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A Crash Course into Networking & Windows Server


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#1 Bellzemos

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 05:14 PM

Hello!

I would like to learn as much as possible about networks and servers in as little time as possible. I'm only seeking the basic knowledge at the moment, I'll get deeper into it later on.

So basically what I'd like to do is establish a network with a server in our own home, so I can practice it all this way (since I don't have a chance or resources for building a real network from scratch).

This is a scheme of how things are set in our house:
s.png

The computer A is my main computer which I am using daily. The computer S is an older desktop which I will be using as a server to learn from it, both computers are in my room (as is the switch). The computer B is a laptop connected wirelessly in another room and modem & router are located in the third room.

My main question is: how to set everything in such way that when the desktop computer is on it acts as the server and I have a network from which I can learn as much as possible but when the computer S is off, then all the computers can still normally work and connect to the internet through the router - exactly as they did up till now (before I started learning about networks and servers)? I would like to know if this is possible, before I start, and how.

On the computer S I have already installed Windows Server 2008 and on my main computer A I have Windows 7 (computer B is still running Windows XP). I have updated Windows Server 2008 and installed a free AV for servers on it (Clam AV - no resident protection sadly).

I am very concerned about security - my computer A is very securely configured. Will I be exposed to more threats by building this network with the server withhout a "proper" antivirus (or not at all)? What do I have to be careful about when having a network exposed to the internet? I don't know much about ports (or anything else for that matter) yet.

Things I would like to learn first are:
1. How to set it all up so that it will work properly (active domain and stuff like that).
2. How to share a few files, maybe share a printer (it's physically connected to the computer B) and similar.
3. How to make it all very safe and secure for all the computers involved.

That's already too much text for the first post, I hope you will help me, any help would really be much appreciated!
 



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#2 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 11:30 PM

yes you seem to have already established what you like/want.

so the first thing would be to configure the server with active directory, you will need to install LDAP and then raise it to a full domain controller and create some useraccounts.

When you are installing it will ask you if you want to set up a DHCP and assign the DNS name etc etc.

You will have to learn about settings group policies and creatying OU groups to target the GPO you ahve created, this is where you can set some security options which may apply to either computer or user accounts.

 

The next thing would be to think of what you want to distribute the DHCP IP's, the server or the switch or the modem.

Next after configuring the dns/dhcp would be join your currect computers (Or create some virtuals) to the new domain and make sure they can resolve names and also obtain the correct IP settings such as subnet and gateway.

 

For networking i would recommend cisco packet tracker, just note you can configure servers and switches and routers all in packet tracer.

 

After all that has been done you wouldt hen want to start learning how to cconfigure some shared folders and also assigning the NTFS permissons based on either single users or a group or a OU group.



#3 Wand3r3r

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 02:40 PM

If you want to learn networking it is best if you start by learning about Workgroups.  This is peer to peer networking and will teach you about user accounts, file sharing and permissions.  Once you understand this concepts you can move on to more advanced concepts that server OS's and Active Directory bring to the plate.  You would start with a standlone server in your workgroup.  Then you would advance to engaging Active Directory.  Before doing so though you would need to know a bit about tcp/ip addressing, dhcp and dns servers so you can properly configure AD.

 

For your server to be secure don't give it internet access by assigning it a static ip with no gateway.  Being a learning device it doesn't need internet access.

 

Do understand that just jumping into server configurations will result in a lot of wasted time hitting dead ends because you don't have the educational background to understand what has gone wrong.  My recommendation is learn the basics then move on to the more complicated subjects.  There are a number of books and training guides out there you can take advantage of for your training.

 

Best of luck!



#4 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 06:16 PM

Personally i wouldnt touch workgroups with a 10 foot pole LOL.

I learnt the hard way which helped me learn a hell of a lot more then people i know who studied at university for 5 years!

 

Its called breakign things and fixing things and learnign to swim, yes its stress full but so is running large networks and 100's of node's and servers. You need to learn how to deal with hard sitsuations.

This is just a personal view but with google beign the best tool for IT resources, you cant fail unless you put zero time in to it.

People need to realise that settings up servers and creating accounts is just childs play, some make it out to be harder than what it is.

 

When i studied, after the second year i was teaching the class that i was in and the 2 classes below me, the 3rd year i knew more than my teacher. I read everything 3-4 times to make sure i understood it and for gods sake dont use microsoft for documentation because half their stuff is absolute crap.

 

I seen students who where awesome at books and reading but i was tasked with breaking machines and asking them to fix it, put it this way a lot of them couldnt even fix the smallest of issues because they relied on theory.

If you get stuck, plenty of youtube chanells offering how to setup a server with active directory!



#5 Bellzemos

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 07:18 PM

Thank you both!

JohnnyJammer - what is LDAP? OU, GPO? I would like to learn hard and fast, as you did, but it's really overwhelming. Though, I should learn ASAP since I'm trying to get a job in this field.

Wand3r3r - workgroups? You mean setting a network with all computer running Windows instead of Windows Server?

I would like you guys, if you have time and are willing to help me (much appreciated!) to tell me, with my home configuration, how would/could I go with setting up a server and share some files etc. to learn about it all. I don't know where to start. I would like to learn fast but what you, JohnnyJammer said, is a bit too much for me at the moment, it's too overwhelming as I don't know enough yet.

And yes, I've been reading some books but I would like to try it in practice. I have what I have available, I have already installed the Windows Server 2008 but don't know how to go about it all.

As, how can I use it as a server and then next time only use my PC to access the internet, as I'm doing now.

Again, any comments would be much appreciated!



#6 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 09:26 PM

Mate this is some of the first links i found with some good tutorials. How to create a domain (You already have the server installed)

 

 

What is LDAP

LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. It is an application protocol used over an IP network to manage and access the distributed directory information service. This video gives you a high level overview of LDAP and some examples of software that utilize LDAP, such as Active Directory

What is OU(Organization unit), OU is a group of containers which hold either a computer or a useraccount or both or a GPO (Group policy object).

Think of it as a structured tree, You create a Computer OU and move computers to there then same with a User OU group and add users to that.

What you need to remember is to set the IP gateway of the computer to that of the same Subnet a the Server and manuallt set the DNS IP's to point to the server before joining the computer to the domain.

 

How to create a domain controller.

http://www.elmajdal.net/win2k8/setting_up_your_first_domain_controller_with_windows_server_2008.aspx

 

If you get stuck mate, fireup youtube or google. I just dont have time to type every single thing up thats all.

If you get stuck understanding a step during any process then stop, research it more and proceed where you left off.

Always do this in virtuals as it would be more efficient to do so.



#7 Bellzemos

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 01:21 PM

Thank you for the link.

 

Is it possible that through my experimentation with the Windows Server I could somehow disable internet access for the other computers that are tied to the router? Or to compromise the security?

 

That's what I don't want to happen and that's why I'm afraid to start experimenting. So please tell me, is it possible to screw other stuff up?

 

If that happens I won't be able to use internet/Google to solve it.

 

Thank you! :)



#8 Wand3r3r

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:14 PM

"OU is a group of containers which hold either a computer or a useraccount or both or a GPO (Group policy object)."

and

"You create a Computer OU and move computers to there then same with a User OU group and add users to that"

 

Sorry JohnnyJammer but these descriptions are not correct.

 

from the web:

An organizational unit is the smallest scope or unit to which you can assign Group Policy settings or delegate administrative authority. Using organizational units, you can create containers within a domain that represent the hierarchical, logical structures within your organization

 

The break and make approach as I have previously stated leave huge holes in understanding complex concepts.

 

Bellzemos you asked "Wand3r3r - workgroups? You mean setting a network with all computer running Windows instead of Windows Server?"

 

That would be correct.  Most small businesses that hire people to come in and set things up for them run in workgroups.  Cost is less and it easier for lay people to maintain. Active Directory comes into play when there are internal security concerns/ departments/ different sites/ more users.

 

Bellzemos did you understand JohnnyJammer's suggestion of using virtual machines?

 

I would point out that no one jumps into Calculus without starting with the multiplication tables.  A "crash course" will not make you employable.  I know because I am the guy that hires the IT people.  Where most of us start is doing computer hardware builds and repairs.  You need a good understanding of hardware to be a good server guy.  This is also the foundation your future troubleshooting skills are built on.  Learning workstation OS's lead into learning Server OS's, so and so forth.  Once you have the hardware skills you can be hired by a local computer shop which will enhance your training.  Then you can move on to more complicated jobs.



#9 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 05:54 PM

Mate i tried putting it on laymans terms so he could understand and yes OU groups are not just for GPO's because you may not assign any GPO's to a OU which would still hold objects such as computers, users!

i delibaretly have OU groups in my structure simply to create a neat format of which some dont contain GPO's so your WEB theory goes out the door there! Microsofts a starting point to learn but most people dont apply their methedology because it simply doesnt work in real life scenarios.

 

Like i said before, that is my way of doing things, yours is different and the questioner doesnt have to take my or your advice.

Server operating systems are so easy a 7 year old could learn it and some people make it out to be a 2 year learnign curve when simply, Microsoft make it so easy these days a child can do it.

Stop making out like its hard, this fella wants to learn fast like he said and learn fast he will, he doesnt need to know binary math, doesnt even have to understand FLOPS or how much power a rail takes on a  board.

He simply wants to get a few things set up to get him started.

 

Anyway back to the last question, mate if you dont want them to have internet access, simple assign the gateway to an IP address that does not point to the modem/router.

When you want your computer to have access to the internet, change the gateway to that of your modem/router IE(192.168.1.1), note you will have to change to a static IP address as well which maybe out side of the subnet you have created for the Server's DHCP scope.


Edited by JohnnyJammer, 02 December 2014 - 08:27 PM.


#10 Bellzemos

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 10:58 AM

I thank you both for sharing your knowledge.

 

Now I started thinking of installing (regular) Windows to the "server" PC and doing the Workgroups thing for starters. I know PC hardware to a certain extent (repaired quite some PCs).

 

So I don't know, should I go with the Workgroup system first or push on and do the Windows Server network directly here at home.

 

I would like to learn fast but I would also like to learn properly and understand the concepts...

 

Most of all, I don't want to mess anything up here at home for other users (the internet connection or security) - so please advise me how do I go about not messing that up.

 

PS: I want the other computers to have the internet access. I would like to be able to switch between the current state (all computers can connect to the internet as separate units throught the router & modem, all security left intact) and the server/learning state where I could use the server and network. Is that possible?

 

PPS: Virtual machines? Like VMware? I don't know how to use that and  why would I need it in my case?

 

Again, thenk you so much, your help is much appreciated!



#11 Wand3r3r

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 11:25 AM

Both workstations and servers will need internet access to do their updates, which are quite a few after a new install.  As long as you are not bringing up a web page or email server or using these test stations for regular internet browsing they are relatively safe.

 

An option is to buy a vlan switch [another networking thing to learn] and put your test network on one vlan and your home network on another vlan so neither touch each other but both can have internet access.

 

Virtual machines using HyperV or VMware allow you to run multiple configurations on a single host machine.  You will want to learn these also since this is how we are maximizing the hardware usage,



#12 Bellzemos

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 01:58 PM

I'm thinking about making a system image backup of Windows Server 2008 from the "server" PC and installing back Windows XP on it and then making a Workgropu between the computers in our home to learn from that.

 

I have some concertns though:

 

1. What will I be able to learn from that? How to share files and the printer that's attached to one of the home PCs? Can I learn anything else? Maybe something about SQL or MS Access? Or anything else (open for suggestions)? :)

 

2. Each computer will access the internet directly through the router and modem, by itself, right? How is it with security when working with a workgroup? If one PC gets infected can malware spread to others? I want to prevent that but other users are no as security aware as me.

 

3. Anything else I should know?

 

Thank you so much for help!



#13 Bellzemos

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 02:06 PM

PS: I've decided on that because you said that most of the small bussnises (5-10 computers in a network) use Workgroups. So that means that they have, let's say 5 computers with Windows XP and 5 with Windows 7 and they are connected into a simple network with or without a server. Is it possible to have a server too, or not?

 

Again, thanx!



#14 Wand3r3r

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 02:29 PM

"server" is a relative term.  In Peer to Peer networking it is what ever host you decide is the server or you can have a dedicated server OS on a host in the workgroup.  Mostly this depends on what software you are running.  For example a networked version of an accounting package will want to reside on one host with the rest accessing that host thru the software's client software.

 

"security" is a relative term also.  We consider server-client to be more secure than peer to peer due to centralization meaning the data is stored on the server and only authorized users can access it.  When considering network security both have the same vulnerabilities: users doing things they shouldn't.  This of course assumes you have kept all hosts up-to-date concerning patches/service pacs, you are behind router and that you run updated antivirus/antimalware software.  Software firewalls are also beneficial in they can warn you of outbound traffic caused by programs.

 

Learning networking isn't going to put you at any more risk of attack/infection than you have now.

 

To answer what you would learn concerning peer to peer networking google peer to peer networking guide and download/read some of the guides.  Then think about things like I want Joe to have full access to this share but I want Jill to have read only.  How do you accomplish that?  Lets say you have a share with full control but it has subdirectories you want to restrict.  How do you do that?

 

Concerning SQL server and MS Access you can play with anything you want to but I would suggest course study guides/ books when it comes to learning programs



#15 Bellzemos

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Posted 04 December 2014 - 02:55 PM


Learning networking isn't going to put you at any more risk of attack/infection than you have now.

 

Alright, that's comforting. So by sharing files, printers etc. in a workgroup I am at exactly the same danger as if I'm only sharing the same internet connection thorught the same router & modem (so no interaction between computers)? That's what I'm afraid the most.

 

I have a Windows 7 PC and others have Windows XP so I can't make a homegroup but a workgroup, right? I will check the peer to peer networking guides as you suggested and try different stuff. So these are the ways small busnisses mostly use, peer to peer? Can a peer to peer network (workgroup) like the one I'll be making include a (dedicated) as well?

 

I'll be gone for the weekend but on monday I'm starting with learning all the network stuff. Thank you and have a good weekend! :)






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