If I have convinced you to look at server core there some things you need to know to get started.  There’s a simple step by step guide on the initial release of server core here, most of which still applies to server core in R2.

  • First and foremost as part of Microsoft’s 3D security philosophy Windows Server 2008 R2 (and therefore core) is secure by default i.e. locked down so you can’t remotely manage it initially.
  • netsh advfirewall set currentprofile settings remotemanagement enable

    Once you have done this you can then remotely manage the firewall to allow other traffic in, so you can then remotely manage the server. The step by step guide has all this detail and command lines for joining the a domain setting up dhcp and so on.

  • Enable Powershell.   The reason you want to do this is called James O’Neill.  He’s taken the pain out of configuring server core with his configurator on codeplex.  But before you can use this you need to turn on PowerShell using the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool :
  • dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:MicrosoftWindowsPowerShell

    You’ll also need to allow PowerShell to run your scripts (more secure by default stuff)

    set execution-policy remotesigned

    James’ stuff will now allow you to do pretty much anything in that step by step guide but more easily.  You might also want to install the .Net framework..

    dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore

    If 32-bit support is needed:

    dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-WOW64

    and then

    dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore-WOW64

    Note DISM is CASE SenSitiVE

You’ll need to do all this if you want to install SQL Server 2008 or R2 and then do a command line install along the lines of ..

Setup.exe /q /ACTION=Install /FEATURES=SQL /INSTANCENAME=MSSQLSERVER

/SQLSVCACCOUNT="<DomainName\UserName>" /SQLSVCPASSWORD="<StrongPassword>"

/SQLSYSADMINACCOUNTS="<DomainName\UserName>" /AGTSVCACCOUNT="NT AUTHORITY\Network Service"

The details of this are on Books OnLine here, but as I have said before this is NOT supported.

Next post is how to setup and manage IIS 7.5 on Server Core.