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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Windows Server and WebDriver

From time to time I see people trying to use Windows Server (2003 or 2008 R2) to run WebDriver scripts on Internet Explorer. They are posting to the WebDriver Google Group because it is not working and they are looking for answers on how to make it work.

The problem is they are asking the wrong question. They should not be asking, "How do I use WebDriver tests on Windows Server?" They should be asking, "Why don't my tests, which run on Windows XP or Windows 7, run on Windows Server 2008 R2?"

The answer is that Windows Server is not meant for people to use for surfing the web. They provide Internet Explorer if you need to access a local web application. You can explicitly add in trusted sites. But you cannot use it the way you would Internet Explorer on a Windows Workstation (like Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8).

For more on this read the posting in Microsoft Developer Network: Enhanced Security Configuration for Windows Internet Explorer. The most important thing to note from this posting is the first two sentences:

As a best security practice, a server administrator should not browse Internet Web sites from the server. The administrator should only browse the Internet from a limited user account on a client work station to reduce the possibility of an attack on the server by a malicious Web site.

If you are really bent on using Windows Server there are ways to alter things but you will have to read the documentation on each version of Internet Explorer to understand how to do it.

The instructions for making Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Server 2003 work with Selenium will be different from getting Internet Explorer 8 on Windows Server 2008 R2 working with Selenium. Even getting Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Server 2008 R2 will be different as well. Microsoft is always changing what things are locked down and how you unlock them.

You should also realize that no respectable system administrator is going to use Windows Server to access a web application. They will use Virtual PC or a real Windows Workstation to access web applications. Therefore testing the application works okay with Internet Explorer on a Windows Server is not a configuration which should be supported. It does not test that the application runs on a real supported configuration, i.e. Internet Explorer on a Windows Workstation.


Akbar Ali said...

Darell, interesting article. Did you face any issues in selenium scripts execution, even after setting proper configuration?

Darrell said...


Running test automation scripts on Windows Server has never been a validate configuration for the projects I worked on. I, therefore, have never tried to make Selenium tests run on Internet Explorer on a Windows Server. I always run my Selenium tests on Windows Workstation.