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Solving Configuration Failures with non-admin Nodes in FAST Search for SharePoint

Solving Configuration Failures with non-admin Nodes in FAST Search for SharePoint

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I recently had kind of a tough time getting a non-admin FAST server configured successfully in a pretty vanilla environment, so I wanted to pass on some tips and tricks that got me past it.  In FAST you basically have two types of servers when you are doing a multiple server deployment – your admin server and non-admin servers.  The non-admin servers are typically the ones doing the indexing and searching, and they are the ones that you add to “rows” and “columns” in FAST-speak.

You can follow the step-by-step instructions for installing a farm like this at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff381267.aspx.  In short though, you install and configure your FAST admin server, and then install and configure each non-admin server.  What I was finding was that when I got to the non-admin server, installation went fine but the configuration wizard always failed.  After a lot of trial and error and few suggestions from other folks, I managed to get it configured successfully.  Here’s a checklist that I would run through if the configuration wizard fails on your non-admin server:

1.            Make sure you have Windows Firewall enabled on both the admin and non-admin servers.  Yes, I do mean “enabled”, not “disabled”.  We count on it being on when we’re doing some of the configuration and if it isn’t there then it can cause problems.  I often get lazy and just turn off the Windows Firewall when I’m building out a lab environment, but this is a case where having it off will just cause problems.

2.            Don’t save your Xml deployment file directly from Visual Studio.  If you want to create it in there that’s fine, but copy it and save it notepad.  Visual Studio adds a character to the start of the file that is invisible and unreadable and causes other issues when your non-admin server tries to use the file.

3.            If you install the non-admin server after following steps 1 and 2 and it still fails (as happened to me), then try opening PowerShell and running the Set-FASTSearchIPSec –Create cmdlet.  If this fails it likely means that your deployment.xml file has the extraneous character in it that I mentioned in step 2.  After you do this just try running the configuration wizard again.

After doing steps 1, 2 and 3 I was able to successfully install and configure the non-admin node in my FAST farm.

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