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Windows Thread, To domain, or not to domain, that is the question! in Technical; I've got a question here that I'd like to throw open to the floor... In one of my new schools, ...
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    To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    I've got a question here that I'd like to throw open to the floor...

    In one of my new schools, we have a network of 15 recent Dell machines, all running Windows XP Pro, and currently connected as a Peer-to-Peer network.

    I also discovered a new Dell PowerEdge server sitting in the corner doing nothing! It had been unpacked, connected, had Windows Server 2003 installed and then nothing else was done. It's a Xeon 3GHz, 1Gb RAM with 2x 36Gb SCSI HDs in a RAID 1 configuration, running Windows Server 2003 Standard.

    There are about 170 pupils plus staff, so call it 200 users.

    My question is whether or not it is viable to convert to a full domain-based system with individual user accounts? It is a school aim to achieve that, but I am not personally convinced for three reasons:

    1. Insufficient disk space on the server
    2. I only work there one day (5hrs) a week*
    3. General competence in ICT is low

    What do you guys reckon? Is 74Gb enough space for 200 users? Is one day of support a week enough for a full client-server implementation?

    I'd be really grateful for any advice or tips you could share. I'm not experienced with domain implementations or administration but very keen to learn and feel it would be a good experience for me, but I don't want to go down that route if its not the right thing! It's only my second week in the job!

    Cheers,
    Chris.

    * This concern comes about because when I did my dissertation (on ICT Support in Primary Schools) I found several sources who said that you shouldn't implement client-server networks without full-time support.

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    74 gig should be plenty for 200 users as long as they are not doing huge movie projects etc. My users files take up less space than that and I have 800 users.

    As for your experience vs time you have to support thats a tricky one. If you do decide to go down that route I suggest very small steps and dont try and do everything at once.
    If you get it right its going to save you time in many areas but then theres the time taken for initial setup etc to take into consideration.

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    tarquel's Avatar
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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    peer-to-peer has a lot of problems too tho, so i think that either way - domain or peer-to-peer - if the level of competancy is low, you will be hard pushed to get everything done 1 day a week.

    At least with a domain, if u can set up the group policies well enough, then it should help misuse.... It does here

    Space is one thing but so long as they dont start saving huge publisher files and understand there is a limit to the space, then u could do it on that space [i did it with 300 users on a 9Gig hard drive so... that was until 2 years ago however hehe].

    And where are they saving the work to now? where is the organisation in peer-to-peer? etc etc....

    Just a few thoughts for ya

    Nath.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by crc-ict
    2x 36Gb SCSI HDs in a RAID 1 configuration
    This will give you 36Gb storage, not 74Gb. You will lose some space due to formatting, more for 2003 server then even for for the swap file. You'll be doing well to have 30Gb left.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH
    74 gig should be plenty for 200 users as long as they are not doing huge movie projects etc. My users files take up less space than that and I have 800 users.
    Is that with or without BOFH type quota restrictions

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    In a work Yes. You could very easily set up a Domain and maintain it on one day a week. Quite a few guys here do, myself included.

    Depending on the amount of software the school want to use HDD space could be an issue but that is easily sorted with a new HDD for you server.

    The intial setup may take some time at one day a week but once it is done, IMO it will be much eaiser to manage than a peer-to-peer network.

    If you have any questions drop me a line.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by NetworkGeezer
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH
    74 gig should be plenty for 200 users as long as they are not doing huge movie projects etc. My users files take up less space than that and I have 800 users.
    Is that with or without BOFH type quota restrictions
    Were not currently running any quotas at the moment mostly due to the pain in the arse that is large temporary files *cough publisher* I do termly have a little prune of the user areas with windirstat though to get rid of these whole MP3 albums that somehow get on from teachers leaving their machine logged on.

    I have an R2 file server ready to go, soon as they sort out my air con. Then the real BOFHing will begin :twisted:

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    I would say no unless you can train someone to change passwords and fix basic problems on the days your not there. Someone is bound to forget there password on the other 4 days of the week.

    Another option is to make 1 username per class and have sub folders with the students work in.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    thats how how i work at the primary schools i visit. one username per class then a mapped drive redirected to my documents with a folder for each student that way its much easier for teachers etc.. to log kids on can you imagine a class of 30 year 1's remembering their pasword if they had one never mind the amount of time it'd take to log them on with individual usernames. another problem with that set up is primary schools don't usually have enough computers to cover one class so they have to share computers between children thats why a generic class username would work better than individual ones.

    sorry if that makes no sense i like to ramble on

    kris

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by crc-ict
    I've got a question here that I'd like to throw open to the floor...

    In one of my new schools, we have a network of 15 recent Dell machines, all running Windows XP Pro, and currently connected as a Peer-to-Peer network.

    I also discovered a new Dell PowerEdge server sitting in the corner doing nothing! It had been unpacked, connected, had Windows Server 2003 installed and then nothing else was done. It's a Xeon 3GHz, 1Gb RAM with 2x 36Gb SCSI HDs in a RAID 1 configuration, running Windows Server 2003 Standard.

    There are about 170 pupils plus staff, so call it 200 users.

    My question is whether or not it is viable to convert to a full domain-based system with individual user accounts? It is a school aim to achieve that, but I am not personally convinced for three reasons:

    1. Insufficient disk space on the server
    2. I only work there one day (5hrs) a week*
    3. General competence in ICT is low

    What do you guys reckon? Is 74Gb enough space for 200 users? Is one day of support a week enough for a full client-server implementation?

    I'd be really grateful for any advice or tips you could share. I'm not experienced with domain implementations or administration but very keen to learn and feel it would be a good experience for me, but I don't want to go down that route if its not the right thing! It's only my second week in the job!

    Cheers,
    Chris.

    * This concern comes about because when I did my dissertation (on ICT Support in Primary Schools) I found several sources who said that you shouldn't implement client-server networks without full-time support.
    I guess everyone that logs on to a workstation uses a generic username / password?

    Hmm, arguments for and against really. Certainly using a domain for logon authentication & individual user accounts would be a good security / auditability wise.

    However, if you have one box running AD, I'd really want another as a backup - could just be an old desktop if there's no spare capital.

    Using it for filestorage is going to be rough with that amount of diskspace - maybe if you gave each user 30mb it would be feasable - but you would want to invest in some kind of backup device (external usb HDD prob a good option).

    Personally, I'd set it up & promo it to AD / 'domain controller' and only run DHCP / DNS / Printer Sharing on there. Also, install server 2003 on one of your desktops and promo that too - in case the main box goes offline.

    Would need to train a member of staff on how to reset passwords tho, and there's going to be some admin involved in setting up / disabling accounts etc

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    but if you put server 2k3 on one of the desktops you are taking the number of useable machines for students down to 14 which wouldn't be as practical, as most primary classes would have 30 or so children in them.

    i didn't mean generic but now i can't think of the word i actually meant to use.

    if you set the usernames up as class1, class2, etc... this would reduce the amount of admin actually needed with regard to passwords as each class teacher would know each one for their own class and the head would also have a list. set up each user so that their password could not be changed and your sorted with the user side of things. with a small primary like the one your at there is no point in making things complicated as this will only make things worse in the long run as in they will more than likely on the phone every 5 minutes asking what to do!

    cheers
    kris

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Hi,

    If you're new to servers and domains then wait a while and swat up.
    Using a server for 15 networked pc's is overkill in my opinion especially if its a primary school. I look after 10 primaries and the most reliable ones are the peer2peer networks. I'm not knocking domain based ones but you will have more issues that will unexpectedly crop up from time to time, just read this forum!!
    However you have more than 10 XP machines which is a pain thanks to the TCP/IP connection limit. I get round this by sticking Linux on an old pc, set up shared folders and redirect any saved work to that.
    There's no right or wrong here and I would probably go for the domain setup purely because its sitting there and I have a little experience of setting them up.

    Good Luck in your choice.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Thanks, all. Much food for though!

    @ajbritton: Sorry, my mistake. There is about 74Gb of space on the server, and it says RAID-1 when it boots up. Not had time to investigate properly what's actually in there. Thanks for the correction - saves me looking a fool later ops:

    @sysman_mk: Thanks for the offer of answering questions. Might just take you up on that!

    I think I need to give it some serious thought myself, and talk it through with the rest of the staff. I agree with the points about young children remembering passwords, but another school of thought is that they have to get used to it at some time... :twisted:

    I'm quite keen on the idea of going along the full-on domain route, for my own development as much as anything else, but I'm not convinced of the value in that setting.

    Much pondering to come, methinks...

    Thanks to all,
    Chris

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Im in a similar situation, want to set up a DC just for the experience and something to do really.

    I manage 3 primary's, 2 for 2 days and 1 for the remaining day and find there is very little work that needs doing other than software installs. If I dont learn how to set up a DC, AD etc then im gonna be wasting my time here.

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    Re: To domain, or not to domain, that is the question!

    Hi Chris,
    If I can do it I'm sure you can , especially with help from this great site.

    In my donated server I just added more IDE drives on a PCI raid card.

    Best of luck from Michael



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