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I am a novice in networking and I want to learn more about Windows Server 2008 and Active Directory. Basically I have serveral Windows 7 PC's in my home and an IBM server with Win Server 2008 installed. I have enabled Active Directory and set the server to have a static IP. Thats as far as I have got and I feel a little overwhelmed at the moment as I am not sure what to do next.

What I eventually want to do is have the Windows 7 PC's to be able to be authenticated by the server - basically a mock up of what most large or medium sized businesses/organisations run.

Sorry if I sound a bit sketchy, but I understand some things but not the whole picture, I guess I just need confirmation that I am sort of on the right track :)

Also what are some good resources out there you can point me to, what are the absolute basics I need to to get started so I can further my learning?

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Please be wary about asking/answering these sorts of questions, the SF community is great and helpful, but this isn't really what we're here for. See the FAQ ( - " Server Fault is for system administrators and IT professionals, people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity. " – Mark Henderson May 5 '10 at 23:19
Im not sure Farseeker - I think this is very relevant to this forum as it involves server technology principaly. I am an IT professional who is trying to learn some basics about server technology. If you can't come here to learn things then I think the scope of this site is way too narrow. – Simon E May 8 '10 at 16:57
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've actually done this before! Here are a couple basic steps, assuming you're working with a similar environment:

  • Set up Server 2008 on your IBM machine.

I'm assuming you have a router of some kind in your home, and that you can log in to configure it.

  • Make note of your router's IP address, specifically whether it's 192.168.0.x or 192.168.1.x (emphasis on the 0 or 1--different routers will use one or the other by default)
  • Give your server a static IP address inside the same subnet as your router.
  • Install the AD DS role, as well as DNS and DHCP roles.
  • Set up your DHCP to use the same scope as your router--192.168.0 or 192.168.1--and use a mask of
  • Configure your DHCP scope options to specify your router's address as the gateway (003 Router) and add your server's static IP to the dns list (006 DNS Servers).
    • DISABLE YOUR ROUTER'S DHCP! oops, hah. forgot to write down this step.

This should allow you to leave your W7 machines on DHCP, while still making them aware of your server as the primary DNS and knowing to get to the internet through your router.

  • Pick the domain name for your home network, and finish the DNS configuration.
  • Add domain users on the server
  • On your W7 machines, either reboot or run "ipconfig /renew" from a command prompt
  • Click Start, and right click on Computer. Select "Change Settings" on the right, and then enter the domain you configured.
  • If you get an error stating that the domain could not be contacted, attempt to disable/enable your network adapter in the network and sharing center--this seems to work fairly frequently.
  • Go nuts!

Hope this helps. Additionally, I'll agree that wikipedia is a valuable resource as a launchpad for learning about various topics. IT is a ridiculously huge bowl of alphabet soup, and even a brief primer a la wiki pages can get you pointed in the right direction.

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I mostly agree with what you've said but I prefer to not use my router for anything other than routing\firewalling. I use the AD\DHCP\DNS services of the server for all of the clients. The best way to learn Windows networking is to use it. You'll find that most Windows installations use Windows for DHCP as well as for DNS. – joeqwerty May 5 '10 at 23:20
You need to make sure that you disable DHCP on the router if you do this, having two DHCP servers on the same subnet with overlapping scopes is bad news. – MDMarra May 5 '10 at 23:21
I like this as there is some overlap with what I have done already, so feeling good! I will give this a go tomorrow and hopefully get somewhere. Many thanks for your time and efforts! – Simon E May 5 '10 at 23:21
Hah. Whoops! Forgot the router dhcp disable step. And to think I was looking forward to that step for most of the time I spent writing this! – bwerks May 5 '10 at 23:22
Cheers MarkM for the DHCP gotcha there! Could have slipped up badly on that one! – Simon E May 5 '10 at 23:23

I know the feeling, Active Direcotry is quite overwhelming for the new user.

To start with, wikipedia does have some good info about group policy and links to resources. Once you get onto organisational units and things like folder re-direction the microsoft knowledgebase is actually very halpful with this, you just need to know what you're looking for. Try googling or looking for guides for setting up a network from scratch or if possible do what I have and run Server 2003/2008 in a virtual machine (I use Sun/Oracle VM VirtualBox) and play about with it as much as you like because if you muck something up it doesn't matter as it's in a virtual long as you have the resources to do that, of course.

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Cheers - I will be Googling in earnest! :) – Simon E May 5 '10 at 23:22

If you are trying to learn about microsoft technologies you should really take a look at technet There is documentation, webcasts, and hands on lab environments with guided excercises to play with the various technologies.

Here is a link to the AD DS " learning snack" - which is an awful name for a pretty good intro to setting up AD

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