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Deploying Windows Server Core - Windows Server blog by Kurt Roggen [BE]
woensdag 11 juli 2007 13:43 Kurt Roggen

Deploying Windows Server Core

In Windows Server 2008, administrators can now choose to install a minimal environment that avoids extra overhead.  Although this option limits the server roles and features that can be performed by the server, it can improve security and reduce management. This type of installation is called a Server Core installation.

A Server Core installation provides these benefits in three ways:

  • By reducing the software maintenance required (less updates, etc...)
  • By reducing the management required
  • By reducing the attack surface

To accomplish this, the Server Core installation option installs only the subset of the binary files that are required by the supported server roles.  It takes about 1 GB of disk space and +/- 100 MB memory footprint (varies per server core role).

A server running a Server Core installation does not have a graphical user interface or provide the ability to run applications.  Meaning; no more Windows Explorer shell... Instead, the default user interface for a Server Core installation is the command prompt.

During the deployment of the Windows Server image (install.wim), you are prompted for all available SKU's including the Server Core SKUs.

Server Core installations provide an environment for running the following server roles (9):

  • Active Directory Domain Services (incl. RO DC)
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
  • DHCP Server
  • DNS Server
  • File Services
  • Print Server
  • Streaming Media Services
  • Windows Server Virtualisation (aka Hypervisor)
  • Web Server (as static webserver)

Server Core installations provide an environment for running the following server features:

  • Failover Clustering
  • Network Load Balancing (NLB)
  • Subsystem for UNIX-based applications
  • Backup
  • Removable Storage Management
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption (BDE)
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) service
  • Telnet client

The initial configuration tasks will have to be completed using command line tools or scripts...

  • Setting the Administrator Password
    • ­CTRL+ALT+DEL and click Change password
    • ­net user administrator *
  • Activating your Windows Server
    • cscript ­Slmgr.vbs –ato
  • Renaming computer
    • netdom renamecomputer %computername% /NewName:newname
  • Configuring static IP address
    • ­Netsh interface ipv4
      • ­show interfaces
      • ­set address name="ID" source=static address=StaticIP mask=SubnetMask gateway=DefaultGateway
      • ­add dnsserver name="ID" address=DNSIP1 index=1
      • add dnsserver name="ID" address=DNSIP2 index=2
  • Joining a domain (if required)
    • ­Netdom
  • Adding additional Server (Core) Roles and/or Components/Features
    • OCsetup.exe <Package/Feature>
      (FYI: OC = Optional Component
      Remember: Package/Feature names are case-sensitive!!
  • Displaying available and installed Server (Core) Roles and/or Components/Features
    • OClist.exe
  • Enable Terminal Services RDP
    • cscript SCregedit.wsf /AR 0  
      (FYI: SC = ServerCore, AR = AllowRemoteAdministration, 0 = enabled!)
  • Others
    • DNScmd, DFScmd, DCpromo (/unattend:answerfile), ...

In many cases, a Server Core installation will be installed using an unattended installation script.

Alternatively, you can manage a Server Core installation with Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins from another computer running Windows Server 2008 by selecting the computer running a Server Core installation as a remote computer to manage.

Oh yes, you cannot upgrade to a Server Core installation from a previous version of Windows, , neither from Windows Server 2008 to Server Core or vica versa... for obvious reasons!!

For more information: Server Core Installation Step-by-Step Guide 
For some additional Tips & Tricks: Server Core Product team blog

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