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Updating Windows Server 2008 Server Core

Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader
This article will detail how to properly update a fresh install of Windows Server 2008 Server Core.  

Like any other Windows operating system, Server Core must be updated with regular patches. The limited threat profile Server Core has over the other versions of Windows is its greatest selling point. Many of the components that render Windows open to attack and even unstable are not present in Server Core.

Internet Explorer is not installed on Server Core, the Windows Update web-site is out of the question. The Windows Automatic Update client is installed, but needs to be invoked from the command line via wuauclt.

wuauclt /detectnow ~ Will check for any updates, immediately

To see the current Windows Update settings on the Server Core computer execute the following command.

cscript  c:\windows\system32\scregedit.wsf /AU /v

A value of 0 means that Automatic Updates are not configured, 4 sets the Auto download and install option. The most secure way to keep your servers up to date is with WSUS.  Server Core can be attached to WSUS in the same way as every other Windows box can be attached, through group policy.

To see the updates that are currently installed we need to use WMI.

wmic qfe list

The above syntax will list all installed updates on Server Core.  Specific updates can be sought out through their KB number, example:

systeminfo | find : KB

Uninstalling updates is not as quick and easy. The uninstaller must be packed out of the .cab file which installed it. First, you have to create a temporary directory under the directory where the update was installed. Extract the update's .cab files from .msu file into the newly created temporary directory.

expand x86-all-windows6.0-kb###### -x86_######.msu -f:* <Temporary Directory>

(#'s would be replaced by the update's KB number & hash.)

pkgmgr /up / /quiet

The reverse would hold true if updates needed to be installed manually, but it is best to have the servers managed by WSUS.

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