It's simple when you know how

Imagine that you're cruising along happily in your Microsoft universe, when a customer asks you to install Lotus Domino Server for a groupware system. You try in vain to convince the customer to use Microsoft Exchange Server but must finally give in. Then you set out to research installing and administering Domino. You head to the computer store, which has every book imaginable about Microsoft products, but little about Domino. When you do find something, it's about Domino development--not installation and administration. Not having the time or money for official training, you simply install Domino several times until you think you have it right.

This scenario isn't a fantasy--it happened to me. The good news is that the story has a happy ending: Installing and using Domino isn't difficult. Domino might look different from anything you've used, but that's because of the product's multiplatform roots. Now that IBM is pushing Domino to replace cc:Mail sites, in the near future you might frequently hear requests like the one I received.

After my initial adventure installing Domino, I became a Certified Lotus Professional (CLP) in Lotus Notes, and I now know the right way to perform this installation. In this article, I'll share my experience to show you the preferred way to install Domino using Windows NT Server as a platform. You can also install Domino on NT Workstation, Windows 95, OS/400, and other platforms. The easiest way to integrate these systems is to install an NT server that's dedicated to running Notes. I'll show you how to install NT Server to serve as a platform for Domino, then I'll walk you through the Domino installation process. Finally, I'll discuss installing the Lotus Notes client. (I assume you will install only one Domino server. If your organization requires multiple servers, you need to hire a CLP to perform your installation. Multiple sites greatly increase the complexity of the Domino installation.)

Installing the NT Server Platform
Installing NT Server as a platform for Domino requires the same NT installation you've performed many times before, but with a few minor modifications and considerations. Primarily, you need to ensure that you install the correct protocols to match the network the system will run on. If that network uses TCP/IP and you can use a dedicated server, the best protocol to use is pure TCP/IP. If the network is a Novell network using IPX/SPX only, you might want to install both TCP/IP and NWLink IPX/SPX to accommodate future growth.

Integration with other server systems needs to be minimal. The best approach is to install the NT system as a standalone server that's not part of any existing domain, and don't use trusts. The server needs to be as secure as possible, so that a port scan will recognize it only as a Domino server. It's not necessary to set up user accounts other than what is necessary to administer the system. Domino will take care of everything else.

The NT server will use Domino's Web Services, so don't install Internet Information Server (IIS). If you've already installed IIS, you can change the port IIS uses from port 80 to a port such as 8080. This configuration lets you continue to run Web-based administration tools for NT Server if necessary, and not conflict with Domino's Web server.

After you complete the NT Server installation, you need to choose a name for the Domino server. This name should not be the same name you've given the NT server on a TCP/IP system, because if you must subsequently move Domino to another machine, you need to change the server name in Domain Name System (DNS). If you install Domino on an IPX/SPX network, you need to use the same name for the NT server as you use for the Domino server. For an example installation, I've chosen a domain name of vf.net, a host name for the NT server as winnt1, and notes1 as the name of the Domino server.

You might be in a situation in which you must use the NT server for applications other than Domino. That situation is not as much a technical problem as it is a management concern. I believe that any major service should have its own server. If you give intensive processes their own servers, they'll be less likely to interfere with file and print services, which can be mission-critical to some enterprises. Also, if you must perform maintenance such as adding memory to a Domino server, you won't have to take down an entire site. Finally, the lighter the load a server carries, the less likely the server is to crash, all other things being equal.

If you use DNS or Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) for your TCP/IP network, you need to reconfigure them. For DNS, add a host (A) record of domino1 to the Domino server's IP address, and a mail exchange (MX) record pointing to notes1. If the IP address of the Domino server changes, all you need do is change the host record to point to the new system. For WINS, you can create a static unique mapping for domino1 to its IP address. You can now ping the server machine from a client machine.

Your NT server is ready to become a Domino server. Let's install version 4.6a of the Domino software, which is the most current release available.

Installing Domino Server
Let's walk through the Domino Server installation, and I'll explain the options I choose. When you begin installing the software, the installation program prompts you to choose installation options. I always go to the Customize feature, which Screen 1 shows. You can select your installation directories now. When I install NT Server, I partition the drive space in a C drive for processes and applications, and I place all the data on a D drive. Doing so makes for easier data backup. I install the Domino program files in the c:\notes directory and put the data directory in d:\notedata. When I run backups, I might run a backup only on the total D drive. Continue with the installation, which will complete by copying the necessary files.

To begin configuring the server, start the Domino administration program. The first screen in the program will ask whether this is the first Domino Server in your organization. Select First Server. The next option is to choose the Quick and Easy or the Advanced Setup option. Choose Advanced Setup to verify that all settings match what your network requires.

The Server Audience screen in Advanced Setup gives you several options for user connections, as Screen 2, page 144, shows. You can allow HTTP, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and other protocols. Select those options you want to give your users access to. (Server Audience is one reason why it's best not to install other services on the NT Server--you would duplicate many of those services in this option.)

The final set of options in Advanced Setup, Administration Settings, provides details about your installation, as Screen 3, page 144, shows. First, the Organization Identity calls for your Organization Name, or company name; Domain Name, which is your Internet domain name; and Certifier Name, which, again, is your company name. When you provide your company name, shorter is better. For example, a company named Cooper, Smith, Jones & Company can be shortened to CSJ&C. The Certifier Password must be a password that your Notes administrator can remember and use.

In the next set of options on the Administration Settings list, New Server Identity, you set the server's name. This name in my example is notes1.vf.net. The Administrator's Identity options pertain to the network or Notes administrator. This password must also be easy to memorize.

In the Network Options list, you can customize and use only TCP/IP through the Port Setup dialog box, as Screen 4 shows. You will need to turn off NetBIOS over IP, and possibly change the TCP/IP name in the Net Address column to match your Domino server name if that name is not already displayed.

The final set of settings options in the Administration Settings list pertains to remote access to Domino. If you will be using these settings, I suggest finding a CLP who can work with you on configuring them. (They are too complicated to explain here.) You can configure these settings after the rest of the installation is complete.

Click Finish to create the server files, and select Exit to Workspace to enter Administration Panel. In this interface, you can complete most of your Notes administration work. (You enter Administration Panel from the Notes desktop by clicking File and selecting Tools, Server Administration.) Now you can configure Domino to work as an NT service. In the c:\notes directory, run the executable file ntsvinst-c. Let this file complete, then click Control Panel, select Services, and make sure Domino Server is configured to start automatically by clicking Lotus Domino Server, then Startup. Under Startup Type, select Automatic.

Next, enable a process called Shared Mail. This process conserves space on the server by saving carbon-copied messages in a central location, rather than in each person's mailbox. Edit the notes.ini file in the system root directory (c:\winnt) by adding the line

Shared_Mail=1

at the end of the file. Save and exit.

Now you can start the Domino service from the Services icon in Control Panel. Select Lotus Domino Service and click Start. The Domino interface will appear, from which you can see status messages on the server (e.g., you can watch users connect or mail being routed). Your Domino Server is now installed, and it's time to add your users.

Return to Administration Panel, from which you will register individual users. You must repeat the following registration process for each user. Click the people icon, and select Register Person. A prompt will ask for verification that you have licensing and then will ask for the Certifier Password you entered in Administration Settings. After you enter the password, you see the Register Person dialog box, which Screen 5 shows. Leave the options in this dialog box at their defaults.

The option Add NT User Account(s) is tempting; however, choosing this option will not let you add new users to groups or create home directories. Click Continue to bring up the Register Person screen. Most of the settings on this screen are self-explanatory, such as First Name, Last Name, and Password. Make sure to configure Set Internet Password if you'll be using Internet connectivity for this system. You can ignore the profile choice. License Type asks whether the user has a normal Notes license or a Notes desktop license (the Notes desktop license is cheaper but doesn't let the client assign databases). You can leave the Mail menu at the default. Enter the location where you will store the user ID file, and leave the rest of the options blank.

Storing user IDs securely is important. You can put user IDs in the Name and Address Book, which is the central database in Notes. The Name and Address Book contains most of the server configuration information and stores information for every user in person documents. The client downloads its user ID and removes the user.id file from the server. The user.id file then exists only where the client places it. You can configure the client to save the user.id file in the user's home directory, which will let you recover the file, if necessary, from a tape backup. A better option, however, is to save the user.id file on a disk that you store securely. (You can fit many users on one disk.) Keeping user IDs on a separate disk lets you easily access all your user IDs. If users forget their password, you can copy their user.id file to their h:\notes\data directory, and they'll be back in business with the password you originally set up for them. Your best option is to keep user IDs in the Name and Address Book and on separate disks. That way, you can secure a disk with all user IDs, and you can easily reinstall clients from the Name and Address Book.

After you've completed the options in the Register Person screen, click Register to create the user's ID file and mail file. Now you can add the user to the Name and Address Book. If you choose to store the user's ID file in the Name and Address Book, the ID will automatically attach to the user's person document. You can also write the ID file to a disk. After you've registered all your users, you can install the Lotus Notes client program on their desktops.

Installing the Notes Client
I prefer to install the Lotus Notes client in a read-only applications directory as a server-based install. I then install the client components in the user's home directory on the server. This way, the server's tape drive will back up important data such as the desktop and user's ID file.

On the network's file server, either use the current applications share or create a new applications share specifically for the Notes client software. From a workstation, run the client installation as a server-based installation. The installation directory is not the same directory you installed Domino on but an applications share users can map to. You can perform the client-based installation from a workstation and map an applications share--for example, M:--and then install to M:/notes.

The client installation options screen is similar to the server installation screen. Select the Notes Workstation option. Additional Dictionaries (these are international dictionaries) is optional. You will need the Personal Data Files but not Notes Modems, because your clients will be server-based. Install Notes Designer ToolBox and associated files on the workstations of users who work on Domino development. The Help files are optional, because they'll be on the server. You might want to install Java support.

When you start the Notes client for the first time on a workstation, the first screen will ask what kind of server to attach to. Specify the Domino server. Then you must supply the connection type, which will be LAN. If you've chosen to keep user ID files on a disk but not in the Name and Address Book, you need to give the password for the user at the prompt. The program will then show you the user's name and prompt you for the home server's name and the network type. The home server is the name of the Domino server. Choose TCP/IP for the network type (unless you have an IPX/SPX-only network, in which case you will choose NetBIOS). Click OK, and the program will create the default icons for the program address books and mailbox file and ask you for the time zone. Your Lotus Notes client installation is complete.

After you've completed the client installation and users are mapping to the new share as necessary, each user can run the workstation installation. To do so, users run the workstation installation program from the applications share and install the data directory onto their home directory. The workstation installation program installs a few files to h:\notes\data (assuming H: is the home directory) and also creates a notes.ini file in the c:\windows directory. The program then exits. If you need to let several people use one computer, you must move the notes.ini file into the h:\notes directory. Then adjust the properties on the Lotus Notes Properties dialog box Shortcut tab so Notes starts in h:\notes\, as Screen 6 shows.

Finishing Touches
I like to make a few default changes to the desktop. For example, if you click on an open space on the desktop, you can turn off Server Names (you have only one server) and turn on Unread Messages, which will show you how many unread messages are in each database. You can also add a few default databases such as the Database Catalog and the Notes Help file.

Your users can now use Lotus Notes. You can now hire a Lotus Notes developer to create true groupware applications so your company gets the most from its new investment.