Setting up an Active Directory domain isn't rocket science, but it does require planning and following some key instructions. Microsoft has attempted to make the installation process as painless as possible. But there is always room for error if you don't fully understand what is involved in deploying an Active Directory domain.
Of course, you should have a computer system that exceeds the minimum requirements for Windows 2000 Server. Next, you must install Windows 2000 Server onto the computer system and configure it for basic network communications. Only after you have a Windows 2000 Server as your foundation can you begin the process of installing a domain controller. Actually, the process is more of an upgrade or a promotion than an actual new installation. You use the dcpromo.exe tool to install the additional software components and convert a member server system into a domain controller system.
But Active Directory domain controllers require the presence of a DNS server to function. One of the pre-requisites is the presence of a DNS server, but it is possible to initiate the conversion of a member server to a domain controller without the presence of a DNS server, if you elect to allow the setup process to install and configure a DNS server on the same system before completing the domain controller migration.
If you have a pre-existing DNS server on a separate system, then make sure each of the following issues is addressed:
- the DC-to-be system as a DNS client by defining the DNS server's IP address in the TCP/IP properties.
- Make sure that the DNS server has DDNS (Dynamic DNS) enabled for the zone, which allows the new domain controller to register itself once it is promoted.
To make sure that you have DNS properly configured for use by Active Directory prior to installing your first domain controller, use the dcdiag.exe tool to test your DNS infrastructure. Details about the DC Diagnostics tool instructions for use and where to download the tool are found at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/techinfo/reskit/tools/new/dcdiag-o.asp.
One final note: After you've installed your first DC, check the DNS server to ensure that the DC properly configured its RR records.
James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for ITinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.
This was first published in April 2003