SQL Server 2000 Administration in 15 Minutes a Week: Advanced Installations

May 17, 2002

Welcome to the third article in my series SQL Administration in 15 Minutes a week. Up to this point we have gone over the requirements for installing SQL Server and we have performed a basic installation. This week I will show you more advanced issues when installing SQL Server. The topics for this article include:

- Performing an Unattended Installation
- Remote Installations
- Types of Clusters
- Service Accounts

Performing an Unattended Installation

If you have ever deployed Windows 2000 in an environment with hundreds of systems you know about the benefits of performing Unattended Installations. Using a setup file, containing the installation parameters, you can automate the installation of Windows 2000. This same capability to automate an installation of Windows 2000 is available for SQL Server 2000. Using an Unattended Installation you can install the components needed for SQL Server, the Client Tools, or Connectivity Only. However, you can't use an Unattended Installation to perform tasks such as setting up Failover Clustering or Change the Optional Components that are already installed.

SQL Server uses a batch file (.BAT used to begin the installation) and an Installation Setup Initialization file (.ISS that contains the information needed during the installation) to perform the Unattended Installation. Both the Batch and the Installation Setup file can be edited with a simple text editor such as Notepad. SQL Server even provides you with sample Batch and Installation files that can be edited and used as needed. The example files can be located on the root directory of your SQL Server 2000 CD.

There are three ways to create an Installation Setup Initialization file:

- Use the file created after installing SQL Server 2000
- Use the SQL Server 2000 Setup program
- Create a file by hand or edit an existing file

The first way to create an .ISS file is to perform a normal installation of SQL Server 2000. Each time you install SQL Server 2000, setup automatically creates a setup.iss file located in the <SQL Program Files Directory>\Install folder. You can copy this file and then use it to install SQL Server on another system, back up the file in case you need to reinstall SQL Server, or use the file as a beginning template that can be edited by hand.

The second option available is to use the SQL Server Setup program to create an Installation Setup Initialization file for you without actually installing SQL Server. The process is very similar to installing SQL Server 2000, except the final stages of adding registry keys and copying files are skipped. To create your own .ISS file, start the SQL Server 2000 installation as you normally would on the local computer. When you are prompted to select an Installation Option choose "Advanced Options."

Once you have selected "Advanced Options" click Next.

The Advanced Options screen can be used to perform several different tasks:

- Record Unattended .ISS file: Allows you to record an Installation Setup file that can be used to perform an unattended Installation of SQL Server. We will take a closer look at this option shortly.

- Registry Rebuild: Allows you to recover your SQL Server installation if your registry becomes corrupted. You will need to provide setup with the installation options you chose when you originally installed SQL Server.

- Maintain a Virtual Server for Failover Clustering: Allows you to maintain your SQL Server 2000 clusters including adding and removing nodes from a cluster. Note that this option is grayed out because the computer I used does not have clustering enabled.

Select Record Unattended .ISS file" and click Next.

From this point on the setup process will proceed as normal. However, once you reach what would be the final step of a normal installation, copying files to your hard disk, setup will exit without installing SQL Server. You can then locate the .ISS file SQL Server 2000 setup has created in the SystemRoot (ex: C:\WINNT) folder on your hard drive. The file will be named setup.iss.

Page 2: More on Unattended Installations

 » See All Articles by Columnist Michael Aubert

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