Monday, July 14, 2008

Foundations: It's easier than you think

I am continually surprised by the simplicity of working with Lotus Foundations Server. More often than not I find that any technical roadblocks are caused by my instinctive reaction to look for a complex Unix-like solution when in reality LFS has already done most of the work for me.

I've already commented on how Foundations automatically sets itself up as an internet gateway and firewall. All you need is a server with two network cards. You plug a connection to your internal hub into one socket (eth0) and plug your ISP-facing network cable into the other socket (eth1) then assign an IP address to your server and select the option to enable DHCP. Total time taken is less than a minute.

I had a similar issue trying to find a way to see the directory structure of the server. A colleague and I wasted an hour stuffing around with Unix-type 'ls' commands in 'telnet' and 'ftp' sessions before we realised that the whole server structure was visible in Windows Explorer. It was embarassingly easy to change the 'Windows Workgroup/Domain' setting under 'File Server' to match the existing workgroup setting on our network. That should have taken less than a minute also if only we hadn't convinced ourselves in advance that the answer couldn't be that easy.

A third issue is that when LFS is first installed the server generates a quasi-random name for itself (eg 'aadvark' or 'eggplant') along with a security certificate for that name. I've naturally changed that name to a more meaningful identifier with WebConfig - let's pretend it's 'Server01' - but of course the original security certificate still thinks it applies to a server named 'aadvark'. So if I try and access my email using Domino Web Access then I create a security error since the 'aadvark' certificate is being applied to the 'Server01' installation. This time life is a bit easier since LFS pops up a dialog box asking if I would like to create an exception so that Server01 at can use the 'aadvark' certificate. I click on 'Yes' and (providing I have enabled my email servers to accept internet connections) I am now happily working with email provided by Domino Web Access.

My current problem is trying to get the IBM Business Partner logo to appear on my web site using the "< img src=name_of_file.gif />" command in the index.php file. I'm sure that when I find the answer I'll realise that I had mentally made the problem more complex than it actually was.

Lotus Foundations: It's easier than you think.

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