Win2K Pro exam: The first list you need to study

In the first article in a three-part series, Erik Eckel reviews the installation and administration topics you need to study when preparing for Microsoft exam 70-210 on Windows 2000 Professional.

You want an edge, admit it. Unfortunately, braindumps and cram sites won’t give you the confidence and expertise you need to pass the toughened MCSE exams for Windows 2000. What you really need is a list. I use them every day, and I’d be lost without my Outlook Task list.

Here’s a list of the topics you should make sure that you know inside and out before attempting Microsoft’s Exam 70-210: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional.

In this first article in a three-part series, I’ll examine Windows 2000 Professional system requirements, installation, and resource administration.

Requirements and installation
You should memorize Microsoft’s official system requirements for running Windows 2000 Professional:
  • 133 MHz or better processor
  • 32 MB of RAM (64 MB recommended)
  • 2-GB hard drive with 650 MB of free space

Remember, all installed hardware should appear on Microsoft’s Hardware Compatibility List. You’re likely to be tested on understanding of the winnt32 /checkupgradeonly command, which prepares a hardware and software compatibility report prior to beginning an upgrade. The chkupgrd.exe utility, which has been available from Microsoft’s Web site, performs the same function.

The Windows 2000 Professional setup program boasts four stages:
  1. Text mode—in which you specify whether setup is to install Win2K Pro or upgrade another Windows platform, accept the licensing agreement, and select an installation partition
  2. GUI phase—in which the product key must be entered along with a user and organization names. Regional settings are specified in this stage.
  3. Networking—where networking settings are provided, along with workgroup and domain membership information
  4. Final Setup—in which Start menu programs are installed, components are registered, and temporary setup files are removed

CD-ROM installation
Be sure that you know how to install Windows 2000 Professional from a CD-ROM. Create setup disks using the makeboot command. Entering makeboot a: starts the setup disk creation, which creates four setup disks using your machine’s floppy drive.

Assuming a system has a compliant CD-ROM drive, Windows 2000 supports installation directly from a CD-ROM drive. You can also install Win2K Pro over a network.

Network installation
You need a distribution share to serve Windows 2000 Professional installation files when installing Win2K Pro over a network. You’ll have to get a network client up and running on the destination machine, which needs to be able to access the distribution share.

Run winnt.exe to create a new installation. Run winnt32.exe to upgrade an older Windows operating system. Know the switches for each command.

Understand the procedures for completing unattended installations. I bet you’re sure to see at least a pair of questions on unattended installations, which require the use of answer files. The Setup Manager Wizard can be used to create these answer files.

Know the appropriate answer file-naming conventions (unattend.txt vs. winnt.sif) to use, as well as the differences between the five user interaction levels available for unattended installations. As in NT, you still use the sysdiff command when installing applications and programs at the same time you deploy the OS.

Sysprep, on the other hand, prepares a disk image for deployment using a third-party cloning utility. Be sure to keep the two (sysdiff and sysprep) straight. Sysprep’s main purpose is to prevent identical security identifiers (SIDs) from being created on a network.

Remote Installation Services
Assuming a Windows 2000 Server is available on the network, you can use Remote Installation Services (RIS) to deploy the client OS. The following services must be present for RIS to work:
  • Active Directory
  • DHCP
  • DNS

Use Microsoft’s RIPrep Wizard to create a Win2K image for deployment. Remember, RIS images can’t sit on the system or boot partitions. RIS images also can’t be installed on encrypted partitions.

The rbfg.exe command is used to create remote boot floppy disks. The Remote Boot Floppy Generator utility is used to create floppy disks that will be used by a destination system to connect to a server running RIS.

Also, don’t forget that destination machines must possess the same Hardware Abstraction Layers if they’re to make use of the same RIS image. In other words, they must share the same hard disk controllers and possess a compatible network adapter.

Setup log files
Develop your knowledge of installation and setup log files, too. Know the information recorded in all of the following:
  • Comsetup.log—Records COM+ information
  • Mmdet.log—Stores multimedia device detection information
  • Netsetup.log—Records workgroup and domain membership information
  • Setupact.log—Logs setup activity chronologically
  • Setupapi.log—Logs .INF file entries
  • Setuperr.log—Records setup errors

Service packs
Be sure you know how to deploy service packs. The upgrade.exe command is used to trigger service pack installations. You can also direct a service pack to update installation files that are parked on a network using a technique called slipstreaming. Just add the /slip switch to the upgrade.exe command to upgrade distribution files.

Installation wrap-up
Familiarize yourself with troubleshooting skills, too. Common troubles involve errors in answer files, misuse of command switches, and insufficient and incompatible hardware resources. For more on Windows 2000 Professional installation, read "Which Win2K install is best for you?"

Next up is resource administration.

Resource administration
The first resource administration and system configuration issue that arises is the file system.

File systems
Windows 2000 Professional supports the following file systems:
  • FAT
  • FAT32
  • NTFS

NTFS, of course, is required if you want to enable NTFS file-level permissions, implement disk quotas, or use the encrypted file system (EFS).

You’re likely to be tested on dual-boot scenarios, too. Keep in mind that Windows 9x can’t read NTFS. You should also remember that Windows NT 4.0 can’t read Windows 2000’s NTFS, unless Service Pack 4.0 is installed on the NT 4.0 system.

You can convert a FAT or FAT32 file system to NTFS using the convert.exe command. However, you cannot convert an NTFS partition to FAT without the use of third-party tools. Don’t get tricked into thinking you can convert FAT to FAT32 using convert.exe, either. You can’t.

NTFS permissions
NTFS folders offer enhanced security. Use the cacls.exe utility to administer NTFS permissions from the command line or right-click on a folder and adjust its permissions accordingly.

Funny things happen when you copy and move files and folders parked on NTFS partitions. Sometimes they retain their permissions, sometimes they inherit permissions from the destination folder, other times they lose all permissions.

If you copy from one location on an NTFS partition to another location on the same NTFS partition, permissions will be inherited from the destination (or target) folder. If you move a file or folder from one location on an NTFS partition to another location on the same NTFS partition, the file or folder maintains its original permission settings. If you move a file or folder from one NTFS partition to another NTFS partition, the file or folder being moved inherits the destination (or target) folder’s permission settings. A file or folder copied or moved from an NTFS partition to a FAT partition loses its permission settings entirely.

Determining the resultant NTFS permissions is straightforward. NTFS permissions are cumulative, meaning that the permission offering the most latitude is given to a user. The only exception, and it’s a critical exception to remember, is that when the Deny permission is assigned to a user, the user always receives no access, regardless of other permissions they possess.

When a file or folder is assigned NTFS permissions, those permissions override parent folder permissions. New files and folders created in that folder inherit the parent folder’s NTFS permissions. That might sound contradictory, but it’s not. When you create a file or folder, that child file or folder inherits its parent folder’s permissions. But when you change the child file or folder’s permissions, the parent folder’s permissions remain unchanged.

Network printing
Windows 2000 printing works much like Windows NT 4.0 printing, but with a few new features. For example, drivers are still automatically forwarded over a network to the following clients:
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows NT 4.0
  • Windows NT 3.51
  • Windows 9x

Print services are available only for Windows and UNIX clients. New to Win2K is Internet Printing, which lets users print to URLs. For Internet Printing to work, one of the following must be in place:
  • A Win2K server running IIS
  • A Win2K Professional machine running Personal Web Services

Multiple printers can be pooled as a single logical printer. However, the printers must be identical models.

Microsoft recommends stopping and restarting the print spooler service when a print spool stalls or behaves erratically. Print priorities range from 1 to 99. Print jobs with a 99 priority print before a print job with a 1 priority.

Disks and volumes
New to Windows 2000 are dynamic disks and dynamic volumes. Traditional disks are basic disks. Basic disks contain up to four partitions, one of which is a primary partition. Extended partitions make up the other partitions on a basic disk. Extended partitions can be further subdivided into multiple logical drives. A drive letter represents each of these drives.

Windows 2000 cannot boot from a logical drive. Thus, it’s important to remember that the Win2K system partition and boot files cannot be located on a logical drive.

Dynamic storage, supported only by Windows 2000 systems, works quite differently. While dynamic disks can be divided into separate volumes much like a basic disk, one dynamic volume can include portions of other disks.

There are different types of dynamic storage. Simple volumes are similar to a partition in that a simple volume contains space from a single disk. Spanned volumes contain space from multiple disks. A single spanned volume can contain space on anywhere from two to 32 disks. With spanned volumes, Windows 2000 writes to space on one disk until that space is full, then proceeds to the next disk in the spanned series. Meanwhile, a striped volume is similar to disk striping in Windows NT 4.0. A striped volume creates a single volume on space from two to 32 disks but stores that data in stripes across multiple disks so that read and write operations can occur more quickly. Remember, should a single disk fail in a spanned or striped volume, all data is lost.

Dynamic volumes can be extended to include space on other dynamic disks. The Computer Management MMC snap-in is used to administer disks.

Eckel’s take
That covers what you should study for the installation and resource administration portions of the Windows 2000 Professional exam. Next week, I’ll examine exam 70-210’s hardware and desktop configuration and troubleshooting topics.

Are you ready to take on the Win2K Pro exam?
What study methods are you using to prepare for this exam? We look forward to getting your input and hearing about your experiences regarding this topic. Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.

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