[dba-Tech] Advice on Consolidating Workgroups, Domain etc.

Drew Wutka dbatech at wolfwares.com
Mon Aug 23 21:09:43 CDT 2004

Arthur, a Domain will help with permissions, which is useful for file
sharing, but what you are really running into is a general networking issue.

I am going to explain how TCP/IP works, in general, to help you understand
where the weak points are, and what you can do to correct it.

To begin with, networking actually works on a lower level protocol then
TCP/IP.  Most current systems use Ethernet, but some still use systems like
Token Ring.  When a computer is connected to another computer, or to a
switch/hub, that lower level protocol connects.  Then TCP/IP takes over, and
that is what the OS uses to actually communicate to other computers.  TCP/IP
is based on three settings, IP Address, Subnet Mask, and Gateway.  You're IP
address is your 'ID', or phone number on the network.  That is the typical
'basic' education. However, to understand how an IP Address works, you have
to look at the subnet and gateway also.  The subnet mask is a bit
comparison, which tells the IP Address what other IP addresses are on it's
subnet (or in it's neighborhood).  A 255 in one of the four quads, tells the
IP Address, that it's neighbors will also have that same Number.  A 0 tells
it that the quad doesn't have to match at all. (any number in between, is
telling it what bits have to match, and which ones don't, so a 254 (which
has the 1 bit turned off...) tells it that it's neighbors have either the
same number or 1 off, (16 or 17....not 16 or 15 (because 16 and 17 have the
same bits, except for the 1 bit, and 15 has different bits from 16
(including the 1 bit)).  Now, that tells the OS what other machines should
be out there, but what if it needs to go beyond it's subnet?  That's what
the gateway is for.  The gateway tells the OS where a router is, that the
computer can use to go beyond it's subnet. (Routers connect two or more
subnets together).

Okay, that's the nitty gritty.  Sounds simple? <grin>  Now for the fun part.
Actually communicating to another machine.  If you just communicated by IP
Addresses, if the hardware was setup right, and everything is on the same
subnet, then there would be no problem.  However, a human wants to connect
to another computer by name (and actually, so do certain OS functions....).
So, you need to have a method of getting an IP Address, from a computer
name.  There are a few methods.  One, use Host Files.  This is a manually
created (by you) list of Computer names to their IP addresses.  This method
works, but it's hardly flexible, and requires constant upkeep whenever a
change on your network occurs (lose a machine, change a machine, add a
machine).  Then there is Computer Browsing. LOL.  This is a literal
Nightmare. Essentially, when computers are on a network, they try to browse
their subnet.  When other machines are found, they hold an 'election' to
determine who will be the 'master browser', which all of the other computers
will report too.  It works great, if you leave all of your machines up 24/7,
and never reboot them.  Because then one of them will become the Master
Browser, and stay that way.  Unfortunately, that scenario is near
impossible, so machines are rebooted, or shut down, and the whole system
makes the Florida ballot process look well organized.

Ever notice that while you may have problems hitting a share on one machine,
you have no problem going to http://whatchamakallit.com ?  That's because
when you cruise the internet, you use something called a DNS server. (Domain
Name Server), which TCP/IP uses as a literal 'phone book' to provide IP to
computer/domain name information. Using a DNS server (along with 2 other
'services') that are available in a Windows Server OS, you can make your
home network just as stable as surfing the net.  The other two services are
DHCP, and WINS. (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Windows Internet
Naming Service).  DHCP hands out IP Addresses. WINS acts a little like DNS,
but keeps notes of other things.  Here's what you do, you can use the
wizards in the Windows Server OS to turn on DNS, WINS, and DHCP.  Go into
your DHCP control panel, and setup an address pool. (Pick anything you
want....192.168.0.xxx or 10.10.0.xxx...etc.).  Then go into your scope
options, and setup a few things.  Setup the 003 option (Router), which will
be the IP address of your router (the server if you are using Internet
Connection sharing), then 006 the DNS servers (again, the server...since you
just setup DNS on it), then 044 for the WINS server.

After that, you just have to go to the other machines, and set their IP
Addresses to use DHCP, and you're done. (One note, you will need to setup in
your DNS server, a few 'forwarding DNS servers', which would be the DNS
servers you ISP provide you with.  You're local machines will then ask your
DNS for internet domain information, and if it doesn't know, it will go ask
the forwarders, and cache the information.).

Having you're own DNS server internally can be quite handy.  One of the
perks is that you can assign you're own 'shortcuts'.  For example, when I am
at home, if I type Email in the address of Internet Explorer, it brings up
my work's Outlook Web Access site.  A lot easier then typing in the entire

Hope this helps, feel free to ask specifics if you want.


-----Original Message-----
From: dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com
[mailto:dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com]On Behalf Of Arthur Fuller
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 2:06 PM
To: 'Discussion of Hardware and Software issues'
Subject: [dba-Tech] Advice on Consolidating Workgroups, Domain etc.

For various reasons (mostly my own stupidity, but also including other
reasons), my home network contains two workgroups. There are 6
computers, one of which is a server. Two PCs are running windows 2k, the
other PCs are running winXP, and the server is running win2k advanced

Workgroup 1 consists of Rock, Excalibur, Lancelot and Zappa.
Workgroup 2 consists of Avalon and Guinivere.

>From my main PC (Rock), I can see Zappa, a shared folder on Avalon, and
Excalibur. (To be accurate, I can see a shared folder on Avalon, and
that's all that's shared there. But when I click the "Computers near me"
icon, I can't see Avalon. Is that normal?) I cannot see Lancelot, which
runs XP and shares nothing, so I guess that makes sense. I cannot see
Guinivere at all, and only the shared folder on Avalon. These latter two
run win2k.

Ideally, I'd like to consolidate the two workgroups into one, or
possibly consolidate them into a domain and then lose the workgroups. As
you can gather, I know very little about networking and even less when
there are two OS'es involved.

Can anyone provide suggestions, advice, or even better a step-by-step
recipe for how to do this?


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