Here’s the dilemma: I’ve just purchased a new HP Smartbuy server with Microsoft Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 pre-installed. The server’s ultimate destination will be as part of an already complex network and there’s really no need to run the Exchange 2007 or Domain Controller portions of the server, so what’s one to do?
The ideal situation would be to have the SBS 2008 server act like a domain member, which is not exactly what SBS 2008 was intended to do, but theoretically it’s possible. So there’s a couple of options:
Option 1 – say fuggedaboutit, erase and install Windows Server 2008 on the new server.
Option 2 – save a bunch of time and play Jedi Mind Tricks on the SBS 2008 install and make it act like a normal server instead of this big behemoth of software that I’ll never use.
Sure, I’ve heard that you can manually uninstall everything after you’re set up, but are you truly ahead of the game if you do that? Might as well go for option 1, then!
Well, I like a challenge and didn’t see any procedure for this documented on the web, so I decided to opt for the second (more nutso) option. Why not? I have all the requisite licenses for both SBS 2008 as well as for Windows Server 2008, so I should be golden from a compliance standpoint, right?
So here’s how I did it:
When installing SBS 2008 you are forced to go through a setup procedure where you define items like domain name, computer name, timezone, etc.
You’re at a crossroads here. If you cancel this process, the computer shuts down and ultimately you have to re-initiate this process again. If you go through the motions, you then have a server that promotes itself to a domain controller and installs a ton of software that you may or may not need.
At this point I decided to hit control-alt-escape and brought up the task manager. From there, I opened up the registry editor (regedit) and edited the default shell registry entry (this is the same registry entry some nasty viruses use to take over a computer) to be c:\windows\explorer.exe as it is in most other normal Windows Machines.
The exact registry entry was:
With the registry entry originally being:
C:\Program Files\Windows Small Business Server\Bin\WSSGShell.exe
After that and a log off/log on, the server acted like a normal Windows 2008 server with a few extra components installed. DHCP Server, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Network Policy and Access Services roles were subsequently uninstalled and I set the computer to acquire it’s own IP address.
I was able to add the server to my domain and set it up as the intended test server I needed.
The server says that Exchange 2007 is installed but no services are installed at this point and I’m sure it’s un-installable if required. Voila! I probably saved myself a couple of hours.