by January 11, 2000 0 comments

There are two approaches for migrating to Windows 2000. Oneis to install a fresh copy of it on a separate server, and then migrateeverything from your Win NT servers to it. The other method starts frominstalling a fresh copy of Win NT server on a new machine. However, instead ofmigrating everything to it, you make it a part of your existing Win NT network,and then upgrade it to Windows 2000. We tried both techniques and will talkabout the second one in this article. The former requires some third-party toolsfor migration, which we’ll discuss in the next article.

Our test setup

To start the upgrade, we took a very basic setup consistingof one Win NT server with the latest service pack 6 installed. It had about 50users, who were divided into about 12 different groups. Some of them were alsoassigned to the default groups in Win NT, such as Print Operators, ServerOperators, Domain Admins, etc. On the server we also installed MicrosoftExchange 5.5 with service pack 3 for messaging.

Create a backup

The actual upgrade process is quite easy. However, youshouldn’t just pop in the Windows 2000 server CD and start the installation.If something goes wrong, then your entire network can go for a toss. You mayhave to reinstall everything from scratch or, worse, loose all your data andhave a bunch of screaming, unhappy users on your hands. It’s thereforerecommended to have a backup in place. The best way of doing this is to set upanother Win NT server on a different machine as a Back-up Domain Controller (BDC).Synchronize this with your Primary Domain Controller (PDC) so that all the userand group-account data gets updated on it.

Next, copy all the data from your PDC to the BDC. This shouldbe in the same form as the data on the PDC, so that users do not see adifference when accessing it. This can be time consuming if you have a lot ofdata, so work it out properly. If you already have a tape back-up in place, thenyou can use that to restore the data.

Now Promote the BDC to a PDC, and the PDC to a BDC. You cando this by firing up the Server Manager in the Administrative Tools on your PDCWin NT server. Here, you’ll see NetBIOS names of all the servers andworkstations on your network. Click on the name that corresponds to your BDC, goto the Computer menu, and choose the Promote to PDC option as shown in thefigure. This is to make sure that the BDC you created is working properly andthat the users don’t face any problems while logging in or accessing theirdata.

Once you’ve made sure that the new server is workingproperly as a PDC, you can demote it back to a BDC. Now you’re ready to startthe upgrade process on the actual PDC. If you’re running Win NT 4 serverEnterprise Edition, then you can only upgrade to Windows 2000 Advanced Server,and not Windows 2000 server.

Upgrade to Windows 2000

The upgrade process is fairly easy. Pop in the Windows 2000server CD. It will automatically detect that you have Win NT installed, and willprompt you with two options. One is to upgrade the existing operating system,and the other is to install Windows 2000 afresh. The latter will wipe outeverything on the server, so choose the first and continue. This will alsoretain all your account settings, etc.

The installation will then search for any systemincompatibilities and report them to you. In our case, it reported that theprogram that starts DOS and Windows remotely over the network is incompatible.This didn’t affect the installation in any way. After this the systeminstallation proceeded smoothly without any hassles.

After the installation, the Active Directory wizardautomatically started and proceeded to setup Active Directory in Windows 2000.If it doesn’t start automatically when you’re doing it, then run it from theStart Menu by typing DCPROMO. This is the most important part of theinstallation because your entire network structure will depend upon it. Youfirst have to specify whether you’re creating a new domain tree or a childdomain in an existing domain tree. Since this is the first domain, choose theformer option. Subsequently, you’ll also have to specify whether you’redefining or joining a new forest. Again, choose the former.

You’ll then be asked for a full DNS name for your domain,and where to store the Active Directory database. The DNS name forms the rootdomain for your organization. All subsequent communication with the Windows 2000server will be done according to this name, so choose it carefully. In our case,we chose, the acronym of our company name. As you add more childdomains in this, they will be referred to as For instance one ofour company divisions, PCQ Labs, can become a child domain in this and bereferred to as pcqlabs. Similarly, you can have marketing.cmil. com,and so on.

If you didn’t have a DNS server installed in your Win NTinstallation, then it will give an error message that it can’t find one. Ifyou have one running elsewhere on your network, then you can specify the pathfor it, or simply install one on this server itself. We chose the latter, andthe installation continued smoothly. The wizard takes you through a few moresimple steps, where you can continue with the default settings.

Finally, Windows 2000 performs some of its own adjustmentsand restarts the system. You’ll get the Win NT Press CTRL+ALT+Delete sign tologin, and you can proceed to login. This can take a while as Win 2000 preparesthe network connections. At this point, it’s ready to accept client loginrequests.

You don’t have to worry about the BDC you created, as theWindows 2000 server will communicate to it as if it was a Win NT server.

Client access

At the end of the upgrade we found that Windows 2000professional workstations could automatically login to the Windows 2000 server.Interestingly, for the down-level clients like Win 9x and NT workstations, you’llneed to install IE 5.x and enable Active Desktop. In our case, we logged to theserver using a Win 9x client with Active Desktop enabled, and nothing else. Toaccess the Active Directory, however, you’ll need to install the DirectoryServices client provided with the Windows 2000 Server. One feature we found, forinstance, was that this client will let you search the Active Directory forprinters.

We also found that the client was able to login without anyproblems. Exchange 5.5 also ran smoothly, and the clients were able to easilyaccess their mailboxes with Microsoft Outlook. The installation retained all themailboxes with the original user e-mails. Exchange Server administration wasstill done through its own program group in the Start Menu, and not through theActive Directory. However, if you want to control the Exchange database throughthe Active Directory, and vice versa, you will need to install a component thatcomes bundled with the Windows 2000 server called the Active DirectoryConnector.

Anil Chopra

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