Build your own Domino multi-server test environment

Do you want to experiment with a few different Domino configurations, but don't have the budget to build a test lab? Follow these four steps to set up a personal multi-server Domino test environment.

You'd have to be crazy to experiment with named Notes network mail routing while users are actively working on the system. You also shouldn't experiment with Domino 8.5's Domino Attachment and Object Store (DAOS) or install the ID Vault on a mail server. These are just a few things you'd never do in a Notes/Domino production environment.

I'm a firm believer that every admin needs a place where they can have Domino servers in a test environment where they can act normally, replicate with each other and route mail. This environment should also be a place where administrators can create many user accounts with different privileges. This test environment is a place you can make a lot of trouble, experiment with new things and learn new approaches without harming the actual enterprise.

Of course, management may not be willing to put up hard-earned dollars to help you satisfy your desire to chase shiny things in a test lab. This tip explains how to create a Domino multi-server environment on your laptop or desktop.

I have eight Domino servers on my laptop: four running under Domino 7 and four running under Domino 8.5.1. If I'm asked a question about how something works or how servers of different versions interact, I start my test servers and connect. That way, I can instantly know what is possible and what is not.

This configuration uses very standard and available techniques, but it's arranged in a way that isn't widely used. The key to allowing servers and clients converse is to give each server its own separate network adapter with its own IP address. You can use Microsoft loopback adapters, which provide virtual networks, to do this. Here are the four steps to get you there.

  Step 1: Install the loopback adapters  

Open the Control Panel and the Add New Hardware icon. Then click on Next.

Figure 1. Go to the Add New Hardware icon and click "Next."

To indicate that you've already installed the hardware, click Next.

Figure 2. You've already connected your hardware.

At the bottom of the list, you'll see the Add new hardware choice. Choose Install hardware that I manually pick from list (Advanced).

Figure 3. Add a new hardware device.

Figure 4. Now install the hardware that you've selected.

You'll now be taken to a screen that lets you choose the hardware that you've installed. Select Network adapters and choose Microsoft as the vendor. Next, select Microsoft Loopback Adapters. Install a loopback adapter for each of the Domino partitions that you plan to create.

Figure 5. Select Network Adapters.

Figure 6. Select Microsoft Loopback Adapter.

Figure 7. The wizard is ready to install your Loopback Adapter.

  Step 2: Assign IP addresses to the loopback adapters  

In this step, you'll determine a different IP address for each Domino partition that you plan to install.

By default, loopback adapters use an automatically assigned address. However, this address could change each time you reboot the machine. You don't want this to happen, so you must manually assign these addresses to the loopback adapters using the Network section of the Windows control panel.

It's safe to use the 192.168.100.# series since it's not used publicly. If you're unsure which addresses to use, ask someone from your company's network team.

Figure 8. Check your local area connections.

Reminder: At this point, you keep track of everything by writing it down.

Track the loopback name and the IP address that you've assigned. You can rename the loopback's description with the Domino server's name to make the configuration easier to understand. Figure 9 shows how my Network Connections look for four Domino servers named Admin, Mail1, Mail2 and Web.

Figure 9. Here's how my Network Connections look for my four Domino servers.

  Step 3: Install partitioned Domino servers  

Uninstall any single Domino server that already exists and reinstall it. Be sure to choose Partitioned Servers when doing so. You'll be prompted for a single location for the Domino program files. Each of your partitions will exist in its own data directory. For example, the file structure for my test Domino servers would be:
Executables are in C:LOTUSDOMINO8.

The data files for the ADMIN server are located in C:LOTUSDOMINOADMIN. The data files for MAIL1 are located in C:LOTUSDOMINOMAIL1.My MAIL2 and WEB servers have similar locations.

Figure 10. The location of the four partitioned Domino servers.

  Step 4: Configure the IP address for each server  

Add this notation to each of the server's notes.ini files, which can be found in the server's data directory:

The last number will be the IP address of the server for the notes.ini file you're configuring.

To finish up, insert all IP addresses and server names to a hosts file. This allows all servers and Lotus Notes clients to resolve server names to IP addresses. It should look something like Figure 11, using the fully qualified name of the server:

Figure 11. Place all your IP address and server names in a host file.

Use the fully qualified DNS name that you have in your host file for the network address field of the server document. It could also be used in any location where you might want to use a hard-coded IP address.

IMPORTANT: If you require that each server be a Web server, modify the server document's Internet Protocol HTTP tab to a field called Bind to Host name. This must be enabled. You must also provide a fully qualified host name such as ADMIN.DOMLAB.COM in the host name field.

Figure 12. Use a fully qualified DNS name.

To conserve disk space, don't install help files and modem files. You probably won't need them in your new Domino universe, which won't require you to ask permission to make changes.

Andy Pedisich
Andy Pedisich is President of Technotics, Inc. He has been working with Lotus Notes and Domino since Release 2. Technotics provides strategic consulting, development and training on collaborative infrastructure projects for customers throughout the world. You can contact Technotics through their website at and read Andy's blog at

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