Chapter 1: Install Moodle 2.0 on Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server Express and IIS

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Chapter 1 of the Moodle 2.0 in Microsoft Technologies book discusses why you might want to consider using Microsoft technologies instead of Linux, Apache and MySQL.

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Further into this chapter you are guided through the implementation of installing Moodle 2.0 on Windows Server 2008 R2 using PHP for Windows, IIS and SQL Server Express Edition.

Using SQL Server Express Edition keeps the cost on Moodle on a Microsoft environment to its lowest allowing you to implement the learning management tool for the cost of a Windows Server license.  SQL Server Express is free and can be downloaded from the Microsoft site.

If you are interested in this chapter it can be purchased with the rest of the ebook in PDF, epub and mobil version for the BFC Networks shop.

http://www.bfcnetworks.com/products-page/moodle/ebook-moodle-2-with-microsoft-technologies/

Who should know your Domain Administrator password at your School?

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One of my many passions is Microsoft technologies in the education sector.  This is one of the reasons why I decided to start my own business in implementing them into schools.  I love working in schools and guiding them in their implementations ensuring that they are getting a well managed network, implemented to best practice but also getting value for money.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to go through some of my best practises that I see in businesses that should be implemented in schools.

The first of these is the use of the administrator user.

Previously I have given all of my IT Pro team the username and password for the administrator but over the past few months I’ve wondered whether this was the right thing to do or not.  They would also have domain admin rights with their user so why would they need two domain admin users?

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Its not really a best practice for the domain administrator user password to be known by a whole group of people, all it takes is for one of those member of your team to accidently give out the password by a student looking over their shoulder or by a new member of the team writing it down as its a bit complex and forgetting the piece of paper ever exists.

Should anyone know the domain administrator password?  I think its a good question really but when implementing a network you shouldn’t really implement it using the domain administrator user.  Yes you will use it at first to implement Active Directory roles and supporting features but you should use different admin accounts to implement software such as Exchange and SharePoint and then have different user for their respected services to run.  This will be another blog post in the future but how do some medium and larger organisations conquer this issue?

Medium and larger companies are run completely different to schools.  This is mainly to do with budgets as a company with 1000 computers will have an IT budget of around £1 millions while a school with the same number of devices is around £100,000 (including staff costs).  30 staff to 3 staff are managed differently with a IT Director for the company with a lot of influence in the business while a Network Manager at a school can get told by the school senior leadership what the decision is and they have to make the system work according to that requirement.

In a business team of 30 staff there may be a set of many different teams, one for their internet/network connectivity, another for user management including all of Active Directory, another for email and another for document management.  If you were the IT Director for this company would you let every one of these have the domain administrator password?  Each of the teams would have permission to their respected software allowing them to only control what they are employed to do.

But in a school a Network Manager would control it completely different with each member of the team having access to everything so they can deal with the issue when required for that member of staff or student but do they actually require the administrator username to do this.  No not really.

Lets create a scenario that involves everyone knowing the admin user at a school.  One of your technical team has shutdown the MIS server during registration and now no form tutors can register their students which is a legal requirement.  The head teacher is on to you and they aren’t happy and want to know who it was who shutdown the server.  You check the event log to see who it was and it was the administrator.  You ask your team who it was and no one admits to doing it.  You’re now in a sticky situation that you have to tell the head teacher that you don’t know as you have a security issue with your network.  Can you prove that it isn’t a student who knows the password or maybe it was one of your team who actually went to log off and shut it down by mistake.  If each member of your team used their own username to connect to MIS server the event log will soon tell you what each of the users are doing.

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Yes you can perform other checks to find out who it maybe but there are also implementing a whole network under one username means your event log will be full of administrator created logs for all applications.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able filter by username for that application and help with security.

So what is the answer?  A user should have their own user account.  One that is for them to use as a normal user that is mapped to their email account and the folders they require permission to and another that is elevated and controlled to their requirements in a network.  Thanks to @benrobb for this input.

I hope this makes you think about who and how your use your domain administrator username.

Install Moodle 2 on Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server 2008 R2 and IIS

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Over the past year I have write a few how to whitepapers on implementing the open source product Moodle onto Microsoft Technologies.

In recent months Moodle 2 has been released and a new whitepapers is now available on how to install the product on:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • IIS 7.5
  • PHP 5.3.4
  • using Microsoft SQL Server drivers for PHP 2.0

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Here are other Moodle whitepapers available for download.

Implementing Moodle 1.9 on a Microsoft Highly Available Environment

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In this whitepaper you will be instructed on how to install a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Cluster, 2 Web Front End Servers running Moodle 1.9 which are network load balanced and the configuration to run Moodle from a remote storage area.

Following the 2 other whitepapers released back in April, I have written another based on how to install Moodle 1.9 on a Microsoft High Available Environment using Microsoft Cluster and load balancing services.

Microsoft have a set of products that are designed to stay online for the maximum amount of time they can by either having a standby servers or sharing the load with another server.

Microsoft Clustering allows for 1 server to be running the services, in this case SQL Server 2008 R2 and have a server on standby ready to pick up those services.  The network load balancing role in Windows Server 2008 R2 allows for multiple servers to share the load of the website running on this set of servers.

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Click here to download the document

If you are interested in reading on how to implement Moodle on a single Windows Server you can find more whitepapers here.

Implementing Moodle 1.9 on Windows Server 2008 x86

Implementing Moodle 1.9 on Windows Server 2008 R2 x64

Installing Moodle on Windows Server 2008 R2 x64, SQL, IIS

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Its been a few weeks since I released my first whitepaper on how to implement Moodle on Windows Server 2008 x86, SQL Server 2008 and IIS 7.0 (click here to download and click here to view blog post) and I have very pleased with the number of downloads it has already.

Today I’m releasing my second but is very similar to the last.  This new whitepaper will talk you through how to implement in a 64 bit operating system using, Windows Server 2008 R2 x64, SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2, x64 PHP and IIS 7.5.

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I hope you enjoy reading and implementing this in your organisation.

Installing Moodle on Windows Server, SQL, IIS

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Like me you might find implementing Moodle on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) a little tricky and I personally want it on Windows Server, SQL Server and IIS.

A Windows System can scale differently to anything like MySQL and you can manage it in a high availability environment with Microsoft SQL Clustering and Mirroring.

Here is a whitepaper that I have put together on how to installing Moodle 1.9 on Windows Server 2008 x86, PHP5, SQL Server 2008 and IIS.

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In the near future I will be releasing a whitepaper on how to install Moodle on Windows Server 2008 R2 which is a x64 bit system.

Windows Server 2008 TSApps WebPart for SharePoint

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Was looking through a few web pages and came across a document that will show you how to get the terminal server apps webpart for Windows 2008 into your SharePoint environment.

Problem is you have to have SharePoint on the same server as your TSapps on your Windows 2008 box.  Can't wait for someone to come up with the webpart to be on a remote SharePoint server.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/b/1/0/b106fc39-936c-4857-a6ea-3fb9d1f37063/Step_by_Step_Guide_to_Customizing_TS_Web_Access_by_Using_Windows_SharePoint_Services.doc

 

Introduction to the Microsoft Learning Gateway

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The Microsoft Learning Gateway (MLG) consists of many products from Microsoft from Windows Operating Systems to the Office System.  SharePoint is a product that is required to make up the MLG but other products that can be added, these are not necessary to make up your MLG.

What does Microsoft say on the Learning Gateway?
“The Learning Gateway from Microsoft is a solutions framework that helps improve education by integrating the tools you already use and putting them to work connecting people with the information and processes they need to teach and learn more effectively. “

It’s all about using Microsoft technology in teaching and learning.  How it is used depends on the school/college/university and the processes within the school.

What products does it include?
Well it could be any of the Microsoft products – it depends on how you use it in teaching and learning.  SharePoint is the main product as it can deliver content to the pupil through a web page but here is a possible list.  Learning Gateway Version 3 includes the below list but you can use previous versions as they can be integrated as well.

ú         Windows 2003 Server

o   All products are installed on the latest Windows Server technology

o   www.microsoft.com/windows2003/ 

ú         Active Directory

o   AD is used as the log on service for all users

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/directory/activedirectory/ 

ú         SQL Server 2005

o   The database server used for SharePoint, SharePoint Learning Kit as well as other products

o   www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/

ú         Exchange 2007

o   Email Service for all pupils/staff

o   www.microsoft.com/exchange

ú         Office Communications Server 2007

o   Instant messaging including voice and webcam services

o   office.microsoft.com/en-us/communicationsserver/

ú         SharePoint 2007

o   Main delivery point of content through a web page

o   www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/

ú         SharePoint Learning Kit

o   Microsofts Virtual Learning Environment solution

o   www.codeplex.com/slk

ú         Internet Accelerator and Security 2006

o   Firewall protection

o   www.microsoft.com/isa

ú         Microsoft Learning Gateway Web Parts/Templates for SharePoint 2007

o   www.codeplex.com/lg

Client Software 
You can use previous version but for full functionality for the above products you need.

ú         Windows XP/Vista

o   Client OS

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/

ú         Office 2007

o   Microsoft Office system including, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook (not necessary for Exchange 2007), Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Groove, OneNote.

ú         Internet Explorer 7.0

The extent of the Microsoft Learning Gateway is never ending.

I would like to blog somewhere else for the Microsoft Learning Gateway as it is more than just sharepoint.  Can anyone recommend anywhere?

You thoughts and views are always welcome.