Promoting Server Core to a Domain Controller

The typical method used to promote a Windows Server 2003/2008 computer to a domain controller is through either the server management console or the dcpromo utility. These tools however are both graphically based, so how do you accomplish this same task in the entirely command-line oriented Windows Server 2008 Server Core?

Luckily, the dcpromo utility can be run from Server Core, but there is a little bit of preparation required beforehand. Dcpromo requires an unattended installation file to be run on Server Core. You can create one of these manually, or generate one from a standard Windows Server 2008 installation.

After generating one of these unattended installation files you can run the following command to kick off the promotion:

Dcpromo /unattend:C:\unattendfile.txt


Chris Sanders is a network consultant for KeeFORCE, one of the most popular network consulting firms in western Kentucky. Chris is the author of the book Practical Packet Analysis as well as several technical articles. His personal website at contains a great deal of information, articles, and guides related to network administration, network security, packet analysis, and general information technology.

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