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Choosing to Upgrade or Make a Clean Installation

A major consideration related to a Windows Server 2008 installation is whether to upgrade in-place servers or do a clean install on a replacement server that is to take over the role of a server or servers already on the network. For example, you might be running Windows 2000 Server on a computer that you want to replace (it might have seen better days hardware-wise). You can install Windows Server 2008 on a new server and make it a domain controller in the Windows domain that already exists. This enables the new server to replicate all the information in the Active Directory on the current domain controller. You can then “retire” the Windows 2000 Server and use the Windows Server 2008 as the domain controller for the domain.

In cases where you are running Windows Server 2003 on domain controllers and domain member servers, you should take a look at each of these servers and determine whether you want to upgrade, replace, or leave the server in place. If you want to use all the new features available in Windows Server 2008 within the domain, you may want to upgrade or replace domain controllers. The upgrade option depends on individual server hardware. You are much more likely to be able to upgrade a server running Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 than a server that has been in operation for a longer period of time and is running an older version of Windows Server, such as Windows 2000 Server.

Whatever your strategy is for bringing new servers online on an existing network, you must deal with issues related to earlier versions of the Windows network operating system, such as Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003.

Upgrading a server (even a domain controller) from Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2008 is a fairly easy process. Because Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows Server 2008 all embrace the Active Directory hierarchy and DNS namespace, the notion of forests, trees, and domains is common to these network operating systems. This means that a radical redesign of the network domain structure is not necessary.

An upgrade from Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2008, however, doesn’t just depend on whether or not the server hardware will be suitable to run Windows Server 2008, particularly in the case of upgrading a domain controller.

In cases where you are upgrading a Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 domain controller or even adding a new Windows Server 2008 domain controller to the domain, you must prepare the forest for the Windows Server 2008 domain controller. This step should be done before you upgrade a domain controller to Windows Server 2008 or add the Active Directory Domain Services role to a server in the domain that has Windows Server 2008 installed on it.

First you must log on to the Schema Master for the domain as a member of the Enterprise Admins, Schema Admins, or Domain Admins group. The Schema Master is typically the first domain controller you brought online using Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 when you first defined your domain forest. It is the Schema Master because it defines the Active Directory schema for the domain (the schema being the actual definition of the objects contained in the Active Directory). There is only one Schema Master per Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 forest (which can hold many domains).

After logging on to the Schema Master, insert the Windows Server 2008 installation DVD. Copy the contents of the sourcesadprep folder from the Windows Server 2008 installation DVD to the Schema Master.

You then use the adprep command-line utility found in the folder that you copied to the Schema Master. Open a Command Prompt window, navigate to the Adprep folder (the place where you copied the items from the DVD), and run adprep /forestprep.

The second step of this process is required to prepare each of the domains in the forest. You must log on to the Infrastructure Master for a domain as a member of the Domain Admins group. The Infrastructure Master is charged with the task of upgrading group. It keeps track of the groups to which users belong. If group membership changes, the Infrastructure Master records this and then replicates it to the other domain controllers in the domain. When you create the first domain in a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 forest, that domain controller is assigned the Infrastructure Master status.

By the Way

On smaller domains with only a limited number of domain controllers, the Schema Master and the Infrastructure Master can be the same domain controller.

On the Infrastructure Master, copy the contents of the sourcesadprep folder from the installation DVD to the Infrastructure Master. You then need to open a Command Prompt window, navigate to the Adprep folder, and run adprep /domainprep /gpprep. Again, you need to wait until these changes to the domain have replicated to the other domain controllers in the domain. If you plan to use read-only domain controllers on the network, you will need to run adprep /rodcprep as well.

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