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Pointers for desktop guy about to do Windows Server 2003

Posted on 2005-04-25
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Hi,

While I'm a programmer, I've never needed to get into the server side of things. Now I do, specifically so I can setup exchange server and debug some Outlook/Exchange Server issues affecting my desktop app. Arriving today are the books below, and I have a MSDN Universal. I've also got 5 pc's wifi'ed together, one of which needs a reformat/reinstall bad.

My plan at this point is to reformat that pc as a windows server 2003, and basically build it out as my test server.  What I don't know is can you use a windows server as a desktop pc as well (office, VB6, VB .NET, etc) and if I have DSL via my linksys wifi-g router, will I need to change (and how) my other pc's configurations? Is it very easy, very hard, not a hope in hell to have a pc as a server when I need it, but most of the time it's a desktop pc, or maybe both at the same time?

I can handle learning the technical, its the I've never done it stuff I'm wondering about...

Books coming:

1 of: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
1 of: Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
1 of: Microsoft IIS 6.0 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
1 of: Microsoft Windows Server(TM) 2003 Inside Out (Inside Out)
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Question by:thePrisoner
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bmquintas earned 1000 total points
ID: 13860454
You shouldn't have any problems running those apps on a 2003 server, unless the apps system requirements will not allow them to run...
Do you want it to be a domain controller or a workgroup server?
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by:luv2smile
luv2smile earned 1000 total points
ID: 13860503
Well since you are going to be running exchange then must run the server as a domain controller (if this is your only server) since exchange requires a domain.

The heart of a windows domain (2000 and 03) is Active Directory or AD.   In a single server AD environment then the server will be the domain controller as well as the file server and any other roles.  Any software that works with XP should work with server 03.  In a test environment, you shouldn't have any problems. Just remember that in a real production environment, you should always be careful as to what you install on your servers espcially on your domain controllers.  For example, in real productiion, best practice is to not install exchange on a domain controller. But again...for a test server, you should be fine.

The books you got are good.....I have the pocket consultant and its very helpful.

You will want to learn the ins and outs of Active Directory. It is not hard once you get the hang of it, but it will be very different than anything you are used to.

As for your other computers.....you will need to join them to the domain.  The pocket consultant will walk you through this. You will need to ensure that you have a properly configured DNS server on your windows server. Active Directory relies heavily on DNS.  All your client comptuers will need to point to your internal DNS server for things to work smoothly.
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by:thePrisoner
ID: 13862254
For testing purposes, is Windows Small Business Server 2003 (with exchange) any different than windows server with exchange?
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by:bmquintas
ID: 13862531
Yes, there can only be one, you can't have multiple DC's.
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by:luv2smile
ID: 13866072
bmguintas, you can have multiple DC's with SBS 2003....the SBS just has to be the first DC in the domain and the other DC's can't be SBS...but you can add a windows server 2003 as a DC to an already setup SBS domain.

There are differences between SBS and standard. Think of SBS has a compacted version. I don't know how much of an impact you'd see in a test environment....probably none...but it would depend on what you're doing and how you have your test network setup. SBS has some serious limitations such as a limit on users (although in a test environment this shouldn't matter). SBS must be a domain and not a workgroup...but since you are going to use exchange you have to have a domain anyway. The other big thing is that you can't create any trusts with SBS so you can't trust any other domain. SBS works a bit different behind the scenes although the basics are the same.......SBS can often be more "picky" at times.  
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by:bmquintas
ID: 13866153
correction:
"you can't have multiple DC's running sbs2003"

thanks luv2smile
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Author Comment

by:thePrisoner
ID: 13882736
luv2smile -

I've been digesting SBS 2003 info today and few questions:
1. If I set up a pc as the SBS machine, can I still use it for standard desktop tasks?
2. If my internet connection is DSL via a linksys wifi router, do I still need to have two NICs to use SBS's firewall and is that better or worse than Zone Alarm Pro?
3. My plan is to centralize all of my data files using Perforce on the SBS machine, with shadow images being made from one of its hard drives to a second hard drive, and my networked hard drive as a secondary backup. Does that sound workable?
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