Enabling DNS Server in SBS 2008: Plus's and Minus's

Please note this Question is **NOT** about a production environment. It is about a training/learning environment I am using to go thru a MS Press textbook to get my SBS 2008 MS Certification. Hence phrases like "best practices" are irrelevant.

Also although I know a great deal about the MS "home" OS's (If fix PCs for a living), I know NOTHING about SBS 2008 except how to install it and answer some required installation questions so please spell your answers out in detail. Do NOT assume I know the basics, I do NOT know the basics (yet).

QUESTION: What are the plus's and minus's (especially the minus's) of NOT enabling DNS server on the SBS 2008 PC.

My entire network is ONE client PC connected to a router (connected to a Comcast modem) and a SBS 2008 PC (used as a server) connected to the same router PLUS a roommates PC connected wirelessly to the same router.

My concern in enabling DHCP server on SBS 2008 is that decision impacts my business PC and my roommates PC. Example if something "goes wrong" with my SBS 2008 PC, and I have a half hour before a customer job to do internet research AND I find I cannot resolve DNS addresses UNTIL I fix the problem on my SBS 2008 PC then I may loose the job fee. And my roommate also has his own business and will have the same problem.

The correct answer is NOT: Well anyone who knows anything about SBS 2008 knows how to fix that on their SBS 2008 PC because I know NOTHING about SBS 2008 except how to install it. Example. The solution (restore DNS services) is in Chapter 5 of my MS press textbook but I have ONLY got thru Chapter 3.

SUMMARY: When I bought a hi-end Windows 7 PC to act as a SBS 2008 server (i.e dual boot) and paid MS technet $200 for the license I did not know that learning SBS 2008 might impactt my own and my roommates **PRODUCTION** PCs. I believe that making the SBS 2008 PC the DNS server may very well do that.

Also I assume (Please explicitly answer this) if I make the SBS 2008 PC the DNS server I assume that at a minimum I must leave it on all the time (except for occasional reboots for updates and other needs). Well, guess what, I was NOT planing on doing that. I was only going to turn it on when I wanted to learn more about SBS 2008. PLease confirm that it must always be on (or close) if it is the DNS server.

Your answers to the above questions will help me understand this more and what my options are.

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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Well, you've mentioned DNS and DHCP in your question, and seem to have implied their use interchangeably. This is FALSE. DHCP and DNS serve two different purposes and you need to understand the implications of not using them. But to give you the level of detail on what those are and why would take a book, not a single answer on EE. And authors get paid to write books, and spdeserve that compensation accordingly. So, to be blunt, when you say "I know nothing, tell me everything, and assume I need all the details" it comes across as both arrogant and disrespectful to all those who have spent time, money, bought books and gone to classes to learn this stuff. So with respect, I will NOT be going into detail. But I will give you your answers and some advice:

1) Active Directiry uses DNS heavily to discover various services on the network. Therefore AD servers, such as SBS, and AD clients, such as win7 joined to an AD domain, NEED an AD DNS server. It isn't optional. While "best practices" may mean nothing to you, disabling DNS on SBS will break SBS and the client experience enough that you effectively won't be learning what you should from your test lab. Even in test environments, best practices mean something.  Don't discard them.

2) DHCP is of slightly lesser importance, but a generic router DHCP server will hand out wrong information by default (primarily ISP DNS servers instead of AD DNS servers, breaking #1) so unless you are good at DHCP and have a firm grasp on customizing scopes, which your "I know nothing" claim above would imply otherwise, you should REALLY keep DHCP on SBS as well.

So now for a bit of advice: download and install virtual box. Run SBS virtualized on a completely private "virtual" network inside it. You won't break your production network, your home network, or your roommate's if you set this up right, and yet you can run your test lab as designed, with DNS and DHCP on SBS, and virtualbox will keep the two networks isolated.

Pick up a book on the Network+ certification. Understanding windows networking requires understanding networking, even if you don't take the exam, the knowledge is helpful.

Pick up a 2008 R2 AD exam book. Same premise as above. SBS is, at the core, 2008 R2 configured as an AD DC, and the core knowledge carries over well.

THEN learn SBS specifics from your current material. It builds on the core knowledge from above. You'll be happier, less lost, and will have invested in learning the knowledge as I laid out in the beginning of my post.

Hope that helps.


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mgross333Author Commented:

Thanks for you post.

I plan to give you the 500 points here IF you provide comments on sections (1) - (4) below (which are partly to explain my situation to you BUT also there are some things there you may not agree with and comments would be appreciated)


answer my question (5) below briefly because as I explain below the wireless decision and enabling DNS server and DHCP server are related (or at least another EE SBS expert said they were) and your OWN opinion on that would help.

 NOTE: Any reference to DHCP above was a typo !!!! (I copied the text from my similar EE question on enabling DHCP server (which you also replied to) and forgot to change "DHCP" to "DNS" in one place.

However it appears my typo was very useful as your post here covers both issues in a fairly coherent manner.

(1) I am not going to do the virtual thing as I want to have a more "realistic" network and INSTEAD leaving the SBS 2008 PC on all the time **IS** a possibility IF IT IS NECESSARY as your post here (as well as comments at my "enable DHCP" question) imply INDIRECTLY that it **IS** necessary. Your comments here seem to ASSUME I will NOT leave the SBS server on all the time when in fact I said above I did not "plan" to do that. "plan" is not the same as "must" and in going thru what is below please note that leaving the server on all the time is POSSIBLE.

(2) Regarding "Pick up a 2008 R2 AD exam book. ", my question said and I quote "...I am using to go thru a MS Press textbook"  I thought that made it clear that I already have a training guide for certification (The title is MCTS 70-653 Configuring Windows SBS 2008) and the entire question here is related to that. Following that guide I have installed SBS 2008 (from Technet subscription) BUT got stuck at the following point. It strongly recommended that I enable DHCP and I saw some problems with that (see my related question).

Note: Is "2008 R2 AD exam book" DIFFERENT than the book I already have? Let me make something clear. I choose SBS 2008 vs the more complicated versions of Server 2008 because (a) my goal is to do contract work for the same type of customers I have been serving for 7 years, small business with not a huge number of PCs BUT also because the subject list was something I could sort of maybe understand (ex. VPNs, Exchange Server are things I have occasionally dealt with from the client side in my business). The subject list for the more advanced Server 2008 OS textbooks was simply beyond me. So if "2008 R2 AD exam book" is not for SBS 2008, my interest is quite limited.

As a practical matter I am studying for my certification TOTALLY by going thru my text book and doing the exercises on my SBS 2008 PC and one client PC and have GREAT DIFFICULTY finding the "spare" time to do that. Tackling another book is just impossible. I assume my current text book will cover Active Directory sufficient to get my certification for SBS 2008.

(3) Also it is inconvenient to have the SBS server WIRED to the router so I want to go wireless. In another thread here an EE expert said if you go wireless you may get alerts about the DHCP and DNS server and Domain controller not starting as wireless does not connect immediately. THAT remark made me think about DNS too which I also saw might affect my and my rooommate's  PCs which are Production PCs. Hence that is the reason for this EE question you are responding to

I do not understand some of the technical terms in your answer BUT it appears you are recommending that I enable both DNS and DHCP server on SBS 2008 PC. The reason I do not understand is that they (example Active Directory) are in chapters of my text book I have not got to yet. Nonetheless, I got your recommendation loud and clear.

(4) Regarding getting a network + certification book., I have been fixing and upgrading PCs and networks for 7 years as my own business and have serviced over 7,000 customers. So I know a good bit about networks, not everything and not complex corporate networks but I believe enough to get my SBS 2008 certification.

(5) I have mentioned above that in another EE thread a SBS expert said I should not go wireless (server to router) even in a training environment. I would appreciate a "quick" reply from you on that. Do you agree or think (assuming I enable DNS server and DHCP server on the SBS 2008) that wireless (strong signal) is OK or not.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
1) by on "all the time" I mean ALL the time. If you take it offline for an hour here or there while you dual boot, on a properly configured network you WILL cause service interruptions.

Regarding virtualization, many real world deployments are running SBS virtualized on hyper-V or ESXi. For a test lab, virtualbox works well as an alternative free virtualization platform. The OS gets a sandboxes hardware environment. It gets attached to a (virtual) network switch. It will behave as it would in a production environment. I'd argue that by virtualizing you are MORE realistic, not less. I virtualized SBS 2008 and 2011 during the private betas found and submitted real bugs...virtualization isnt less real.

2) yes, a book on AD is different than what you already have. I have been involved in the development of such exams and I can tell you that the SBS exam focuses on what is "unique" in SBS and makes some assumptions about prerequisite knowledge. To use an analogy, if you knew nothing about car engines and signed up for a course that taught how to repair BMWs and they dug into engine layouts that BMW thought would be more efficient, you'd be completely lost. They skipped over engine basics.

I firmly believe that anybody working on SBS SHOULD read SBS exam material. SBS does enough customizing to AD, exchange, sharepoint, etc, that knowing those differences is essential to administering SBS. but a GOOD technician will also understand the underlying technologies soothe differences are apparent and well understood.mexam materials on 70-640 and 70-642 I think are near essential. And 70-643 isn't bad for the ambitious.

3) what you heard is correct. Servers don't like wireless. With that said, I'll beat this dead horse again: if you virtualized it'll be a non-issue. The virtual SBS will see the virtual network (which appears wired) so DNS and DHCP will come up. Your real machine can connect to the internet wirelessly and use the router DHCP and ISP DNS, and the isolation provided by the virtual stack keeps everything happy.

4) fair enough. I wrote that based on the DNS/DHCP overlap. Also, based on your assumption in the other question that DNS would "fail back" to the ISP, I am concerned that there is some basic knowledge gaps there. The CompTIA Network+ certification is worthwhile even for home/small businesses and will pay for itself quickly in a single DNS troubleshooting issue, if you bill at a reasonable rate. Ultimately the choice is yours, but I highly recommend it. It is a required certification for any techs I would hire.

5) i do agree with that, and signal strength is not the issue. Windows (client, server) has a specific order that it brings up networking components for security reasons. Wireless is brought up slowly, AFTER essential networking services. On a client, this is fine, but on a server, some services will fail simply because wireless isn't spun up yet. You will get errors, have difficulties on your network, and as being on a "realistic" environment is important to you (as you mentioned above), you are actually introducing a very UNrealistic real-world variable. Your troubleshooting and diagnostic lessons will be artificially skewed and tainted as you will not initially know ofsthe problem is a "normal" SBS issue or one caused by your "unique" wireless setup. Beat avoided.

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mgross333Author Commented:

Regarding Virtualization, my ENTIRE experience with this is using a free MS Virtualization SW package to run Windows XP in a window on a Vista PC (because the Vista OS did not get along with some needed feature). (I do not remember the SW name or feature, maybe Windows Virtual PC). I noticed that the ability for the virtual XP environment to get at some Vista resources was a feature of this (I.e Virtualization sometimes has limitations but this package had few limitations).

And installing Windows on a MAC OS using a 3rd party not-free Virtualization package (Parallels desktop or VMware).

However there was a requirement in the first case, that I had a CD and license to install XP on the Vista PC and that also applied to the 2nd (MAC OS) case too. Regarding this I have (I believe) ONE MORE License (for the $200 I paid Technet) to install SBS 2008 from my technet generated CD (or I may need to create a 2nd install CD) but that is it and I can not waste that 2nd license unless I am fairly confident the plan will work.

Or perhaps I could call a manager at Technet and explain the situation and see if the 2nd install (on the same physical PC) would not use up a license.

I did a quick look at hyper-V website but could not find a simple "Dummies guide" description of it but did notice there was a FREE option.

The relevant sentence is from the Hype-v website is

"Hyper-V exists in 2 variations- as a free standalone product called Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1 and as an installable role in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.'

Which of the two are you recommending ?? (I assume the 2nd one is free too as I already have a SBS 2008 license)

Ditto for vitualbox (from Oracle I believe) (again no obvious hi-level description)

Can you give me a quick "higher level" description of the idea here that responds to what is below.

(1) My client PC (6 year old (early version) dual core Pentium with 2 GB memory) is not really powerful enough to run SBS 2008 so I hope you do not mean to run SBS 2008 virtually there.

What I would hope for is either

(2) I bring up my new PC on Windows 7. In a window on the Windows 7 desktop,  SBS 2008 is running virtually. The Windows 7 environment is the client. So all the other PCs are separate BUT the router they are on is the SAME router that the Win 7 PC (with virual SBS 2008) connects to (wirelessly I hope but not essential)


(3) I bring up my new PC the other way on SBS 2008 and in a window on the desktop Windows 7 is running (I have a license left on a Windows 7 SP1 CD set that I purchased from a MS developer). And again both are connected to the the same router as the other PCs.

I suspect that (2) is what you are recommending but am not sure. PLEASE REPLY.

Also (see above) are there any restrictions on what the virtual SBS 2008 can do with a **FREE* version of Hyper-V or virtualbox ? Or any restrictions that would affect my ability to go thru the exercises in my Certification textbook?

Cliff GaliherCommented:
Not sure why licensing is an issue. You install win7 on the metal. That requires a license whether you are dual booting or not.

You install virtualbox (my recommendation for your scenario.) the virtualbox license is free. You must agree to it, but there is no cost.

You install SBS in a virtual machine in virtualbox. This requires an SBS license. But if you install a dual boot, an SBS license is required no matter what as well.

No significant limitations will cause you to have issues working through the exam.

mgross333Author Commented:

Regarding the license issue I do not think you understand. I have ALREADY installed and activated SBS 2008 on the Dual boot PC. That activation used up one of my two Technet licenses. Installing it in a virtual machine (even on the same PC) I am fairly sure will use the 2nd. To keep this post short, there may be some ways Technet will count the whole thing as one license based on a phone call to a manager there. But worst case, I have another license for the virtual install so please IGNORE that issue going forward.

HOWEVER, unlike your previous posts you did not answer the MOST IMPORTANT and BURNING question above. Which of the three scenarios (1), (2), and (3) in my post immediately preceding this one (of 2012-03-20 at 17:53:11  ID: 37745147) are you recommending (after reading the bolded sentences above and below (1) - (3) as those sentences are also relevant to your decision) . I suspect that you did not focus on that because you assume a level of knowledge of SBS 2008 and a level of experience with virtual OS's that I do NOT have.

So I need an answer to that basic question choose (1), (2), or (3) And ALSO I would much appreciate a link to a "how to install SBS 2008 (or any OS) in vitualbox" document.

I am NOW leaning toward the virtual solution because it is "cleaner" than the daisy chain router solution in my Enable DHCP question. And does not require rebooting routers and modems and connecting cables in different ways if I want to turn of SBS 2008 for an hour or two (or overnight). Hence some details on how to actually do it would be much appreciated.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
I did not make any assumptions, it no, I didn't give you a "number" either. If, however, you read my answer, I do give you an order of installation that ONLY matches your scenarios #2.

As far as a how-to doc, there isn't one. As I said in my initial post, my time is no less valuable than yours. Virtualbox has full documentation including a QuickStart guide. Following that will set up your first VM.

As farms installing SBS in that VM, as I've also said, if the VM introduced drastic differences then virtualizing would offer no benefit at all. So you will install SBS following your exam guide for SBS.

That SHOULD be enough detail for you to do the legwork yourself. And if you have specific questions, you can always open a new question on EE. but rewriting the virtualbox and exam guides for you is more work than I feel compelled to do, as I think most EE Experts will feel the same way.

mgross333Author Commented:

Thanks for confirming my # 2 is the scenario.

(1) Regarding the rest I did not ask you to WRITE anything and with all due respect I think your latest reply did not reflect that.

My exact words were 'I would much appreciate a link to a "how to install SBS 2008 (or any OS) in vitualbox" document.".  A link, not write anything.

Can you please provide a link to the Quick Start guide you refer to UNLESS it is

www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch01.html#idp9149520       (found by Google search)

However THAT is a user guide, not a quick start guide. Also almost all the screen shots are for MAC OS X , not Windows, BUT I may have to live with that and make the "translations" (I do fix MACs too).

(2) ALSO there is a something here I do not understand. For some entity to be a client of SBS 2008 the normal scenario is the client has one local ip address and the server a DIFFERENT one. (Please correct me if I am wrong). Is that possible when both the client (on Win 7) and server are on the same physical PC   ? (Scenario # 2).

ie. with scenario # 2, if I use each OS to find it's local ip address using whatever approach the OS provides to find that, will THEY BE DIFFERENT ?

Cliff GaliherCommented:
Just so you understand why my answers may be the way they are. I am a big proponent of community. I want to help those that need help. It is how I learned, and I feel compelled to pass that on.mpay it forward, so to speak. I don't care about EE's point system. That isn't why I answer questions.

With that said, there is a not so fine line. When I read someone (generically) post "I'm doing 'thing A' for a customer and don't know how to do it, help me" I simply refuse to help. They promised and are charging for a service they cannot do, are expecting free help for, and are NOT contributing to good IT practices or the reputation of the IT community. It is about ethics.minwint help someone actively be unethical.

Similarly, if someone asks a question that can be answered by using bing/google, and I use keywords from THEIR question, and the answer is in the first paragraph or page of one of the top five links, they are wasting my time and theirs. They could have searched the result in less time than they took to write the question.

The FIRST thing any question asker should do is try searching. Not onlymafternthey didn't get an answer they didn't like. And they SHOULD search for every follow-up question that they have too. After all, they are the ones who need help, not the answerer. They should show that they are willing to put equal effort into learning. And asking without searching just screams lazy.  Why should I post a link that someone SHOULD have been able to find themselves in as much time as it'd take me to find it?

I'll use your question as an example. Do you think I have the virtualbox quick start guide link memorized? I'll either be binging it, googling it, or searching for it in my local notes....regardless, I'll be searching, something someone else is equally capable of doing. I don't feel compelled to do THAT for someone else. They need help? I'll help them. They can't use google? They shouldn't be doing ANY IT work. Again, a not so fine line.

So, with that frame of mind, to answer the pertinent question to your pst,maps you are inexperienced with virtualization.meach client address will have its own virtual NIC. thus, by proxy, just as each physical NIC needs a unique IP address on a network to avoid IP collisions, so does each virtual NIC. they ca get one from DHCP, or you can manually assign one. But they act JUST LIKE a physical NIC in every meaningful regard. So DHCP will run on the client OS. Or you'll assign the static IP through the "normal" mechanism the client OS provides. Again, if virtualization broke how an PS works or is managed, it wouldn't be much good. If you had to ignore the networking section of your book/exam guide because of virtualization, you wouldn't have much luck passing the exam. So I will repeat my previous statement. Virtualization creates a full virtual platform that will behave just like a physical platform would. It has virtual hardware, virtual hard disks, a virtual processor, and virtual network cards. It is, for intents and purposes, a completely isolated machine for you to ACCURATELY learn SBS.

mgross333Author Commented:

Regarding I should do searches for info before posting here, did you notice that I posted a link to the Virtualbox user guide in the post your are replying to. How do you think I found that user guide? By google search. Yet you claim I am NOT doing exactly what I **AM** doing before posting . It just was not a Quick Start guide (although it DOES have install instructions).

Now to get to what is by FAR the main point. In an earlier post in this thread you said

"download and install virtual box. Run SBS virtualized on a completely private "virtual" network inside it. You won't break your production network, your home network, or your roommate's if you set this up right, and yet you can run your test lab as designed, with DNS and DHCP on SBS, and virtualbox will keep the two networks isolated."

(Note: Bolding is mine, not yours). That paragraph is WHY I am interested in the virutal box approach. Now in your current reply you essentially say that the Virtual SBS is very much like a real physical PC, and has its virtual NIC and own ip address etc etc

OK fine but there is then ONE problem. There is still only ONE router here and that router is the ONLY source of internet as it is connected to the ONE Comcast ISP modem. So given that I **STILL** don't see how if I set "with DNS and DHCP on SBS" as you say and as every SBS expert on EE has told me I should do, how doing that will not make the SBS the DHCP and DNS server for ALL PCs connected to the ONE router, ie. my office PC and my roommates PC.

If you could answer THAT question without saying "you do not understand virtualization" or similar it would be much appreciated. I **CAN** understand why attaching two routers to the ONE current router and switching ethernet cables back and forth will work because NOW we have added a separate router for the two situations (SBS is DNS and DHCP and the opposite) . I need to understand at a high level why virtualization gets around the problem because your latest reply sounds like SBS in virtual box is very much like SBS on a whole separate PC and iF SBS were on a separate PC, then turning on DNS and DHCP server on SBS **WOULD** affect all PCs (my office and my roommate's) connected to the ONE router.

A reply explaining that would be great. And BTW I am interested in learning SBS, not virtulization, my TOTAL interest in virtualization is (1) the answer to THIS question and (2) the nuts and bolts of how to install SBS into Virtualbox which my user guide will explain (maybe not as nicely as a Quick Start guide but enough to get the job done).

If you can answer THAT one additional question I will then proceed with the virtual approach. And close this EE question.

In order to make things totally clear I have twice used a virtual SW package to install an OS on a PC or MAC running a different OS. ie to save money by having two OS's one on one PC or MAC. THAT I UNDERSTAND. The issue here is how to solve a networking problem by using virtualization and that is not something a customer has asked me to do in the past.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
You can request "additional attention" if you desire to get other experts to look at this question. I, however, am done.

mgross333Author Commented:

Thanks for your suggestion of using VirtualBox to isolate the SBS training network from my production network. The further questions that you unfortunately refused to answer were handled by another SBS 2008 (and VirtualBox) expert at my followup EE question


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