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I'm just a newbie in servers, can anyone tell me a good book or site for learning about servers/active directory There are a lot of boring books..., I just want to know if out there is a good resource for study

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It's kind of hard to write an interesting book about such a dry and boring subject. Unfortunately, if you want to work with Windows servers, you will need to get past that and concentrate on the content. –  John Gardeniers Nov 1 '09 at 4:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

technet.microsoft.com has everything ever. They have white pages, release notes, blogs from the development teams, guides, etc etc. If you run into some terminology that you don't understand, google it.

Technet is seriously underutilized, but it is a wealth of knowledge that shouldn't be overlooked.

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+1 for TechNet, a veritable goldmine! –  Jimmy Shelter Nov 1 '09 at 13:21
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The key components of an AD infrastructure are (roughly in the order of priority I would select):

  • Windows Server
  • DNS
  • LDAP
  • Group Policy

I wouldn't advise diving headlong into AD as a total entity, but rather break it up into chunks like that, and get a brief but good overview of what each one is, what each one does, and where it fits into the bigger picture. Get reasonably comfortable with the concepts and terminology of each one before moving on to the next. At this stage I don't think you either need or want every excruciating fine detail, so just get the basics down solid and you'll do fine.

Learning resources I would recommend include:

  • TechNet (already mentioned).
  • The Microsoft Knowledge Base (it's not just for bugfixes, but has some fantastic overview and "how to" articles).
  • Getting your hands dirty in a lab environment (and not being afraid to break things while you do so - there is some valuable knowledge to be gained frm analyzing what you broke and why you broke it).
  • The MSDN Library (it's not just for developers, and has some great nuggets of info in it's Technical Articles).
  • The Windows Help files (it's amazing how many people don't use them!)
  • The Microsoft Learning resources (not so much, but can be useful to see stuff in action).

AD at it's heart is incredibly simple: none of this is difficult, it's just that there is an awful LOT of it. You're never going to learn it from a book, owing to the sheer amount of info to take in, and bear in mind that a lot of books can be crammed full of theoretical "best practices" that might not stand up in a real world deployment. I personally find books more useful as reference material than as learning material. Google can be great, but sometimes you just have to wade through so much rubbish to find what you want (ExpertsExchange anyone?).

To get you started with an overview though, and bear in mind what I said above, I would recommend purchasing the Administrator's Pocket Consultant books (Windows Server 2003) (Windows Server 2008). These are great little guides, they don't cost a fortune, and they'll usefully walk you through most of the common tasks you'll need to do, without blowing your mind on the heavier stuff.

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Good points mh. I forgot completely about Group Policy. –  Sim Nov 2 '09 at 10:25
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With respect to the Active Directory here are a few books from O'Reilly that you should have a look at:

But if you really really want to get into the Active Directory in a way that will make you an AD god (and make your eyes bleed and brain hurt due to the amazing depth of the material covered) you can't go past:

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The books seems to be the opus magnum when it comes to AD design, how relevant and useful is it times of 2K8 (R2)? –  pfo Jan 22 '10 at 19:36
    
If you are referring to Inside Active Directory: A System Administrator's Guide, then it only covers up to 2003, but it looks like the authors are writing Active Directory 2008 Unleashed. –  Sim Jan 22 '10 at 23:16
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