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Windows Server 2008 Server Core Install and Post-Setup Configuration

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The scope of this tutorial is to install and configure a copy of Windows Server 2008 Server Core for basic use.

What is needed, at the very least:

1GHz x86, or 1.4GHz x64 CPU (or better)
512MB of RAM
20GB of HDD space for x86, 32GB HDD space for x64 installs
SVGA graphics, keyboard and mouse

Installation

Boot to the Windows Server 2008 DVD.  There is no special edition of the DVD media for installing Server Core.  The option to install the Server Core is available from the OS selection menu.  Just like with Windows Vista, every version of Windows Server 2008 is available on the install DVD.  There is no special licensing arrangement for Server Core.  The same license would apply to a regular install of WS08 as it would to Server Core.

Partition and format the disk that Server Core will be installed upon and complete setup, then reboot.  WS08 setup asks for very little during the actual process and handles the particulars after setup has completed.  Setup took less than 25 minutes on an old P4 PC with a 200GB PATA HDD and 1GB of RAM.

The administrator password is blank by default. The first successful authentication will prompt the user to set a password. The usual secure password policies still persist in WS08 as they did in Windows Server 2003. The UI for Server Core is just a command prompt window - no Windows Explorer, no Start menu.

Post-Install Setup

Change the server's hostname (example name SC01):

netdom renamecomputer %computername% /newname:SC01

The name change will not take effect until the server is rebooted.

Setup does not offer any option to configure the date and time settings for the server; this must be done after the install has completed. Setting the date and time is as close to a GUI utility as one can come to on Server Core. The process uses the same method as used on the regular version of WS08, but the invocation is somewhat different.

control timedate.cpl

(Typing the same command into the run dialog on Windows Vista will produce the same result)

A server is meant to provide resources to clients on the network and is relied upon to be available when needed. A static IP address is a required configuration for any server. Configuring a static IP address on Server Core is done with the netsh command.

First, the proper interface must be identified. Like its predecessors, WS08 will bind TCP/IP to any adapter it detects during setup. List all network adapters on the server

netsh interface ipv4 show config

IPv6 is configured along with IPv4. We'll focus on configuring IPv4 for now. Interfaces on Server Core are listed along with an ID (Idx) number.

netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces

Interface 2 will be what we are looking for, with interface 1 assigned to the loopback adapter. Configure the interface with the netsh command.

netsh interface ipv4 set address name=2 source=static 192.168.1.5 255.255.255.0 192.168.1.254

Netsh begins with the same interface and ipv4 controls, but continue with the set address control. The name=# control tells netsh which adapter to configure, source=static sets a static IP address on interface 2 in this case. The desired IP address (192.168.1.5), subnet mask (255.255.255.0), and default gateway (192.168.1.254) follow in that order.

Don't forget to set a DNS server address (192.168.1.2), unless Internet connectivity is not required. If the server will join an existing Active Directory domain, the DNS server should point to either a domain controller or DNS server that is authoritative for the domain's DNS zone.

netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name=2 address=192.168.1.2

If domain membership is in the server's future, then joining would probably be the next logical step. The netdom command is used to join an active directory domain from the command line.

netdom join SC01 /domain:COMPANY /userd:administrator /passwordd:*

There are no typos in the syntax above, the userd and paswordd switches are correct. Joining can only be completed after the server has been rebooted.

shutdown /r /t 0
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