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on August 8, 2003
Update: I finished reading the book and though I still basically feel the same about the AD part, I have found that the scripting part is not too bad *IF* you have some prior scripting/programming experience (which I do), particularly with VB or VBS (which I do). Some of the scripts I have been able to modify and use in my job as a sys admin. Now, overall, I will bump my rating up from 2 stars to 3 stars. $31.47 with free shipping is not a bad deal for a half-decent book on AD with the bonus of several hundred pages on scripting. I guess you can�t have your cake and eat it too � either you get a full-fledged AD book and a separate scripting book or you get this one and it does a half-decent job covering both topics. Additionally, the author, Robbie Allen, does respond to questions via e-mail in a prompt manner.
First off, this book is not for beginners. Do not buy this book if you have no experience with or knowledge of Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Active Directory. That said, here is my review:
I'm more than 2/3 done reading this book and so far I cannot recommend it. The book is not practical enough for a real sys admin to use. For example, the section on sites mentions site transitivity a few times, but no where in that section could I find any instructions on how to actually activate or deactivate that feature. After researching the issue myself, I found that all there is to that is a simple check box. Also, the sections on replication, GCs, and DNS needs more "meat."
A few of the examples used in the book are just totally absurd and there are numerous little typographical errors throughout. Also, the ordering of the chapters are counterintuitive and some topics, such as GPOs, are covered in different, non-sequential, chapters of the book (the author does explain why that was done).
Right now I am finishing up the scripting section and have found numerous inconsistencies with the sample code and the references to it. In one example, the author states that the code will update phone numbers while the code is actually updating (or attempts to update) pager numbers. Contrary to the author's statement that you don't need previous programming experience to learn scripting with this book, some of the examples involve functions and other programming techniques that are way too advanced for novice scripters.
If you want a practical book on AD, then get one geared towards MCSE certification - probably from Sybex. I even found the old Exam Cram book on AD to be rather useful and informative. I think the main goal of this book was to help the reader design an AD infrastructure, but it failed at that, as there was not enough "meat" in the book to cover that, and some of the examples were too absurd. The only part of the book that I did like was its decent explanation of AD object and attribute classes.
As for the scripting part, it's mediocre thus far. I've been supplementing that with the very well written and easy to follow Windows 2000 Scripting Guide, (...).
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on August 5, 2001
I have to agree with the majority of the reviewers that this is a wonderful book. A must read for serious 2000 Admins.
In response to the previous two bad reviews...
To the one who thought it was too technical. The reading would be hard to get through if you didn't have a solid background in Microsoft networking and Windows 2000 Server. If you don't know what a domain is, this book is not for you. If you don't understand what objects are, this book is not for you. Explaining that stuff would be a waste of time for the targeted audience. This book is not "Active Directory for Dummies" if such a thing even exists. This book assumes, as it should, that you have the base knowledge required to understand the depths of AD. I already had my 2000 MCSE before I even picked up this one. (For AD basics to intermediate skills, I used the Osborne book Windows 2000 Directory Services Administration. Another great book! **EDIT 7/24/02** Amazon has the title of this book mistyped as "Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure". A couple of people have e-mailed me about having problems finding the book. The direct link is
This is not a beginner's manual. This is an in depth approach to AD, and does a wonderful job.
As for the one who said the book was based on RC 3. There were some changes from RC3 to the release version of Active Directory. However, this book has had at least 3 reprints with updates, and this has been mostly corrected in the version I have, dated November 2000 (I believe this is the most recent reprint)... That is a VERY short list for a techinical book.
If you're clueless when it comes to Microsoft networking and the basics of Windows 2000, don't pick this one up. If you know Microsoft networking and Windows 2000, this book is a MUST READ!!
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on April 23, 2001
Technical books that are written in an understandable fashion for the non-technical or even moderately technical person are very difficult to find. In my opinion, this book unfortunately fits the common mold of hard-to-understand books. The author falls into the same trap most technical authors do. Here is the trap:
The author apparently understands the topic very well. Because the topic is so complex, the author organizes it into smaller pieces. So far, so good. The first problem occurs when the author's explanation employs technical terms unfamiliar to the reader. Another problem occurs when the author uses familiar words that may have more than one meaning. Now the reader must wonder, "But how is that information useful to my running of this software?" Or worse yet, "What the heck does that mean?!"
I've only read the first nine pages of this book and I find myself reluctant to continue. There is already so much that is meaningless and I don't expect the structure of the book to change.
Let me provide you with some examples. The book starts in chapter one with a section titled, Major Features. This looks promising. The beginning of the first paragraph reads like this:
"New Domain model Domains in Windows were flat structures limited to about 40,000 objects, and this had some unfortunate consequences. For one thing the assigning of privileges tended to be an all-or-nothing matter at the domain level; there was no delegation or inheritance within the domain."
Let's consider that much.
I'm familiar with what a domain is, so the title, "New Domain Model" has some meaning to me. But it really doesn't say much. For a person who doesn't know what a domain is, this book is already puzzling. So if you don't know what a domain is, this book is not for you.
Next let's consider the phrase, "flat structures." Since I know what an indexed or hierarchical structure is, this has some meaning to me, but it doesn't convey any practical information. In fact, now I must tuck this information away in my short-term memory in the hopes that the author will contribute some information later that gives this some significance.
Now we see " limited to about 40,000 objects, and this had some unfortunate consequences." You better know what an object is and at least have a suspicion why having 'only' 40,000 is a problem. In fact there may not be any "unfortunate consequences" if you work for a small company with a small or even moderately sized network.
It would be more useful for the reader if the author explained first, in plain English what problem Microsoft was trying to solve. Then the 40,000-object limitation and the Active Directory solution may have some meaning.
Now let's look at the next sentence: "For one thing the assigning of privileges tended to be an all-or-nothing matter at the domain level; there was no delegation or inheritance within the domain". Does this have meaning for you? Do you understand what problem resides in this description? I don't. And I know the meaning of every word in this sentence.
If you don't understand what the author is saying there, then this book is likely not for you.
In the very next section, entitled How Objects are Stored in Active Directory, the author explains the hierarchical structure of the active directory in an abstract fashion. I didn't understand its value. I read this paragraphs to two Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE's) in my company and neither of them understood why it was important or useful. Putting this at the end of the book MAY make sense. Putting it on page 5 serves no valuable purpose.
Here is the paragraph without further comment:
"When you create objects in Active Directory, you create them in a hierarchical structure you have control over. The structure is made up of two types of objects: containers and non-containers, or leaves. A series of containers branch downward from a root container, just as the roots do. Each container may contain noncontainers or further containers. A noncontainer, however, may not contain any other objects."
In my opinion you would need a fairly strong technical background in networking before you might find this book useful.
It's my belief that technical authors could greatly expand their potential readership if they followed a few simple guidelines when writing about software:
1. In plain English (or as plain as possible), state the problem that the software feature is addressing.
2. In plain English (or as plain as possible), explain what approach the software feature will take to solve the problem
3. If applicable, explain the procedure for the user to follow to implement the software feature.
4. Introduce a technical term only after the term has been explained in plain English
5.Once the reader understands the meaning of the technical terms, THEN explain the relationship that the new technical terms have to each other.
Many writers tend to write starting at step 5 - from their own knowledge base. Instead they should be writing from step 1 - from the reader's perspective.
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on September 30, 2000
Long before the official announcement of Windows 2000 I put on top of my shopping list a 'wish' for a book with extensive coverage of Active Directory that is suitable for intermedidate and experienced network administrator. My second wish on the list was the book that would cover ADSI scripting with windows scripting host. After some research on the web I picked up this book from O'Reilly expecting to be good (as usually the books from this publisher are) . I was wrong, this book is not only
good but truly excellent guide to Active Directory and ADSI scripting. Do I need to say that both my wishes come true with this single book!? Technical books like this one are rare, not only that author is an experienced user of technology that he is writing about he also knows how to explain complex topics (and AD is complex, believe me :-) with well-written style and illustrate the subject with relevant real-world examples. You'll not find 'sweet talk' and confusing examples in this book! I know that this book will be on my bookshelf for years to come.
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on February 18, 2000
This is a truly excellent book. Written by the person who headed up the largest Windows 2000 deployment (in Europe) to date, it not only covers the 'What' of Active Directory, but the 'How' and 'Why'. This includes not only the technical aspects of Active Directory but also the operational and business aspects that are all too rarely addressed in this kind of book,<consultantbabble intensity="religious fervour">but that absolutely have to be dealt with if any kind of ROI is to be realised from this technology</consultantbabble>.
If that isn't enough, the last part of the book shows how to roll your own scripts for adding users, querying the Active Directory etc.. Or as I prefer to think of it, repetitive tasks that you don't really want to go near the gui for. I have this book down as having 585 pages of solid fact, no filler, all examples kept short and focussing on the point in question.
This is an example of how technical books should be written - lots of hard fact with unambigous examples in a well-written style. If you have to go near Windows 2000 & the Active Directory (and I suspect one or two people may be in this position) then buy this book.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 10, 2003
As a departmental administrator in a global multinational system with many servers, I found this book useful to get you off the ground and keep going. The concept of Windows 2000 Active directory is not intuitive and requires the use of this book or similar material to understand and maintain the system properly. IBM can supply sufficient training and training material; there comes a time when you need to see the information from a different perspective. This different perspective is given in this book.
If windows 2000 Active Directory is totally new to you or if you are used to NT, Novell, or Unix systems then you may want to read "Active Directory for Dummies" ISBN: 0764506595 first for the over all changes that use the same vocabulary to mean completely different concepts.
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on July 22, 2013
One of the first technology books that I bought was the first edition of the book, so it was a nice throwback to the original by reading the new updated edition.

The book really is a soup to nuts coverage of Microsoft’s Active Directory environment including DNS, DNSSEC, topology design, PowerShell scripting and everything you need to learn how to deploy and manage your Active Directory environment with updates for Server 2012.

Big thanks to the publishing team at O’Reilly and to Brian, Joe, Robbie and Alistair for another really great book. Whether you are new to Active Directory, or you want to ramp up your enterprise skills you can only win with this book in your library.
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on August 22, 2003
Very good nuts and bolts guide to Active Directory. I've looked at a few other books on the topic and this is the best so far. The book takes a very logical approach toward describing all the complex details behind Active Directory. And as a bonus there are a bunch of chapters on scripting. The sample scripts were helpful. Even though AD is a very complicated beast, I think the authors did a good job in making it understandable. If you've never done anything with Windows before and want a very high-level introductory guide to AD, this book will probably have too many details for you. If you have even a little experience with NT4 or AD, then this book is a great reference!
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on May 7, 2000
Like a lot of other O'Reilly books, this one should really cost twice as much. Packed full of helpful information and not afraid to reveal Windows 2000's weakpoints, this book will pay for itself a hundred times over.
In addition to being up-to-date, you'll get some information in this book that you'll be hard-pressed to find in any other places. The most obvious example of this is the extensive coverage given to the Active Directory Services Interface (ADSI).
O'Reilly's Active Directory book should be made mandatory reading for anyone before deploying Windows 2000 and Active Directory. Put this one on your short list of "Must Reads" for W2K.
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on October 31, 2000
I am biased because I also write computer books, including several for O'Reilly & Associates. That makes me even more sensitive to what makes a good book. In this case, it's the level of detail and of technical accuracy that really makes this book shine. Mr. Lowe-Norris clearly knows what he's talking about, and by the time you read the book you will too. The hidden gem is the book's Part III, which is dedicated to teaching you how to script AD using the ADSI interfaces. I frequently recommend this book to students in my classes on the strength of this part alone-- whenever someone asks for a good scripting book, this is my default recommendation. It's that good.
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