Best Practice Ezine #52 SP1, WINS & extVIEW
This week’s ezine features:
This week three people took the trouble to send me good news – their Windows Server 2003 SP1 installed with no problem. However, two new skeletons came out of the cupboard, there is a minor problem with Microsoft Operations Manager (I must feature MOM one day) and more seriously, I have not found a way of uninstalling SP1
Barry reminded me that if you don’t have the luxury of a test server then you can still try SP1 on a production server – provided that you have a reliable backup.
One of the privileges of visiting people in different companies is seeing the huge variety of ways people use the very same software. This leads me to a suggestion. If you have a project such as SP1, or a really difficult project, for example a migration to Active Directory, then try and get an ‘away day’ to a company who has already done a similar upgrade. I would like to give you a personal example of what I mean by an ‘away day’. Way back in the 1970’s I had a ‘life’ as a research student. For 6 months, I worked fruitlessly on a project, and then one day I went to Birmingham and a kind man taught me more in an afternoon, than I had learnt in the previous 6 months. I have long forgotten the details of what he showed me, but the principle of finding someone, who has been there and seen it all before, remains with me.
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I have gone back to basics, and analyzed the need for WINS servers. What I have rediscovered is that modern Microsoft products, such as Exchange 2003, still make NetBIOS calls to locate resources. The reason that I had not noticed this reliance on NetBIOS was that I operate mainly on one subnet. On this simple network, Windows and Exchange servers just broadcast when they needed name resolution. For example, Exchange 2003’s setup still uses NetBIOS, well, if the domain controller is on the same subnet, then setup proceeds, no problem. However, in a large production network those Exchange and Windows 2003 servers need WINS because NetBIOS, or any other broadcasts, are not routable.
A couple of points that are more about DNS than WINS. A reminder that Active Directory absolutely requires DNS and will not work with just WINS. To end with my hobby-horse, DNS is superior to WINS. If we fast-forward 20 years, then look back, people will scratch their heads and ask why anyone did use WINS with its 15 character and flat field limitations?
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
Talking of predicting computer trends, I have been wrong before. Notably back in 1995, the occasion, a flashy salesman walked into the room with a Windows 95 laptop. After a few minutes of spiel, his printer sent a job to a nearby printer via its infrared port. Even though it had none of the usual parallel port cables, the printer soon started spewing pages of text. I thought wow! This infrared, wireless technology is the way of the future. However, for the next 9 years wireless technology has been in the wilderness, until recently when wireless has returned but with new Blackberry and Bluetooth technologies.
The worst mistake that I nearly made, was giving up my day job to sell fingerprint logons. Back in the last century, I was at a customer site when their network manager showed me a finger print logon for NT Workstation. It was a brilliant demonstration, the user typed in their name, and instead of entering a password, they put their finger into a sleeve. Bingo, they were logged on. I thought ‘This is it, the end of people losing passwords, no more post-it notes on screens. In addition, we could put half the help desk on to more productive work’. Well, as you realize my enthusiasm for fingerprint logon was misplaced. Nevertheless, I do believe that if not fingerprint logon, then swipe card logon will come one day. It’s just such an obvious improvement over the password system.
See more interesting permissions and Active Directory articles