Learn Exchange Server 2000: ForestPrep and DomainPrep

Monday Apr 1st 2002 by ServerWatch Staff

Michael Bell's latest article in the Learning Exchange Server 2000 in 15 Minutes a Week series takes a look at the rights required to install Exchange 2000 and focuses on two pre-installation utilities, ForestPrep and DomainPrep, that are designed to facilitate smooth Exchange Server installations.

by Michael Bell

Last week we spoke about the requirements to install Exchange 2000. We discussed both hardware and software issues, and even talked a little bit about monitoring our Exchange server to keep an eye on resource utilization. Before we actually start our Exchange installation, though, we need to talk about the rights required to install Exchange 2000 onto the network.

Exchange 2000 was the first Enterprise application designed by Microsoft to take advantage of the extensibility of the Windows 2000 Active Directory schema. By introducing Exchange into our network, we will now have a directory that understands mailboxes and virtual servers, amongst other things. In order to accomplish this task, we need an account that has the appropriate rights to modify the schema of Active Directory. This requires an account that is a member of both the Schema Administrators and Enterprise Administrators groups. The user must be a member of the local Administrators group as well.

Now this presents a quandry, because in a typical Enterprise environment, the number of users that will be in those first two groups is (or should be) extremely small. It is a quandry because, typically, the Exchange Administrator will not be a member of either of those two groups. So how can we extend the schema if we aren't a member of the appropriate groups? Enter ForestPrep. Running setup with the ForestPrep switch will allow an Enterprise admin to extend the schema of AD without actually performing an installation of Exchange 2000. By completing this step, the Enterprise Administrator has extended the schema to understand the new object classes and attributes that will be used by Exchange 2000. When they are finished, we will be one step closer to staring the installation of our first Exchange 2000 server.

There are a couple of things to consider when running setup with the ForestPrep switch. We have already covered the rights issue. There is also the issue with spelling. Believe it or not, if you run setup with the ForestPrep switch, and don't spell ForestPrep correctly, it will launch the full blown installation program and attempt to install Exchange 2000. I will be showing you the screens from ForestPrep later on in this article, and will point out what to look for.

You should be aware of the fact that by running ForestPrep, you will be given the opportunity to specify an account that is going to be granted Exchange Full Administrator permissions to the root of the Exchange Organization. Another thing to be aware of is that ForestPrep should be run in the same domain as the Schema Master, which by default is the Forest Root. If you are uncertain about what the Schema Master is, look here.

ForestPrep Continued

Now that we have that out of the way, lets go ahead and take a look at running setup with the ForestPrep switch. At this point, we will take it as a given that all the proper requirements have been met. The first thing that we will do is go to the "run" command, and either type or browse to get the path to the Exchange 2000 setup file. Once we have located it, we will add a space at the end, and then the /ForestPrep switch. Your run command should look something like this:

Again, the spelling is important as we will see momentarily. The first screen that will come up after this will be the Welcome Screen, and after that we will see the License Agreement Screen, like this:

Next up is the Product Identification Screen, (he he he...sorry, no OEM numbers here!)

And then we should see Component Selection Screen:

I have highlighted the ForestPrep option to bring your attention to this screen. If you had mispelled ForestPrep when typing the command back at the beginning, ForestPrep would not be an option. In fact, what you would see would be the normal Exchange installation options, asking what Exchange components you want to install, and where you want to install them. Also, if you are not logged onto the domain, the utility will not allow you to select the ForestPrep option. Once we have dealt with all those issues, and click next, we will see the Installation Type Screen:

For our purposes today, we will be dealing with the installation of the first Exchange 2000 Server into our Windows 2000 domain. In a later article, we will discuss upgrading an existing Exchange 5.5 environment and the issues that are unique to that particular environment. As I have selected to create a New Exchange Organization, the next screen I see will prompt me for the name I want to use for my Organization. As you can see, I have selected 2000ExTrainers as the Organization name:

The next screen prompts for the account to be granted Exchange 2000 administrative rights to the root of the Exchange Organization. As I mentioned earlier, you can select any account that you want at this point, or if you like, you can use the default and you will always have the option of running the Exchange Administration Delegation Wizard at a later point in time.

After selecting the user account, ForestPrep begins the process of actually extending the schema. This process can take from 30 minutes to several hours to complete, so you will need to be patient. This is also one of the reasons we recommend running ForestPrep early in the Windows 2000 deployment process. The ForestPrep process is actually a ten-step process, and the screen that shows during this time will actually count through the steps, one by one.

When it does finish (this process took 30 minutes on a PIII 700 with 512MB of RAM) you will get the final screen, and now we will have finished the first step in actually preparing to install our first Exchange 2000 server into our Organization. Of course, we aren't done with installing Exchange 2000. In fact, we have only just begun. But by allowing an Enterprise Administrator with Schema Administrator rights to accomplish this task, we have at least ensured the success of the first step of our Exchange 2000 installation.


The next step required in order to install Exchange 2000 is a process called DomainPrep. This utility must be run in every domain that we are going to have an Exchange server or Exchange recipients in. Keep in mind that if you have a large enterprise environment, you will need to wait for ForestPrep replication to complete before running DomainPrep. We start out by finding the Exchange 2000 setup file, and this time will add the DomainPrep switch, like so:

Next up we will see the Welcome Screen (omitted by choice) and then the license agreement screen much like we saw with ForestPrep:

Now comes our Product Identification Screen where we will enter the appropriate information (once again, no freebies here):

And now we are up to the component selection screen. You will notice here that the component listed is DomainPrep. If you had misspelled DomainPrep, then it would have attempted to run the Exchange installation and install the first Exchange 2000 server into your organization.

The file copy runs (this should finish much faster than ForestPrep), and now we have completed DomainPrep.

But what exactly did we just do? Well, for starters we just created two groups, an Exchange 2000 Domain Servers domain global group that contains all computers running Exchange 2000 in the domain, and an Exchange 2000 Enterprise Servers domain local group that will contain all computers running Exchange 2000 in the enterprise. These two groups will also be granted the necessary permissions required to access various containers in the domain.

In order to run this utility, you will need Domain Administrator privileges, which an Exchange administrator may or may not have. This utility does not require you to have any Exchange Administrator permissions. So depending on your organization, you may be able to run this utility yourself, or you may require someone else to run it for you.

Now that we know what ForestPrep and DomainPrep can do for us, and what is required to run them, we should be a little bit closer to starting the installation of our first Exchange server. That about wraps it up for this week. When we pick up next week, we are going to finish our discussion of ForestPrep and DomainPrep. As you might have guessed, these utilities aren't a one-size fits all solution, so we will discuss these utilities in a little more detail. After that, we will actually pop the CD into the server and start the installation of our first Exchange Server. Until next time, ciao.

Michael Bell


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