DNS Training Labs

A review of Train Signal’s Windows 2000/2003 DNS Video Lab Training – Product Details. See more details at Train Signal’s website.

After completing Train Signal’s Active Directory CBT course, I thought I might delve into and learn the Black Art of DNS.  So the Train Signal turned red and Lab 4 pulled into my workstation.

I started the lab with a briefing from DNS Concepts although concepts are anything but brief.  The concepts video is a thorough run through of the lab setup, what IP settings are applied to each of the lab servers, how they are arranged in the lab and the terminologies used.  Until this video I hadn’t come across Split Brain DNS before.   If I had, I most likely would have had a panic attack and again avoided the Black Art.  Even after the comprehensiveness of the AD Lab, I was still impressed by the detail and easy to understand presentation.  Everything was covered, from DNS Namespace, Name Resolution, Root Hints through domain levels (top, second, sub and private domains).

Video 1 started with DNS installation options and proceeded to NS Lookup Commands.  It stresses the importance of the Primary Domain Suffix and goes into an explanation of Dynamic Updates and what the security implications are of using non-secure dynamic updates.  Reverse Lookup Zones always confused me, but not any more.  While not necessary for DNS to work, they are a very useful diagnostic troubleshooting tool.  Scott (the instructor) took only a couple of minutes to explain how Reverse Lookup Zones and Nslookup worked.  A Forward Lookup Zone takes a name and resolves it to an IP.  A Reverse Lookup Zone takes an IP and resolves it to a name.  Once explained I wondered where the mystery ever was.  Manually entering an A Record or PTR Record was even simpler.  And almost as easy, is understanding the difference between an Authoritative and Non Authoritative DNS Server or between Preferred and Alterative DNS Servers.

Scott must be psychic.  Questions I had from Video 1 were answered in Video 2.  Installing DNS on a second server as a Secondary Zone is slightly different from a Primary Zone, but the differences are critical.  A problem arose during the install and like their Active Directory course, this was used as a diagnostic lesson; a better way I feel to get a lesson across than actually telling you how to fix it.  Once installed and working, we had an in-depth discussion on the configuration options or rather the lack of options that are available in a Secondary Zone as compared to a Primary Zone.  Scavenging was given a good workout as were the settings to reduce updates across a low bandwidth connection.  DNS recovery instructions were extremely simple and straight forward with a neat “down and dirty” back online DNS Server.  Very slick!!

Video 3 was about a detailed DNS installation in an Active Directory environment.  I couldn’t believe how much information was put into this video.  It covers the Lab setup, AD install, Child Domain, DNS Domain, DNS Delegation, DNS Replication Zone, Stub Zone, DNS Forwarding, Conditional Forwarding, Caching-only DNS.  All this was covered in Train Signal’s usual comprehensive yet easy to understand way.  Scott took the trouble to show how DNS was setup the “old fashioned hard way” as well as going through the now familiar Microsoft wizards.  While running through Stub Zones, something didn’t work.  The video was left recording and Scott used it as a “how to find a reason for the fault” and fix it.  Errors are not hidden at Train Signal, they are discussed and explained in detail; professionalism personified.  I initially cringed when Scott started deleting zones in DNS, but after this video I understand just how easy it is to recreate it.  There was so much info in this video I could have written a full review about it alone.  After 3 viewings, I still need to watch it a couple of more times just to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Video 4 goes into the setup and configuration of a Public and Private DNS, Split-Brain DNS and two separated DNS Name Spaces but no Zone Transfer.  The Split-Brain briefing was the most extensive of all the video briefings I have watched so far.  It was done carefully to make sure it would be fully understood as initially it seemed quite complex.  However, after the explanations, Split-Brain is logically simple and straight forward.  Understanding the concepts BEFORE diving into the actual training is something Train Signal understands is important for the student to make light work of the practical side to the Labs.  After all, configuring an internal DNS to point to an external DNS, setting up a DMZ and configuring CNAME Records for the Web and FTP server in the DMZ sounds pretty darn daunting!  After the briefing and then running through it on the video, the word daunting just doesn’t exist.  On top of all that, there was also a lesson on security thrown in.

After studying this lab, I no longer see DNS as a Black Art and my understanding of it is now excellent.  You can read more details about this product here:

Windows 2000/2003 DNS Video Lab Training – Product Details

For more information and review copies

Please visit Train Signal’s website