Windows Small Business Server 2011 : Installing the Second Server (part 3)

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2.2.4. Setting the Computer Name and Domain

After you have your networking configured, you’re ready to give the computer a name and join it to the SBS domain. The Windows Server 2008 R2 setup process automatically assigns a random and meaningless name to a new server. Although this name is certainly unique on the network, it’s not a useful final name, so you’ll want to change it.

Naming Computers

It’s a good idea to use a computer name that is both DNS-compatible and NetBIOS-compatible so that all types of clients see the same name for your computer. (And yes, we’re going to have to live with NetBIOS for a while still—too many applications, including Microsoft applications, simply don’t work properly without it.) To do this, keep the name to 15 characters or fewer and don’t use asterisks or periods. To obtain the best application compatibility, use dashes instead of spaces and underscores.

Beyond that, you should use a naming convention that has some internal consistency. We’ve seen all sorts of naming conventions, from the literary obscurities of naming them after romantic poets or science-fiction characters, to Norse or Greek gods, to colors (with the server fronts all painted to match the color name of the server). But honestly, we like names that actually help identify functionality, location, address, hardware, domain, or some combination of these. So our EXAMPLE network here includes computers with the following names:

  • hp160-sbs2011 (The computer is running as a virtual machine on a Hewlett-Packard DL160SE G6, and it’s the main SBS 2011 server.)

  • xmpl-rds-05 (It’s running as a virtual machine in our Example network, its primary role is Remote Desktop Services, and its IP address is

  • hp160-win7-01 (It’s running on that same Hewlett-Packard DL160SE G6, it’s a Windows 7 VM, and it’s the first one we created.)

  • hp160-v32-03 (It’s running on that same Hewlett-Packard DL160SE G6, it’s a 32-bit Windows Vista VM, and it’s the third one we created.)

We know it’s a boring way to name things, but we think it’s a lot easier to understand than trying to remember that Zeus is the main SBS server and Athena is the second server running SQL Server.

You can save a reboot if you change the computer name and domain at the same time. Both require a reboot that will prevent other tasks from being completed, but fortunately they can be paired. To set the name and domain, follow these steps:

  1. Click Provide Computer Name And Domain in the ICT Wizard to open the System Properties dialog box shown in Figure 14.

    Figure 14. The System Properties dialog box

  2. You can enter a description for this computer if you want, but it’s hardly ever visible and thus not terribly useful.

  3. Click Change to open the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box shown in Figure 15.

    Figure 15. The Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box

  4. Type in a computer name consistent with your naming convention, and then click Domain to type in the SBS domain name.


    You can use either the NetBIOS version of the domain name (EXAMPLE, here) or the DNS version (example.local).

  5. Click OK. You are prompted for credentials to perform the change, as shown in Figure 16. This should be the administrator account you chose for the SBS domain.

    Figure16. You must provide administrative credentials for the SBS domain

  6. Click OK. If there aren’t any problems, you’ll get a Welcome message like that shown in Figure 17.

    Figure 17. The Welcome message lets you know you’re now joined to the domain

  7. Click OK to acknowledge the Welcome message. You’ll be warned that you need to restart the server before the changes take full effect. Click OK, and then click Close. Then click Restart Now.


    IMPORTANT It’s tempting at this point to try to delay the reboot to see if you can squeeze a few more things in before having to wait for the server to shut down and restart. And we understand the temptation—we’re big fans of minimizing the number of reboots required and doing as many things as we can when we know we’re going to have to reboot. But this is the one time we think you shouldn’t do it. You need to get that new name and security in place before anything else happens.

  8. After the server has rebooted, log on with an SBS account—not the local administrator account—to complete the configuration of the server.

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