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I desperately need to run Windows Server 2012 R2 Terminal Services on a standalone machine. To this end I've set up a Terminal Server with it's own license manager and installed 8 licenses. When I'm connected to our domain it works great, but once I remove the server from the domain by simply unplugging the network cable, it refuses connections from any MSTSC, even running it on the server itself.

I've read a lot on this and it appears that Microsoft has intentionally put a requirement in place that demands the Terminal Server be on a network with an active domain controller. So, my question is this:

Would it be possible to run a domain controller on a Hyper-V instance on the Terminal Server? I have 32 GB of RAM and 8-core processor on the server, so performance won't be an issue. Also, would Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials be enough to get this up and running in the Hyper-V instance?

A speedy reply would be GREATLY appreciated as I'm under a severe time crunch to get this working.

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Is this a lab environment where you're just prototyping/trying things out, or is it more of a production thing? – dbr Jul 22 '14 at 15:16
It's a production environment that has to be a portable solution for training of our desktop software. – Payton Byrd Jul 22 '14 at 15:57
Using a VPN to connect back to our domain did not suffice in providing the necessary access to the Domain Controller for the services. – Payton Byrd Jul 22 '14 at 16:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Would it be possible to run a domain controller on a Hyper-V instance on the Terminal Server?

Yes, but the better approach would probably be to set this physical machine up as a Hyper-V host, and run both the terminal server and the domain controller off of it.

But, so long as you configure the Hyper-V networking properly, you can install Hyper-V on your current OS, alongside the RDS role(s) and install a guest domain controller in a VM to meet the domain connectivity requirement you're facing.

Also, would Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials be enough to get this up and running in the Hyper-V instance?

Sure, but... why? It should be quicker, easier and just better to simply install a standard edition Windows OS and promote it to a domain controller in your existing forest/domain.

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I've finally got all of this running and configured. I'll document the steps in these comments once I get it all sorted out in my head. – Payton Byrd Jul 22 '14 at 15:57
OK, here's what had to be done: 1) Create a new Hyper-V and install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials (I had an extra license laying around, that's why I chose it). 2) Configured the new Hyper-V as a new Domain Controller. 3) Add the Remote Desktop Services (all roles) to the new Domain Controller. 4) Migrate the licenses from the old server to the new server. 5) On the new Domain Controller, set up the Session Host for Per User CAL and point to the Domain Controller. 6) Uninstall RD Services from host machine, reinstall. 7) Point host machine Host to Domain Server for licenses. – Payton Byrd Jul 22 '14 at 16:08

If you really need to do it that way, then I don't know of any reason why you couldn't run both the Hyper-V role and RDS role on the host machine and run a DC in a VM on that host. You would need to configure the Hyper-V networking so that the host and VM can communicate. If it's a standalone box, then just an Internal network would be sufficient.

If you have the ability, I would recommend installing just the Hyper-V role on the host and running the DC and RDS in two separate virtual machines, rather than using the host OS itself to host the DC and/or RDS. You will be thankful in the future for the increased flexibility and manageability gained by having your roles virtualised (assuming that this is going to be a long-term thing - see my comment on your original question).

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