In a continuing series of mishaps involved with a very abstracted permissions environment where one group controls all admin rights on the server, except for the group that controls all admin rights on the Database, I discovered today that if you need to install a Web Part in SharePoint 2003, you need to do it on the Web Server(s) in question while running in the context of an account that has proper permissions (I assume at least DB Creator & Security Admin if not also System Admin) within the SQL Server where your Configuration Database lives.
What we were seeing was that the Office Web Parts installer and two MSIs for custom web parts ran. The Office Web Parts installer reported that it had installed correctly. On the other hand, the MSIs reported an install error and referred to the log which was essentially empty. (MSI Web Part Packager installer logs go in C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Temp\wppackager.log.) Some 3rd party manufacturers of Web Parts do support this issue (in comparison to Microsoft, who don’t seem to report this issue in any KB article), and suggest using stsadm to install instead.
We then tried using stsadm.exe to install (some Microsoft third party web part vendors report the unhelpful MSI install failure message, even though Microsoft doesn’t) the MSI packages, and instead got the familiar Configuration Database connectivity error that refers to KB 823287:
Cannot connect to the configuration database. For tips on troubleshooting this error, search for article 823287 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base at http://support.microsoft.com.
Here’s a link I found very helpful to help explain/troubleshoot the issue.
Unfortunately, at this client, I will now need to punt to a policy question about how to approach the install next, but hopefully in your situation you’ll be able to just use an account with the right permissions to do the install.