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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Longhorn Server: Server Core Roles

Longhorn Server: Server Core Roles

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With Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Beta 3 just around the corner, I thought it would be an apt time to take a quick look at one of the new deployment options in Longhorn Server, namely, Server Core.

As we all know, High Availability is top of a lot of people's lists in terms of requirements when implementing a server within their infrastructure.  They need these servers to be effectively running for as much time as possible, especially when you bring mission-critical systems into the mix too.

Windows Server “Longhorn” helps organisations keep their dedicated file and print servers, DHCP servers, DNS servers, and domain controllers maximally available with Windows Server “Longhorn” server core.

Now, administrators can choose to install Windows Server “Longhorn” with only core server functionality and without any extra overhead.  Not only does this limit the roles that can be performed by the server, it also does away with the server graphic user interface (GUI).  The result? Improved security and reduced management. This type of installation is called a Server Core installation.  It does mean that your command line skills do have to be tip-top to ensure you can manipulate and work with Server Core in the way that your desire!

Now, because Server Core installs only what is required to have a manageable DHCP, DNS, file server, or domain controller, it means that less software maintenance, I.e. updates, service packs etc are required for the server.  Moreover, since there is less installed and running on the server, there are fewer attack vectors exposed to the network, and therefore less of an attack surface.  In addition, if a security flaw is discovered in a file that is not installed, a patch is not required. Finally, because less functionality is installed on a Server Core-based server, there is less for administrators to manage.  Sounds perfect, right?

Just to confirm, the exact list of available roles in a Server Core installation is as follows:

  • DNS Server
  • DHCP Server
  • Active Directory Domain Controller (including Read Only Domain Controllers)
  • File Server
  • Print Server
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
  • Media Services
  • Virtualisation

I've also located a great blog dedicated purely to Server Core, and how you can work with it.

Some other useful resources include:

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