One task that may be difficult with Windows Server 2008 Core Edition is hardware management. BIOS firmware updates can be tricky without a native interface on the OS. Rick Vanover breaks down some options in this tip.


For Windows Server 2008, the Core Edition has scenarios where its use is appropriate. In some cases, the Core Edition is even required like the free version of Hyper-V. For managing the hardware, this throws some curveballs to the Windows administrator. Here is what I have been doing to manage firmware and OEM hardware driver updates.

Install a third-party browser

The first thing I do is install Opera on my Core Edition servers — primarily because using Opera on the Core Edition will give a crude file manager function by typing C:\ in the address bar.

To install Opera, simply download it from another system and save the installation file to the C:\ drive of the Core Edition server and run the setup. From there, I can get the server’s updated BIOS firmware. Figure A shows Opera functioning as a file browser.
Figure A

Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

I prefer Opera, but other browsers may work. Remember, the Core Edition has no version of Internet Explorer, but other versions are installable on Core.

Get drivers and updates

For the hardware updates, you can get them from a local resource or the server support page and download them like you would on a full installation version. I recently updated an HP ProLiant ML350 G5 server to the latest BIOS, version D21 on a Windows Server 2008 x64 Core Edition system. The online flash tools for HP will run in the same fashion as they would on a full installation version. Figure B shows the installation of the update after the download.
Figure B

Figure B

Click the image to enlarge.

Legacy mechanisms such as floppy-based flashing are still possible, but they are archaic and more time-consuming than some of the online mechanisms available. It is worth going through the learning curve on Core Edition to maintain the same flexibility levels as the full installation versions of Windows Server 2008.

Share your hardware management tricks for Windows Server 2008 Core Edition in the discussion.

More resources about Windows Server 2008 Core Edition

Stay on top of the latest Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 tips and tricks with our free Windows Server newsletter, delivered each Wednesday. Automatically sign up today!