Need help brainstorming some personal client/server networking projects.

akromyk
akromyk used Ask the Experts™
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I would like to play around with a Windows 2003/XP client/server environment. I have basic networking and virtual machine knowledge, but I would like to learn more so that I can be able to eventually help manage small business domains.

Up until now I've been trying to dig through certification books and videos to gain knowledge, but playing around with Linux in recent days has reminded me that I learn best by just setting a goal and trying to obtain by my own chaotic means rather than following any sequential learning pattern.

So I need help brainstorming what I can do with unlimited Windows 2003 and XP virtual machines. I already know that I want to create a domain server, DNS Server, and attach the XP client, but that's as far as my imagination has taken me. The only limitation that I want to mention is that I don't want to mess around with routers and routing at the moment. I'd prefer things that can be done with all computers on the same subnet. I can also probably get my hands on other server applications, so that should not be any limitation when brainstorming.

So, if you want, pretend your an instructor coming up with some networking projects for your students. More detailed scenarios would also be fun and welcome, as well as general ideas.

BTW, for those who are about to suggest a different server and client OS, I am already set on 2003 and XP for particular reasons.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Quote: "... help manage small business domains."

IF this is what you want to do, then you need to study Small Business Server 2003, not "Server 2003".  They are different products and should be managed differently.  And while yes, doing it will help you learn, SBS (and Active Directory in general) REQUIRE that you understand certain things and you really need to READ before installing.

*Active Directory REQUIRES DNS.
*Small Business Server, to run RELIABLY and EFFECTIVELY, needs to be setup with the wizards, NOT through the typical server tools.

As for a project, go register a domain name, get a static IP, and setup the server for a small business.  Setup Remote Access through Remote Web Workplace, setup Exchange for E-mail (really, with SBS wizards, there's nothing to setup).

Then MIGRATE it to a new machine (simulated hardware change-over).

Then MIGRATE it to SBS 2008 (Since SBS 2003 is 32 bit only and SBS 2008 is 64 bit only and there is no direct upgrade because of this.

Author

Commented:
I was debating whether I wanted to put that line "... help manage small business domains" in there. Nevermind that, I'm looking to just have fun and play around with a domain environment. It could be to simulate a small business or a corporate network. I don't want to limit any ideas potential ideas.
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
This is a good question and I'm sure you will get a lot of great responses.  
I would first suggest to not totally dismiss 2008.  Learn on 2003 that is fine but know the features in 2008 and 2008 R2, can't hurt as you move into the marketplace.
1.  If you are truly going to target small business customers I'd also play with small business server and essential business server.
2.  Try to learn and play with AD in your lab.  Learn how replication works, play with DNS, learn about group policy, learn about FRS and DFS.  There are so many things that could be listed  here,  I'd take the things covered in those books and just try to learn them cold.  Speaking of books the cert books are ok but I'd also get some other books.  AD 4th Edition (Brian Desmond and Joe Richards authors) and AD cookbook 3rd edition (Laura Hunter author) by O'Reilly are both highly recommended by me.
3.  Learn about troubleshooting all those things, for instance repadmin for replication is a great thing to learn.  That same thought goes with all the subjects in #2.
4.  I'd learn how to use wireshark or netmon to sniff traffic and see what is really going on.  That skill will really help when you are out at a client site and troubleshooting real issues.
5.  Speaking of group poicy in #1 also play with group policy preferences (you will need one vista or 2008 box)
6.  Build a second domain and second forest in your lab.  Setup trusts, see how groups work across domains etc.
7.  Try to make your life easier by learning how to script.  Personally I'm trying to get better at  Powershell.  Go through Chris Dent or Brandon Shell's powershell answers on this site.  You can learn a lot and then try to do it in your lab.
8.  Learn how LDAP queries work and then try to experiment in your lab.  Either through using tools (I love ADFIND by Joe Richards) or just through ADUC.
9.  If you are talking about going into a small business then you will probably want to learn about exchange too.  That goes back to #1 with SBS/EBS
10.  Point #10 and probably the most important is to know that no one knows everything and there will always be new problems you have never seen or something really tough or a screaming customer.  That is why I love this field but it can be frustrating at times.  Just give it your best effort, that is all any of us can do.
 
Thanks
Mike
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Author

Commented:
Thanks for the wide range of ideas.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Oh well... I thought given the question I answered appropriately... I guess my comment was completely useless.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
No problem, by the way if you want you can still split some points with leew, let me know and I'll alert a mod.  
Thanks
Mike
 

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