This post belongs to my series about Microsoft's next server OS, Windows Server Longhorn. Today I am answering some essential questions about Server Core.

What is Server Core?
In Server Core only the services required to perform the following server roles are installed: Active Directory Domain Services, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Server, DNS Server, File Services, Print Server, Streaming Media Services.

Server CoreHow can you manage Server Core?
Server Core doesn't have a graphical user interface. You can manage Server Core on the command line or if you prefer a graphical user interface, remotely with the usual Administration tools. Server Core doesn't support Powershell and .Net, but you can use the Windows Scripting Host (WSH). Microsoft offers some scripts which you can use to configure Server Core. It is also possible to configure Server Core with Group Policy.

Why do you need Server Core?
The advantages of Server Core are: security improvement (reduced attack surface), needs less system resources (occupies only one third disk space), patching is easier, boots up faster.

How can you install Server Core?
You can choose to install Server Core during the normal Windows Server Longhorn setup process.

What can't you do with Server Core?
You can only use Server Core for the roles mentioned above. This means that you can't use Server Core for database systems or as application server, for example.

What other Longhorn features does Server Core support?
Server Core supports Microsoft Failover Cluster, Network Load Balancing, Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications, Windows Backup, Multipath I/O, Removable Storage Management, Windows Bitlocker Drive Encryption, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS), Telnet client, Quality of Service (QoS).

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In the next post of this series I'll show you how to get started with Server Core.

13 Comments
  1. Lukas Beeler 15 years ago

    The answer i’ve not seen thus far on this topic is:

    “How do i install a network card driver in Longhorn core?”

  2. Josh Maher 15 years ago

    Great start, thanks Michael. I agree with Lukas though….there may be a large number of hardware components and/or applications that won’t work at RTM with this thing just because they are GUI installs. This could be fairly limiting to any real implementations of this thing.

  3. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Lukas, I didn’t say I answered “all

  4. Lukas Beeler 15 years ago

    Michael, sorry – i didn’t mean to offend you – it’s just a question that’s always in the back of my mind when talking about Longhorn Core.

    I already have Longhorn Core running in a VirtualPC instance, it works fine, but i haven’t figured out on how i would install essential drivers (i wasn’t able to find docs on this either). Just thought maybe you would know 🙂

  5. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Don’t worry I am not offended so easily. You’re right driver installation is an interesting issue. If I find some documentation about it, I’ll probably write about it here.

  6. nick 15 years ago

    why doesn’t it support powershell? presumably because you can’t install .net 2.0 framework?

    I’ll never understand Microsoft…just when I think I’ve got them figured out they go and do something like this.

    Still, looking forward to see what longhorn has in store… 🙂

  7. Lukas Beeler 15 years ago

    Just FYI:

    There are two *.cpl files in \windows\system32, which can launch to change timezone and regional settings.

    There’s a tool called “drvinst”, which seems to be the same as in Windows PE, and the way to install drivers.

    I also managed to kill my VM by playing with netdom – well, at least Vista has local Shadow Copies 😉

  8. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Nick, you’re right. Powershell needs .Net. When I first heard about Powershell and Server Core I also assumed that both products are just made for each other.

    Lukas, thanks for the tips.

  9. Dmitry Sotnikov 14 years ago

    You can find (unofficial and not supported by Microsoft) instructions for setting up PowerShell on Server Core here: http://dmitrysotnikov.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/powershell-on-server-core/

  10. Michael Pietroforte 14 years ago

    Dmitry, thanks. This post made you quite famous. I also linked to it some days ago. I just wonder how stable this is since it is not officially supported by Microsoft.

  11. Dmitry Sotnikov 14 years ago

    Works fine so far although I am only using it in the lab. Jeffrey is asking to report any issues to the PowerShell team so they seem to be willing to look into fixing any possible issues which might arise: http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell/archive/2008/05/15/powershell-on-ws08-server-core.aspx

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