Join Vista to a Domain

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Before you start

Objectives: learn where you can find options to join a Vista computer to a domain.

Prerequisites: knowledge about Active Directory environment is recommended.

Key terms: domain, settings, vista, group policy, system, joining, workgroup, server


Check Current State

To verify if our computer is on a workgroup or a on a domain, go to the Control Panel and then System (in Classic View). In our case we see that our computer name is WIN-Q2O8O8MDPEP and that our computer is in a Workgroup.

Workgroup

Image 184.1 – Vista System Properties

While our computer is in a Workgroup, we only have a single, local Group Policy. To open local Group Policy editor, entergpedit.msc in the Search bar and hit Enter. Select Continue if the User Account Control prompt appears.

Local Group Policy

Image 184.2 – Local Group Policy Editor

In local Group Policy editor we can set various settings for our computer and while we are in a workgroup, there are no domain policies that can override our settings.

Join to a Domain

To join Vista to a domain, open the Control Panel, then System. In the ‘Computer name, domain and workgroup settings’ section click on ‘Change settings’. We need to have administrative privileges to join computer to a domain. The System Properties window will open.

System Properties

Image 184.3 – System Properties

Now, on the Computer Name tab click the Change button. This will open the Computer Name/Domain Changes window. First we will change the name of the computer to ivancic-v. Note that we will not join a domain just yet. Let’s click OK now.

Computer Name Changed

Image 184.4 – Computer Name Changed

Changes will take effect after we restart our computer so we will do that now. Changing a computer name is not a requirement, but it is recommended that all computers in a domain have names that mean something to us.

Let’s go to System properties again. We will try and join our computer to a utilizewindows.local domain. To do that we will select the Domain option and enter the utilizewindows.local domain name.

Joining Failed

Image 184.5 – Joining Failed

In our case something is wrong and the joining failed. We didn’t even get a prompt for our credentials. A common problem when joining to a domain is problem with DNS settings. In our case a DNS name does not exist. This could mean that our server is not configured correctly or it could mean that we have wrong DNS settings on our local computer. We should check our local TCP/IP properties and ensure that we use a DNS server that is aware of the existence of the Active Directory domain.

When joining computer to a domain we have to have domain level administrative privileges. Also, after the joining is successful, any local Group Policy settings that come in conflict with domain settings, will be overridden by the domain Group Policy settings.

Remember

To join a Vista computer to a domain, go to the Control Panel and then System (in Classic View). Then on the Computer Name tab click the Change button. This will open the Computer Name/Domain Changes window. We have to have domain level administrative privileges to join a computer to the domain.

Author: cicnavi