My first Microsoft Exchange experience

I feel dirty. I spent the last two days of this week setting up a Windows 2003/Exchange server. The company I work for runs almost entirely on Linux, the only exceptions being a few desktop machines1, but we also do some consulting and network administration for a few small businesses and their requirements are sometimes a bit different. We run Linux/Samba servers for most of them but this particular place, a local law firm, needs a Windows server due to some proprietary software they use. Thank god we’re not doing a full-blown Exchange server setup; they POP their mail from us normally and will only be using Exchange for outbound mail and calendars. That means they paid an arm and a leg for a Windows 2003 Small Business Server/Exchange license just for the calendars.

As I created all the necessary user accounts I realized that Windows still doesn’t seem to have any simple way to apply a certain home directory structure, environment, etc, to all new accounts. Think /etc/skel on a Unix system. The closest I could find was a “group policy” that I think can be used to apply certain restrictions, but it still doesn’t create the skeleton home directory. Not to mention that figuring out how to create a group policy for the environment stuff would have taken more time than manually applying the necessary settings to the 15 or so users one by one. So in the interest of saving time and preventing headaches, we’re doing it manually Monday morning.

1. I’ve already been told I can install whatever I want on mine, so I’ll be wiping Windows XP in favor of SuSE just as soon as I have a day that isn’t filled with a ton of other work I need to do.