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Planning to build a Domain Controller / Home Server - Looking for input

post #1 of 16
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I'm looking into potentially building a home server / domain controller to run a home domain and would like some input on this idea. I've been playing with Server 2012 R2 a bit here and there in virtual box, and using is as a domain controller to hook some other W7 virtual machines up to. The real reason I'd be interested in setting this up is so that I'd be able to log into any machine in my home, and access all my files, applications, and settings as on any other machine in my house. I would plan on having five or six machines connected to this domain, all hard-wired. So, here are my questions:

1.) Is this a silly idea for a home setup? If so, would there be any alternate way of being able to log into all computers on my home network, and accessing all the files, applications and settings as any other computer on the network?

2.) If this isn't a crazy idea, any idea what sort of specs would be acceptable for a domain controller with a small load like this? I've tried running a DC in a VM and it seems to run well with 2 cores / 4GB RAM, but some input from others in this area would be nice.

I think those are about all the questions I have about this for now, but I'm sure that if there's a discussion about this more questions will arise. Thanks guys!
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post #2 of 16
You don't have to run a domain to have simple file sharing across your network. You can simply enable file sharing in the Windows OS and access other computers from the run box.

\\otherpcname - This command will bring up a view of all shared folders and devices on the target machine.

Now if you want to set up limited access for different users on your network, you're getting into domain territory.
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post #3 of 16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WizardontheJob View Post

You don't have to run a domain to have simple file sharing across your network. You can simply enable file sharing in the Windows OS and access other computers from the run box.

\\otherpcname - This command will bring up a view of all shared folders and devices on the target machine.

Now if you want to set up limited access for different users on your network, you're getting into domain territory.

Thanks for the reply. 

 

I know I'm able to set up simple Windows sharing through a Workgroup and shares, but ideally I'd like to be able to log into any device on my network, and have the exact same experience as I would on any other machine on my local network (same files, desktop background, settings, browser setup, etc.). Do you know if it would be possible to do this through a Workgroup, or without a central server?

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post #4 of 16
I really dont know much when it comes to networking, but am interested to hear some replies.

One thought though, why can't you just remote into the computer you want to access and then get that whole experience you mention (same files, desktop, settings, etc)? The main remote desktop software that comes to mind is TeamViewer.
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post #5 of 16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtbahgs View Post

I really dont know much when it comes to networking, but am interested to hear some replies.

One thought though, why can't you just remote into the computer you want to access and then get that whole experience you mention (same files, desktop, settings, etc)? The main remote desktop software that comes to mind is TeamViewer.

That's a really good idea, however the one problem I foresee with that method is that I would need to create individual accounts for each user on each computer that they would want to use. If I didn't, they wouldn't be able to log into the computer and use remote desktop to control their main computer.

 

But yeah, other than that that idea would probably work very well. Since it's all on a local network there wouldn't be any bandwidth restrictions (I don't think Remote Desktop uses very much bandwidth though) and that would be a way to access all a user's files, and customized profile remotely.

 

I might have to create some additional user accounts on some computers, and test this method out to see how it works out.

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post #6 of 16
Remote desktop through Windows "Remote Desktop Connection" app bundled with Windows is the best bet if you want to do remote logging in as you can just log in with the profile straight from that client. That said, even on my 10Gbps network I still experience some stutter and loss of resolution when using RDC. I personally setup a Window 2012 R2 AD DC on an old box I had that has a i5 4590, 16gb ram, a 750ti and 8x4tb drives in raid5 and it works amazingly well although is way overspec-d for what you want to do. I would say probably go with the 2012 Box and learn about Organizational units and the such as a little extra knowledge never hurt any one and you seem to be in a place where you have the budget to do so, otherwise just go with the RDC client. If you have any questions or need any help with AD DS shoot me a message on here, I am not a full blown enterprise 1000+ server admin but I have been around my fair share of servers and am currently studying for my MCSE.
post #7 of 16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UpgradeSolution View Post

Remote desktop through Windows "Remote Desktop Connection" app bundled with Windows is the best bet if you want to do remote logging in as you can just log in with the profile straight from that client. That said, even on my 10Gbps network I still experience some stutter and loss of resolution when using RDC. I personally setup a Window 2012 R2 AD DC on an old box I had that has a i5 4590, 16gb ram, a 750ti and 8x4tb drives in raid5 and it works amazingly well although is way overspec-d for what you want to do. I would say probably go with the 2012 Box and learn about Organizational units and the such as a little extra knowledge never hurt any one and you seem to be in a place where you have the budget to do so, otherwise just go with the RDC client. If you have any questions or need any help with AD DS shoot me a message on here, I am not a full blown enterprise 1000+ server admin but I have been around my fair share of servers and am currently studying for my MCSE.

I do have a little experience with OU's - mostly just deploying printers or simple things (custom desktop backgrounds, limiting access to certain Windows programs, etc.) like that and wow are they useful - they're very useful with only a few computers, but I imagine they would really shine on an enterprise setup. 

 

The one question I have for you would be regarding the specs of a domain controller. You mentioned that your server is a little overkill for running a DC, are you specifically talking about the CPU, RAM, and GPU, or what components are overkill for your build? I had an old Sempron 145, motherboard, and RAM sitting around awhile ago but decided to sell it off a year or so ago - I'd be a little bummed if that would have been adequate for running a DC on. :P

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post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cam51037 View Post

I do have a little experience with OU's - mostly just deploying printers or simple things (custom desktop backgrounds, limiting access to certain Windows programs, etc.) like that and wow are they useful - they're very useful with only a few computers, but I imagine they would really shine on an enterprise setup. 

The one question I have for you would be regarding the specs of a domain controller. You mentioned that your server is a little overkill for running a DC, are you specifically talking about the CPU, RAM, and GPU, or what components are overkill for your build? I had an old Sempron 145, motherboard, and RAM sitting around awhile ago but decided to sell it off a year or so ago - I'd be a little bummed if that would have been adequate for running a DC on. tongue.gif

It's overkill for the size of my domain, I have 4 PC's running on it and mostly use it as a file server which any dual core processor from the last few generations could easily handle. So, for my small setup, the CPU, ram, and GPU are overkill as I dont even use it to stream steam games to my tablet as my main PC is much better suited to do so. If you have a large space and want a highish spec-d machine, I recently sold my HP Proliant DL380 G6 which is an older server, they typically sell for around $100-150 on ebay and most come equipped with 8GB of base ram upgradeable to 128gb, Dual Xeon Processors (Mine was 2x e5540 quads at 2.53GHz) and room for 8 Laptop sized drives. I paired that with an old Coraid 12x3.5 drive bay that I had hooked up via their form of iSCSI which I got for $80 on ebay and put drives in that which got me a professional server for around $200. The issue with it was that it was loud as I was using the internal bays in the DL380 with drives that werent reporting the temperature correctly so it always jacked up the fans, which caused me endless nights with no sleep as it was right outside my door. If you have a larger place or a basement you could look into something like that. Basically I recommend whatever is cheapest that will still work, at least a dual core processor (quad preferable as you may want to do more in the future) at least 8gb ram (it will probably be headless and you don't want to run into memory issues on a box you never touch), and space to grow the drives beyond your needs now (you dont want to buy a new case just to add drives).
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cam51037 View Post

Thanks for the reply. 

I know I'm able to set up simple Windows sharing through a Workgroup and shares, but ideally I'd like to be able to log into any device on my network, and have the exact same experience as I would on any other machine on my local network (same files, desktop background, settings, browser setup, etc.). Do you know if it would be possible to do this through a Workgroup, or without a central server?

What you are talking about can be done with roaming profiles, a function within the Server OS. It creates user profiles on the server and simply copy's it to every computer you log into and sets up syncing so that changes made to files on one reflect on the others. This can include a whole host of settings and folder pairs. It can become quite messy in large domains but for a small network, I believe it could shine. The most complicated thing I think you may run into is setting proper permissions. I did it once, but not without help from a networking buddy of mine. First thing, I would read up on roaming profiles.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj649079.aspx#RUP_Prerequisites
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or simply RDP to the machine. 0 need for teamviewer.
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Overclock.net › Forums › Specialty Builds › Servers › Planning to build a Domain Controller / Home Server - Looking for input