Configuring a forest root domain on Windows Server Technical Preview

 

You may heard that new Microsoft Windows server is being developed. Currently this Windows version is called Technical Preview and you can download it for free from Microsoft Technet Evaluation Center at this link

Now, this is a good time to start testing new Windows Server version. Before final edition, you can get familiar with new features and test roles to be prepared for migration in the future. This article will describe forest root domain controller promotion based on Windows Server Technical Preview.

Domain Controller promotion process did not change from previous Windows Server 2012/2012R2 version and there is still no possibility to do that over dcpromo utility. First of all, you need to install Active Directory Domain Services role from Server Manager console.

But before you will do that, let’s see what information do you need to start promoting DC.

  • Company name – which will be helpful in choosing forest/domain name
  • Network configuration – valid IP addresses range for our company, router’s IP (as default gateway)
  • ISP DNS servers on any public DNS servers to be able to access the Internet resources from our company
  • Services we need to run – what additional services will be required to fulfil a company requirements

Let’s start collecting them all.

  • Company name – Test Environment
  • Network configuration – IP addresses range 192.168.1.0/24; the first available IP address is a router (default gateway)
  • Public DNS servers – 8.8.4.4 and 8.8.8.8 (Google public DNS servers)
  • Services – Active Directory: Directory Services, DNS server(s)

Now, you can install your first Windows Server Technical Preview and configure it. After that you would be able to promote this server as a Domain Controller.

When your server is installed, then you need to log on there on local administrator account and you can start its preparation.

Open Server Manager (or wait short time because it runs itself by default), set up static IP address for your server (in this case it’s 192.168.1.10 with 255.255.255.0 network mask), configure time zone and change server name accordingly to naming convention in your company.

You may also set up there other options like NIC teaming, remote management and remote access.

This is very important part of network configuration before promoting server as a Domain Controller. In DNS preferred IP address type 127.0.0.1 (loopback interface) or the same IP address as server is configured 192.168.1.10 to point the server to DNS itself.

To configure network parameters, click on “Local Server” node on the left side of Server Manager

Local server basic configuration

Local server basic configuration

and then click on “Ethernet” to configure these settings

Network card configuration

Network card configuration

You will see “Network connections” where you network card is being seen

Network card

Network card

edit its properties and set up required IP information under IPv4 section

IPv4 settings edition

IPv4 settings edition

Under its properties put valid IP address, network mask, default gateway and DNS server IP address

IPv4 settings

IPv4 settings

Now, let’s configure server name and reboot it to be able start Domain Controller promotion. To change server name, click on “Computer name” section and provide appropriate name

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

Server name change

apply changes and reboot server. When your server is up and running again, you can start promotion process.

Install Active Directory: Directory Services role and after all, follow post-install steps which promotes server to Domain Controller. To do that open Server Manager and go to “Add roles and features” on Dashboard screen

Adding roles

Adding roles

You will see a wizard which will guide you through role installation process. Go further up to a screen with roles selection using default options and choose “Active Directory Domain Services” role. Confirm all dependent roles/features to be installed with AD:DS role

Active Directory Domain Services role installation

Active Directory Domain Services role installation

confirm also features which will be installed with selected role

AD:DS role installation

AD:DS role installation

Go “Next” to screen with installation summary and click “Install”

Roles and features installation

Roles and features installation

and wait until Active Directory: Domain Services role will be installed

Role installation

Role installation

When role is installed, you will see yellow exclamation mark in notification area

Post-installation steps

Post-installation steps

That means, there are additional steps to do after role installation. Click on that field and you will see what do to next

Post-installation steps

Post-installation steps

Click on “Promote this server to a domain controller” and promotion wizard will be displayed.

It is similar to previous wizard from DCPROMO on older OS versions. Promotion process is much more simple than previously and requires less steps to be finished.

In your case, you are configuring new forest root domain, so you need to choose “Add a new forest” option and specify DNS domain name for this new forest. As it was mentioned before, in this example you will use testenv.local as DNS domain name

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

On the next screen, you need to specify Domain and Forest Functional Levels.

When you are configuring new forest root domain then you cannot set up Windows Server 2003 Domain or Forest Functional Level. The lowest possible mode is Windows Server 2008. You need to know that when you are planning new infrastructure because Windows Server 2003 Domain Controllers are not supported in this scenario anymore because Windows Server 2003 support is ending soon.

Information! Currently, the highest possible Domain and Forest Functional Level is Windows Server 2012R2! It looks like Technical Preview version is not ready for new levels or they are unstable to be implemented yet.

For more details about raising domain and forest functional levels, please check another articles on my blog:

Important! When you set up Domain/Forest Functional level it cannot be changed to lower mode, so be careful when you choose them. If you are not sure which functional level is adequate for you, choose the lower one. You can always raise it without any business continuity disruption later.

Define if that server would have DNS role installed and if it would be Global Catalog. As this is the first Domain Controller, all these roles must be installed.

Specify Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) password which will be also used for domain administrator account at this stage

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

As this is the first Domain Controller and forest root domain, do not worry about DNS delegation and go to the next step

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

When you specified DNS domain name, you need to type also NetBIOS domain name. By default wizard suggests the first part from DNS domain name. If you have no reasons to use different NetBIOS name, I would suggest to leave that as after this name change, you will have an issue with Active Directory Administrative Center which does not recognize changed NetBIOS domain name (it uses the first part of  DNS domain name).

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Specify location of AD database and SYSVOL. You may leave defaults or move them to dedicated drive

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

You will see summary screen with all details before installation. As in Windows Server 2012 everything from Server Manager is translated into PowerShell and executed in the background, you may click on “View script” to see what will be done to install and configure Domain Controller

PowerShell script for Domain Controller promotion

PowerShell script for Domain Controller promotion

when you are ready, click on next to go to the final screen where script will be executed in a background

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

If all prerequisites will pass, you can start installation

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Wait a while and server will be rebooted. After reboot, your server will be a Domain Controller.

Congratulations! Your Domain Controller for a forest root domain is ready! You can log on, onto it, using password specified during server preparation process (the same password as for local Administrator or probably the same as for Directory Services Restoration Mode 🙂 )

Domain Controller desktop

Domain Controller desktop

Log on, using domain administrator credentials into your new Domain Controller.

We have to configure DNS server to send unresolved DNS queries to ISP DNS server(s) or any other public DNS server(s). This configuration is necessary to be able to access the Internet resources from our internal network.

If you do not have public DNS server(s) IP address or you do not want to define them, do not put anything under “Forwarders” tab and by default “Root hints” will be used. For that, skip few below steps.

Open DNS management console from Tools in Server Manager and select server name.

DNS forwarders configuration

DNS forwarders configuration

In the right pane at the bottom of that window, double click on Forwarders

DNS forwarders configuration

DNS forwarders configuration

When Forwarders window appears, click on “Edit” button to put there public DNS server for the Internet access

DNS forwarders configuration

DNS forwarders configuration

You should see a window, where you can put ISP or public DNS servers. Add DNS to the list. In this case we will use Google public DNS servers (8.8.4.4. and 8.8.8.8) Wait until they will be validated and close console

DNS forwarders configuration

DNS forwarders configuration

After all, you should consider Domain Controller and DNS server redundancy in your network by placing additional server with these roles. Another very important part is performing System State backup of Domain Controllers regularly.

In case of lack hardware resources in your network, you can consider placing DHCP server on this Domain Controller. However, it’s not recommended to install additional roles on DCs because of security reasons and right delegation scenarios.

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

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