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My network is composed of about 300 vlans (no broadcast between them). In each of those subnet are windows computers (xp, vista, seven). They are all included in the same workgroup (i.e. they aren't in a domain). Can the computers get a list of all the computers in the workgroup, including the ones from the other vlans?

I currently have a wins server and a domain master browser. In the subnets, the computers are electing a local master browser, but they don't synchronize their list with the domain master; so each vlan can only the computers that are included in its subnet. The only thing that achieve this synchronization is samba (configured as a local master), but all the vlan only have windows based computer.

Is there a way to get a complete list?

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I'm intrigued - what sort of environment is this and why aren't you using a domain? – Helvick Nov 14 '09 at 1:47
This network must be a joy to find and fix problems. – Jim Zajkowski Nov 14 '09 at 5:01
It is a student residential network, so I can't go to every flat and force people to join a domain. Also, most of them couldn't, since they are using home editions of windows. – Moi42 Nov 14 '09 at 12:02

You'll need to configure all of your clients to use the central WINS server or set up a WINS server on each subnet and make the WINS servers push\pull partners to each other.

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Other more maintainable methods aside like a domain or a peering WINS setup like joeqwerty is suggesting, I'd probably take the brute force approach. Set up a linux box connected to a trunk port so it can access all vlans. Then I'd script out this:

for vlanNumber in `seq 1 300`; do
    # create a virtual network device on vlan using vconfig
    # get dhcp lease using dhclient
    # use nmblookup to gather all the machine names and append them to a file
    # release the dhcp lease
    # drop the vlan interface

Not pretty, for sure, but it would probably manage to do the job.

  1. vconfig
  2. nmblookup
  3. dhclient
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Sorry, I think I didn't ask my question right. My real problem is not to get a complete list of computers somewhere. [I managed to synchronize wins.dat (which contains the list of resolvable names) with browse.dat (which contains the browse list).] My problem is that the computers query their local master browser and so they only get the list of their own subnet; since the lists aren't shared between the local masters and the domain master. This works when I force all the windows to not be local masters, but I can't configure that way all the computer from everyone. – Moi42 Nov 14 '09 at 12:23
Ah, I see. I misunderstood. I thought you were trying to get a list of the machines for your own records. You want these client machines to be able to browse for and find machines on other vlans. In that case, my answer isn't going to help you in the slightest. :-) – Jeff Snider Nov 14 '09 at 22:09
Yes, I'm sorry I asked my question the wrong way. I'm really thankful for your help anyway. – Moi42 Nov 15 '09 at 0:45

Are you using DHCP in this environment? If so, I believe you can specify one or more WINS servers as part of the DHCP lease. This is the netbios-name-servers option in ISC DHCP. This would configure them to use a wins server you specify without having to go touch each machine.

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