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Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

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  • Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

    Dear All,


    Several times I have read and heard that Windows 2008 Server Core Installation is a new revolutionary development. I have discussed it with several collegues of mine and I am still doubtful, especially given the arguments put forward.
    Maybe you can convince me otherwise?
    Of course in the depend it all depends on your environment.


    These are the arguments for Windows 2008 Server Core installation


    Reduced maintenance - Because the Server Core installation option installs only what is required to have a manageable server for the AD DS, AD LDS, DHCP Server, DNS Server, File Services, Print Services, and Streaming Media Services 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 1 gigabyte (GB) of disk space to install and approximately 2 GB for operations after the installation.

    Lower risk of bugs - Reducing the amount of code can help reduce the amount of bugs.


    These are my considerations:

    Reduced maintenance
    > Strange argument: does this mean there is actually things installed on systems that are not needed but require maintenance? And do you maintain them even when you don't use them? Basically when you install a server you install what is needed and leave things out that are not needed.

    Reduced attack surface

    > A valid argument, can't argue against that. However security can be had on other levels.

    Reduced management

    > That might be a logical conclusion, however: the lack of these applications and services might acutally cause more management. So the argument goes both ways, strip the system to it's bare functioning and you are actually doing more work to maintain what is left, because it is different, requires specific skills and you lack those handy tools to work with.

    Less disk space required - A Server Core installation requires only about 1 gigabyte (GB) of disk space to install and approximately 2 GB for operations after the installation.

    > Sounds really nice, but with servers having nowadays a base 72 gb in raid, disk space is hardly an issue.

    Lower risk of bugs - Reducing the amount of code can help reduce the amount of bugs.

    >That again sounds logical, but is it? The thinking is that if there is less on a system then there is less that can go wrong. But this assumes that a core server is the same as a normal server but with less on it. However it is more likely that part of the core server coding is specific only for the core server(which seems more logical, given the fact hat there is no way to up or down grade to another windows 2008 version). Hence while there is less, part of what is there is different and needs to be separately maintained.

    > I wonder if, all in all the advantages are outbalanced by disadvantages. A core server introduces new complexities and yet another version of an OS to maintain. It requires specific skills and probably more management in regards to patching and so on. In addition the decision when or when not to deploy it and how to handle them when another version of the windows os will be introduced will also increase the demand on the staff.


    Don't get me wrong. I am not against the use of this version of the windows 2008 OS, I am just looking for some really stong arguments beside to convince me and other to put time and effort in researching this version.
    Last edited by Owen36; 17th March 2008, 13:41.

  • #2
    Re: Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

    The whole idea behind server core, is that it needs less patching and has a smaller attack service.

    MS told that Servercore needs lesser patching, up to 70% if the patches are for components which do not exist in server core.

    Lesser paching -> Lesser Mantenaince -> Lesser reboots

    When securing your server, you check out which services are needed and which ones may be disabled to reduce the attack surface.

    This is allready the case with server core, because a whole lot of services aren't needed anymore.

    The hard part in server core is setting it up, after the server has been installed you can manage the server using the tools like you would with any other server.
    Offcourse a lot of people still manage there server through its desktop, which isn't needed in most cases. So perhaps some users need to get used to the "new" management model.
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    • #3
      Re: Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

      I have never once understood the need for a file server or a domain controller or a certificate server etc to have a huge, overbloated GUI interface with 80% of the GUI functions never used. Given sufficient effort into the development of command line interfaces etc the server can devote far more of it's (expensive) resources into DELIVERING THE SERVICE TO CLIENTS - which is what servers are for. Take a look at Task Manager in a server with 4Gb of RAM which is currently delivering no services at all and you'll find that a large portion of the RAM is used up by services and applications used by the server's GUI and attendant functions. There is nothing revolutionary about 2008 Server Core; it's going back to what servers SHOULD be like. The problem is, it may just take some actual skill to work with; instead of "click this pretty button here and Microsoft will lead you by the hand through the installation of this service which is far too complex for your puny brain to comprehend" it will now be:

      LOGIN ADMINISTRATOR

      *********

      C:\Documents and Settings\administrator\Desktop
      READY.
      > _

      Far, far less resource hungry; far easier to maintain; far more direct access to the configuration tools and settings required for the server to DELIVER THE SERVICE.

      I'm 100% behind this and was very excited when I heard about it. I still haven't got around to actually using it yet... but I can't wait.


      Tom
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      • #4
        Re: Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

        Originally posted by Stonelaughter View Post
        I have never once understood the need for a file server or a domain controller or a certificate server etc to have a huge, overbloated GUI interface with 80% of the GUI functions never used. Given sufficient effort into the development of command line interfaces etc the server can devote far more of it's (expensive) resources into DELIVERING THE SERVICE TO CLIENTS - which is what servers are for. Take a look at Task Manager in a server with 4Gb of RAM which is currently delivering no services at all and you'll find that a large portion of the RAM is used up by services and applications used by the server's GUI and attendant functions. There is nothing revolutionary about 2008 Server Core; it's going back to what servers SHOULD be like. The problem is, it may just take some actual skill to work with; instead of "click this pretty button here and Microsoft will lead you by the hand through the installation of this service which is far too complex for your puny brain to comprehend" it will now be:

        LOGIN ADMINISTRATOR

        *********

        C:\Documents and Settings\administrator\Desktop
        READY.
        > _

        Far, far less resource hungry; far easier to maintain; far more direct access to the configuration tools and settings required for the server to DELIVER THE SERVICE.

        I'm 100% behind this and was very excited when I heard about it. I still haven't got around to actually using it yet... but I can't wait.
        @ Stonelaughter:

        A point well taken, but I like to add a plea for those mouse clicking admins.
        If everything would be command line, wouldn't you have to familiarize yourself with hundreds of commands by heart? I use the command line frequent, but some things I donít do on a day to day basis Iím actually glad there is a GUI.
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        Get-Drink
        Lay-Back
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        Wake-Up!
        Resume-Service
        Write-Warning
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        • #5
          Re: Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

          in a properly programmed admin environment you don't need to remember many commands, unless you want to go into scripting.
          what you need to know is which config files need to be edited and for what. the location and names of those files is usually quite intuitive (at least in netware and *nix it is)
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          • #6
            Re: Arguments for and against Windows 2008 Server Core installation

            Originally posted by Killerbe View Post
            @ Stonelaughter:

            A point well taken, but I like to add a plea for those mouse clicking admins.
            If everything would be command line, wouldn't you have to familiarize yourself with hundreds of commands by heart? I use the command line frequent, but some things I donít do on a day to day basis Iím actually glad there is a GUI.
            Not really no - it would merely mean a return to the "Administrator's Companion" guide books so often seen in the past for older systems which clearly and concisely explained the command syntax for each command. Most of your "stuff" would be done with relatively few commands anyway; and for the more arcane, unusual stuff, you'd have well structured on-screen "/?" responses, and your trusty book with indexing by function and by command name.

            Ideally you won't be stuck with DOS-like 80x43 screens, either, having a reasonable choice of font faces and sizes for your command screen to allow a reasonable amount of information on the screen. There is no need for a command line interpreter to be an awful, unknowable environment with no customisation...


            Tom
            For my own and your protection, I do not provide support by private message under any circumstances. All such messages will be deleted and ignored.

            Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you

            Comment

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