Upgrading From WSS 3.0 to Search Server Express

About a year ago, I wrote a couple of articles (here and here) that discuss the merits of using Search Server Express 2010 instead of SharePoint Foundation. It really boils down to the fact that you get more stuff, and it’s still free. As opportunities for Foundation arise, we have been installing SSE and our customers are quite pleased with the result.

I recently had the opportunity to perform an in place upgrade of a WSS 3.0 site that we had built a few years ago to Foundation, and I of course decided to use SSE instead. As it turns out, the upgrade wasn’t quite as straightforward as I had hoped.

Normally, when you perform an in place upgrade from WSS to Foundation, you first install the bits, and then run the Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard, which in turn detects the pre-existing WSS installation and offers to upgrade it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen with SSE. The Wizard only prompted for a new or existing Farm. 

The next step was to uninstall SSE, and to Install Foundation, once this was done, the Wizard did detect the existing installation, and properly upgraded the entire farm. Once this was done, I thought “why wait?” and I went ahead and laid down the bits for Search Server Express and then for Office Web Applications.

Everything seemed alright, but when I tried to start the services on the server, they simply weren’t there. It also wasn’t possible to create the corresponding Service Applications for either SSE or for the Office Web Applications. After much head pounding, I decided to uninstall everything, OWA, SSE, and Foundation (CAREFULLY as outlined here..), and then Install SSE alone, joining it to the Pre-existing farm.

Once that was done, everything showed up properly, and I was able to properly start the appropriate search services, and OWA services, and to create the appropriate service applications.

So as it turns out, order of operations is pretty important in this scenario. If you want to upgrade from WSS 3.0 to Search Server Express 2010 (using the in place upgrade approach), you’ll want to follow these steps:

  1. Install SharePoint Foundation 2010 on your server
  2. Run the Products Configuration Wizard, and perform the upgrade
  3. Uninstall SharePoint Foundation from the server, removing it from the farm
  4. Install Search Server Express 2010 on the Server
  5. Run the Products Configuration Wizard, and re-join the existing farm
  6. Test the site to ensure that it’s functional
  7. (optional) Install any appropriate Service Packs and/or hot fixes for SSE
  8. (optional) Run the Products Configuration Wizard to update the databases (if step 7 was performed)
  9. (optional) If desired, Install Office Web Applications, and any appropriate Service Packs for OWA
  10. Run the Products Configuration Wizard to complete the OWA installation
  11. Start all necessary services, create the necessary service applications (search is a big one….)
  12. Create a basic Search Center and configure your site collection to use it.

Hopefully this helps any other folks in the same situation.

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How to Index PDF Files with SharePoint Foundation 2010

SharePoint uses iFilters to index its files. Filters for most common file types are included out of the box with most versions of SharePoint. The big notable exception is an iFilter for PDF files. This is because Adobe won’t let Microsoft redistribute any of their code. It’s so bad that Microsoft can’t even include a PDF icon with SharePoint, you have to go out, download it, and set it up yourself. This has been true since the early days of SharePoint.

One of the things that you must do when you configure SharePoint to index PDF files is that you must tell the indexer that PDF is a valid file type. That’s easy enough to do from within the Shared Service Provider (for 2007) or the Search Service Application (for 2010), but the free versions of SharePoint, WSS and SharePoint Foundation don’t come with these tools.

It has always been possible to do this with WSS with a little bit of registry editing (and it’s supported by Microsoft), but that’s no longer true with SharePoint Foundation. That hack just doesn’t work with it. So what’s the answer? Well, as it turns out, the solution isn’t just adequate, it’s quite a bit better. The solution is to Install Search Server Express 2010.

Search Server Express is pretty simply a (only slightly) scaled back version of the Search Service applications that you get when you install SharePoint Server 2010. They are virtually the same architecturally and you get many of the features that you get with Server 2010. You also get a few other SharePoint Service applications, most notably, the Secure Store Service. And if you’re a Foundation user,it aligns up with your licensing agreement because it’s free.

So essentially,you get a much better search engine, with more capability for free. I can’t see a down side here. You don’t already need Foundation installed to install SSE, so in the future, whenever called upon to install SharePoint Foundation, I’ll be going straight to Search Server Express.