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Server 2003 on a desktop motherboard.  Can it be a domain controller?

Posted on 2006-11-25
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Last Modified: 2010-04-18
This might be a silly question.  I would like to play around with Windows Server 2003 to learn more about domain controllers and exchange server etc.  Is it possible to enable a Desktop computer with a Desktop motherboard as a domain controller?

I have tried to install it and during the network configuration it only offers me the option to join a workgroup or to "Join" a Domain.  but not to become a domain controller?

Thanks all.
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Question by:jctcom
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Jason Watkins earned 252 total points
ID: 18013007
You should be fine.  I have run most of my servers and DCs on desktop hardware as I am cheap.  The option to install active directory and make a server a domain controller is not part of normal Windows Server 2003 setup.  Small Business Server 2000/2003 install Active Directory as part of the operating system install procedure.  

To install Active Directory after WS2003 installation:

Configure the server with a static IP address
Open start->run-> type "dcpromo", follow the on-screen prompts.

I recommend doing this on an isolated network segment and reading about AD installs before doing so.

/F
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by:jctcom
ID: 18013126
Hi by "Isolated Network" do you mean a network that does not already have a DC on it?  Is it ok to run the DCPromo if it is on a network behind a router (This would be the installed configuration when it is finished.)  Also Maybe this is a separate question but do you know what ports need to be redirected on the router for successful remote desktop connections etc??

Thank you.
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 248 total points
ID: 18013186
It should be a separate question, but the ports for Remote Desktop are just TCP 3389.

DCPROMO just walks you through the process of turning a machine into a domain controller.  There's no issues with doing this on a desktop, laptop, or a computer mobile tied together with fishing wire, if you can get it running.

Likewise, there is no issue with setting up a domain controller behind a firewall or router, or anywhere else.  The only issue I can think of you needing to worry about is the DNS domain name - when you are asked for it, I recommend using .lcl (many people will recommend .local - which is fine too, but Macintosh OS X 10.2 and earlier have problems with .local domains).  Other than that, you can do it however you like.  The only other thing you want to do is use a different name - but this applies for any computer, not just a DC - on a Windows network, no two machines should use the same computer name - that can create problems.

Also, with Active Directory domains, DNS is VERY important to a properly functioning domain.

I would suggest you read this:
http://www.petri.co.il/how_to_install_active_directory_on_windows_2003.htm

My informational links on DNS:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/dns.asp
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