Editor's Note: Each month, this column addresses various aspects of the advanced administration of e-commerce sites. This month's column examines the Windows 2000 (Win2K) Support Tools.

I was an active beta tester for Win2K. I implemented the OS in production for more than a year before its release. In fact, because many of Win2K's internals were included in Microsoft Site Server 3.0 and I worked on that project team, technically I have been using Win2K since July 1998. We called it Windows NT 5.0 back then.

Why am I telling you this? Every software-development project at Microsoft includes a tools team: the larger the product, the larger the tools team. On the Win2K project, the tools team was large. A tools team usually consists of one of more program managers, a development manager, and several software developers. The tools team can leverage the use of the main product's resources—for example, its test and install/setup teams. The tools team's mission is to create software tools that help the entire project team build the product.

The Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) defines the process in which Microsoft writes software. I talked to an MSF Master Trainer and asked her to define the function and responsibilities of the tools team. She told me, "Tools teams usually work under tremendous pressure and deadlines, because when a tool is identified, it's needed now." (For more information about the way Microsoft writes software, I encourage you to take MSF training. You can find information about MSF training by calling your local Microsoft office or on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/msf.)

The ultimate resource for Win2K tools is the Microsoft Windows 2000 Resource Kit. The resource kit contains eight books, more than 300 tools, and several references. Microsoft ships some of these tools with Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server) and Windows 2000 Advanced Server (Win2K AS).

These tools, called the Win2K Support Tools, consist of Win32-based applications, command-line utilities, Windows Script Host (WSH) scripts, Microsoft COM objects, Microsoft Word documents, and online Help files. The Win2K Support Tools help network administrators manage their networks and troubleshoot problems.

During and at the end of the Win2K project, the project team decided which tools used during product development would be beneficial to Win2K administrators. Microsoft added many of those tools, which it had never intended for integration into the product's standard Administration Tools area (Start, Programs, Administrative Tools), to the Win2K Server product at that time. For this reason, the Win2K Support Tools aren't localized for language. Consequently, the team wrote and tested the Win2K Support Tools only in English.

Locating and Installing the Support Tools
The Win2K Support Tools don't install automatically when you install Win2K. In fact, support tools installation isn't an option in the Win2K installation. You can find the installation program on the Win2K CD-ROM in the \support\tools folder. The Setup program installs the support tools files on your hard disk and requires 18.2MB of free space for a full installation. You must log on as a member of the Administrator group to install the Win2K Support Tools.

Follow these steps to install the Win2K Support Tools:

  1. Load the Win2K Server or Win2K AS CD-ROM.
  2. When the Autorun screen appears, click Browse this CD.
  3. Browse to the \support\tools directory.
  4. Double-click Setup.exe to run the master setup program for the support tools.

A wizard guides you through the tool-installation process. (If you're installing the support tools on a Win2K server machine, restart your computer to complete the installation.) Setup.exe creates a Windows 2000 Support Tools folder within the Programs folder on the Start menu. Setup.exe also adds the \program files\support tools directory (or the directory name you choose for installing the tools) to your computer's Path environment variable, which lets you run the command-line tools from any folder on your system.

When installation is complete, you can navigate to 12 of the tools and the supporting Help files by choosing Start, Programs, Windows 2000 Support Tools. Screen 1 shows the 12 tools. The rest of the tools (i.e., the tools that don't have a Win32 interface) reside in the \program files\support tools folder (assuming you chose the default folder for installation). Microsoft has also included three valuable online documents in the form of compiled Help files:

  • The Deployment Planning Guide
  • Error and Event Messages
  • Tools Help

You can access these documents from the Windows 2000 Support Tools menu by choosing Start, Programs, Windows 2000 Support Tools.

The Deployment Planning Guide. The Deployment Planning Guide provides guidelines and strategies for planning and deploying the various technologies that make up Win2K. As you've most likely heard over and over by now, the key to a successful Win2K rollout is planning: The guide is a fantastic resource for planning your Win2K rollout.

Error and Event Messages. The Error and Event Messages online Help file contains most of the error and event messages Win2K generates. This file contains a detailed explanation and a suggested user action for thousands of error and event conditions.

Tools Help. You can find detailed information about individual Win2K Support Tools in the third online Help document—Tools Help. The Tools Help program lists the support tools by filename and tool name. The program also groups the tools according to Computer Management, Deployment, Diagnostic, File and Disk, Network Management, and Performance categories, as Screen 2 shows.

Using the ADSI Edit Tool
Now, let's explore one of the tools. The Microsoft Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI) Edit tool is one of my favorites because I write so much code for the Active Directory (AD). The ADSI Edit tool is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that acts as a low-level editor for the AD. With this tool, you can view, add, delete, and move objects within the AD. In addition, you can view, change, and delete the attributes of each object.

As you've learned from my previous articles about the Site Server 3.0 Membership Directory Service (DS), identifying the distinguished name (DN) of an entity in the DS is mandatory for performing most development tasks in ADSI. I use ADSI Edit to quickly identify the DN of any entity in the AD. ADSI enables applications to access several network services and DSs, including Site Server 3.0 Membership, AD, and the IIS metabase. ADSI also lets you seamlessly and easily access several network DSs on different platforms, such as Novell Directory Services (NDS) and the Netscape Directory Service. (For a warning about complications of ADSI Edit, see the sidebar "A Warning About the ADSI Edit Tool," page 13.)

To run ADSI Edit, choose Start, Programs, Windows 2000 Support Tools, ADSI Edit. ADSI Edit automatically binds as the user you're logged on as (e.g., Administrator) and connects to the current domain. As Screen 3 shows, the default view is broken into three areas (Domain NC, Configuration Container, and Schema) in the left pane; the right pane consists of Name, Class, and Distinguished Name columns.

ADSI Edit is also useful for searching the AD. Remember that DSs are hierarchical. ADSI Edit facilitates the creation of queries, which can start their search at any level in the AD hierarchical tree. Win2K creates executed queries as containers, which allow continued browsing both from the results and from the child nodes of those results. For example, search the AD for the Administrator starting at the Domain NC level. Right-click Domain NC, select New, then select Query. In the New Query screen that appears, type Administrator Query in the Name field, as Screen 4 shows. Click Browse to identify the root of your search; a tree diagram of the domain appears. Click OK to choose the root container, then click Edit Query to select the criteria for the query. Click Field to access the drop-down list of field choices, select User, then select Name. The condition defaults to Starts With. Type A to search for every user that starts with A, then click Add, OK. Click OK again to execute the query. Navigate to your query by clicking the plus sign (+) next to the Domain NC. Click the Administrator Query you just created, and you'll see from the right pane that the query successfully located the Administrator, as Screen 5 shows.

Next Month
This month, you've seen how to locate, install, and use the Win2K Support Tools. These tools consist of several Win32-based applications, command-line utilities, WSH scripts, COM objects, Word documents, and online Help files. Next month, I'll talk one of the most powerful, easy-to-implement technologies in Site Server 3.0—Site Server Search.