Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 and Server Core : Managing and Configuring a Server Core Installation

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The following sections cover general tasks associated with managing and configuring a Server Core system after the installation is complete via the command prompt. As an alternative, an administrator can use the SCONFIG utility to configure general settings.

Launching the Command Prompt in a Server Core Installation

Remember, the Start menu does not exist. Because of this, one of the most important tasks an administrator must understand when managing a Server Core installation is how to launch the command prompt. The following steps will assist you:

Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete.

Select Start Task Manager.

On the Windows Task Manager screen, select File, then New Task (Run).

In the Create New Task dialog box, type cmd.exe, and then click OK.

Changing the Server Core Administrator’s Password

After the initial password has been set, the syntax to change the administrator password is:

Net user administrator *

After the command has been executed, you will be prompted to type a password for the user. Enter the password and then retype it for the confirmation process. It is a best practice to use a complex password when assigning passwords to the administrator account.

Changing the Server Core Machine Name

After the Server Core installation is complete, another common task is to change the machine name of the server. By default, Windows automatically generates and assigns a server name starting with WIN and followed by a string of characters. The syntax to change the Server Core machine name follows:

netdom renamecomputer <ExistingComputerName> /newname:<NewComputerName>

When manipulating this syntax, replace the <ExistingComputerName> argument with the existing hostname (which can be found using the hostname command) and the <NewComputerName> argument with the new machine name for the Server Core installation. Changing the server name from Win-123 to “ServerCore” is depicted in the following example:

netdom renamecomputer Win-123 /newname:ServerCore

Assigning a Static IPV4 IP Address and DNS Settings

Another common Server Core management task is assigning an IP address, including the primary and secondary DNS settings. Before this task can be executed, you must run the following command to obtain and identify the names of the network interfaces installed on the server. This includes capturing the unique ID associated with each network interface. To display a list of network interfaces, including their respective unique IDs, run the following command:

netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces

The next step is to make a note of the network interface name and unique ID that you must change. The ID is located in the leftmost column and is referred to as Idx. This is depicted in the output of the netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces command, as displayed in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Reviewing the Idx ID for a network interface.


If you plan to change the IP address settings on more than one interface, take note of all the interface names and Idx unique IDs.

Now that you have captured the names and IDs, utilize the following syntax to change the IP address for a desired interface.

netsh interface ipv4 set address name="<ID>" source=static address=<StaticIP>
mask=<SubnetMask> gateway=<DefaultGateway>

Replace the ID argument with the network interface name or ID. In addition, enter the static IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway in subsequent arguments. An example is netsh interface ipv4 set address name="1" source=static address= mask= gateway=

The final step when configuring the network interface is to enter a primary and secondary DNS entry for the interface. Do this by using the following syntax:

netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name="<ID>" address=<DNSIP>index=1

The same command is utilized and repeated when entering more than one DNS entry. However, increment the index each time. When finalized, run IP Config /all to verify the IP address settings.

Adding the Server Core System to a Domain

The following script illustrates the basic syntax of how to add a Server Core system to a Windows domain:

Netdom join <computername> /domain:<domain> /userd:<domain>\<username> /password:*

Input the domain name and supply the user account and password for an account that has permissions to add computers to the domain.

Activating the Server Core System

Activating a Server Core system can be achieved in two easy steps. The first step includes entering a product key and the second step requires you to activate the server. The syntax for entering a product key is as follows:

slmgr.vbs -ipk<productkey>

Once the product key has been successfully entered, you activate the server by typing in the following command:

slmgr.vbs -ato

Server Core Roles and Feature Installations

The typical Windows server roles can be configured on a Server Core installation. The following bullets list the server roles that are currently supported on a Server Core installation:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)

  • Active Directory Certificate Services

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Server

  • DNS Server

  • File Services

  • Print Server

  • Streaming Media Services

  • Web Server (IIS)

  • Hyper-V

The following are optional features that are also supported on a Server Core installation:

  • 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)

  • .NET Framework

  • PowerShell


The following command lists all of the potential server roles and associated features:

Dism /online /get-features /format:table

The OCSetup command-line program is responsible for setting up and configuring the server roles and features on a Server Core installation. You can configure the OCSetup command-line options using the following syntax:

ocsetup.exe [/?] [/h] [/help] component [/log:file] [/norestart] [/passive]
[/quiet] [/unattendfile:file] [/uninstall] [/x: parameter]

Use Table 1 to understand each of the options that are available when using the OCSetup command-line program.

Table 1. Available Command Options for OCSetup
/?, /h, /helpExplains all the options available for OCSetup
componentRepresents the name of the component you plan on installing, such as DNS, DHCP, Web Server (IIS), and more
/log:fileSpecifies the log file location if you do not want to take advantage of the default location
/norestartDoes not reboot the computer after the installation
/passiveSuppresses unnecessary noise and only includes progress status
/quietDoes not require user interaction
/unattendfile:fileRequires additional configurations
/uninstallRemoves server components
/x: parameterSupplies additional configuration parameters

Performing a Server Role Installation on a Server Core Installation

Table 2 outlines basic server role installation examples based on the use of the OCSetup command-line tool.

Table 2. Server Role Installation Command Lines with OCSetup
Server RoleCommand
DNS Server roleocsetup DNS-Server-Core-Role
DHCP Server roleocsetup DHCPServerCore
File Server roleocsetup FRS-Infrastructure
Print Server roleocsetup Printing-ServerCore-Role
Active Directory Lightweight Directory Server roleocsetup DirectoryServices-ADAM-ServerCore
Windows Deployment Server (Windows DS) roleocsetup Microsoft-Windows-Deployment-Services
Web Server (IIS) roleocsetup IIS-WebServerRole
Streaming Media Services roleocsetup MediaServer
Hyper-V roleocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V

The previous sections are a prelude to some of the common Server Core command-line arguments for installing and configuring elements on a Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core installation. For a full list of command-line arguments, visit the Microsoft website and conduct a search for Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core.

Installing the Active Directory Domain Services Role

Even though Active Directory Domain Services is just another server role, you cannot install it with ocsetup on Server Core. You must use the dcpromo utility. The problem is that dcpromo normally starts a wizard with a graphical user interface and Server Core does not support GUIs. You have to provide the input for dcpromo by supplying the operation parameters or by using an answer file.

There are 40 different operation parameters that the dcpromo utility can accept. While this may seem like a dizzying array of options, few command lines will utilize all of them. Please refer to the TechNet dcpromo command reference at for a complete list and explanation of each parameter. You can use this reference to build the correct dcpromo command line or create an unattend file suitable for your core domain controller.

The following example creates a domain controller for a new Active Directory forest. It installs and configures the DNS Server service and configures the forest and domain functional levels to Windows Server 2008 R2:

; New forest promotion
; Set SafeModeAdminPassword to the correct value prior to using the unattend file
; Run-time flags (optional)

Use the following steps to run dcpromo with an unattend file:
Copy or create the unattend.txt file to the root of the C: drive.

Enter the command dcpromo.exe /unattend:C:\unattend.txt and press Enter. The installation will proceed.

At the end of the installation, the server will automatically reboot.

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