A resource kit gem and an enigma

Windows NT networks contain machines that serve many functions. Two of the most important NT functions are browse master and domain controller. You usually don't need a utility to discover which of your machines are domain controllers because you must explicitly create your domain controllers. But computers become browse masters because the other NT and non-NT machines in their workgroup elect them to that task, and sometimes you need to figure out which computer is acting as browse master. (For more information about the browse master election process, see George Spalding, "Too Many Servers Spoil Network Performance," August 1997.) Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit includes a tool for finding your work-group's browse master and a similar tool for finding domain controllers.

Jewel of a Tool
wrench Imagine that your shop has stayed with NT 3.51 servers and you run Windows 95 on users' desktop systems. People start complaining that the Network Neighborhood is randomly misbehaving. You open Event Viewer and see that your domain controller is refusing to act as browse master. The domain controller claims that another computer has asserted that it is the browse master. How can you find out which computer is causing your problems?

Use the resource kit's Browser Monitor to determine which machine is acting as browse master. Invoke the tool from the command line by typing

browmon

or start it from the Programs menu by selecting Start, Programs, Resource Kit 4.0, Diagnostics, Browser Monitor.

After you start Browser Monitor, select Domain, Add Domain and enter the name of the workgroup whose browsers you want to find.

In this scenario, you'll probably find that a Win95 workstation has seized browser mastership from your domain controller. If so, the Win95 machine will appear in Browse Monitor. How can you solve this problem? Simple. Either turn off your Win95 machines' file- and print-sharing module or set MaintainServerList to No on the Win95 machines. (You can use a system policy to set MaintainServerList to No, or you can make the change through Control Panel by selecting Networking, File and Printer Sharing, Properties, Advanced.)

Monitor Mystery
Domain Monitor, a tool that sniffs out domain controllers, appears near Browser Monitor on your Programs menu, but Domain Monitor doesn't work correctly. If you don't believe me, try the following test: Install NT on a server and make that server the Primary Domain Controller (PDC) of a new domain. Install the resource kit (or just dommon.exe) on your new PDC. Then, run Domain Monitor and ask it which machine is your new domain's PDC. Domain Monitor will probably give you the message PDC not found.

Why does Domain Monitor have this quirk? I don't know. Microsoft includes many utilities in the resource kit rather than the shrink-wrapped OS because resource kit utilities don't require as much quality testing. The resource kit includes some stellar tools, but it also includes tools that just don't work. For example, Microsoft claimed that a basic Internet server tool that used to be in the NT Server 4.0 resource kit offered Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) services, but I have never been able to make the tool work.

Microsoft claims it doesn't need to support resource kit tools because it doesn't sell the tools; it sells the resource kit book, and the tools come free as a bonus. This argument seems kind of odd in light of the fact that Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit, Supplement Two is nothing more than a revised set of resource kit tools on two CD-ROMs, and Microsoft certainly charges for Supplement Two.

Because Microsoft doesn't support resource kit tools, the tools' users must take the bad with the good. Use Browser Monitor, but leave Domain Monitor alone.