Automating Active Directory installation in Windows 2000 Server

Automating installation isn't limited to clients or servers -- you can also automatically deploy domain controllers such as Active Directory. Here's what you need to know about automating Active Directory installation in Windows 2000 Server.

When talking about automating deployment, Windows 2000 Server admins often think about the deployment of client machines or member servers. But there are also times when you'll want to automate installation of domain controllers.

Automating the promotion to domain controller is no different than automating a normal installation — you still have to provide a text file with all your answers. You must create this answer file with a text editor like Notepad because Setup Manager Wizard (Setupmgr.exe) is unable to create this type of answer file. Domain controllers are promoted from stand-alone or member servers with the Active Directory Installation Wizard (Dcpromo.exe).

Creation of the answer file isn't too complicated because there aren't that many settings to specify. The Unattended.doc file available on every Windows 2000 CD in the file (in the support\tools directory) documents all settings. The basic requirement for the answer file is the [DCInstall] section.

When the answer file is complete, you have two options. If the server OS is already installed, you can automate Active Directory installation by running dcpromo.exe /answer:answer_file.txt. This will run Dcpromo.exe in Unattended mode.

The second option is to script Active Directory installation during Windows 2000 Server installation. In this case you must specify dcpromo.exe /answer:answer_file.txt in the [GuiRunOnce] section of the Unattend.txt answer file (the answer file used to automate Windows 2000 Server installation). Doing this will enable unattended installation of Active Directory after Windows 2000 Server has been installed.

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