Windows Server Core

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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Code name: Longhorn consists of 8 editions. Each and every edition can be installed in two different ways which is the Server Core and the GUI installation. Server core is the new installation option which is included by Microsoft in this version of windows

Server core installation method can be deployed to support a single role or multiple roles. By using the server core installation it’s possible to optimize performance for the server roles you’re running because by default none of the services or any server roles get installed. After the installation what you basically get is a command prompt, also note that there’s no Graphical User interface installed when the server core installation method is used. Even if you connect to a server core installed server via RDP you will still get only the command prompt. But it’s possible to monitor using the computer management console remotely by using another server. When talking in terms of security which is a very critical aspect of a good network infrastructure, Server core installation will reduce the attack possibility since only certain server roles what is required by the administrators are installed in the server, also there’s no GUI shell

Another benefit of the server core installation is that it reduces the number of patches since only specific roles are running. Also the server core installation will only take 1.5GB of hard disk space but the full installation will take up to 5.5GB from disk space. Also the server core installation doesn’t support any sound adapters, because the audio stack is not included in the server core installation. Also note that it doesn’t contain any of the printer drivers unlike other Server operating systems. When the server core is configured as a print server you need to manually install the printer drivers from the cd

When deploying Windows Server 2008 it comes to a screen where you could choose between the Server core installation and the server installation with the GUI shell. Server core configuration could be done manually or by using an unattended file. The only difference is that you have to mention server core on your unattended file. Other than that it’s similar to an ordinary unattended file. Also note that if you have specified any features which are not available on the server, the unattended setup will not crash. It’ll still get installed but it’ll contain some extra registry keys e.g. – : some security features mentioned for IE 7, since IE7 is not available on the Server Core installation it’ll just get added to the registry

When deploying windows server core you should consider these facts

· Only a fresh new installation is supported

· It’s not possible to upgrade for a previous version of windows

· After installation Windows Server Core, it’s not possible to upgrade to the GUI Shell and also vice-versa


Now let’s look at how to do some of the initial configurations

  • Change Password: – net user administrator *
  • Activation : slmgr.vbs script can be used. Also it’s possible to activate remotely
  • Configure IP: – netsh interface ipv4
  • Join a domain:- Netdom

How to add Server roles

Server roles can only be added by using the command line by using the Ocsetup

Start /w ocsetup %packagename%

Also note that you can’t install active directory using ocsetup command

Only way to promote the domain controller is to use a dcpromo unattended file

Dcpromo /unattended:unattendedfile


When IIS 7 Server roles is installed unlike other roles it runs on reduced functionality. The following functions are not available on the IIS 7 server core installation

  • · Management Service and the GUI tools
  • · ASP.Net
  • · Powershell Cmdlets


These are the server roles available in the server core installation

  • · Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
  • · File
  • · Print
  • · Active Directory
  • · Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
  • · Media Services
  • · Domain Name System
  • · Internet Information Service 7
  • · Windows Virtualization Service


Also the following options are also available

  • · WINS,
  • · Failover
  • · Clustering,
  • · Subsystem for UNIX-based applications,
  • · Backup,
  • · Multipath IO
  • · Removable storage management
  • · BitlockerDrive Encryption
  • · SNMP
  • · Telnet Client
  • · Qos

1 comments on “Windows Server Core”

  1. hi,
    its glad to see some thing helpful post in the net,thanks for the information.
    another thing is i have a small question?
    which is i have installed server2008 ENT core in my test lab and worked with CMD almost all the commands are working perfectly,but to activate the hyper-v i have tried “Start /w ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V” but it seems like its not working.
    i will be very thankfull to you if you please tell me why this is happening..
    plz use my yahoo ID for future replies.
    thanks again.
    sanka abeysinghe

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