Best Practice Ezine #51 WINS
This week’s ezine features my favourite themes, communication, fun, and a startling revelation.
If you remember from last week, my security guru said: Judging by previous service packs, you have 30 days breathing space before virus writers (swine), reverse engineer SP1 and start creating viruses. That means you less than a month to install SP1 on your Windows 2003 servers, or else rely on anti-virus software to immunise Windows 2003 against new attacks.
Two of my general points from last week remain true, 1) Get a test machine, and 2) 95% of you will install SP1 and experience no problem. However, thanks to six readers’ letters, we have identified four specific ‘issues’.
1)Dell and HP require a BIOS upgrade before you apply SP1 for Windows Server 2003. Here is the link http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/power/ps2q05-20050113-Callaway.pdf
2) If you have Exchange 2003 clustering, then you need a hotfix for OWA.
3) A company called Windows Hosting recommends waiting until SP2 for Exchange before applying SP1 to their proprietary Windows 2003 servers. http://www.microsoft.com/serviceproviders/solutions/windowsbasedhosting.mspx
4) SBS (Small Business Server). Microsoft promise a special service pack for this version of Windows Server 2003.
My conclusion is this, carryout research for your specific conditions before you roll out Windows 2003 SP1.
Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT)
Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets. IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:
For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges.
For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker
My first encounter with WINS was in NT 3.51. Looking back, conditions reminded me of the Jurassic era where WINS was like the supreme Dinosaur, and DNS was like a prototype Mammal. In fact, in NT 3.51, DNS was merely an add-on in the resource kit. If we fast-forward to 2005, even though Windows Server 2003 has perfected WINS, when it comes to name resolution, DNS has superseded WINS. The two most successful adaptations in favour of DNS are, a hierarchical naming scheme and up to 254 characters in the hostname. Whereas WINS still has a flat-file name scheme, and it allow only allows 15 characters in the NetBIOS name.
Tip, remember to make sure that the Windows Server 2003 itself has a record in WINS otherwise, the clients will not be able to connect to it! Network Connection, TCP/IP properties, advanced tab. If ever you have to troubleshoot WINS or DNS, go back to basics and remember that their respective databases map friendly machine names to dotty dot decimal numbers. For example, BigServer 10.1.1.1.
I have contradictory thoughts about WINS in Windows Server 2003. My abiding feeling is avoid WINS and rely on DNS. This extreme position is tinged with sorrow for those have to use WINS because they have NT 4.0 or Win 98 clients. Nevertheless, if a job is worth doing, its worth doing well. So if you are going to deploy WINS, then configure not one but two or three WINS Servers. As a techie, the joy of multiple WINS is configuring Push / Pull replication – always configure both just to make sure that replication is reasonably up-to-date. Remember its Pull on time and Push on number of updates. Just a word of warning, don’t go mad 4 WINS servers should be your maximum or strange things happen with replication.
Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.
It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.
I started by saying how I preferred DNS to WINS. Let us finish this topic by having the best of both worlds and integrate DNS and WINS. Here is a fun challenge to test WINS / DNS integration. I assume that you already have DNS and WINS installed, and crucially, you configure the WINS tab on the DNS server to, ‘Use WINS for forward Lookup’. OK, here is the challenge, add a fictitious computer as a static entry in your WINS database. Ping that NetBIOS name. You should get a timed out reply, but interestingly, you should see the fictitious IP address that ping is attempting to connect. So this proves that ping at least, is using WINS.
Example 1. In WINS, add a static entry for PeterComputer 192.168.0.89.
At the command prompt: Ping PeterComputer
The second half of the challenge is to add another record, but this time in DNS.
Example 2: In DNS Forward Zone, add PeterComputer 192.168.0.71
Humour me, run ipconfig /flushdns and try once more
What does experiment this prove? Well it shows that DNS clients can use their DNS server to retrieve information form the WINS database. My challenge also showed that DNS queries its own database before forwarding the request on to WINS. Incidentally, the challenge reminds us of ipconfig /flushdns.
More information on WINS
Now if you are committed to doing a good job with WINS, make sure that you configure DHCP to give out the IP address and node type to the clients. Responding to readers requests, I have new web pages on:
See more interesting DNS, DHCP and IP articles