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Adding Server 2012 R2 Essentials to a pre-existing domain - or, get 2012 R2 to join a 2012 R2 Essential domain.


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Any ideas? Not supported (at least, not in the preview.)



Installing Windows Server Essentials as a role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview has the following limitations:

  • Can only be deployed into a single domain environment.
  • A read-only domain controller cannot exist in your environment.
  • The Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview edition cannot join to an existing domain.

I guess I'll try adding the Essentials role to the 2012 Server R2 Datacenter edition and add that to my domain. I need the ADFS to run my VMware server authentication, and since the VMWare Server can't be installed on a DC (at least not the one with FSMO, but that's another story...) I figured I'd run 2012 Server R2 as the DC and add 2012 R2 Essentials in a standard server role with VMWare Server installed on it.


No dice.


So then I tried the reverse - Server 2012 R2 Essentials as the DC and 2012 R2 as a standard server in the domain. For the life of me I can't get 2012 R2 to join the 2012 R2 Essentials created domain.


Either way would work for me. I guess the simplest would be to get 2012 R2 to join the 2012 R2 Essentials created domain. Every time I try to add it to the domain, it finds the DC but then after a minute or so it fails upon joining.

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I'm sure there are still a few bugs in the release.  I'd try submitting a ticker to Redmond.

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I don't know - this would be a major oversight if it weren't planned. I can't find any documentation on R2 Essentials that says you *can't* add additional servers to the domain if R2 Essentials is the FSMO DC, but since it's documented that you can't do it the opposite way (add R2 Essentials to a pre-existing domain,) I'm guessing it is intentional.


I'm leaning this way because stand alone R2 Essentials is not really designed for a multi-server environment. The fact that MS has added the Essentials as a role in 2012 Server R2 shows (to me) that is how they want mid level environments that want multiple DCs and the backup services provided by Essentials to be deployed.


Mostly I just want to make sure I'm not missing something easy before I point the finger at MS and say their release has an issue. :)


Right now I'm just going to set up Server R2 as the DC and a second Server R2 with the Essentials role and use that second server as the VMWare Server as well. 

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okay...take away my sysadmin card. Admittedly my forte is routing/transmissions not systems but this one was completely PEBCAK.


You absolutely can add another server (even in additional DC role) to a domain created by 2012 server R2 Essentials. (No - without some unapproved hacking you still can't add Essentials to an existing domain however.)


Helps if you remember that the FQDN of a domain that doesn't include a top level domain identifier (i.e. .com/.edu/.net/.mil//gov etc) will end in .local by default. I.E. if you use "mymadeupdomain" as your domain name when you try to join the domain (i.e. add another PC or server) you have to use mymadeupdomain.local as the domain you are joining.


Not exactly earth shattering news for most sysadmins, I know. That said, I still prefer the  2012 R2 with Essentials role rather than 2012 Essentials as DC since then it doesn't matter whether I'm starting a new domain or adding to an already existing one. I'm a little leery about my server with backup role ALSO being my DC and ALSO my primary DNS, as well as likely a file server. Eggs in one basket and all that.

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