WFE vs. Complete installation

Today I had a really interesting (and horrible but useful) experience. One of our customers has installed a brand new MOSS 2007 Enterprise farm with one server (and one other for SQL 2005), and my task was to migrate some content databases to here from another MOSS 2007 Enterprise. It seemed to be really simple, but… Oh yes, the mythical BUT!…

So, the content database was ready, new web application created, content DB attached, everything seemed well and good. Ok, the contents are ready, let's setup some custom features and set the basic MOSS features, for example search. Pretty easy, isn't it? Yes, it's not too complicated: just go to the Central Administration, open the Operations tab and choose Services on Server option -  and start the WSS Search Service, and the Office Server Search Service.

Oooops! We didn't have the second one. It was not exist in the list! Moreover, the Server roles list was disabled. Because of that, I couldn't create any SSP because it's impossible without Index server in the farm. Oh my god, what the hell can be that?…

 

I was searching and searching (unfortunately not on that new MOSS server :P ), and found nothing. I've run STSADM -osearch, but got a "No Search Service" message. I was almost crying.

My tip was that something went wrong in the operating system or in the database (yes, I'm paranoid since the .NET framework 3.5 SP1 issue…). But I was not able to found what was it. I was almost screeming – but instead that I asked my friends Bob and Paul to help me. They advised me to look after if the customer's IT guy has installed the MOSS Farm in Web Front-End (WFE) or Complete mode.

In the trace log I've found the install story and the following entry: "Setting server role to WFE."

I was screaming. The WFE installation doesn't support Indexing service on the server.

Uninstall everything, and reinstall in Complete mode, with SP1, Language Pack and everything. And yes, the Office SharePoint Server Search service was in the list and was able to be started. And of course, the Server role list was enabled, as I wanted.

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So the conclusions: it's too easy to make a wrong choice during SharePoint installation. So be careful which option you're choosing, because after a wrong decision you have to be faced too much sucks. Basically, first of all install a Complete server, after that you can add some WFEs for that, but never do a single WFE without other servers in the farm!

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