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Overview of Windows NT System Administration

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

Archived content - No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

from Chapter 1, Windows NT Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

Windows NT Workstations and Servers

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 is distributed in two main formats: workstation versions and server versions. Windows NT Workstation is designed primarily for use by end users. Windows NT Server is designed to provide services and resources to other systems on the network.

When you install a Windows NT system, you configure the system according to its role on the network:

  • Workstations and servers are generally assigned to be part of a workgroup or a domain.

  • Workgroups are loose associations of computers where each individual computer is managed separately.

  • Domains are collections of computers that can be managed collectively via domain controllers, which are Windows NT servers responsible for user authentication and similar tasks.

When you install Windows NT Server on a new system, you can designate the system as

  • A primary domain controller

  • A backup domain controller

  • A stand-alone server

Primary domain controllers have overall responsibility for the domain. While Windows NT domains can only have one primary domain controller, multiple backups can be configured. Backup domain controllers provide a fail-safe mechanism that ensures the availability of authentication services in case the primary fails. Additional backup domain controllers can speed up the logon process from remote locations. Stand-alone servers have no controller responsibilities and must be reinstalled if you want to give them controller responsibilities. Backup options are covered in Chapter 11.

While Windows NT domains can only have one primary domain controller, multiple backups can be—and should be—configured on the domain. If the primary domain controller fails, you can designate a backup as a primary. This process, called promoting the backup, is handled in Server Manager—a key system administration tool you'll use often.

Other Windows NT Resources

Before we take a look at administration tools, let's look at other Windows NT resources that you can use to make Windows NT administration easier. One of the system administrator's greatest resources is the Windows NT distribution disks. They contain all the system information you'll need whenever you make changes to a Windows NT system. Keep the disks handy whenever you modify a system's configuration. You'll probably need them.

To avoid having to access the Windows NT distribution disk whenever you make system changes, you may want to copy the system resource directory to a network drive. For example, on an Intel system you would copy the \I386 directory to a network drive. When you are prompted to insert the CD-ROM and specify the source directory, you simply point to the directory on the network drive. This technique is convenient and saves time.

More Info Two key add-ins are available for Windows NT: Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit and Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack. Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit contains a collection of unsupported utilities for handling everything from system diagnostics to network monitoring. Versions of the resource kit are available for Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server. Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack contains internetworking products and includes

  • Certificate Server A server for creating and managing digital certificates

  • Index Server A server that provides index and search facilities for a Web site or intranet site

  • Internet Connection Services for Microsoft Remote Access Service A set of enhancements to the current Windows NT 4.0 Server remote access service

  • Internet Information Server A full-featured server for Internet and intranet publishing that includes support for Web, FTP, and SMTP services

  • Microsoft Message Queue Server A server that provides asynchronous network communications services

  • Microsoft Transaction Server A component-based transaction processing system for enterprise applications

  • Site Server Express A server that provides site analysis and Web posting facilities

Service Packs

Service packs for Windows NT are also available. Service packs contain updates that should be applied to the operating system. When you install a Windows NT computer, you should also install the latest service pack—provided it is proven to be stable. Service packs are numbered sequentially, with the latest service pack having the highest number. By installing a service pack, you can ensure that your workstations and servers operate smoothly.

Hot Fixes

In addition to service packs, you can also find hot fixes for Windows NT. Hot fixes are used to patch specific problems you are encountering with the operating system. Because most hot fixes haven't been regression tested, if you are not encountering the referenced problem, you shouldn't install the hot fix.

You can find current service packs and hot fixes for Windows NT at the Microsoft FTP site (http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/downloads/default.asp). When you access this directory, you will need to further navigate country, language, and product subdirectories. You can also look for the US version of Service Pack 4 for Intel systems at the http://support.microsoft.com/directory/default.asp site. The US version of hot fixes that came out after Service Pack 4 are available in the directory of http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/downloads/recommended/NT4PostSP4Hotfix/default.asp.

Most hot fixes are provided as self-installing executable files. Before you install a hot fix, you should read the ReadMe.txt file located in the hot fix directory. This file details what the hot fix is used for and also contains instructions for applying the hot fix. If you want to extract the hot fix and examine the files it contains before installation, follow the executable file name with the /x option. You can then apply the hot fix using the enclosed HotFix utility.

Frequently Used Tools

Windows NT provides many utilities for administrating Windows NT workstations and servers. The tools you'll use the most include

  • Control Panel A collection of tools for managing Windows NT workstation and server configuration. You can access these tools by selecting Start, then choosing Settings, and then selecting Control Panel.

  • Graphical administrative tools The key tools for managing network computers and their resources. You can access these tools by selecting them individually on the Administrative Tools (Common) submenu, which is on the Programs submenu on the Start menu.

  • Administrative Wizards Tools designed to automate key administrative tasks. You can access these tools by selecting Start, then choosing Programs, then choosing Administrative Tools (Common), and then using the Administrative Wizards menu. These are available on the Windows NT Server only.

  • Command-line utilities Most administrative utilities can be launched from the command line. In addition to these utilities, Windows NT provides others that are useful for working with Windows NT systems.

The following sections provide brief introductions to these administrative utilities. Additional details for key tools are provided throughout this book. Keep in mind that to use these utilities you may need an account with administrator privileges.

Using Control Panel Utilities

If you've worked with Windows NT for a while, you are probably very familiar with Control Panel. Control Panel contains utilities for working with a system's setup and configuration. Figure 1-1 shows the Control Panel.

The key utilities you'll use in system administration are shown below. To run any of them, simply double-click on its icon in Control Panel.

  • Add/Remove Programs Used to install programs and automatically remove all components of software that supports this utility. Also used to modify Windows NT setup components. For example, if you didn't install a communications component such as HyperTerminal during installation of the operating system, you can use this utility to add it later.

  • Date/Time Used to view or set a system's date, time, and time zone. Rather than manually setting the time on individual computers in the domain, you can use the NET TIME command to automatically synchronize time. You can use NET TIME in the user logon script for the domain. In the logon script, insert the command net time\\servername/set where servername is the computer name of the server with which you want to synchronize time. Logon scripts are discussed in Chapter 4.

  • Display Used to configure backgrounds, screen savers, video display mode, and video settings. You can also use this utility to install or update video drivers for a system. To do this, click on the Display Type button on the Settings tab and then click Change. If the video driver you need isn't listed in the Change Display dialog, click on the Have Disk button and follow the prompts.

    Licensing On a workstation, this utility is used to manage licenses on a local system. On a server, it also allows you to change the software-licensing mode of installed products, such as Windows NT Server or Microsoft SQL Server.


    Figure 1-1: . Control Panel utilities are used to manage a system's setup and configuration.
  • Multimedia Used to manage a system's multimedia components. These components include audio, video, MIDI, and CD music. This is where you can install or update sound drivers for a system. To do this, click on the Add button in the Devices tab. Now if the driver you need isn't listed in the Add dialog box, select the first option (which is labeled as Unlisted or Updated Driver) and follow the prompts.

  • Network Used to manage network services, adapters, protocols, and bindings. You can also use this utility to change a system's computer name and domain. See Chapter 12 for details.

  • Ports Used to manage serial ports and add new ports.

  • Printers Provides quick access to the Printers folder, which you can use to manage printers on a system. See Chapter 13 for more information on managing network printers.

  • SCSI Adapters Used to install SCSI adapters and controller cards. See Chapter 11 for more information.

  • Server On a Windows NT server, this tool provides quick access to system resource usage for users, shares, replication, and files. This dialog box is also accessible from the Server Manager utility. Using Server Manager is discussed in Chapter 2.

  • Services Used to stop, start, and pause system services and to configure whether they start up automatically at boot time. Managing services is covered in Chapter 3.

  • System Used to display and manage system properties, including properties for startup/shutdown, environment, hardware profiles, and user profiles. This utility is explored in Chapter 2.

  • Tape Devices Used to add and configure a system's tape devices as well as drivers for tape devices. See Chapter 11 for more information.

  • UPS Windows NT has built-in support for UPS (uninterruptible power supply). Use this utility to configure and manage UPS.

from Windows NT Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek. Copyright © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

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