windows server 2003 workstation

WinserverAs I noted in my downtime post, I’m running some seriously old hardware for serving up this site, as well as other sites and Exchange email. My friend Keith builds great machines and I’ve picked up a new workstation from him, ~6 months old. 3.4 Ghz P4 on an Intel mobo and super-quiet. This will allow me to bump my previous workstation — another Keith built box — down the line to run the server duties.

Step 1) Build up new machine for workstation duties, including software and settings.

  • Added RAM to total 2 GB PC 3200 from Kingston
  • Added two 10,000 rpm SATA Raptor drives — they spin quietly, but make a good SCSI style racket when being accessed that I don’t mind much.
  • I needed to be able to run the console at home, but enable a remote desktop session to run simultaneously. There are hacks out there for doing this on XP, multiple RD sessions were part of early SP2 builds, but they took it out in the final build. The hack is basically to take the termsrv.dll from the pre-release SP2 build and load it along with some registry changes. I got this working in a dummy Virtual PC image, but it threw some errors and seemed especially risky when combined with the fact the machine needs to be on a domain.
  • I decided to go with Windows 2003 Server (thanks MSDN Universal subscription) for the workstation. I followed half of the advice on this “convert your Windows Server 2003 to a workstation!” page. Using their methods you can get XP style themes working, DirectX, all the goodies. However, the challenge doesn’t end there. I had to get special versions of some drivers and products as well as trick others into installing. Needed a server version of Diskeeper. My preferred corporate Etrust antivirus software worked fine, but many desktop ones don’t. Needed to install Intellimouse 5.0 for the side-scrolling mouse even though mine is only vertical (just disable horizontal scroll). The big hint here is to right click the installer of a program that gives you a “requires windows xp” and choose compatibility mode for XP. My M-Audio Delta DIO audio card needed that trick. I had to track down specialized versions of TweakUI and the ever-useful XP Image Resizer. Link to hacked Image Resizer 
  • I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

Step 2) Convert old workstation to Virtual PC image.

  • I will follow up with how I’m doing this. In progress..

Step 3) Reconfigure old workstation as new server

  • Install RAM to 1.5 GB total.
  • Reconfigure SATA Raid 0 (stripe) as Raid 1 (mirror)
  • Install VMWare or MS Virtual Server 2005

Step 4) Migrate Virtual Servers to new hardware

Step 5) Decommission old server hardware. Give to Goodwill?



  1. exerciselogic access set point alpha-bravo. Blog access from last western hemisphere communist nation terminated. Future travel in US Territories suspended.

  2. I read your blog quite a bit and for the most part I find them quite good, but every once in a while you seriously geek out and make me scared…this was definitely one of those moments….


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