Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

For the last 9 years, I have maintained a home Windows Domain (Active Directory) for all my systems. I am now looking at removing the domain, as I don't want the overhead in maintaining it.

However, without AD and DDNS, how will my machines identify each other? In the 90s I know that NetBIOS was the primary way to name/locate services. Is this still the case? What directory service/protocol should be used on a domain-less network?

I want to use the network for simple network shares, nothing too complex.

Thanks, Erick

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Bryan, Wesley, Magellan, MDMarra, Chris S Nov 26 '12 at 4:49

Questions on Server Fault are expected to relate to server, networking, or related infrastructure administration within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I believe it is still Netbios. Just put all the machines into the same workgroup and they seem to discover each other.

EDIT Not essential but if you happen to have a router that supports dhsmasq. e.g. use DDWRT.

dnsmasq: Dnsmasq is a lightweight, easy to configure, DNS forwarder and DHCP server, designed to provide DNS (and optionally DHCP) services to a small-scale network. It can serve the names of local machines which are not in the global DNS...

share|improve this answer
So the NetBIOS names (based on the machine name) are discovered via broadcasts? When I look up NetBIOS and SMB in Wikipedia, they keep mentioning Windows legacy. Is NetBOIS used for "Homegroups"? – Erick T Nov 10 '10 at 22:30
As long as all your machines run client systems, using a workgroup is OK. If you want to assign permissions you just need to create an user with the same name and password in each machine (I have a small network at home with a Windows 2000 computer, two Windows XP laptops and a XBOX and works fine :-) ). – Alberto Martinez Nov 11 '10 at 0:21

Nothing wrong with running a standalone Windows DNS server. That's what I use at home, in concert with Windows DHCP.

share|improve this answer
I am hoping to avoid running any servers. If I was going to keep a server, I would just AD and DDNS. – Erick T Nov 10 '10 at 22:22
Server 2003 is pretty lightweight - you could stick that in a VM somewhere? – tomfanning Nov 10 '10 at 22:31
Running an internal DNS server will give you guaranteed internal name resolution, NetBIOS won't. In addition, Your router is unlikely to have the ability to host an internal DNS zone, so it's ability to resolve DNS names for internal hosts is going to be little to none. – joeqwerty Nov 10 '10 at 23:39

I havent used Windows in a while.. But last time i did.. it was called a workgroup..

Same as a domain basically.. just not control or binding..

It just sets systems/computers into named groups..

For example..

My Workgroup at home was called MSHOME

share|improve this answer
That is what I remember as well, but I don't like not understanding what is happening on my network. I see references to networking "Homegroup", but can't find much on the actual technology used. – Erick T Nov 10 '10 at 22:31
Ohh i think it is still on Netbios.. They "were" supposed to change it, cause its old and well - not good.. hehe – Arenstar Nov 11 '10 at 0:40

If your running a network at home, you probably have some sort of router. If your router was produced in the last 10 years, you should have a DNS server built into it, just make sure it is turned on. NETBIOS takes care of the rest.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, I'll check my router. – Erick T Nov 12 '10 at 6:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.