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This chapter is from the book

Tips on Tools

We use the Users and Computers snap-in often, as a main tool, and there are some helpful tips that we haven't yet covered. In addition, the snap-in is not the only tool available to manage Active Directory objects. Before we conclude this chapter, we'll say a few words about the Users and Computers snap-in, as well as about other means to manage objects.

The Users and Computers Snap-In

We have been using the Users and Computers snap-in throughout the chapter. Here we'll briefly fill in some last few holes.

Choosing a Domain

You can connect to another domain by right-clicking the uppermost line of the left pane (Active Directory Users and Computers...), selecting Connect to Domain, and then specifying a new domain either by typing its name or selecting it from a list.

Choosing a Domain Controller

Sometimes you want to communicate with a certain domain controller. You can choose one by right-clicking the uppermost line of the left pane (Active Directory Users and Computers...), selecting Connect to Domain Controller, and then selecting a new domain controller from a list or typing in a new domain controller's name in the dialog box shown in Figure 3.40.

03fig40.gifFigure 3.40 You can specify a domain controller to communicate with in the Connect to Domain Controller dialog box.

Finding Objects and Information

The context menu of the domain object and each OU has a Find item. You can use it to find objects that match certain criteria.

Windows Server 2003 includes a new Find feature called Common Queries. It enables you to find things such as all disabled user accounts or user accounts that haven't logged on for two months.

See also the "Search Tools" section in Chapter 6.

Filter Options

The View menu of the snap-in includes Filter Options. This feature enables you to specify the objects you want to see when you browse various container objects. (For more information about finding and filtering objects, see Chapter 6.)

Saved Queries

The Windows Server 2003 version of the Users and Computers snap-in includes a new feature called saved queries. You see the Saved Queries folder in the left-hand pane of the snap-in and—as the name implies—you can store there queries for later use. For example, you can define a query that displays all users of the domain that don't have a home folder property set.

As you can see in Figure 3.41, when you create a new query, you can specify a name for it, the starting point ("Query root"), whether to include subcontainers, and finally, the actual query. The query string is shown as an LDAP query string, but when you define it (by clicking Define Query), you have a myriad of user-friendly alternatives to specify the query that suits your needs. Or you can also directly type an LDAP query string, if you first learn how to form them in Chapter 6.

03fig41.gifFigure 3.41 You can create and save often-used queries in the Saved Queries folder of the Users and Computers snap-in.

Viewing Advanced Features

The View menu of the snap-in includes Advanced Features. If you turn on those features, the user interface will make the following adaptations:

  • Each object will show additional tabs in the property pages. We discuss the Security tab in Chapter 4 and the information in the Object tab in Chapter 5.

  • You will see additional containers and objects. The System container includes miscellaneous domain-specific objects, such as the Group Policy containers. The LostAndFound container includes objects that lost their parent container due to a replication conflict. This is explained in Chapter 5. The Program Data container includes things such as Authorization Manager data that defines query-based groups. Finally, the NTDS Quotas container includes quota specifications if certain security principals have a certain maximum of how many directory objects they may own (see Chapter 4.)

DSAdd and Other Command-Line Tools

Windows Server 2003 includes a number of handy new command-line tools to search, display, add, modify, move, and delete objects. You can add computers, contacts, groups, OUs, users, and quota specifications. For other operations, the object type selection is wider, and you can search, move, or delete any object types. Figure 3.42 shows the help for the DSAdd command. In addition to the help provided from the command line, the Help and Support Center includes the help for the commands.

03fig42.jpgFigure 3.42 The DSAdd command enables you to add objects of six different types. There are also other commands to search, display, modify, move, and delete objects.

Figure 3.43 shows an example of how to create a user account with the DSAdd command. Note that the switches to specify first name, last name, and so on are not LDAP names or display names of the properties.

03fig43.gifFigure 3.43 With the DSAdd command, you can create users from the command line and set many properties for them.

You can use the output of one command as input for another command. This is called piping. For example, you can list all users in a certain OU and add them as members in a certain group, as shown in Figure 3.44.

03fig44.gifFigure 3.44 You can use one command to list all users of an OU (DSQuery) and then use this list as input for another command (DSMod).

Alternative Means to Manage Users and Other Objects

In addition to the Users and Computers snap-in, you have the following means available to you to manage users and other objects:

  • ADSI Edit: This tool is part of Windows Support Tools. While the Users and Computers snap-in shows only some objects and some of their properties, ADSI Edit shows everything. It is not practical for everyday administration, but occasionally you might need it. We use ADSI Edit in quite a few places in later chapters.

  • LDIFDE and CSVDE: These two tools are part of the operating system. They enable you to import and export objects between Active Directory and a text file. We explain how to use them in Chapter 6.

  • Net commands: The operating system includes about 20 Net commands that were inherited from Windows NT, which inherited them from LAN Manager. You can create batch files with them to automate administration, but they don't understand the directory structure of Active Directory. You can get a list of these commands by typing "NET HELP" (without quotes), and you can get help with an individual command by typing "NET HELP command."

  • WSH scripts: You can download scripts from the Internet or write scripts that will do "anything," including managing Active Directory objects. Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 provide further information.

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