I just spent the last 4 hours getting my machine ready for a user group demo; I was trying to get SQL Express setup so that I could do a LINQ to SQL demo; what a painful 4 hours! I will try to document things that I discovered along the way here so that you won't go through the same pain.

In my case, I had VS 2005 and SQL Express installed on the same machine.

These are the steps you need to do to get Server Explorer in VS to talk to SQL Express.

  1. Download SQL Server Studio Management Express (SSSME). You need it.
  2. Download the Northwind samples. Once its installed, using SSSME to attach to the .MDF file.
  3. Start the SQL Server Browser service. I'm not sure if this is needed; some people in the forums seem to think so, and I turned it on, so might as well.
  4. Using the SQL Server Configuration Manager (SSCM), be sure to enable Named Pipes and TCP protocols.
  5. Turn off Windows Firewall, or enable port 1433 (I think it's 1433).
  6. Using SSCM, modify the password for the "sa" account (I don't know what the default password is).
  7. Using SSCM, make sure the "sa" account is enabled.
  8. Using SSCM, make sure that the authentication scheme allows SQL accounts and Windows authentication.
  9. In Server Explorer, be sure to put \SQLEXPRESS after your computer name! In my case, I had to put TIMHOME\SQLEXPRESS as the server name. Failure to do so will result in an error message that will have you chasing down a needle in a hay stack.

** Each time you make a change, you should be able to restart the SQL Server service. This never worked for me. I had to restart my machine after each change.

Man, we have a lot of work to do. This stuff should just work. No one should need to follow so many steps just to get a connection to a database. I should be able to get samples running right out of the box.

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