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At this point, you should have a snapshot of the base OS with the .NET frameworks and Office 2007 on board. Now we will create a linked clone in the Snapshot Manager and install the development tools. Tip: pick short, meaningful names for your VM instances so that you can make them out at a glance when you open Snapshot Manager. My layout has one more instance than the version described here, but it doesn't really matter. The main factors affecting performance are the external disk speed and available RAM. Note that some of the extensions need MOSS/WSS installed first, so that's why these installs are in a certain order.

Start by installing VS 2005. I'm using the standard version. Professsional is needed for Office development. The goal here is to be able to sit down at home and start developing. Even WSS on its own, which comes free with Windows Server 2003, is perfect to start coding against.

Snapshot Manager

When you have VS 2005 installed, download and install SP1 on its own. It's 431 MB and you may encounter error messages on Windows Server when you try to install it. Download a fix for the SP1 installation here. Note: I tried to install this using an ISO image on CD and had to right-click the icon first, select properties and then install the security certificate. Then apply the fix linked to above. This worked for me after much hassle; try to avoid the registry hack, more information here. Reboot, and install SP1: leave it run its course and do not be tempted to interrupt the install. If it's still running after a week, you can email me ;-)

At this stage, you should make a shortlist of the developer tools you normally work with, and install these also. Perhaps, the Firefox and IE7 developer toolbars, Notepad2, Reflector, etc.

Next, install SQL Server 2005. As with the other installs, you can install directly onto the VM using an ISO image. When in doubt, opt to install everything. Choose the Default Instance and Built-In System Account option. Select Local System from the drop-down list. Choose Windows Authentication Mode and select defaults for everything else. Re-boot if prompted, then run the updates. Download and install whatever is suggested.

SQL Server 2005

The next and final installment will see the installation of MOSS and the remaining extensions, including some things to look out for if you are trying to do this in a team environment...

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Strategy:

We are going to set up our virtual machine using a modular, layered approach. First, we will create a base virtual machine using VMWare Workstation, which will contain the Windows Server 2003 operating system as a snapshot. Refer to the diagram below for an overview of the VM:

Overview of VM

Getting Hands Dirty:

Download the VMWare and install Windows Server 2003 before moving on. When setting up the VM, opt for NAT networking; this way, it will use your host machine to connect to the Internet. Make it 40GB and choose to set the size in advance. When installing the OS, create it on a single, 30GB partition. Remember to run Windows Updates after installing the OS; ditto for the .NET 2.0 and 3.0 frameworks. After the OS is installed, you must install the VMWare tools before activation of Windows. You will be prompted to adjust your hardware acceleration. You will need to disable browser Internet security: Add/Remove Programs, Add/Remove Windows Components, scroll down and uncheck it.

Refer to Keith Patton's great blog post for this and other details of setting up ASP.NET, SMTP, etc. Take note of some of the other performance tweaks to be made! I used Keith's step-by-step guide throughout. Also, the only other time I attempted this setup was with Virtual PC. So, this was my first time using VMWare and it was pretty painless. Here's what the VM Manager looks like:

VM Manager

Finally, you can install Office 2007 and run the updates. Take a snapshot of this before moving on so that we can roll back if need be; the original can be a base for future installations. Next, we will create two linked clone snapshots based on this fixed clone. One will contain our development tools and database; the other will contain a complete installation of MOSS and the various extensions. When we start up our virtual machine, it essentially treats all three snapshots in the hierarchy as one physical VM. After you have ASP.NET 2.0, Email and IIS configured, defrag your external drive containing the VM three times and run vOptimizer on the VM. Then defrag your host machine.

In the next installment, I will show you how to set up Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. I will also show you how to work around a common error when attempting to install the very large SP1 for VS 2005... Rock on!

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I wrote recently of being tasked with the setting up of a SharePoint Development Environment (henceforth known as an SDE). Please refer to that blog post for some good links on this topic by other bloggers. I make no claim to expertise in this area since not even the experts can agree ;-) However, I did manage to successfully create my own SDE over the weekend and I am near to completing my original task of creating a VM that can be distributed among a team of developers and joined to a domain.

Microsoft recommends developing locally using virtual machines. For SharePoint development, one has to develop on the Windows Server O/S. The only practical way to do this locally is to install Windows Server 2003 on a virtual machine. This allows the developer to work independently and compile, test and debug as normal.

Shopping List:

  * Plentiful Dry Martini and Olives
  * Cheap External Drive - USB 2.0
  * Free Windows Server 2003 Standard SP1
  * Free trial - VMWare Workstation 6
  * Free trial - vOptimizer
  * Free 6 Month Trial - Visual Studio 2005 Standard (Professional for Office work)
  * Free 6 Month Trial - SQL Server 2005 (Express won't cut it)
  * Free Trial - Office 2007
  * Free Trial - SharePoint Designer (FrontPage on steroids - put it on your host PC)

I chose VMWare because it is much faster that Virtual PC and has a much better interface. Although it costs $189, I plan on purchasing my own copy to play around with Orcas, Silverlight, etc. We need our toys. If you have an MSDN subscription, then you're laughing. If not, then follow my budget download list above (ok, leave out the Martini). The list above is intended for the developer learning the SharePoint object model on a standalone machine. The MOSS install will be the "Complete" option; that is to say that everything will be part of a small virtual farm with a full version of SQL Server 2005.

I have slipped, stumbled and fell many times trying to piece this mish-mash of a development platform together. Over the coming posts I will try to highlight the steps I took to create a champagne VM on a beer budget and some of the pitfalls I encountered along the way. The next post will outline the VM strategy. Stay tuned!

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