Microsoft Web Application Installer
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October 23, 2008

Microsoft Web Application Installer

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The Microsoft Web Application Installer will allow you to quickly and easily deploy the most widely used web applications available for free to your Windows Server. If you have seen some of my other articles on installing the open source software out there on IIS, you will notice that while it can be done, it does take a bit of time and know how.

This this release, the IIS team has greatly decreased the amount of time and effort it will take to deploy these applications, which is a big step forward to a greater acceptance of IIS as a leading web server. As of this writing the Web Application Installer will work with the following open source programs:

  • DotNetNuke
  • Drupal
  • Gallery
  • Graffiti CMS
  • osCommerce
  • phpBB
  • WordPress

Those cover pretty much everything you might want to do on the web, except maybe a Wiki application.

Since I wrote an article on Installing WordPress for IIS7 before this application was released, I am going to go through the WordPress install to see how different it really is.

Install Microsoft Web Application Installer

First things first, we need to install the installer. For this demo I am using the same server I used for my article on Microsoft Web Platform Installer with no additional changes.

The requirements are similar to the Web Platform Installer:

  • IIS7
  • Windows Vista RTM, Windows Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 (works on both x86 & 64-bit versions)
  • Must have Administrator privileges
  • .NET 2.0 Framework
  • Internet Access

You can find the installer at the following web location:

http://www.microsoft.com/web/channel/products/WebApplicationInstaller.aspx

1. Go ahead and click the Install Now button.

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2. Click on Save for the file popup.

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3. I am going to use the default location to save the installer file, once you choose the location click on Save.

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4. After downloading you will see Download Complete, go ahead and click on Run.

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5. You will get a security warning now, go ahead and click Run one more time (Thanks for keeping us safe MS!)

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6. The welcome screen will nicely explain what the Web Application Installer does, which is mainly to make your life a little easier.

Once you read through everything, it asks you to agree to the license terms by clicking Agree.

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7. On the next page you will see the list of available applications to install and the location they are installing from.

As I mentioned before, I’m going to test the WordPress install since we can compare it to the article I wrote on doing it manually. Select WordPress and then click Next.

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8. Reality Check! Ok this installer application while helpful, will not do everything for you. You still need to install PHP on your system for this to work.

Luckily for you I wrote an article that covers just that; take a quick look at Install FastCGI & PHP on Server 2008 to install FastCGI & PHP.

When you’re done, come on back and we’ll continue!

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9. Ok, now that PHP is up and running, let’s move on and install MySQL. Again as luck would have it I have an article written on how to Install MySQL on IIS7 Server 2008.

Go ahead and follow that article and when you’re done come on back to continue with the installer.

10. Now that you have installed both PHP and MySQL let’s take a look at the installer again.

Click on the Recheck button and you should see now that most of the prerequisites have been taken care of, but there are still some showing in my installer.

I have double checked my PHP installation and found those extensions enabled, so I take it that this is just an error with the installer.

The Next button is now enabled so I am going to move forward with the install.

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11. Now we get to do some configuration for the site. For this demo I am going to use the default website, but you would also be able to create a new site from this page.

If you were creating a new site you can also specify host name and IP address/port on this page. Since we are using the default information just click on Next.

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12. On this screen we are going to do configuration for WordPress itself, such as creating the MySQL database.

You can leave the defaults in for most of the fields that are pre-filled, but if you want to use less obvious names you can easily change them also.

There are several passwords that have to be entered so be careful. They are as follows:

  • Database Admin ID/Password (what you used to install MySQL)
  • Database User Username/Password (what you want to use for the WordPress DB)
  • Admin User Password (what you want to use for the WordPress CMS password)

The rest of the information is self explanatory, fill it out to your own liking.

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13. You will see the application downloading and the status of the install while it is happening.

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14. The next screen will be the installation summary, you can use the following information on this screen to:

Download copy of the source file used to install
Click through to the installed site
Visit Application Gallery for more information on the default configuration
View the Installation Log

When done click Finish.

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15. Now if I go to the installed url I can see the default WordPress template and the demo post.

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As you can see it was fairly straightforward to use the web application installer and it’s obviously a time saver as well. While at the moment it’s good, I think it will still get better over time as the installer matures.

The majority of the open source apps require MySQL and PHP, so it is a tad annoying not having the ability to install these applications through either the Platform or Application installer. Hopefully this isn’t some kind of licensing issue, and can be incorporated at a later date.

The other drawback is the installer wouldn’t move forward without detecting a local MySQL installation, so if you use a remote DB server you won’t be able to push through this error. This is also hopefully something that can be addressed with future versions.

Even with these drawbacks I believe this is a step in the right direction for IIS7 to close the gap on Apache, as it embraces open source software.

About the Author

(MCTS, MCP, A+) has been working in the IT field since leaving the U.S. Army in 1996.  Working his way up from printer hardware repair to running a corporate datacenter for a multinational corporation, Dave has seen many environments throughout the years. Focusing on web sites and search engine optimization the last few years, with the release of Server 2008 it has renewed his passion for the Wintel platform and server technologies. David also runs Windows-Server-Training.com where he posts free videos and walk-throughs for a variety of server technologies. David currently works as a freelance technical consultant and writer for a variety of companies in the Chicago area.

Author's Website: http://www.DaveLawlor.com


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