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Home Lab Requirements for MCSE 2003

By dwiemann ·
I have 8 older PCs that I bought real cheap at an auction and was wondering if they would be sufficient for a server 2003 lab. They are (4) Toshiba 433MHz and (4) Dell 400MHz, both using PC133 memory. I have several 4-6 GB HDD to use in them, but just enough RAM to test out one at a time and load Win2K with no apparent problems. While finishing my degree at a local university, I signed up on MSDN to get a few copies of Server 2003 (Enterprise, Standard, and Web) with at least 2 product keys for each. I know M$ requires a minimum of 133MHz/128MB and recommends 550MHz/256MB, but am wondering if what I have will work for me before I go out and buy a batch of cheap RAM on eBay to supply these old PCs.

I just purchased CBT Nuggets for MCSE 2003: Security and from what I have viewed so far, these are excellent. I have also picked up several books and my employer will be putting some of us through an on-site MCSA/E training this summer. Two years ago I went through the MCSE 2000 boot camp and was totally lost. Knowing now that you need a good grasp of networking first, I have prepared more this time by getting my A+ and studying up on Net+ first. The more redundant material I can soak up, the better I'll utilize what I learn.

Anyway, sorry this is so long-winded. Do you think my old PCs can run my server lab to physically see Domain Controller replication, multiple Domains, etc in action? Thanks for any advice.

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by advancedgeek In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...

I want some computers like that . Yea they will be will learn a lot about it this way. I suggest getting a KVM to hook them all up to...

Once you get everything running...practice pushing GPO's, and maybe even running a sus/wus server. All of that stuff is good practice. :)

Good luck!

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KVMs really needed?

by dwiemann In reply to jealousy

I do have small 15" monitors for each of these too. In addition to these, I am selling off my slower 200-233MHz PCs (6 of them) for $95 a pop. For a first PC or a 2nd kid's machine, people love them at that price (even thought they'd be MUCH better off with a new cheapie Dell for a $300 special).
As for a KVM, I've never looked into them. What brand/type is good, yet affordable. We have a software controlled KVM at work, but from what I am told it's very expensive (and I don't know how it's set up).

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It all depends on what you want

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to KVMs really needed?

A manual 4 station KVM switch here costs about $100.00 AU and comes with everything all the leads and you just plug it is to the connectors on the boxes and then plug in the Keyboard, Video, Mouse to the output side. These are manual ones where you have to switch between computers as you boot them or they give you error messages like no Keyboard, Mouse the Video isn't such a big deal as any computer will boot without the need for an active Video connection. They do save quite a lot in Monitors though and a bit of space as well if you are running desktop cases where you just stack them one on top of the other.

Like USB Hubs they can be daisy chained if required as well but that makes life a bit more difficult as it is easier to get the bigger 8 port KVM switches rather than plugging two 4 port ones together. Some of the newer ones will auto detect a computer starting and switch to that computer so they are no big deal to even restart the computers after a power down for whatever reason.

I doubt that you would be interested in any of the software KVM's as they would be too expensive for your needs and an unnecessary addition to your setup. Only downside with KVM switches is that you can only use one monitor but for most applications that is all you really need particularly in Lab conditions and it does save having keyboards and mice all over the place.


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KVM Not Needed

by Doc Squidly In reply to KVMs really needed?

There is no need to purchase a KVM Switch or any extra key boards mice and monitors. I recommend configuring Remote Desktop on your machines and then making them headless. After that you can connect to them via the MMC. If you plan to have client or servers other than XP and Server 2003 you can install Remote Desktop from the XP or Server 2003 CD. Of course, I'd recommend setting up a dual monitor set-up on you main PC.

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Yes they will work fine if a bit slow for your needs

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...

But instead of visiting E-Bay for some cheap RAM try some of the new suppliers as more times than not it is just as cheap as used stuff on E-Bay. That way you'll get all the same RAM and not have any computability issues to deal with that could arise with mixed batches of the stuff.

Really SD-RAM is so cheap now days that you are only fooling yourself buying second hand thinking you are getting something cheap.

Col ]:)

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need info

by mattclark In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...

hey dwiemann,
I am just about to embark on same journey. The IT/Network admin here is very difficult to work with and I feel I need to learn more. If you have time, I would like to discuss your experiences and revelations.

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My Advice...

by lsmith1989 In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...

Get a Pentuim 4 Box with 2 GB of RAM and purchase a licensed copy of VMWare. Much better flexibility in lab and learning scenarios in my opinion. You have the option of taking snapshots before you experiment and revert back to those snapshots if things break. This avoids the hassle of reloading servers which will take a few hours with those older machines. This is what I do currently and can run 4 "Virtual Servers" at the same time on a single PC.

Virutalization is the wave of the future

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by OJINADU In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...


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only one word

by mcx In reply to Home Lab Requirements for ...

I have only one word to contribute to this discussion: VMware.

The only thing you need is one current pc and lots of memory (1 GB, 2 GB even better). I've also travelled the road of multiple, cheap pc's. It's just horror. Now I have one system that does it all: internet surfing, e-mailing, Word, Excel, MCSE homelab. All considered, one current pc might even be cheaper than 8 old ones if you take power consumption into account.

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