The FSMO roles were described in Chapter 2. These roles are considered special in Active Directory because they are hosted on a single domain controller within a forest or domain. The architecture of Active Directory is highly redundant, except for FSMO roles. It is for this reason that you need to have a plan on how to handle FSMO failures.
It would be a really nice feature if domain controllers could detect that they are being shut down and gracefully transfer any FSMO roles to other domain controllers. In fact, the Active Directory development team is considering this feature for the next major release of Active Directory after Windows Server 2003, but that is a ways out.
Without having the graceful FSMO role transfer, you have to do manual transfers. Manually transferring a role is pretty straightforward. You bring up the appropriate Active Directory snap-in, bring up the FSMO property page, select a new role owner, and perform the transfer. Here is a list of the FSMO roles and the corresponding snap-in that can be used to transfer it to another domain controller:
Schema Master: Active Directory Schema
Domain Naming Master: Active Directory Domains and Trusts
RID Master: Active Directory Users and Computers
PDC Emulator: Active Directory Users and Computers
Infrastructure Master: Active Directory Users and Computers
Figure 13-9 shows the Active Directory Domains and Trusts screen for changing the Domain Naming FSMO.
Figure 13-9. Changing the Domain Naming FSMO role owner ...