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Samba HowTo Guide
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How Does a Workstation find its Domain Controller?

There are two different mechanisms to locate a domain controller: one method is used when NetBIOS over TCP/IP is enabled and the other when it has been disabled in the TCP/IP network configuration.

Where NetBIOS over TCP/IP is disabled, all name resolution involves the use of DNS, broadcast messaging over UDP, as well as Active Directory communication technologies. In this type of environment all machines require appropriate DNS entries. More information may be found in DNS and Active Directory.

NetBIOS Over TCP/IP Enabled

An MS Windows NT4/200x/XP Professional workstation in the domain MIDEARTH that wants a local user to be authenticated has to find the domain controller for MIDEARTH. It does this by doing a NetBIOS name query for the group name MIDEARTH<1C>. It assumes that each of the machines it gets back from the queries is a domain controller and can answer logon requests. To not open security holes, both the workstation and the selected domain controller authenticate each other. After that the workstation sends the user's credentials (name and password) to the local domain controller for validation.

NetBIOS Over TCP/IP Disabled

An MS Windows NT4/200x/XP Professional workstation in the realm that has a need to affect user logon authentication will locate the domain controller by re-querying DNS servers for the record. More information regarding this subject may be found in DNS and Active Directory.

Samba HowTo Guide
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