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July 3, 2007 / Steve Rosa

Windows Server 2008 Core – Active Directory Domain Services

One of the things we can do with our newly installed machine is to promote it to a domain controller for the domain SRO-LH.local.

As the machine is running Server Core, we’ll have to do it the hard way… via command-line. Indeed the interactive version of dcpromo.exe is not available in the Server Core edition of Windows Server 2008.

In order to do this, we need to prepare an answer file that will contain all information required for the dcpromo process.

To get information on the syntax of the answer file, I used a Windows Server 2003 installation CD (as the information is not available on the Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 installation media).

In the folder D:\support\tools, locate and expand the file


Within the file, open the ref.chm file and browse to the Unattend.txt section of the help file. That’s where you can find all the information needed. Look especially at the [DCInstall] part:


Thanks to this, I was able to produce my own unattend.txt file (the password in the last entry has been removed for obvious reasons):


Then, back on the server, we just need to launch the dcpromo command by specifying the location of the unattend.txt file (the R: drive is mapped to SRO-LH-01 where I prepared the answer file):


Then the installation proceeds:



At the end of the process, the server reboots automatically (except if specified not to do so in the answer file).




Leave a Comment
  1. AdnanZafar / Jul 29 2008 6:31 am

    Hi, the content is good but please could you explain it in more detail like how r:\ is selected what is this r:\,

    need a bit more detailed explanation


    Adnan Zafar

  2. Steve Rosa / Jul 29 2008 7:35 am

    R:\ is just a drive letter mapped to the server where the unattend.txt file is stored. It could also be a floppy or a USB.

    Hope this helps.


  3. jos / Feb 26 2009 8:27 am

    Hi Steve,
    thank you very much for writing down your expertise. Your article was very helpfull.
    One thing though;
    once my Coreserver has become a domain controller, how can I manage Active Directory from that server.
    On a normal Dc I can run dsa.msc, but nothings seems to work on the coreserver….

    With regards,
    J. van NImwegen

    • Steve Rosa / Feb 26 2009 11:49 am

      Hi Jos,

      The only way to go is remote. From another server or a workstation with the tools installed, open the dsa.msc and point to your Coreserver. Remember that the GUI tools are not available on Windows Server 2008 Core Edition. This is in fact valid for all management tools – they have to be used remotely.

      Hope it helps!

      Best regards,

  4. prasadjadhav / Feb 26 2013 4:48 pm

    Reblogged this on Welcome To Prasad Linux Blog and commented:
    Thanks for sharing


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