WS2008 ServerCore Quick Config – Part1

Part 1 Quick Configuration – Updated 29 April 2008

Windows Server 2008 – Server Core is essentially Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn) without a GUI – think of it as Linux at run level 3 i.e. with no X window such as KDE, Gnome or other Linux windows managers.

However Server Core does still present a type of GUI display and the mouse and task manager are still present in a window as seen in the following screen shots:

This is something that I have always questioned since NT 4.0, why do we have all of this GUI bloat when the server is a File and Print or DHCP or AD!! It’s always been a scary thing when you see Administrators using a server to do workstation related work, such as browse the web to download a driver for the server because they are too lazy to go back to their workstation and download it.

Well with Server Core we can now use a server without a GUI to perform the following roles:
• Active Directory Domain Services
• Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
• Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Server
• DNS Server
• File Services
• Print Server
• Streaming Media Services

The following optional features are also supported:
• Microsoft Failover Cluster
• Network Load Balancing
• Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications
• Windows Backup
• Multipath I/O
• Removable Storage Management
• Windows Bitlocker Drive Encryption
• Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
• Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS)
• Telnet client
• Quality of Service (QoS)

The advantages of using Server Core are endless, however some highlights are a reduction in maintenance, less disk space, lower hardware requirements and from a security stand point the attack surface is reduced substantially, remember there is no Browser nor can one be installed!

To manage Server Core you obviously use the command prompt, however you can and probably should manage Server Core from a remote machine e.g. a Vista workstation and that way you can use some GUI based tools such as DNS snap-in or AD snap-in. In addition there are a few scripts that Microsoft supply (details on this later).

Step by Step Configuration Tutorial

The following steps will allow you to get Server Core up in running in a few minutes and ready to start operating in a functional state. Refer to the command line syntax section for further details or read the official Microsoft Server Core guide.

Once Server Core has been installed and is booted, Logon as instructed.

Choose Administrator

I prefer Green on Black with the command prompt, you can leave this as is if you wish.

Change the Administrator password – as you would have worked out this is blank by default.

Set the IP address and DNS address.

Verify the IP address settings with ipconfig /all and then try to ping an external website or server or something to verify you have network connectivity with the outside world.

Add Second DNS Server to Server Core Config:
C:> netsh int ip add dnsserver “Local Area Connection”
This will set the IP address of a second DNS server.

Activate the server with Microsoft.

Rename the server – use the hostname command to first obtain the current server name.

Now use the netdom command to rename the server in this case we will call this server Sealion.
NOTE: Restart the server for this to take effect!

Join the server to a Domain – we will use the netdom command once again to perform this task.

NOTE: Restart the server for this to take effect!

Logon to the server with a domain account to verify the join was successful and we will add a domain user to the local administrators group.

Enable Windows Update:

Firewall configuration:
, these examples should be used with care especially in DMZ areas or network segments that have a higher risk to attacks. Only open ports that are required.

The following commands will enable the server to accept ICMP and remote administration:

Enable RDP Connections:

Configure a Server Role: In this example we will setup Server Core to be a DHCP server.

You can now manage the DHCP server via netsh commands or with Windows Server 2008 MMC GUI Snapin from a remote server.

Part 2 Command Line Syntax

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