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SBS 2003 virtual machine licensing question


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Hi, after looking for a good MS forum for a while this one looks like it will be the best one. Hopefully someone can help me with this issue.

Where I work we have 1 licensed copy of SBS 2003 R2 installed on our domain server. On that server I was hoping to install a virtual machine of the same OS configured exactly the same way to test software, Windows Udpates, etc. in (about 2 weeks ago some Windows Updates FUBARed our server and we had to format/reinstall). Anyway, I'm using VirtualBox and installed SBS 2003 R2 using the same key that it is installed on the physical server with. When the activation wizard comes up it says it can't contact the licensing server as usual so I called and got the inhumanly long key but it says invalid. I would think that it is perfectly fine to run the same OS on the same computer twice...is this not the case?

Basically, do I have to buy another copy of SBS 2003 R2 to run on my virtual machine?

Thanks.

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According to the EULA, you can make a backup copy of the software, but you can't run them both at once.

So, I'd say yes, you need a second copy to be legal and keep it running.

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Well that just sucks.

Thanks for the reply. One more reason I really don't like MS products...

As far as I know, only Win 2003 Enterprise Ed comes with extra licenses for use in VMs (4). But it's not exactly cheap compared to SBS ($4000 vs like $500).

Windows isn't the cheapest thing to run on your servers (well, SBS isn't that bad really), but it's definitely easier to get SBS up and doing everything than configuring a Linux server to handle all the same tasks (Active Directory, Exchange, Network Shares, etc) for most mere mortals.

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It is true that it's easier to setup, but from my experience linux requires almost no maintenance whereas we are constantly doing maintenance on our Windows systems.

Nice avatar btw.

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It is true that it's easier to setup, but from my experience linux requires almost no maintenance whereas we are constantly doing maintenance on our Windows systems.

Sure, there is a bit less maintenance on the Linux servers, and the price is sure a lot nicer (0$ -- unless you want support, no CALs, free upgrades, etc).

But again, ease of setup is a major thing for most small shops. Any trained monkey can click next, whereas editing config files and such for samba/openldap/bind/sendmail/apache isn't quite as simple. It makes quite a difference for a lot of them, because most don't have an IT staff on hand 24/7, and often very limited access to any kind of Linux expert.

MS offers a simple to use product, that also has some extra or different features, like calendar sharing with outlook/exchange, and IIS if you need to run ASP.NET or ASP classic pages/apps.

Again, not the cheapest, but it gets the job done reasonably well for most small businesses.

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I can definitely understand that. We have about 30 employees here but I'm the full time in house IT staff and I have experience with a lot of areas of computing, especially Linux so we have that going I suppose. We have such a limited IT budget that it makes it very hard for me to run MS products here. The support fees are insane and the licensing is just so expensive. I really need to save my budget for the CAD software and for hardware upgrades.

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Normally I wouldn't suggest this (those that know me know why), but it might be better for you to consider looking into building up a domain via Samba and using cheap OTS components and PCs for most work. It will be a small problem if you need actual support (sometimes newsgroups aren't the fastest method), but if you're just the IT guy for the whole shop, this should be acceptable if you have management support. It will give you more freedom to do things at less cost, and building a VM environment on Xen or VMWare server should be cheaper too.

Unless you absolutely NEED something that SBS provides, with that kind of budgetary constraint and the need for you to do VM testing, Linux for most things is probably "the right tool" for you.

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Yeah, in this particular case, it might be a better solution for sure. You have the necessary knowledge of Linux in-house (shouldn't be a problem, unless your bosses consider you might quit some day -- then what?). With only 30 or so employees (and likely as many workstations), there's no need for a fancy AD tree, a NT-style samba domain would suffice for sure. And then unless you have special requirements for IIS already, Apache should do the job fine for a small site or intranet (if there is one) -- mysql if you need a basic lightweight DB. Bind/sendmail/samba could easily handle dns/mail/file shares too, and still have enough resources left to run squid and all that.

And much like cluberti said, you could even use VMs for all this, if you have reasonably powerful servers.

It might come in handy to keep a windows box around for things like WSUS though (although squid would still cache the downloads of the patches from Akamai's mirrors)

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We don't really need any of the features SBS has. We do have some applications that have to run on a Windows based system. The network license manager for Autodesk software, accounting software, etc. But these things could easily run from inside a VM. Windows is the only thing that any of the IT consultants around here know anything about. Thanks for the advice, hopefully we'll get something worked out.

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Good luck, and I wish you well. Hopefully you can get it worked out so that you can have your Windows VM(s) running for the Windows-based stuff, and migrate the other functions to Linux on cheap hardware. That should extend your budget :).

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From what I read... I recall seeing a portion of the agreement that says you CAN have an offline DR server without purchasing an additional license.

Essentially this DR server must be off, except in the case of updating and/or data transfer and testing of backups.

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