And by mini, I mean a full-on Active Directory implementation with Exchange Server, at home. Welcome to my project! Why am I doing this? I work in IT support (desktop and Helpdesk) and our organization uses Active Directory. I got sent on a Windows 2003 server course a while ago that explained the basics of AD and I got interested in it, so I want to learn more. Therefore, what better way than to be your own enterprise admin at home? I’ve got various books on this now, see the full book list, below. The Mission To run Server 2008 Datacentre running these roles in an AD environment: Exchange Server 2010 WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) Data backup, including backups of the server installation in case of failure Learn about Active Directory, Group Policy and managing servers in general (this is geeky heaven, I tell you) Implement roaming profiles: see identical desktop on all computers with minimal configuration plus profile backup Eventually upgrade to Server 2008 R2 Datacentre Implement anything else on the way that seems worthwhile The server hardware will reside in the same room that I sleep in (studio flat) so will have to be very quiet if it’s to be left on 24/7 like I intend to. Using quiet fans and hard drives is a must and I have these. Current Status I have previously subbed to Microsoft TechNet, so I have downloaded all the high-end software that comes with that subscription, including multiple keys for a genuine and permanent Windows Server 2008 (or R2) Datacentre installation. I’ve read up on DNS (heavy subject!) and Active Directory (even heavier) and I understand all the principles now. However, I peg my level of working knowledge to that of a baby crawling around and reaching out to play with things he shouldn’t. J Stop that! I’m currently running Server 2008 Datacentre 32-bit on an old P4 Northwood with HT 2.8GHz o/c 3.5GHz rock solid stable on an Abit AI7 mobo & 2GB RAM. Windows Server is on an 80GB IDE drive and the data backup & WSUS drive is a 1.5TB WD GreenPower drive. I’ve got a 2GHz Athlon 64X2 knocking around, but I wanted to give this old girl some use for now – and she’s not bad looking either. All the P4 is doing at the moment is operating as a WSUS server and as a backup drive for the umpteen gigs worth of crap, err, data I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s not set as a domain controller right now. However, I have used a couple of laptops (yes, really, for the novelty hehe) to play around with AD. So far, I’ve set them both up as domain controllers, with both of them working on the same domain. Why this configuration? Simply because I’m following the examples in the book. Next configuration will be parent-child DCs and then a forest of two or three domains. I expect to actually have only one domain for my home system, but this may change depending on requirements. Other Stuff Why Server 2008 and not Server 2008 R2? Because the Microsoft Press books I want only cover Server 2008. There’s no Inside Out or other major MS Press books for R2, for some reason. However, there is the Administrator’s Pocket Consultant 2nd Edition which covers R2, but that doesn’t explain things from the ground up like the Inside Out book does. Therefore, I’m sticking with the older OS for now. I’ve been thinking hard about what to call my domain, but I’ve finally come up with a name. I like cats, so I think I’ll call it tabby.cat Cute, huh? Also, skynet.t2 or cyberdyne.t2 from the Terminator films are tempting me… Internet security: I run Kaspersky Internet Security on my main PC. Unfortunately, neither this nor any other standard consumer security software will run on a server OS, presumably because they want to charge one a lot more for the privilege of running a “professional” product just for servers. Any suggestions for security software appreciated, especially free ones. BOOKS (all Microsoft Press) Windows Server 2008 Inside Out Windows Server 2008 Administrator's Pocket Consultant 2nd Edition (updated for Server 2008 R2) Active Directory Resource Kit (covers Server 2008) Windows Group Policy Resource Kit (covers Server 2008) Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Inside Out Windows PowerShell 2.0 Administrator's Pocket Consultant As you can see, these are pretty heavy reads, so it will take time and dedication to get through these thousands of pages and become proficient. Perfect for a project. Happy New Year everybody!