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Active Directory In Windows Operating Systems

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This section of the paper will take a quick look at the features of Active Directory native to three different Windows operating systems. First, this section will examine Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows XP, and then Windows 2003 Server. This section will also look at the active directory features of native to all three Windows operating systems.

Why would a security, network, or system administrator want to have Active directory on their network of computers? The simple answer is that Active Directory offers a higher level of security. Let us quickly explain Active Directory. Like other directory services, such as Novell Directory Services, or NDS, Active Directory is a centralized and standardized system. This means that it runs on a Server-client system of computers. In order to install Active Directory, the network needs to have both a server and a set of clients. Active Directory automates the management of user data, security, applications, and distributed resources. Active Directory also enables interoperation with other directories, such as NDS. Active Directory is designed especially for distributed networking environments (searchWinIT.com, 2003). This management is simply controlled by user groups. Each user is assigned to a user group. A set of rules, or permissions, called schema, are assigned to each user group.

Active directory was originally designed for Windows 2000. It was intended to be one of the many upgraded capabilities from Windows NT4. There is a specific setup required in order to setup Active Directory on a Windows 2000 network. A system needs NTFS partition with enough free space, an Administrator's username and password, the correct operating system version, a NIC card and network connection, properly configured TCP/IP (IP address, subnet mask and - optional - default gateway), and an operational Domain Name System, or DNS server. Setup instructions can be found here: http://www.petri.co.il/create_a_new_dns_server_for_ad.htm. For a private network, the network administrator must setup a DNS, a Domain name that you want to use, and the Windows 2000 CD media or the i386 folder. Without ALL of the previous things, the Active Directory cannot be set up (Microsoft Technet, 2006).

Windows XP simply does not have any native Active Directory capabilities. There is no way that a user or administrator could install or run Active Directory on a XP computer without extensive modification, but it can be done. The necessary modification may be extensive, but that does not mean that it is not easy to do.

Windows 2000 Professional runs the same Active Directory tools as Windows 2000 Server. These tools do not work on Windows XP. The administration tools for Windows 2003 server will run on Windows XP. The Windows 2003 server administration tools for Windows XP are downloadable from Microsoft's website: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=9688F8B9-1034-4EF6-A3E5-2A2A57B5C8E4&displaylang=en.

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