How do I… Install and configure Windows Server 2008 core?

With the imminent launch of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 coming on February 27, 2008, I want to show you a feature I am fond of in this new operating system. With Windows Server 2008, you have the option of performing a Windows Server Core installation, which provides you with the minimum set of tools to run Windows.

You are provided with a kernel and a command line to manage the server. It is slim and bare bones and allows you to configure Windows concisely. This type of installation is perfect for a datacenter. I am really excited about this feature.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic gallery and TechRepublic download.


When you first run through the installation of Windows Server 2008, you have two options for installation. They are:

  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (Full Installation)
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (Server Core Installation)

The following eight screen shots (Figures A-H) walk you through the installation of Windows Server Core which took approximately ten minutes to install.

Figure A

Figure B

Figure C

Figure D

Figure E

Figure F

Figure G

Figure H

After the installation, the main window for your new installation appears and you are ready to login as shown in Figure I. The initial login is Administrator and blank password (Figure J). You are required to change the password and set an Administrator password on initial login.

Figure I

Figure J

Now that you are logged in (Figure K), you are ready to configure the date, time, and time zone. In the command line type the following: controltimedate.cpl and set the options accordingly (Figure L).

Figure K

Figure L

If you need to configure and change the keyboard layout and settings, type the following in the command window: control intl.cpl (Figure M).

Figure M

Let’s move on and change the server name. The default name is a bunch of random letters and numbers and I would like to change the name to a local standard. You can view the current hostname by typing the following:


Now let’s use the name ssw-svr15. We will perform this option in the command line (Figure O) by typing the following:

c:windowssystem32netdom renamecomputer %computername% /NewName:ssw-svr15

Figure N

After choosing to proceed, the task completes successfully. You now need to reboot the server using the shutdown command. For the proper syntax, type:

shutdown /?

After reviewing the syntax, (Figure N) I will type the following: shutdown /r (switch for shutting down and restarting the computer) /t 10 (wait 10 seconds to shutdown and restart) /c “Changed Server Name” (add comment of max 512 characters). They total syntax will look as follows:

shutdown /r  /T 10 /C "Changed Server Name"

Figure O

Let’s now configure our networking so we can join this server to a domain. In order to see what interface you have to configure, (Figure P) type

netsh interface ipv4 show interface

Figure P

The Local Area Connection that we are going to configure has an index value of two. Let’s proceed and configure TCP/IP for this connection. (Figure Q) Type the following command to set the TCP/IP information:

netsh interface ipv4 set address name="2" source=static address= mask= gateway=

Figure Q

Follow the same example to configure DNS (Figure R):

netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name="2" address= index=1

Figure R

If you type ipconfig /all, you will see the newly added information (Figure S).

Figure S

Let’s join it to a domain! In order to perform this function, we will take advantage of the netdom.exe. (Figure T) The syntax is as follows:

netdom join ssw-svr15 /domain:watchtower /userd:Administrator /passwordD:Password01

Note: Do not forget to reboot the server using the following command:

shutdown /r  /T 10 /C "Added to domain"

Figure T

As a final step, we should not forget to activate the server (Figure U) by typing the following:

slmgr.vbs -ato

Figure U

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what you can do with a Windows Server Core installation but it begins to show you how powerful command line is with a small Windows kernel. With the popularity of virtualization and server consolidation, having the ability to virtualize a server core installation and attach a single role will become very popular with the datacenter. My next test will be to try to install Virtual Server on my server core installation. Wish me luck!


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