Ramblings of a Home Server User

May 1, 2007

My Experiences with Longhorn Server Beta 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:00 am

I decided to take some time off from writing about Windows Home Server, and move over to my other project, the testing of Longhorn Server. I’ve been testing Longhorn Server since last summer, and have seen many changes come about in every build since Beta 2. I am really excited about Beta 3 of Longhorn Server, because it is now feature complete, and we can truly see what Longhorn Server will offer. After spending 5 days, 15 virtual machines, and 2 physical machines later, I feel ready to post about my experiences.

Setup:

So far, I am pleased with the overall quality and stability of Beta 3. Initial setup is very hassle-free, just install the OS, complete the Initial Configuration Tasks, restart your server, and you are ready to put your server to work in under 90 minutes. My only complaint about Beta 3 setup, which won’t matter come RTM, is that the product keys that you get from http://www.microsoft.com/getbeta3are only good for one activation, whereas my TechBeta keys are good for 5 activations. I would really like to see Microsoft fix this, as some testers may install on multiple machines, or in virtual machines like I have, and I know that MS wants people activating their installs for metrics and other reporting. I would hope they do this so that people don’t get 10 or 15 keys and then we run into a key shortage like we had with Vista RC1 key requests.

Overall Setup Score: 9.5 out of 10

Security: 

Beta 3 is more secure now by default. While it has always had the same security features as Windows Vista, they weren’t always on by default. But now in Beta 3, the Windows Firewall, and Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, a feature that is in Windows Server 2003, are now on for all users by default. I have noticed that the default behavior for the firewall is to block all ICMP ping requests, which inherently makes the server more secure due to the reduced attack surface. IE ESC, has not become less bothersome, in fact it is still quite annoying. The way that it works is that all websites are blocked. and in order to access a site you must add it to your trusted sites zone. This can be particularly annoying for server administrators who are using the server to download patches for software from software manufacturers’ websites and using this server as a central update server. They have to, by default, add the sites they want to visit into the trusted sites zone. I personally think that is somewhat annoying. But, on a happier note, IE ESC, has been improved and you can now enable it for just administrators, or just users, both, or disable it for both. My one big complaint that I know won’t be fixed is the fact that, by default, there is no administrator password on a new installation. I personally feel that there should be an administrator password set before logon. To me it would be more secure. A definite regression from Windows Server 2003.

Overall Security Score: 7 out of 10

Features:

Longhorn Server ships with an expanded set of features and roles, and overall I am pleased with the offerings. Other than the usual bugs that happen in beta when roles or features are installed, I have no major complaints.

Overall Features Score: 9.5 out of 10

I feel that Longhorn has made great progress, and I look forward to reviewing the final release when it ships later this year.

Overall Score for Beta 3: 8.6 out of 10

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