Update: RSAT is ready for download.
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There are quite a few names for this famous tool collection. Some write Adminpak, Admin Pack or Adminpack. The official name is Administrations Tools Pack, but Microsoft often speaks about the Windows Server 2003 management tools. Now, you have to learn a new name: RSAT or Remote Server Administration Tools. This is how the management tools are called under Windows Server 2008.
There probably will be no new Vista version for the Adminpak tools. Microsoft only released a compatibility update for the XP version. But it doesn't seem to fix all problems. There is a workaround to get it running on Vista. Based on the comments in my blog, there are still many having problems, though. This Knowledge Base article mentions some of the issues.
Now I have just read that Microsoft plans to release a Vista version of RSAT shortly after Service Pack 1 becomes available. I wonder if they will invent again a new name because the current version for Windows Server 2008 can't be installed on Vista.
You can install RSAT on Windows Server 2008 as a feature with Server Manager. One difference to the Adminpak is that you can choose which tools you want to install. With Adminpak.msi it is all or nothing.
Note that RSAT is no special tool collection. They are just the tools you use to manage Windows Server 2008. If you install a new server role or feature, for example, the DNS Server or Bitlocker, the corresponding management snap-in is added automatically to the Server Manager and to the Administrative Tools folder.
Installing RSAT as a feature only means that you can run the server management tools even if the corresponding roles or features are not available on this server. You can then use them to remotely manage another server. For this, you just have to right click on the root node in the console and select "Connect to Another Computer".
I wondered if it is possible to use RSAT to administrate Windows Server 2003. I first tried the DNS snap-in and it worked immediately without any problem. I, then, tried the Event Viewer snap-in. I had doubts that this would work since the Eventlogs of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 are quite different. However, the snap-in was smart enough to recognize the version of the remote server and automatically loaded the "Classic Event Viewer".
It is really a pity that RSAT will only come out after Vista SP1. I've read several times that Microsoft recommends the use of Remote Desktop to manage Windows servers from a Vista machine. It seems the Redmond guys don't really know how admins work. Actually, my articles about the Vista-Adminpak issue belong to the most often accessed posts on this blog. They were viewed about 10,000 times within the last 30 days. Obviously, a couple of Windows administrators already regret that they upgraded their machine to Vista.
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I, personally, prefer to work with RDP, but many of the sysops in my department use the Adminpak. If you are responsible for several servers where you always have to do the same management tasks, it is much more convenient to add all the mmc-snap-ins and servers you need for your daily work to your own console. Establishing a Terminal Server session, just because you want to reset a user password is quite time consuming.
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How about an “Admin Server”?
It’s the approach i’ve used – a WS2003 Virtual Machines where i have all my Snap Ins i need, and logon with an account with the permissions i need.
The advantages of this are pretty obvious.
This is a smart solution for this problem. You just need enough RAM on your workstation.
A virtual admin box is definitely the way to go, although my reasons were different. I run an XP administration machine on my Vista laptop so that all the various interfaces for all the different legacy stuff on my network still works, and I can keep the VM logged in as an admin whilst using a standard account on the physical machine for browsing, mail etc. An added advantage is that the same Admin workstation VM works a treat on my MacBook Pro under VMware Fusion.
(Rats – my secret is out – yes, I’m a closet Mac-o-phile)