Passing the Windows 2000 exam won't be easy--at all. This book can help you weather the storm.
Master of the Server
Passing the Windows 2000 exam won't be easy--at all. <i>Mastering
Windows 2000 Server, Second Edition</i> can help you weather the storm.
- By James Carrion
I feel like I’ve just been run over by a truck. Lying
flattened on the road, I feebly lift my head to read the
truck’s license plate as it speeds away. I can barely
make out the letters—WIN2KBETA—Windows 2000 beta exams.
I’ve just finished my fourth one in as many days and I’m
about to pull my hair out. Imagine taking a certification
exam and being tested on the intricacies of Win2K Server,
TCP/IP, and IIS on the same test. Remember, these were
three separate exams with Windows NT 4.0, but now they’re
consolidated as one under Win2K. You’ve heard me say it
before, but I’ll reiterate the point: You’ll need Win2K
knowledge, Win2K hands-on experience, Win2K troubleshooting
skills, and a solid NT background before attempting Win2K
exams when they count.
As you prepare for your trip down the Win2K highway,
Sybex’s Mastering Windows 2000 Server, Second Edition
by Mark Minasi and co-authors Christa Anderson, Brian
Smith, and Doug Toombs should be on your list of required
reading materials. Written in informal, relaxed language,
this 1,595-page book is technical enough for the average
network geek yet still clearly explains basic concepts
to the neophyte.
Windows 2000 Server, Second Edition
By Mark Minasi
$49.99, 1,595 pages
One thing Mastering Windows 2000 Server is not,
as the author boldly proclaims in the introduction’s third
paragraph, is an MCSE study guide. Instead, the book’s
stated goal is “to help you get your job done rather than
to help you pass a test,” but then the book goes on to
say that many folks have used Minasi books in the past
to study for exams. What a novel idea—know your stuff
and successfully pass a test!
Consider the Win2K beta exams I took. On average, each
lasted four hours (I took two of them back to back, ouch!)
and consisted of 90 questions. Oh, and what fun questions
they were. The majority focused on complex troubleshooting
scenarios. There were no overly simplistic questions such
as, “What control panel applet is used to install a modem?”
Heck, there were very few moderately difficult questions
on the beta exams. No, sir, the questions on the real
Win2K exams (which I hope will be released by the time
you read this article) are expected to be very difficult.
Here’s The Scoop
On to the technical content. Mastering Windows 2000
Server is logically broken into three major parts:
a Win2K Overview; Installing, Configuring, and Deploying
Win2K and Win2K Services; and Monitoring and Troubleshooting
Win2K. The chapters don’t follow this logical subdivision
in numerical order but are scattered throughout the book.
Fortunately, this doesn’t detract from reading the tome
chapter by chapter.
Win2K Overview: The
book starts off with a discussion of Microsoft’s overall
goals for Windows 2000, an overview of new capabilities
and features, and how Win2K can lower your TCO (Totally
Cryptic Oxymoron)—I mean, (Total Cost of Ownership). Then,
there’s a fairly good overview of Active Directory (AD),
touching upon how to plan for and implement AD components
and AD’s implications for a Win2K enterprise network.
I do wish, however, that the book authors had included
more in the way of AD design guidelines. Some case studies
showing how organizations might approach AD design would’ve
proved quite helpful.
Installing, Configuring, and Deploying
Win2K and Win2K Services: Win2K installation
and deployment are tackled next, followed by chapters
on understanding the registry, installing hardware, disk
management, and managing and creating user accounts, with
emphasis on creating group policies and supporting roaming
users. Other chapters cover the distributed file system,
creating and managing shared folders, software installation,
printing services, connecting various clients to a Win2K
server, and, last but not least, deploying Terminal Services.
In addition, there are in-depth chapters on DNS, DHCP,
IIS, WINS, and RAS address planning and deployment issues
concerning these services. Throughout the chapters you’ll
also find numerous screen shots and follow-along exercises
designed to familiarize you with the plethora of new administrative
graphical tools you’ll be using to get a Win2K installation
and deployment up and going.
Monitoring and Troubleshooting
Win2K: The last part of the book is designed
to teach you how to tune Win2K, followed by chapters on
monitoring Win2K servers and troubleshooting problems
you may have with a Win2K computer or an Active Directory
implementation. I mentioned previously that the beta exam
questions were mostly troubleshooting scenarios. I’m not
referring to just troubleshooting a failed Win2K server
that won’t boot, but also troubleshooting Active Directory
design mistakes, permissions problems, Group Policy issues,
and so on. In other words, troubleshooting is the test,
hence the need to have hands-on experience with a live
Win2K network to prepare for the exams.
Making Concepts Clear
Mastering Windows 2000 Server is well written,
with most of the technical content rock solid. I did find
some technical inaccuracies (every technical book has
them). For example, the volume states that the telnet
server ships only with Win2K Server and not Win2K Professional.
This isn’t true. Still, the authors have done a good job
of making Win2K concepts understandable by relating these
back to the NT 4.0 concepts that the average administrator
already knows. At the same time, the authors appeal to
an even wider audience by explaining basic networking
concepts and even covering in detail how certain things
work in NT 4.0, so that the techno newbie can get up to
speed without getting lost in the Win2K forest. Since
the book isn’t designed as a study guide, you won’t find
structured lab exercises, practice test questions, or
a CD with interactive learning content, all the things
we take for granted in a traditional study guide. What
you will find is a comprehensive index of topics, and
you can use this book as a primer and reference guide
when pursuing your studies.
From a Win2K exam-taking point of view, Mastering
Windows 2000 Server covers most of the test objectives
for the Win2K exams but falls short in some areas. Notably
lacking is in-depth coverage on Certificate Server, sysprep,
NAT, Advanced Power Management, multiple-display support,
card services, infrared devices, wireless devices, Task
Scheduler (Task Pad is covered), multiple language support,
process management, SNMP, and Kerberos. You’ll need to
explore other technical books to fill in these gaps. Again,
I must stress that knowing concepts will be of no value
to you if you can’t properly design or troubleshoot a
Why is Mastering Windows 2000 Server required
reading? Because it’s written in layperson language and
breaks complex topics down into easily digestible pieces,
something you’ll really appreciate when you tackle the
enormous technical beast that is Windows 2000. Good job,
Minasi and company. Just remember, don’t strut off confidently
to the testing center if this is the only book you’ve
read to prepare for the Win2K exams.
James Carrion, MCM R2 Directory, MCITP, MCSE, MCT, CCNA, CISSP has worked as a computer consultant and technical instructor for the past 16 years. He’s the owner of and principal instructor for MountainView Systems, LLC, which specializes in accelerated Microsoft Certification training.