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Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials - Domain setup - Clean Install - create custom domain suffix (domain.office vs. domain.local)

I’m setting up a Win2K12 R2 Essentials server (Clean Install).   I need to setup the domain suffix to be “domain.office” instead of the default “domain.local”.  What is the easiest method to modify the domain setup so that I may specify a custom domain suffix? Or can the suffix be changed after the fact? (Note: changing the suffix after the fact is not the preferred method... unless the solution also includes a comprehensive/verifiable explanation of why doing so is the correct method.)
Windows Server 2012Microsoft Server OSSBS

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8/22/2022 - Mon
Brent Arnold

As a clean install I'm going to answer your question with YES: the EASIEST method is just changing the suffix after the fact. I have changed entire domain names <domain.suffix> ON NEW INSTALLATIONS and never missed a beat.
Cliff Galiher

The above comment is incorrect in this instance. Essentials installs as a DC and thus cannot be renamed. Demoting essentials will break things and puts you in an unrecoverable state. Don't go that route.

You cannot get around the dot-local suffix via the GUI. You'll have to grab the deployment tools that OEMs use to customize and create a custom answer file. That is the only supported way to get a custom suffix in essentials during a clean (non migration) install.

To all - I'm in agreement with Cliff... as Essentials is the new "Wizards" based SBS type solution (where both are products of the same beast).  I have in the past, successfully circumvented the SBS wizards on custom configurations, but from experience, I know these wizards reach far and deep... so to successfully modify outside of the gui/wizard requires a lot of "dotting of i's and crossing of t's.  (which is why my request had such a disclaimer... requesting a quantifiable explanation of which "i's" and "t's" to cross.)

To Cliff - Installing the OEM tools, is this done on the target server? and is it the cfg.ini that needs to be modified?  A little direction would be helpful.

Thanks to both for responding.
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William Peck
Cliff Galiher

Here is a link to the deployment kit. The kit includes both tools and documentation. The documentation has the details in customizing the deployment. I honestly can't recall if the custom domain name js done in the PE stage or the later stage, so it may be u attend.xml or cfg.ini, but the documentation will answer that question.


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Anyone who reads the entire thread... will see that I, "the initiator", did the research and found the easiest/correct method for accomplishing this task.  The final solution provides the methodology, as well as the linked sources about the solution.

Example cfg.ini - written in notepad.exe and saved to root of USB drive. (obviously, the example cfg variables are hypothetical)