Enabling DHCP Role on Windows Server 2012 with Essentials Experience Enabled

This post is filed as learnings from the field as a reference for anyone else that runs into this problem.

Scenario: You have a Windows Server 2012 R2 installation that you enable the Windows Server Essentials Experience Role on (SMB feature set). Typically we turn this role on for Windows Server Essentials installations as a nice replacement solution for customers moving from SBS environments. Now depending on your role deployment order, you may or may not hit this snag.

If you choose to deploy Windows Server Essentials role first, and then proceed to deploy the DHCP role afterwards; you will notice upon configuring your DHCP address scope that you can’t get the network interface to successfully bind to the scope thus causing DHCP to not function. Event viewer makes the problem obvious, but we don’t always remember to check that first and hit our favorite search engine first instead!

The Windows Essentials Experience enables Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role as part of the feature set to support the client backup services add-on enabling domain-joined client PCs to PXE boot a Windows recovery environment and perform a system-state restore from a server backup.

However due to WDS existing before DHCP, the WDS role makes a conscious decision to configure itself to listen on port 67 in-place of the missing DHCP server to otherwise perform this function for PXE clients. Therefore deploying DHCP after WDS causes the interface binding conflict. As you might have noticed, when trying to bind your DHCP scope on the selected NIC would result in the tick box un-checking upon returning to the binding dialog without any prompt indicating that there is a problem or conflict with the interface binding. Frustrating. An event is logged in the event viewer however.

Fix/Solution: Head into the WDS management console and open the server properties dialog and change DHCP settings to ‘Not listen on DHCP ports’ e.g. 67 and to ‘Configure DHCP options’ e.g. Configure option 60 in the local DHCP instance. Refer to below screenshot as an example. After making these changes restart the WDS service. Once the WDS service has restarted, return to the DHCP console and attempt to bind your NIC to the new scope again. Restart the DHCP service once the binding is successful.


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