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Server Core Installation Option Getting Started Guide

Updated: October 22, 2009

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

This guide provides instructions for building a server that is based on the Server Core installation option of the Windows Server® 2008 or Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating systems. It includes information about installation, initial configuration, and managing a server that is running a Server Core installation.

The Server Core installation option is an option that you can use for installing Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2. A Server Core installation provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles, which reduces the maintenance and management requirements and the attack surface for those server roles. A server running a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 supports the following server roles:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)

  • DHCP Server

  • DNS Server

  • File Services

  • Hyper-V

  • Print Services

  • Streaming Media Services

  • Web Server (IIS)

A server running a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 supports the following server roles:

  • Active Directory Certificate Services

  • Active Directory Domain Services

  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)

  • DHCP Server

  • DNS Server

  • File Services (including File Server Resource Manager)

  • Hyper-V

  • Print and Document Services

  • Streaming Media Services

  • Web Server (including a subset of ASP.NET)

To accomplish this, the Server Core installation option installs only the subset of the binary files that are required by the supported server roles. For example, the Explorer shell is not installed as part of a Server Core installation. Instead, the default user interface for a server running a Server Core installation is the command prompt.

Downloadable, printable job aids which include the most commonly used commands and procedures for administering Server Core installations are available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=151984.

The Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 requires initial configuration at a command prompt. A Server Core installation does not include the traditional full graphical user interface. Once you have configured the server, you can manage it locally at a command prompt or remotely using a Terminal Server connection. You can also manage the server remotely using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or command-line tools that support remote use.

Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2 support additional server roles (see the “What is a Server Core installation” section) and Windows features (see Installing Windows Features on a server running a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 R2: Overview).

In Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2, the Removable Storage feature has been removed. You can also remotely manage a Server Core server using Server Manager.

The target audience for the Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 includes:

  • IT planners and analysts who are technically evaluating the product.

  • Enterprise IT planners and designers for organizations.

  • IT professionals who are managing any of the server roles supported in Server Core installations.

The Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced maintenance. Because the Server Core installation option installs only what is required to have a manageable server for the supported roles, less maintenance is required than on a full installation of Windows Server 2008.

  • Reduced attack surface. Because Server Core installations are minimal, there are fewer applications running on the server, which decreases the attack surface.

  • Reduced management. Because fewer applications and services are installed on a server running the Server Core installation, there is less to manage.

  • Less disk space required. A Server Core installation requires only about 3.5 gigabytes (GB) of disk space to install and approximately 3 GB for operations after the installation.

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