Install Windows Server 2008

10/9/2010 3:55:48 PM
The following sections look at the procedures for doing both a manual installation and an unattended installation. We will also consider what is involved in upgrading to Windows Server 2008 from an existing operating system.

Manual Installation

The Windows Server 2008 installation procedure has been streamlined. If you are familiar with the Windows 2003 Server installation, you may remember that during the installation, you were prompted to answer configuration questions. With Windows Server 2008, these prompts have been moved to the Initial Configuration Task Wizard, which appears when the installation is complete. The following is the only information you need to provide during the actual installation:

  • Language, currency, and keyboard layout information

  • A valid product key

  • Installation location

  • Which version of the operating system you are going to install (if no product key is entered)

  • Whether you are performing an upgrade or fresh installation

The complete setup for Windows Server 2008 requires only three stages:

  • Operating system setup, including key validation

  • Initial configuration tasks

  • Server Manager setup

Operating System Setup

Follow these steps to set up the OS:

Insert the installation CD and boot the server to the CD.

When you are prompted for language, time and currency, and keyboard format information, as shown in Figure 1, make the appropriate selections and click Next.

Figure 1. Configuring language, time and currency, and keyboard information.

The Install Now option appears. If you are unsure of what hardware requirements are needed, you can click the link What to Know Before Installing Windows. You can also click the link to perform and repair the OS rather than perform a full installation.

Input your product key and check the box Automatically Activate Windows When I’m Online (see Figure 2). Click Next.

Figure 2. Providing a valid product key.

If you did not enter a product key in the previous window, you now have to choose which edition of Windows Server 2008 you will install and check the box I Have Selected an Edition of Windows That I Purchased (see Figure 3). If you did enter a product key, the installation program will be able to identify which edition of Windows Server 2008 you are going to install. Then click Next.

Figure 3. Selecting the edition of Windows Server 2008 to install.


Read the license terms and accept them by checking the box. Then click Next.

In the screen that now appears, you decide whether to perform and upgrade or a custom (advanced) installation of Windows. Because you booted from the installation CD, the Upgrade option is disabled (see Figure 4). Click Custom (Advanced).

Figure 4. The Upgrade option is disabled when you boot from the installation CD.


If you wanted to perform an upgrade, you would need to execute the installation procedure from within the original Windows OS.

On the next screen, decide where you want to install Windows and, if you have any third-party storage drivers, load them by clicking the Load Driver link (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. Loading third-party storage drivers and choosing where to install them.

Now the actual Windows installation takes place. You will see the progress of each step as it completes, by percentage. During the installation, the server will reboot multiple times. The installation will complete the following tasks:

  • Copying files

  • Expanding files

  • Installing features

  • Installing updates

  • Completing installation

When the installation is complete, change the administrator’s password before the first logon. When the password had been changed you are logged in to the OS. You have completed phase 1 of the installation.

Initial Configuration Tasks

Now that the OS install is complete and you have logged in to the Windows Server OS, the Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard appears (see Figure 1.6). There are three sections in this wizard:

  • Provide computer information

  • Update this server

  • Customize this server

Figure 6. The Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard.

So what configuration changes can you make in these different sections?

In the Provide Computer Information section, you can do the following:

  • Change the time zone.

  • Configure the network settings on your network interface card (NIC) interfaces. You can also assign static IP addresses, subnet masks, default gateways, and DNS/WINS server. In many environments, you will probably be teaming two NICs for a production data LAN (using third-party software) and have a separate NIC dedicated for backup data connected to a backup LAN. Alternatively, you can leave the setting to be automatically assigned by a DHCP server, assuming that you have a DHCP server configured.


    In a real-world environment, you will usually assign static IP addresses to infrastructure servers. If this is the case, you will need to have gathered this information along with valid IP addresses for the default gateway and for DNS and WINS servers prior to the installation, along with the new server name if you are held to a strict naming convention in your organization.

  • Supply a computer name for the server, along with domain or workgroup information.

You need to reboot the server for these changes to take effect.

In the Update This Server section, you can do the following:

  • Enable automatic updates and feedback.

  • Configure the download and installation of OS updates.

In the Customize This Server section, you can do the following:

  • Add the server role or multiple roles. When you select a role, a wizard takes you through the complete installation of that role. You can choose from the following roles:

    • Active Directory Certificate Services

    • Active Directory Domain Services

    • Active Directory Federation Services

    • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services

    • Active Directory Rights Management Services

    • Application Server

    • DHCP Server

    • DNS Server

    • Fax Server

    • File Services

    • Network Policy and Access Services

    • Print Services

    • Terminal Services

    • UDDI Services

    • Web Server (IIS)

    • Windows Deployment Services

  • Add features. As with roles, when you select a feature, a wizard takes you through the installation of that feature. There are many features to choose from, as shown in Figure 7.

    Figure 7. Selecting features you would like to install.


    With both the roles and features lists, if you highlight a role or feature, you see a description of each role or feature on the right side of the list. When you are selecting roles and features, keep in mind that you should install as few as possible or only items you are currently planning to use. If you install unnecessary roles and/or features, you will also install services and possibly open up ports that will not be used in production but will render the server less secure.

  • Enable Remote Desktop connections to the server.

  • Configure the OS firewall settings. By default, the firewall is enabled.

Now let’s move on to phase 3 of the installation.

Server Manager Setup

Server Manager (shown in Figure 8) gives you a complete overview of your server. When looking at the default details pane, you can see computer information, security information, and a summary of the roles and features installed. And at the bottom of the page, you see a resources and support section. On the left side of the window are many tools to help you add/remove and configure roles and features. You can also see options for diagnostics, configurations, and disk management. When you have completed your changes in Server Manager, your manual installation is complete.

Figure 8. Server Manager.


Unattended Installation

Now that you have completed the manual installation, let’s take a look at how you would go about performing an unattended installation. With Windows Server 2008, you use a unattend.xml file rather than an unattend.txt file; in fact, the unnattend.xml file also replaces the Sysprep.inf, Winbom.ini, and Cmdlines.txt files. The XML format has been adopted because it makes it easier to describe nested values, add new elements, and validate the answer file. You can open the unattend.xml file in Internet Explorer 5.5 and later to parse the .xml file and see if it is well formed. If the file is not formed correctly, Internet Explorer shows you where the errors are.

To run an unattended installation, you execute the setup.exe file with the unattend switch:

C:>setup.exe /unattend:<path>\unattend.xml

The unattend.xml file contains the responses needed while running the setup.exe file. This file contains such information as computer name, acceptance of the End User License Agreement (EULA), installation disk information, and so on. You can also show or hide the user interface (UI) for each value that is set by using ShowUI flag = Yes/No. Let’s take a look at how the installation reacts when you use the ShowUI flag:

  • ShowUI flag = Yes and setting is specified in the unattend.xml file: Setup uses the setting specified in the unattend.xml file and shows the UI with this setting.

  • ShowUI flag = No and setting is specified in the unattend.xml file: Setup uses the setting specified in the unattend.xml file and does not show the UI.

  • ShowUI flag = Yes and the setting is not specified in the unattend.xml file: Setup shows the UI, with the default value, and the user can change this setting, if needed.

  • ShowUI flag = No and the setting is not specified in the unattend.xml file: Setup uses the default value and does not show the UI.

While performing an unattended installation over a network, the system installer must have access to the unattend.xml file. When the setup is started from removable media (CD or DVD), the setup program looks for the unattend.xml file in the following locations:

  • The current working directory

  • The root of the removable media where setup.exe was initiated

  • Other removable media, such as floppy disks, USB devices, or another CD or DVD

The syntax for the unattend.xml file is broken up into elements, and each element needs to be opened and then closed in the proper order (when nested). When this is achieved, it is a well-formed .xml file. There is only one root element, <unattend>. Figure 9 shows a portion of an unattend.xml file, with some syntax explanation, so that you can get the feel for the syntax.

Figure 9. An unattend.xml file with some syntax information.

The running of the unattend.xml file stops with an error message if any of the following is true:

  • The EULA has not been accepted

  • The product key is invalid

  • The install disk cannot be written to

Creating an unattend.xml file can be tricky, but when you have this file created, it can make your job much easier. There are some tools available on the web that can help you create these files. You can also get very creative by adding some scripting to your installations to automatically generate computer names that adhere to your naming convention as well as many other configuration options.

  •  Windows Server 2008 : Configure NAP
  •  Incorporate Server Core Changes in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Decide What Edition of Windows Server 2008 to Install
  •  Perform Other Pre-Installation Tasks
  •  Developing Windows Azure Services that Use SQL Azure
  •  Creating Windows with Mixed Content
  •  Mixing Windows and Forms
  •  Exploring an Assembly Using ildasm.exe
  •  The Assembly/Namespace/Type Distinction
  •  Communicate Between Two Machines on the Same Network (WCF)
  •  Communicate Between Processes on the Same Machine (WCF)
  •  Create a TCP/IP Client and Server
  •  Get Network Card Information
  •  Store Data when Your App Has Restricted Permissions
  •  Serialize to an In-Memory Stream
  •  Get the Paths to My Documents, My Pictures, Etc.
  •  Watch for File System Changes
  •  Manipulate File Paths
  •  Search for a File or Directory
  •  Enumerate Directories and Files
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