What can I do with Windows 2K3 and old hardware?
February 22, 2008 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I've got a copy of Windows Server 2003 and a bunch of old computers. What are some things I can do with it?

I've got a copy of Windows Server 2003 and a bunch of old computers. I am also taking some courses in Server 2K3 administration, but I'm not really getting a feel for what I can *do* with 2K3 besides setting up Active Directory, DNS and DHCP. I can get a client to join a domain, but as it stands it's pointless since the domain provides no additional functionality to the client-- just slows down logging in.

What are some ways in which 2K3 is deployed in an enterprise environment? I'd appreciate some example setups, projects or scenarios to try to emulate so I can get a feel for what I might expect if I did this for a living.

posted by Ziggy Zaga to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: (note: I haven't taken a win2k3 class yet. These observations are based on someone who was thrown into the frying pan on using wk3)
Practice various GPEDIT configurations and use of templates. You have 3 users you don't want to use printers, 2 who can and aren't allowed to edit print queues, and 1 who can control all things printing but need to be connected via a logon script or some creative variation.
Don't allow yourself to set up local computer accounts to accomplish any learning goals. Create necessary settings completely through the server.

Mess with security settings and figure out what the heck each configuration actually does.

Scripting for use of various network resources (via GPEDIT or AD user config).

Along the same lines, learn how to create secure network shares for users without individually creating each one. Hooray for Server backups.
Speaking of, practice backing up then crashing and fully restoring the server. A lot less stressful doing it now than for the first time on a live & vital server.

Pushing/pulling software out to client computers. Set up a Windows Update repository on the server for clients to use. RIS. Use 2k3 as a Windows installation for PXE.

DHCP & lease pools, static IPs, etc. It's easy to set up a server and DHCP magically works, but what if you need specific modifications?

Make the server fully communicate over routers and VPNs with clients.

Setup a firewall to play nicely with VPN/IIS/SMPT/FTP/etc (OK, not directly 2k3, but a useful skill nonetheless).
posted by jmd82 at 2:11 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had 2k3 run on a PIII 650 Mhz with 128MB of RAM. So it'll most likely run on whatever hardware you have as long as it isn't any older than that, and as long as you can find XP drivers.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:53 PM on February 22, 2008

Oh, and goof around with it. Image it right away the first time you have it installed and activated (if you're going that route), and instead of reinstalling every time you screw it up, just restore the image.

There. I just saved you days of work.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:54 PM on February 22, 2008

I can get a client to join a domain, but as it stands it's pointless since the domain provides no additional functionality to the client-- just slows down logging in.

Have you tried writing any login or logout scripts. Or exploring group policy yet?
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:49 PM on February 22, 2008

Best answer: Server 2003 does lots of neat things, especially if you can "acquire" a copy of 2K3 Enterprise Edition with a VLK. Here are some fun things to play with:

1) Learn how to effectively set up and deploy GPOs. Try out different scenarios in your head, especially difficult ones like "power users whom you cannot trust" or "does not know how to use a computer, but has local admin on their desktop and will use it". GPMC and RSoP are your best friends here. Just call rsop.msc on the target desktop.
2) Deploy an XP desktop with Remote Install Services.
3) Set up a few machines to play with DFS.
4) Set up a WSUS master and replica server.
5) Try to fully lock down a terminal services session, while still providing a reasonable desktop experience. This is a lot harder than it sounds.
5a) Use folder redirection to experiment with different TS scenarios
6) Create a TS farm (definitely need a copy of Enterprise or any version of Server 2008 for the Session Directory).
7) Just play with any clustering in general.
8) Server Hardening. Specifically, lock down a server while still running services like IIS or SQL Server with Windows authentication (you can get Express 2005 for free).
9) Get a copy of ISA Server 2006 and set up a working and secure implementation with VPN. Make sure it works with Vista. Try using ISA to block out things like bit torrent or chat programs. Play with automatic configuration/deployment of the Firewall Client.
10) Set up Windows Sharepoint Services, I guess. But only if you really like Microsoft for this kind of stuff. I do not.
11) Play around with Exchange Server 2007, especially the management shell. The console is bullshit.

There's lots more, of course. Just remember to always think about high availability and security whenever you do anything, and the rest will come pretty easily. Technet is sort of dry and boring, but it's pretty thorough for most Server stuff, so you can always depend on the feature you want to be described in detail there somewhere.
posted by tracert at 12:25 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Uh, also, don't forget to fill up your secret bag of *nix tricks. Sometimes the best things in life really are free.
posted by tracert at 12:32 AM on February 23, 2008

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