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Thread: master browser?

  1. #1
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    master browser?

    I'm a little confused on how the a master browser works.

    I know that in a domain... the PDC is the master browser. It keeps track of computers, users and etc. It then propogates that to all the BDCs. Normally your PDC and your BDC's are the only PCs that participate in browser elections.

    In a workgroup... is there any need for a master browser? How do you find out which PC would be acting as the master browser?

    I have found out how to configure the master browser and how to allow/deny certain machines in participating in a browser election. I just can't find out how to determine which PC is acting as the master.

    I thought I saw it somewhere in the past, but I'm unable to locate that material ATM.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Hey, don't know if this is exectly what your looking for, but I found this and it sounds like what you need.
    When no master browser answers (or if the MB is in a "lower" host than the new PC), the host will call for an election. [Win95 is lower than 98 which is lower than NT/2k.. Don't know about Me, or XP].
    Here is where I found it, http://www.experts-exchange.com/Oper..._20442689.html, hope its right.

    Sounds like it just goes by the version for which one is the MB, if they are on the same version, I would say it is the one that has been running/powered on for the longest.

    Sorry if it didn't help.
    The only limit a person has, is the limit they give themselves.
    Cogito ergo sum. - Descartes

  3. #3
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Thanks. That does answer some things. I had thought that a master browser doesn't really matter in a workgroup. Although there is one...

    Unless you have a computer that is always on, the best thing to do is forget about network neighborhood. Just hard code the names of each computer along with their aliases and IPs into the HOSTS file on each of the PCs.
    I have entered every host in each hosts file on my network. I use static ips so it is easiest that way.

    Another thing I remember doing was on my linux box. When I setup the samba server, I'm pretty sure that I made it the master browser. I know that computer browser (service that allows participation of browser elections) is disabled on all 2k and xp boxes. I'm not sure if 98 will participate without telling it to...

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    AO Security for Non-Geeks tonybradley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    I found this on the Microsoft Technet site:

    LMannounce parameter information:
    Value is set to 1 (TRUE) to make Windows NT browser visible to LAN Manager clients. This
    setting causes the Windows NT browser to announce itself with a LAN Manager 2.x
    compatible server announcement.
    IsDomainMaster parameter information:
    When set to 1, this parameter provides a priority boost to increase its likely hood of
    winning a master browser election. It does not allow the browse server to become the
    domain master browser. This value is a boolean value and can be any of the following:
    Yes/No, True/False, or 1/0.
    When set to NO, the server is not a browse server.
    When set to YES, the server becomes a browse server.
    When set to AUTO, the server becomes a browse master if the master browser asks it do
    There was also some other Q&A about the Browser function and some other registry hacks. Here is a link to the site: Technet

    I think you might be able to set some of these parameters from within the TCP/IP setup or the properties of the network interface card itself.

  5. #5
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Ok, I did a little more research.

    If you have the win2k resource kit installed... there is a program called browmon.exe that is a GUI utility that will find the master browser. You just have to enter in the domain/workgroup name. It will then come up with PCs that are participating in browser elections along with the current master browser.

    Here is info about browmon.exe
    Here is another regarding the browmon and browstat applications.

    It looks like which ever computer was booted first takes the role of the master browser...
    If I shut down that PC it will go to the next pc that was booted the longest.

    I have disabled the computer browser service on many of my PCs.. so only Win98 machines are taking the role of master browser ATM. I'm going to disable it on that.

    Does anyone know if you HAVE to have a master browser in a workgroup network?

    I have attached the 2 files needed as I can't find them anywhere available for download. It looks like you have to buy the resource kit for this one... here it is for those who are interested.

    Ok, I'm not sure if those files are going to work for you. I have the whole resource kit so it works for me. I gave them to a buddy to test and he's having problems. But I gave them to someone else... and they didn't have problems. Oh well... I tried.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Yes, a master browser *is* required for a Workgroup vs. a "Domain"

    "Domain"s are to do with authentication, i.e. a DC (Domain Controller) holds the username / password database for NT / Win2k (Active Directory)

    "Master Browser"s are nothing to do with authentication, they control "Browsing", which is the mechanism which enables "Network Neighbourhood" to work in Windows (also the "net view" command)

    Even if you have no NT/2k boxes, you can still have "Browsing" - win9x boxes will choose a "Master" which will then recieve a list of all machines.

    "Browsing" is in my experience an extremely unreliable technology. Your best bet is to get a machine which is rebooted very infrequently to be the browse master. Rebooting the master browser breaks browsing briefly. Network splits are also very bad, as there can then be more than one master for a short period (For instance if you reboot a switch)

    If left to its own devices, a bunch of Windows boxes in the same workgroup will elect a master from the following priority:
    - A Windows NT / 2k DC
    - A Windows NT / 2k Server
    - A Windows NT / 2k Workstation
    - Any other machine capable of being a master browser (for example win9x)

    However you can fix things. In Samba (which can be a master browser), there is a configuration option ("os level" I think) which enabled you to set up Samba so it will beat even a Windows PDC and always become a master browser. This might be useful, but in my experience it is usually better to have an infrequently rebooted Windows box as the master.

    Oh yes, one other thing:

    - "Browsing" is *not* required for correct Windows Network operation. Everything can effectively be done even with browsing completely broken.

    To access machines which don't appear in the browse list, use Start->Run-> \\machinename
    You can also map network drives, use "Find computer" etc.

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