Windows

How do I... Install and configure Windows Server 2008 core?

<img src="http://t.cbsimg.net/i/z/200606/how_110x85.jpg" align="right" border="0" height="85" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="110" />With the imminent launch of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 coming on February 27, 2008, I want to show you a feature I am fond of in this new operating system. With Windows Server 2008, you have the option of performing a Windows Server Core installation, which provides you with the minimum set of tools to run Windows.

With the imminent launch of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 coming on February 27, 2008, I want to show you a feature I am fond of in this new operating system. With Windows Server 2008, you have the option of performing a Windows Server Core installation, which provides you with the minimum set of tools to run Windows.

You are provided with a kernel and a command line to manage the server. It is slim and bare bones and allows you to configure Windows concisely. This type of installation is perfect for a datacenter. I am really excited about this feature.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic gallery and TechRepublic download.

Installation

When you first run through the installation of Windows Server 2008, you have two options for installation. They are:

  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (Full Installation)
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (Server Core Installation)
The following eight screen shots (Figures A-H) walk you through the installation of Windows Server Core which took approximately ten minutes to install.

Figure A

Figure B

Figure C

Figure D

Figure E

Figure F

Figure G

Figure H

After the installation, the main window for your new installation appears and you are ready to login as shown in Figure I. The initial login is Administrator and blank password (Figure J). You are required to change the password and set an Administrator password on initial login.

Figure I

Figure J

Now that you are logged in (Figure K), you are ready to configure the date, time, and time zone. In the command line type the following: controltimedate.cpl and set the options accordingly (Figure L).

Figure K

Figure L

If you need to configure and change the keyboard layout and settings, type the following in the command window: control intl.cpl (Figure M).

Figure M

Let's move on and change the server name. The default name is a bunch of random letters and numbers and I would like to change the name to a local standard. You can view the current hostname by typing the following:

c:windowssystem32hostname
Now let's use the name ssw-svr15. We will perform this option in the command line (Figure O) by typing the following:
c:windowssystem32netdom renamecomputer %computername% /NewName:ssw-svr15

Figure N

After choosing to proceed, the task completes successfully. You now need to reboot the server using the shutdown command. For the proper syntax, type:

shutdown /?
After reviewing the syntax, (Figure N) I will type the following: shutdown /r (switch for shutting down and restarting the computer) /t 10 (wait 10 seconds to shutdown and restart) /c "Changed Server Name" (add comment of max 512 characters). They total syntax will look as follows:
shutdown /r  /T 10 /C "Changed Server Name"

Figure O

Let's now configure our networking so we can join this server to a domain. In order to see what interface you have to configure, (Figure P) type
netsh interface ipv4 show interface

Figure P

The Local Area Connection that we are going to configure has an index value of two. Let's proceed and configure TCP/IP for this connection. (Figure Q) Type the following command to set the TCP/IP information:
netsh interface ipv4 set address name="2" source=static address=192.168.1.199 mask=255.255.255.0 gateway=192.168.1.1

Figure Q

Follow the same example to configure DNS (Figure R):
netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name="2" address=192.168.1.1 index=1

Figure R

If you type ipconfig /all, you will see the newly added information (Figure S).

Figure S

Let's join it to a domain! In order to perform this function, we will take advantage of the netdom.exe. (Figure T) The syntax is as follows:
netdom join ssw-svr15 /domain:watchtower /userd:Administrator /passwordD:Password01
Note: Do not forget to reboot the server using the following command:
shutdown /r  /T 10 /C "Added to domain"

Figure T

As a final step, we should not forget to activate the server (Figure U) by typing the following:
slmgr.vbs -ato

Figure U

This doesn't even scratch the surface of what you can do with a Windows Server Core installation but it begins to show you how powerful command line is with a small Windows kernel. With the popularity of virtualization and server consolidation, having the ability to virtualize a server core installation and attach a single role will become very popular with the datacenter. My next test will be to try to install Virtual Server on my server core installation. Wish me luck!

36 comments
frustratedofnewbs
frustratedofnewbs

Just installed 2008 server enterprise for evaluation and cannot get past Figure J (above). It keeps saying password not required length or complexity. Have entered anything from 0-30 characters. HELP.

louhardt
louhardt

I have installed the windows server core - but can go no further. the network configurator does not find an adapter. I installed the full version first and all was working fine. Did I mess up by starting over with just the core? Can I use the virtual with the full installation?

m_h_es
m_h_es

thanks very much its really helpful article

byrons
byrons

Good god man, getting excited over something that Unix has done for years? Get with it.

bk
bk

Command Line Humour - How dumb can U get: Dumb thoughtless OLD Windows style Commands Convoluted Options Why not import the simple - meaningful Linux command syntax and options.

mukulag
mukulag

I have installed Server 2008 core in my test lab and have installed AD DS on the same as well. However before running dcpromo, I forgot to change the server name. When I try to change the server name it asks to raise the domain and forest functional levels. I can very well install AD DS on another Server 2008 for the same domain and then raise the domain and forest functional levels from the GUI. However I am curious to know if the same can be done on Server 2008 core. In nutshell: Is there an option to raise the domain and forest funtional levels in Server 2008 core?

tpreuss
tpreuss

hmm.. Microsoft has learned something, I guess.. the Core-Installation and userbility looks like SSH on Linux. But, I definitly miss this kind of administrative console. May be, there will be a console at Server2012 *smile*

ginkep
ginkep

CLI in a window! On top off GUI!? Why not to get rid of GUI completely?

msvkumar
msvkumar

Thanks for the nice post. I'm very excited about the newfeatures of windows 2008. Eger to hear from you more....

leo.atoum
leo.atoum

i think windows it's trying to be more like Cisco .

sureshcse
sureshcse

Thanks useful for me useful image

icube86
icube86

how to config ADS ? how to create A DNS? how to Create a User And Password? How to restict the user?

Schuylkill
Schuylkill

Does anyone know, once you make your choice about a full install vs. a core install, is there a way to switch? In other words, if I choose a core install, can I change it to a full install later?

gclarkso
gclarkso

Wow it looks just like Unix or any other OS with a CLI. I always thought windows advantage was the GUI.

ben@channells
ben@channells

the command line interface and programs can be great especial over very slow link or script files. However MS have a bad record of re-nameing tool names or using different flag setting, there is little consistence even on Windows 2003. Worse still the tools are restriceted to either win95 / NT4/ 2000 / XP / 2003, the nightmare is the remote system does not have the support kit or resource kit installed or is missing the additional MSI tools

stevewo1989
stevewo1989

stevewo1989@gmail.com asks: "Can someone please show me how I can use Windows Server 2008 core to discover the MAC address for the NIC/NICs belonging to the IP/domain name of a critical infrastructure server such as a root-server or, more importantly, blackhole-1.iana.org" ?

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Or rather I should say - I use windows so I don't have to remember all these command line options. Don't get me wrong, I use the command line even now, but I would hate to have to perform all my tasks via the command line. I'm not dinking the article - I have heard Windows Server was going command line. I'm glad you showed it. But if I pony up the bucks for Windows Server I want a GUI :)

JohnBeaman
JohnBeaman

Uh, why use that, with all the known security issues when *nix has far more utility, is smaller, and faster.

philip.coakes
philip.coakes

When I heard about this version of Windows, the immediate thought was "Virtual Server Host". Now I'm not afraid of the command line - I've been working with NetWare & *nix for years, but I am kind of curious as to what remote administration tools will be available with Windows Server Core 2008? Any clues / indicators yet? Will we be able to "remote desktop" (is that term appropriate in this context) for instance?

bob
bob

I took about 30 seconds to click through part of the Tom's Hardware article, and although the subject of the article is the same, all the text and screenshots are different, so it looks like the author did his work. Don't be so quick to accuse.

brianc
brianc

I guess I am confused here. I understand CLI to be no GUI at all which is what I was really hoping for with this new version of windows. However that is really not the case from the looks of it. It is just windows with the ability to get to the desktop. (just like if you select safe mode command prompt) If you press ctrl-atl-del you get a pretty vista looking gui and can select task manager. since when is there a task manager in a cli environment. Am I wrong in my thinking is it really not a gui environment with a command prompt?

r.bilal
r.bilal

thnx for this blog and its very use ful. but, if possible please provide a table about the keyfeatures and difference between previous windows servers and 2008.\ thank you,

mukulag
mukulag

The following command could be used to install AD DS on Windows Server 2008 core. dcpromo /unattend /ConfirmGC:Yes /DNSOnNetwork:No /DomainNetBiosName:"MyDomain" /InstallDNS:Yes /NewDomain:Forest /NewDomainDNSName:"MyDomain.local" /RebootOnCompletion:Yes /ReplicaOrNewDomain:Domain /SafeModeAdminPassword:"P@55w0rd" /SiteName:"My-First-Site" However be careful of the following: 1. Remember to rename the computer before running dcpromo with the help of following commands: netdom computername CurrentComputerName /add:NewComputerName netdom computername CurrentComputerName /makeprimary:N ewComputerName 2. You may need to install AD DS on Windows Server 2008 Full to raise the domain and forest functional levels. Default domain and forest functional levels are Windows 2000 native and Windows 2000 respectively.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

Look out for my work in Server and Storage. I will add more useful commands. -ssw

stevew
stevew

Once you go Core you are using Core until you reinstall. There's no options to install the GUI or not. That's not what Core is all about. That's why there's different versions to suit particular needs in the IT shop- Enterprise, Standard, Web and Core Editions.

Junecore
Junecore

What I use in *nix is "arp -a" utility? Try that out this will give you the mac addresses to ip addresses of the sub-net that the server is located in... Windows 2003 Server also says that to use "getmac" utility. See what parameters to specify ??? by getmac /? on command line.

bob
bob

In the mid 80's I was doing dev/support on x86 Unix and Linux, and you HAD to do everything from the command line, but it was already far more powerful than the pathetic DOS C> prompt (ugh). I find it hugely ironic that 20 years later, Windows has finally come around to the value of the command line, and some guy is saying "wow, look at all these huge multi-line commands I can run!". If GUI's are so great, why do so many people still rely on command line shells and scripts to get serious work done? Although the Windows command line is definitely more powerful than it used to be, you still don't have the same level of tools as in Unix, and they're all different (thanks to Microsoft NIH syndrome). Plus, I hate typing backslashes! My compromise: I just slap Cygwin on my Windows XP install! One more thing: I find it rather lame that if you install as Core, you're stuck with it forever--no graphics for you, buddy!

wyattharris
wyattharris

I still remember back in the early 90's. All most of us wanted was a version of MS-DOS without all of the memory limitations. (conv, ext, exp) More than a decade later and we are finally getting it. Gui has made us lazy, time to get back to basics, not that I hate GUIs mind you. ;)

philip.coakes
philip.coakes

..about having to run some Windows Servers. Certain Line of Business applications we require must have Windows on the server side. Our shop is not big enough to have bespoke applications written for us, and the open source alternatives are not feature rich enough or stable enough (yet). So Windows that is less resource hungry, provides less of an attack surface, is potentially good news.

beatphreek
beatphreek

If I'm not mistaken (my reading material was based on the Betas) if you install a certain role on the server (i.e. DNS, DHCP, etc.) then you can manage that role via MMC from your workstation (provided it's Vista) or another Admin Server.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

You can use rdp with server core to administer remotely. You have to turn it on via command line. I will do a blog on servers and storage for you in the near future.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

First off, thanks for answering my question. As you can see in my post, I took 0 seconds to click through the articles compared to your 30. I just posted this topic because I saw the similar titles, which I also mentioned. My goal was to have someone else do the work to find out. Again, I thank you. How is asking a question an accusation? It was a sincere question. Now read it like it's a sincere question and you'll find that the hand that holds the finger that pointed at me is pointing 3 back at you. Not everyone that posts on the Internet is out for blood. I think it's human nature to assume that a post we just read was written with evil intentions, mainly because many Internet forum posts seem to be. I've even responded in the same way to other posts and have been wrong too. However, it's our responsibility to TRY to assume the other person has good intentions and not bad. For example, rather than get ultra defensive, I took my own advice and assumed that you had only good intentions for your post. Therefore, I hope I?m not coming off as blunt or overbearing. The more I think about it, it's actually quite comical. You've accused me because I sounded as if I was accusing someone. I in turn have responded with an accusation toward you. Oh the irony. Just remember, if everyone was a master author, there would be much less misunderstanding on forums and blogs and the world would be a happy place! We should all take more writing classes (I know I could use them.)?perhaps that?s the key to world peace? (j/k) Have a good day, and happy posting.

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