Adding a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller to a Windows 2003 domain

You need to add the first Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller to your Windows 2003 domain, but you’re not sure what preparation you need to take, or what’s involved in the process.

Don’t be afraid, it’s quite simple. Follow the steps below:

  1. Insert the Windows Server 2008 R2 DVD (or mount the .ISO) into your current Windows Server 2003 domain controller (DC) that holds the schema operations master role. You can find out which servers hold the FSMO roles in your forest/domain here.
  2. If the DVD “autostarts”, ignore this error:
  3. The above error only occurs as the DVD is for 64-bit operating systems, and we’re using Windows Server 2003 32-bit.
  4. The file we need to run is adprep32.exe, which can be found on the DVD within [DVD drive letter]:\support\adprep:
  5. You can type the path to adprep32.exe into a Command Prompt window, but I prefer to drag’n’drop the file, which will fill in the path for you (this is a favourite little tip I use quite often):
  6. Note: Before running this command, make sure you are logged in with a user that is a member of the Enterprise, Schema, and Domain Admins groups.
  7. At the prompt, append /forestprep and press Enter.
  8. You must now type C and press Enter to continue:
  9. Once completed, this message is shown:
  10. As the schema has just been updated, you should wait until these changes replicate throughout the forest before completing the next step.
  11. Press the up arrow at the Command Prompt and the previous command will be displayed. Amend the command to adprep32.exe /domainprep, then press Enter. If your domain is not in Native Mode, the following warning is displayed and the adprep command will not run:
  12. Find out how to raise the domain and forest functional level here.
  13. Once you have raised the domain and functional level, adprep32.exe /domainprep will run successfully and display this message:
  14. Taking the advice from the message above, you should now run adprep32.exe /domainprep /gpprep:
  15. Lastly, if you wish to install a Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC), you will need to run adprep32.exe /rodcprep to update the permissions on several AD partitions:
  16. Again, you should wait until these changes replicate throughout the forest before adding the first Windows Server 2008 R2 DC to the Windows 2003 domain.

Find out more on the adprep command.

Now we have waited for the schema changes to replicate, let’s add the first Windows Server 2008 R2 DC to the Windows 2003 domain:

  1. From the Server Manager control panel, click Change System Properties:
  2. Update the Computer Description, then click Change…:
  3. Update the Computer name, type in your Domain, then click OK:
  4. Enter the domain administrator username and password, then click OK:
  5. If successful, the following message is displayed:
  6. You are now prompted to restart your computer:
  7. The 2008 R2 server will now show in the Computers container in Active Directory Users and Computers:
  8. Lastly, run dcpromo as you normally would on your 2008 R2 server.
  9. Job done!

Find out much more info on the above process here.


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