Domain or not?
Computer networks are often just automatically set up without
much thought: if it's a business, it's set up as a domain, if it's
home, it's not. Often nobody even asks the owners of the
computers what they might want or bothers to discuss the advantages
and disadvantages. If it's business, the users authenticate to
a domain, if it's home, they don't.
But not every business needs or even wants a domain login, and some
home networks could find it quite useful.
Some things to consider
You don't necessarily need a domain to share resources or protect
those shares from improper access. Even if you do use a domain for those
purposes, you don't necessarily need a domain login because you can
authenticate to specific resources.
Running simple shared resources, either wide open, password
protected or with user authentication required, can be much simpler
if you have a mixed bunch of servers. Linux and Unix servers running
Samba can act very much like a Windows domain controller if desired,
but Samba can also be much more flexible and less complicated. The
Windows domain model is really at its best when deployed in a large
organization with complex security needs, and can be extreme overkill
when applied to a small business.
Advantages of a domain login
On the other hand.. having a single point to manage logins, passwords
and the user's login environment can make the system administrator's life
much more pleasant. If you have complicated security needs, the domain
model allows you to finely control who has access to what. You can
control who can log in and what happens after they log in, setting
the level of control the user has to their own machine if desired. This
sort of control is often necessary in a larger organization, but can
be useful even in a small home network where you want to prevent
children or visitors from making changes to systems. This can
move most of the responsibility to the system administrator, and as
policies can be applied to groups of users, the administration
doesn't have to be particularly burdensome.
If you don't understand all the possibilities, and are unsure
of what to do, you really should discuss this with a professional
before allowing someone to set up a network that may not be right for
See Do you really need a domain controller?.
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© 2009-11-07 Anthony Lawrence