My experience of installing SharePoint 2013 Preview

I finally got some downtime and used it to get my new SharePoint play-pen up and running. I’ve been running an Office 365 Preview (aka SharePoint 2013 Online) account for a while to get my SharePoint vNext goodness .. but thought it was time to get myself up and running with a full server build (and flex those good old IT Pro skills while I was at it).

The good news .. it was damned similar to SharePoint 2010!

I was also kind of pleased to hear (from Spencer Harbar) that if you are installing the (sometimes painful) User Profile Service then there is “absolutely no difference whatsoever” between SharePoint 2013 (preview) and SharePoint 2010 (

This was slightly disappointing (because it can be a pain in the backside to get started for first timers) although good because I know most of the ins and outs of that particular FIM-based product and can typically get it running first time every time these days.

Hardware requirements ..

This has been quite a contentious topic with various furious discussion on twitter and blogs. This has mostly stemmed from official Microsoft documentation which suggests that you need a minimum of 24 GB of RAM to run a SharePoint 2013 dev box (including all of the pieces like VS and SQL).

The main reasons for this are 2 key pieces in the new infrastructure:

  1. App Fabric is now used extensively to boost performance. You will see DistributedCacheService.exe chewing a lot of RAM (typically between 500MB and 1GB on my machine) but this also means you get cross-server caching and blistering performance.
  2. FAST Search is also now baked in. The good part is you get a massive load of new search features out of the box. The bad news is that the FAST “noderunner.exe” processes (4 of them) will be running and probably chew between 1GB and 2GB of RAM on their own (without even doing very much!)

There have been people on the web (mentioning no names) who have bordered on the offensive mocking others for “ignoring Microsoft advice” and insisting that you are being foolish for running with less than “best practice” kit.

Then there are others (who to be honest I respect a lot more) who have been running on the TAP program and happily say that you can get it working on 6GB but ideally 8-12GB is needed for it to run smoothly (reports of FAST crashing if you have under 8GB have been heard!)

My personal rig is a single virtual machine which runs with 12GB RAM and 4 virtual cores. I am running full Search, User Profile Sync, most of the core services and have 3 web apps up and running. I have AD, SQL and SharePoint all on the same box with Visual Studio 2012 and so far it has been fine! I can imagine putting a lot of test data and running some hefty development scenarios might make it creak a bit at the seams, but so far no real problems.

Personally I liken this a lot to SharePoint 2010 scenarios. If you want to run EVERYTHING on a single box (Office Web Apps, FAST Search, BI services) then you are going to need a LOT of hardware. But for the average single user demo / developer rig you can get away with a lot less (I’ve run SharePoint 2010 farms on 4GB RAM before now .. and once they have “warmed up” they are quite happy for single-user demos).

The other bits ..

I also decided to refresh my environment with the other tools that go side by side with a new platform refresh (also because these have all hit final RTM release through MSDN):

  1. Windows Server 2012
  2. SQL Server 2012
  3. Visual Studio 2012

To be honest the installers for these was very straightforward, and there is really nothing special to mention which is any different to a normal dev box install.

Windows Server 2012 obviously was a bit “different” due to the new “not called Metro anymore” interface but I’ve been running Windows 8 on my laptop for about 6 months now so I was quite used to it. All of the old settings and options are still there buried behind other menus so no massive surprises for people used to using Server 2008 R2 or before.

The only real point of any note is with the service accounts when configuring SQL Server 2012. I am used to creating dedicated service accounts to run the SQL service instances but with this new version the default is baked-in service accounts which it creates for you! This is great for dev boxes as it is a few less accounts for me to setup and maintain!

SharePoint 2013 Preview  ..

This was actually surprisingly straightforward. The “splash screen” installer is identical to SharePoint 2010 (not sure if this a sign of the “preview” build status .. they might get around to updating this for RTM by in my opinion “if it’s not broken” rules and this works quite well).

The Pre-Requisites took care of everything that was needed (after 2 reboots) and then I was good to go. The actual install of the binaries went smooth as a whistle and then it was on to PSConfig.exe ..

Yep .. that’s right .. PSCONFIG .. any of you using the Configuration Wizard shame on you! (I only ever use it to get the “State Service” running once my farm is fully configured!)

PSConfig.exe allows you to setup your initial farm, create the Config Database and Central Admin database. The main part is it allows you to specify the database names so you don’t get nasty GUIDs appearing in SQL Server.

This isn’t exactly necessary for a single-server dev box, but I like to keep the old muscle memory in practice and it is good to practice a “clean” environment at all times (so you don’t get into bad habits!)

The syntax is pretty straightforward:

PSCONFIG.EXE -create configdb -server localhost -database SP2013_ConfigDb -admincontentdatabase SP2013_Admin_Content -user MyDomain\SPFarm -password [SPFarmPassword]  -passphrase [FarmPassPhrase]

Just make sure that the farm account has DBCreator and SecurityAdmin permissions in SQL Server and it should run fine!

Once that has finished, run the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard to setup your Central Administration web app (basically just choosing the Port Number .. which I go for https://localhost:2013/ to keep it simple!).

Setting up the core services ..

Once that has been completed you should be into Central Admin and its time to setup the core services. It should be smooth sailing from here but as a general rule I configure 4 Web Applications and get going with the basic services.

Web Apps:

  1. https://sp/ (Using “Team Site” as the site collection)
  2. https://my/ (Using “My Site Host” as the site collection)
  3. https://ctype/ (default Content Type Hub .. “blank site” with all features turned on)
  4. https://apps/ (the new SharePoint 2013 App hosting site! don’t provision anything)

Once that is sorted I go for the core services:

  1. Managed Metadata Service (using https://ctype/ as the syndication hub)
  2. User Profile Service (using https://my/ as the my site URL)
  3. Search Services

The setup for these I found identical to SharePoint 2010 so there shouldn’t be any surprises here.

Obviously search was slightly different (due to the FAST pieces) but nothing to write home about for  a simple “single server” rig. There is also simple “import only” option for User Profiles which is new to 2013 and you can find out more here:

Now .. I don’t know a great deal about “apps” infrastructure yet so this is basic in the extreme! The only thing I know you need to do initially is create a blank web application, then use the “Manage App Catalog” option in Central Admin to provision the default “app catalog” site collection from which you can manage internal apps distribution and publishing.

Hopefully more to come on this (including developing some custom apps) but at the moment we’re all learning! 😉

That was pretty much it .. basic SharePoint 2013 farm up and running and ready to play!

I haven’t really been delving too much into the details yet, and plenty more still to learn and find out so watch this space, and hope you found this useful!

  • Matthew Fox

    Give awesome details about SharePoint 2013 set up, i was also try it and it's efficiently run..

  • Anonymous

    Give nice information about SharePoint 2013 installation, i was also try it and it's successfully run..

  • Maite Jimenez

    from your I also thought to install the SharePoint 2013,it is easy to install as further was

  • Jason Ramoutar

    Nice post Martin, glad it's similar to 2010 and looking forward to more articles!

  • Tarun Ramdhonee

    Hello, do you have more information about creating the core services :
    Managed Metadata Service
    User Profile Service
    Search Services

    • Martin Hatch

      Well this blog post was about the Preview build a couple of years ago.
      These days there are quite a few posts out there about specific services, but personally I use AutoSPInstaller (now that it has full SP2013 support) to get the whole farm up and running.
      It is quick, reliable and repeatable (everything you want from a build tool).