Windows

Find the hidden command prompt in Windows Server 2008 installation

There is a hidden command line interface in the Windows Server 2008 installation. Rick Vanover reveals how you can access this command line.

Windows Server 2008's installation is very straightforward, which is great. However, if any tweaks are needed on the server before the installation occurs, it may be difficult to make any tweaks without some drive swapping or repetitive iterations of the installation process.

One reason why Windows Server 2008's install is easy to use is because it is based on a MINWINPC (Mini PC) bootable environment, similar to the Windows PE environment. This means that a number of environment tools are available to the installation environment. Once the Windows manager is loaded, you can access this command prompt by pressing [Shift][F10] (Figure A). Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

The command line interface has the basics available for the installation process. If other drives are attached so the server or the destination drive has already been formatted, some copy operations can occur. One of the more common situations would be to pass a storage controller driver.

The networking stack in use during the MINWINPC environment is significantly limited, though various network devices may enumerate differently. I unsuccessfully tried a number of tricks within a virtual machine to get an IP address assigned to the VM during this stage of the Windows setup process.

If removable media are in use, basic copy operations of specialized data can be performed with this command interface during the installation. Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) can be launched for the duration of the installation process if only to be an educational tool to see what is going on during this process, including resource consumption.

Let us know if you have used the Windows Server 2008 installation command prompt.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

7 comments
logicr
logicr

i was using it re-setting administrator password, you u have start the installation selecting repair option and with Shift+F10, you can enter the command prompt and user usermanager and change the password, or do what ever you want..

mark.potter
mark.potter

If you want to do some specialised drive formats then this is the place to do so, so it can come in very handy. Things like different cluster sizes for the c drive can only be done through here.

fionacampbell
fionacampbell

You can inject new network drivers using the technique documented in the AIK / OEM Kit.

b4real
b4real

The big difference on Windows Server 2008's availability of the hidden command prompt is much earlier. Specifically, before mass storage drivers are installed. C'mon guys!

rfolden
rfolden

... It has worked at LEAST since Win2K, and if you have to use it, you're installation is probably hosed. Unless you've got irreplaceable data somewhere on the machine, simply get the proper drivers and start again.

kdmnil
kdmnil

Not only windows 2008 installation, its also showing in windows 2000, 2003srvr, windows xp, windows vista..........

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

but it's just now being discovered or maybe I should say re-"uncovered". Hahahahahahahaha! I'm just playing. The article is pretty much a dud. Your response was more enlightening. Hehe.

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