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SQL Server 2008: First Impressions

  • August 13, 2008
  • By William R. Vaughn
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After the nine-hour download of the real SQL Server 2008 RTM from MSDN completed, I began the task of getting it installed on my new development system. It's an Intel Quad Core Duo with (only) 4GB of RAM, so you'll get an idea about how fast it is in comparison to yours when I start talking about timings.

I was initially surprised to find that the setup paradigm you've grown accustomed to in SQL Server 2000 and 2005 has been replaced (again). It's too early to pass judgment, but I can say that it's different but intuitive. However, before I got to the first SQL Server setup dialog, I found that the installation script wanted to install version 3.5 SP1 of the .NET Framework. This might already be in place if you have installed Visual Studio 2008 SP1. As you'll see later, it's a great idea to update Visual Studio before you install SQL Server 2008—it won't install if Visual Studio is not at SP1.

I started the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 install and noticed that it said it was "downloading." I found this a bit distressing because I did not want to spend the next 30 minutes waiting for another download. Thankfully, the folks on campus tell me that that dialog is "incorrect;" it's not really downloading. Well, after 20 minutes of not downloading, the upgrade to the Framework was installed but then setup wanted to install version 4.5 of the Windows Installer (KB942288). Five minutes later, it was installed and I rebooted. This "benign" update pooched my video configuration and after several minutes of futzing around, I got it reset. Not an auspicious beginning.

Running Setup

Once SQL Server 2008 was installed (it took about 45 minutes to install), it said I needed to reboot but did not use the expected reboot dialog or reminder that Vista shows when a reboot is required.

I'm not going to focus this article on the new setup routines because they are mostly intuitive. Just note that you'll need to provide correct accounts for each of the services you install. Note that although SQL Server Reporting Services is included in the RTM drop, the Report Builder is not. You'll also find that none of the Express SKUs are there either. They're due out later this year.

Configuring the Server

I first looked for the tried and true SQL Server Surface Area Configuration Tool but discovered that it's been deprecated. I expect that many of us will miss it. Again, the folks on campus suggested that I learn how the new Policy Management paradigm works. Ah, I don't expect to be comfortable with that entirely new approach before the Federal budget is balanced. Perhaps we can convince Microsoft to provide the source code for the old tool so we can update it to manage SQL Server 2008?

I suggest you dig around in SQL Server Management Studio because there is a wealth of new features and replacements for the tools that I use. For example, there is a new Table explorer that either returns a RO rowset for the first 1000 rows or a RW dialog for the first 500 rows.

Installing Sample Databases

I often use the sample databases in my examples, articles, and seminars, so I'll walk through the process of getting these installed on the newly installed SQL Server 2008 instance (SS2K8) in detail. Unlike previous versions, this drop has no samples installed, so none of the demos we publish here will work. Note that both SQL Server 2005 and 2008 samples are now posted on the new CodePlex site.

  1. Start from the CodePlex site where Microsoft has exposed all of the sample databases:

    http://www.codeplex.com/MSFTDBProdSamples/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=16040

    Of course, if you're working with 32-bit or IA64 systems, you'll need to run the appropriate MSI. Be sure to save the .MSI locally because when things go wrong, you won't want to repeat the 5-minute download—unless you're being paid by the hour.

    This page is a bit daunting at first—lots of options usually lead to lots of confusion as developers wonder which option is "best." In my case (where I'm targeting a 64-bit Vista development system/server), I wanted the 64-bit MSI version (SQL2008.AdventureWorks All DB Scripts.X64.msi). Note that you'll see a similar .ZIP download—don't be tempted unless you just want the data in .CSV form.

    Figure 1: The .MSI script installer dialog.

    Once the .MSI runs, you'll discover that you still have no sample databases—that's because you aren't nearly done. All the MSI does is copy the files (.SQL and other support files and the .CSV data files) to your local hard drive. These files are installed into:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Samples\

  2. You'll need to navigate to this directory to complete the installation. But before you install any of the "2008" examples, you'll have to activate the FileStream option on the target server instance. This is a three-step process as shown in Figures 2 and 3. The final step (not shown) is to execute RECONFIGURE.



    Click here for a larger image.

    Figure 2: Using sp_configure to enable the FileStream option for non-OLTP examples.





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