Windows 2000 Administration: Making the Most of Multiplatform Networks

When you're in charge of a network of machines that are set up with 100-percent-pure Windows 2000, you can count your blessings and sleep with an untroubled mind. For the rest of us mortals, upgrading a network — or inheriting one — means more stress and toil. Everything from file-system setup to printer drivers must be checked with the electronic equivalent of a fine-toothed comb.

The reason for this is the nature of a multiplatform network (a network with multiple operating systems). Your network can run as many as five major operating systems for the Intel-compatible PC — and that's not counting the revival of the Macintosh OS.

While Windows 2000 has been made as backward-compatible as can be reasonably expected, transitions rarely are seamless. However, you can try to be a sport (and role model) about the whole business — think of it as extra incentive to move your user community to Windows 2000 as soon as possible.

A dual-boot system has nothing to do with the network at large. Instead, a dual-boot machine is a single computer that can run more than one operating system. You can configure almost any PC to be dual-boot (for example, to run either Windows 2000 or Windows 95).

With enough patience and disk space, you can make a system triple-boot. Or quadruple-boot. But that's more than a little silly, unless you collect antique operating systems.

Installing other multiple operating systems

Setting up a dual-boot system that contains Windows 2000 depends entirely on whether you want to

  • Install Windows 2000 last on a machine where you plan to run Windows 95 and Windows use it with Windows 95 or Windows 98.2000.
  • The installation of Windows 95 overwrites important files needed for starting Windows 2000. It turns your dual-boot system back into a single-boot one.
  • When setting up a dual-boot system using Windows 98 and Windows 2000, it isn't necessary to install the operating systems in a specific order. Windows 98 doesn't overwrite the files that Windows 2000 needs to start up properly.

According to Microsoft, a machine that runs both Windows 2000 and Windows 95 must format the primary partition with the FAT file system. This disables most Windows 2000 file security features.

Compressing with Windows 95, 98, and Windows 2000

On dual-boot machines that run Windows 2000 with Windows 95 or Windows 98,

  • Compressed DriveSpace or DoubleSpace volumes aren't available when your machine is running.
  • It's not necessary to uncompress DriveSpace or DoubleSpace volumes on Windows 2000 that you plan to access only with Windows 95 or Windows 98.

Group policy on Windows versions

Remember these rules for group policy on the different networked Microsoft operating systems:

Windows 2000

Computers running Windows 2000 Server can be member servers of either Active Directory or domain controllers. Group Policy is fully supported. On machines running Windows 2000 Professional, client computers also are supported.

Windows NT 4.0

Windows NT 4.0 doesn't use the Active Directory utility (regardless of which service packs you've installed), so it doesn't use Group Policy objects. Group Policy doesn't apply to these machines.

Windows NT 3.51, Windows for Workgroups, MS-DOS

In Windows NT 3.51, Windows for Workgroups, and MS-DOS, Group Policy doesn't apply.

Integrating Novell NetWare

Windows 2000 Server provides services that enable the computers that run Windows 2000 to work with Novell NetWare networks and servers. Some of these services are included in Windows 2000 Server. Others are on Windows 2000 Professional. Still more are available as separate products, which you can find on the Microsoft site. For one example, visit the site's information on the following product:

NWLink IPX/SPX/NetBIOS Compatible Transport Protocol (NWLink)

This product is included with both Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Professional. NWLink supports connectivity between computers running Windows 2000 and computers running NetWare and compatible systems.

Using the NetWare Gateway Service

The NetWare Gateway service enables a computer running Windows 2000 Server to connect to computers running NetWare 3.x or 4.x server software. This product is included with Windows 2000 Server. Documentation on this product can be found in NetWare 4.x installation guides and on the Microsoft Web site.

You can use Gateway Service for NetWare to set up easier, faster connections to machines running NetWare. Creating connections enables computers running only Microsoft client software to access NetWare resources more easily.

Choosing the OS for a dual-boot system

A dual-boot machine allows you to choose between operating systems when you start the computer. During restarts, a display appears for a specified number of seconds, allowing you to select between the two operating systems. The default setting normally is either 5 or 20 seconds, depending on your setup.

You must place the Windows 2000 operating system in a separate partition on the computer when you plan to run it with another operating system. This ensures that Windows 2000 doesn't overwrite crucial files used by the other operating system.

Connecting printers to clients running other Windows versions

When connecting a printer to a Windows NT 4.0, 95, or 98 client, you must install the print drivers for these clients on your Windows 2000 print server. The print driver downloads to the client via the network connection without the need for the original compact disc or floppy-disk set.

1. Open Printers by clicking the Start button, pointing to Settings, then clicking Printers.

2. Double-click the Add Printer icon, then click Next.

3. Select Network printer, then click Next.

4. Click the printer in Shared Printers.

5. Follow the instructions in the Printer Wizard to finish connecting to the printer.

After you complete these procedures, if you haven't already installed the printer driver, the driver downloads automatically. The icon for that printer appears in your Printers folder.

When the download can't take place, it's probably because you're using an off-brand, extremely old, or specialized printer (such as an engineering plotter). If that's the case, either install the driver manually on the server or download the driver from the printer company's Web site.

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