One of the most exciting new features of Windows Server 2008 is its ability to install as a Server Core machine.
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 supports the following server roles:
In Windows Server 2008, Server Core installation does not include the traditional full graphical user interface (GUI). You can read more about how to locally and remotely manage Server Core machines by reading the list of articles available below.
This is, in a way, revolutionizing the way Microsoft is looking at GUI-based administration, a step enforced by other means such as Windows PowerShell and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, all allowing strong command line management capabilities.
There are, alas, some GUI tools you might want to use in Server Core. Some of these include:
Notepad (stripped down):
Time, Date, and Time Zone Control Panel applet:
Regional Settings Control Panel applet:
That’s about it. The rest is all CLI and remote management.
The Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 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.
The Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 provides the following benefits:
Since Server Core is a special installation of Windows Server 2008, the following limitations are present:
Server Core comes in Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter editions for i386 and x64 platforms. Most companies will probably go for the Standard edition because most of the differences found in the Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2008 won’t be present in Server Core. The Enterprise Server Core will, however, allow you to utilize more processor and memory support, as well as clustering. Datacenter adds the whole Datacenter hardware program and 99.999 percent reliability.