now be ready to open your SharePoint site with PowerPivot Galleries
    • When you open Internet Explorer enter http://[servername] as the URL to access your SharePoint site’s home page
  • If you should get any unexpected site errors run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard form the SharePoint program group again

Without knowing a few of these little tweaks or simple sequence changes you’ll no doubt waste countless hours troubleshooting, uninstalling and reinstalling along the way.  In the likely event you don’t have Yoda nearby to help guide you I hope this helps.  Thank again Shaun… You can find Shaun O’Callaghan blogs at http://sharepointplace.blogspot.com and https://calvisblog.wordpress.com

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