There may be cases when you need to install Active Directory in your home lab. As an example, I can specify the installation of VMware vRealize Automation, for which you require a domain. In this article I will show how to install Active Directory on Windows Server 2012 R2. I chose Windows Server 2012 R2 over the newest Windows Server 2016 because in my experience 2016 requires more hardware resources compared with 2012, hardware resources which are scarce in a lab environment.
As a prerequisite for this installation, you need to prepare in advance a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition virtual machine preferable with all the normal goodies (latest hardware version, latest VMware Tools, vmxnet3 network adapter, paravirtual SCSI adapter). Install the latest security patches. You do not need the installation kit for Windows Server 2012 R2.
Install Active Directory
Connect to the target server and start Server Manager. Wait for the dashboard to load, then click on “Add roles and features”.
“Add Roles and Features Wizard” starts. Click “Next” to go ahead with configuration.
For “Installation type”, keep the default “Role-based or feature-based installation” selected and click “Next”.
“Select destination server” will default to the local server (in my case “dc”). Keep it selected and click “Next”
For “Select server roles” click on the check box next to “Active Directory Domain Services”.
A pop-up window will appear immediately. You can check which required features will be automatically installed. Keep “Include management tools” selected and click “Add Features”.
Unless you want to install other features at the same time keep the default selection and click “Next”.
Review the information about “Active Directory Domain Services” and click “Next”.
Review the configuration and click “Install”.
The installation of Active Directory Domain Services starts quickly. Don’t close the wizard.
Configure Active Directory
The installation completes in few short minutes. To configure Active Directory, click on “Promote this server to a domain controller”.
Click on “Add a new forest” option. For “Root domain name” specify your domain (lab.ad in my case). Click “Next”.
Select forest and domain functional levels (I recommend to keep defaults unless you have a specific requirement). Enter twice the password for “Directory Services Restore Mode. Click “Next”.
On “DNS Options” step you will receive a warning. Review it and then click “Next”.
This tab will take few seconds to load. Check it the NetBIOS domain name is correct, if not change it to the required one. When satisfied, click “Next”.
Here you can change the location for different service components (database, log files and SYSVOL). Click “Next”.
Review the configuration options and click “Next”.
The wizard runs a short prerequisite check. If you receive the clean green check mark, click “Install”.
Wizard configures now the server to host Active Directory Domain Services.
When configuration is completed, you will receive a warning about an imminent computer reboot.
After the new domain controller starts, you can run “Active Directory Users and Computers” tool to connect to your newly created Active Directory.
Happy domain managing 🙂