In this corner…weighing in at just over seven pounds (and more than 1,750 pages…the defending heavyweight champion of the Windows server universe…Mark Minasi’s Mastering Windows Server 2003.
Since the earliest Windows NT days, admins at every level have depended on Mark Minasi as the source for rock-solid reliable, usable Windows information.
In the early days, frankly, they didn’t have many alternatives. NT was new and challenging to test. Many authors just parroted the “official line” from Redmond. The first Mastering Windows NT was a breath of fresh air. Minasi always ran down the details. When something didn’t work as it was supposed to (which was often), he’d tell you the real deal -- in depth. The books were big but wonderfully readable: Minasi’s writing voice captured the singular humor his thousands of seminar attendees knew well.
Well, a lot’s happened since then. There are several excellent Windows Server books now. We wondered how Mark’s new edition would stand up to them. We’re happy to report that this edition’s better than ever. A lot better.
Recognizing that few companies are going to rip out the Windows 2000 Server investments they’ve only recently made, Minasi has written a book that’s perfect for mixed Win2K/2003 environments.
For example, Minasi’s 200-page chapter on TCP/IP infrastructure adds an outstanding discussion of “split-brain DNS”: presenting one set of DNS names to your private intranet and a different set to the world. For security reasons, this strategy makes sense for over 90 percent of AD deployments. We’ve never seen it explained as clearly -- and this stuff is equally doable under Win2K and Windows Server 2003.
Similarly, Windows Server 2003’s Mac client support hasn’t changed much. But the Mac has. So Minasi brought aboard “Mac geek” C. A. Callahan to completely revamp the book’s Mac chapter for OS X clients.
Of course, in 1,750 pages, there’s plenty of room for the stuff that is new in Windows Server 2003. For instance, the Resultant Set of Policies tool, which lets you troubleshoot group policies before you unleash them on the unwitting masses. Or the solid coverage of the safer, more robust IIS6 (just one example of Microsoft’s -- and Minasi’s -- greater focus on security).
Nor does Minasi scant the implications of all that security. (For example, domain logons from ancient Windows for Workgroups or DOS workstations aren’t supported anymore, unless you deliberately downgrade security -- but there’s a workaround that’ll get folks the data they need without a domain logon.)
Finally, cool 21st-century stuff notwithstanding, you’ve still got to support printers and file sharing. Minasi takes you into every nook and cranny of Windows Server 2003’s file/print support.
As you can probably tell, we admire Minasi’s work -- but we’re not alone. He recently won CertCities’ Readers Choice Award for Favorite Technical Author. That’s doubly impressive because Minasi’s books aren’t even written primarily for the certification candidates that hang out at CertCities.
Though you sure can’t go wrong using this book to prep for your MCSA or MCSE. And if you’re responsible for a Windows network -- 2003, 2000, or both -- you’ve gotta have it. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.