It’s a hard lesson, and one I sometimes forget: You get what you pay for. Whether you’re purchasing a PIII system, a carbon fiber road bike, a new automobile, or even a definitive Windows 2000 Server text, the old axiom invariably proves true.
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Nestled next to the Penguin Guide to Jazz, The Collected Works of Jack Kerouac, and a host of IT books on my bookshelf is a new release from New Riders. I had an opportunity this week to look over William Boswell’s Inside Windows 2000 Server, and I liked what I saw.

I actually prefer the Windows 2000 Server Administrator’s Companion from Microsoft Press, but it runs U.S. $69.99—a bit more than many folks are willing to pay. Boswell’s text, meanwhile, sells for a much more reasonable U.S. $49.99.

There’s much to like in Inside Windows 2000 Server. The book is advertised as a resource for installing and configuring Windows 2000, performing distributed installations, installing hardware, understanding network access security and Kerberos, mastering Active Directory, and preventing bottlenecks, security holes, and compatibility failures.

Inside Windows 2000 Server, by William Boswell.

Certainly, the 1,400-plus page book will help you do all of that. Boswell, who incidentally is an MCSE like many of us, must have been working on this book since the fall. It’s that complete. He covers everything from administering user resources, domain naming, and address resolution, to use of Active Directory.

Pick up this text and you’ll find all the information you need for the following:

  • Installing and configuring the NOS
  • Performing upgrades
  • Installing and configuring new devices
  • Understanding NetBIOS name resolution on the Windows 2000 platform
  • Managing DNS and DHCP
  • Understanding and managing Active Directory and replication of the service
  • Designing and deploying Windows 2000 domains
  • Managing and configuring data storage and file systems and security
  • Managing users and user resources
  • Configuring remote access
  • Recovering from system failures

Obviously, most of the information IT professionals will require when preparing for the Windows 2000 Server exam is here. So I can anticipate the next question: If all this information is provided, why do I like the MS Press text better?

Personally, I like the layout and breadth of the Administrator’s Companion. I preferred its inclusion of numerous supplementary text boxes that explained, reiterated, and helped refresh my memory on related topics and processes. The New Riders book doesn’t benefit from such sidebars.

The Administrator’s Companion also includes a CD-ROM with sample configuration files, utilities, and more. A CD-ROM is noticeably absent from the New Riders product.

That’s not to say the New Riders book is a bad text, though. Boswell writes with some personality and flair, which I’ve always found appealing in technical writing.

There are also many configuration processes, which the reader is guided through step by step. Take Active Directory, for example.

Boswell does an excellent job of stepping the reader through a domain controller upgrade and Active Directory installation. In fact, he profiles the process’s 25 steps quite nicely.

There just weren’t enough of these step-by-step explanations, and I really wished I could have seen some more. The actual steps to take when using disk duplication, or disk cloning as it’s called in this text, would have been helpful.

But then again, the New Riders text is almost half the price of the MS Press manual.
If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.