Monday, October 26, 2015

Understand the network design for Unit34.co

One of the intentions of this blog is to take a typical home network and evolve it into a sophisticated Windows domain, called Unit34.co. For most people, their typical home network will look like this;

  • A single subnet (such as 192.168.1.0/24)
  • A router that provides DHCP, DNS, NAT and firewall services
  • Internet access

In this post, we're going to look at some of the aspects of the typical home network and do the planning for the changes required for Unit34.co. Networking knowledge is essential.

Planning your subnets


Most home networks are not very large and will most of the time have one router and one subnet. This isn't going to change for Unit34.co. We're going to start with one subnet but we will plan for more than one. The table below is the subnet we'll be using for Unit34.co for both IPv4 and IPv6. We recommend that you do not use the default subnet configured on your router for your Windows domain.

IPv4IPv6
Domain NameUnit34.coUnit34.co
Network Address192.168.34.0FD00:0:0:34::
Broadcast Address192.168.34.255-
Subnet Mask / Prefix Length/24/64
First Usable Address192.168.34.1FD00::34:0:0:0:0
Last Usable Address192.168.34.254FD00::34:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF
Total Usable25318,446,744,073,709,551,616

In future, we are planning to expand our Windows domain to multiple Active Directory sites. For these sites, we are going to use the third octet of the Class C private address 192.168.x.0/24 to indicate the subnet.

Assigning IP address to your hosts


We'll be using DHCP to assign IP addresses on our network but as with most networks, there will be hosts that will require an static IP address. The three most important one for Unit34.co are listed below. Remember to add any that are unique to your network.

Host NameIP AddressDescription
R0192.168.34.1Our network router called R0 (Router 0).
Carbon192.168.34.251A physical server running File and Storage Services and Hyper-V. The one used in this blog is a WD Sentinel DS6100.
Hydrogen192.168.34.254A virtual machine running on our Hyper-V host Carbon. Hydrogen will be our Active Directory domain controller, DHCP and DNS server.

DHCP and DNS services will be provided by your router until we set up our first domain controller. We'll continue to use the router to provide Network Address Translation (NAT) and firewall services. At this point we do not need to open any ports or define any rules for these services.

Get information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)


Make sure you know your external IP address assigned to you by your ISP which ideally should be static. You'll also need to know the IP addresses of your ISP's DNS servers so that our domain controller can forward DNS lookups. Alternatively you can use the Google Public DNS servers 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Selecting a server for Unit34.co

To keep this simple, I'm going to start by introducing the server that I have selected to host the Unit34.co domain in my own home. It's the Western Digital Sentinel DS6100. The DS6100 is marketed as a server with storage solution, an ideal first-server for small to medium sized businesses. I have the 8 TB version.


I've chosen the DS6100 because it is the most powerful, space-saving, energy efficient server I could afford. It's ideal for the home environment due to its small footprint and quiet operation. Most importantly it has enough grunt for several virtualized workloads and doubles as a NAS. Check out the specs below.

  • Intel Xeon E3-1265L V2 2.5 GHz Quad Core processor
  • 16 GB RAM - Upgradable to 32 GB
  • 2x 2.5" boot drives configured in RAID 1
  • 4x 3.5" hot-swappable drive bays
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 4x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1x VGA port
  • 2x DC-in power supply ports

Now when selecting a server, the biggest challenge I found was getting all the features I needed at a reasonable cost. As this was going into a home environment, I was keen to keep all the hardware I needed to a minimum, ideally to one box. At the low end of the scale, you have your Network Attached Storage (NAS) and micro server solutions for your average consumer and on the upper end, you have your desktop pedestals and rack mounts for the professionals. You will be looking for something in between as a 'prosumer'.

Rather than tell you to get DS6100 or what server to get, I'm going to instead tell you what our server is going to be used for and leave it up to you based on that to select a server suitable to you. You can use the specs of the DS6100 as a guide. Our server will be the primary server for the Unit34.co domain and will be used for two main purposes. The first is as a file server and the second, as a virtual machine host. Our server will be running 24/7.

Servers and Roles


Our plan for Unit34.co is to deploy one physical server and virtualized all the others. In my case I will be deploying the WD Sentinel DS6100 as my physical server with Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter installed with plans to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 when released. On this server which I've codenamed Carbon, there will be two server roles installed. They are the File and Storage Services role which is installed by default and Hyper-V.

From then onwards, we'll be deploying servers as Hyper-V virtual machines on Carbon. The most important of these is our domain controller named Hydrogen. The table below is my initial plan for the servers we are going to deploy on our Unit34.co domain. Some of these may be able to be further consolidated.

Server NameRoles
CarbonFile and Storage Services and Hyper-V
Hydrogen / Nitrogen / OxygenActive Directory Domain Services, DHCP Server, DNS Server
CobaltWindows Deployment Services and Windows Update Services
NickelActive Directory Certificate Services, Print and Document Services
CopperNetwork Policy and Access Services, Remote Access, Desktop Services and Web Server (IIS)
ZincWindows SQL Server
ScandiumSystem Center Configuration Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Naming Scheme


Servers on the Unit34.co domain are named after elements from the periodic table. We've deliberately picked names of elements that are common or well-known and have tried to avoid as much as we can, the names of elements that sound similar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Installing WD Components

In our previous exercise, we showed you how to clean install Windows Server 2012 R2 on a WD Sentinel DS6100. Unfortunately on a clean install, the LCD of the DS6100 stops working and the system fan runs at full speed (and it's quite noisy). You'll also lose the dashboard that provides an overview of your system's health including the state of your RAID volumes. In this article, we're going to show you how to restore these functionalities on a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 by installing Western Digital components.

About the WD Components


The WD Sentinel DS6100 out of the box comes with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials preinstalled. If you've clean installed Windows Server Standard or Datacenter, you'll need to install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role first before installing the WD components. The WD components integrate with and don't work without the Windows Server Essentials Experience.

The WD components are located in the C:\WD folder on an out-of-the-box DS6100. Hopefully you would have grabbed a copy or backed up before you performed a clean install.


Perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2


In our previous articles, we showed you how to backup your DS6100 and how to perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2. If you haven't done so already, it would be a good idea to read those articles and go do them first. Also remember to make a copy of the folder C:\WD and keep it safe. We will need its contents later.

We also recommend running Windows Update after a clean install of Windows to make sure your system is fully patched.

Install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role


The Windows Server Essentials Experience role can only be deployed in an Active Directory domain environment. If your server is not a member of a domain, installing the Windows Server Essentials Experience role will also install Active Directory Domain Services and make it a domain controller. Avoid this by domain joining your server first.

To install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, start Server Manager, under the Manage menu select Add Roles and Features.

Press 'Next' until you are on the Server Roles page. Select the role Windows Server Essentials Experience.


When asked to add features required for Windows Server Essentials Experience, press 'Add Features'.


Continue to press 'Next' to skip though all the pages until you reach the Confirmation page.


On the Confirmation page, press 'Install' to start the installation if the Windows Server Essentials Experience role.


Install the WD components


After installing the Windows Server Essentials Experience but before configuring it, install the WD components. Copy the WD folder that we backed up earlier to C:\WD and install the following.
  1. LpcDriverSetup.msi
  2. WDSMbusDriverSetup.msi
  3. PCHThermalDriverSetup.msi
  4. WDSystemConfigSetup.msi
  5. WDProductConfigService.msi
  6. WDBonjourSetup.msi
  7. WDAfpSupportSetup.msi
  8. WDHealthMonitorSetup.msi
  9. WdLcdSetup.msi
    Note: Run WdLcdSetup_PreInstall.bat before installing WdLcdSetup.msi.
  10. WDSoftwareUpdateProvider.msi
  11. WdStorageSetup.msi
  12. WDMonitorSetup.msi
  13. WDBranding.msi
  14. WDHomePageSetup.msi
  15. WDSUSetup.exe
    Note: Run C:\Windows\system32\pkgmgr.exe /iu:IIS-CGI after installing WDSUSetup.exe.
Once all the components have been installed, restart your server. If you would like to know more about these components, you can examine the batch files WdInstall.bat and post_oobe.bat also in the WD folder.

Configure Windows Server Essentials


After installing the WD components and restarting your computer, the LCD and the system fan should be working correctly. To get all the other components working such as the dashboard, you will need to configure Windows Server Essentials.

Open up Server Manager and click on the notification icon. You should then see a link titled Configure Windows Server Essentials. Click on that link and follow the wizard.


Once Windows Server Essentials has been configure, your clean install of your DS6100 with Windows Server 2012 R2 will just be like how it was out-of-the-box.