Exchange is a pain

I’ve heard from alot of network admins that installing Exchange is one of the most difficult tasks to achieve, and they aren’t kidding!  Supposedly Exchange 2003 is much more flexible, but I’ve run into a few snags.

First off, there’s a major checklist you must do before you can even begin installing Exchange 2003.  Active Directory must be installed, so you have to go back and install all the pre-requisites for Active Directory, which also means you must install a DNS server.  Thankfully I was using Server 2003 and could dynamically make the server a DNS controller (otherwise I would have had to reinstall the server and define this role upon installation). 
Exchange automatically installs some virtual directories into IIS, but for security reasons IIS is not installed by default in 2K3.  IIS must be installed before installing Exchange.  So you have to install IIS, which by default also installs POP3 and SNMP (more on this later).
After returning to Exchange and getting all the prerequisites done, the installer informs me that I cannot install because I have a POP3 server running (which was installed when I installed IIS).  So I went into “define your server role” and removed the POP3 service, but there is no option to just remove POP3, it removes both POP3 and SNMP, so I did.
Returning to the Exchange installer, it informs me that I must have SNMP before I can begin installing Exchange!  wtf Going back to “configure your server” would add POP3 and SNMP at once, so I had to go into “Add/remove windows components”, go into IIS, and select SNMP BUT NOT POP3! 
Then the Exchange installer went on it’s merry happy way of installing for about an hour.  Everything cool, right? rolleyes
For me, the whole reason of installing Exchange is for web access to email.  The installer is SUPPOSED to add virtual directories to IIS to support this, but they are not there.  Researched on the internet for 2 days how to fix this with registry edits and even tried to create manually.  Come to find out Exchange will only install the virtual directories on website ID #1 and must be called “Default Web Site”.  Whenever I install IIS, it is good practice to rename your websites so you know what they are, so I did that before installing Exchange.
BAD MICROSOFT!!!!!!  mad How is a user supposed to know not to rename or move the “Default Web site”?  What if a user doesn’t want to integrate Exchange with the first website?  Making assumptions about what the user will do is bad software design.
So, the only way to get the “Default Web Site” back to ID 1 is to uninstall and reinstall IIS.  Then uninstall Exchange (which is a book in itself) and hope that Active Directory didn’t get screwed up in all of this.
Then reinstall IIS and Exchange.
There you have it.. the quick and easy guide to instalilng Exchange Server 2003.  Now how do I create mailboxes again?…
Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.