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The things that are better left unspoken

a blog by Sander Berkouwer

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Installing Server Core Domain Controllers

To server core or not to server core seems like a valid question. Especially when deciding to install Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Domain Controllers. With the advent of Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Beta 3 we can finally take a deep dive into installing Server Core Domain Controllers.

 

The Server Core promise

Server Core is an installation method for Windows Server Codename "Longhorn". What you end up with is a Windows Server installation resembling Coca Cola Zero... You enjoy most of the new and fancy technologies in Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" without the excess baggage.

 

How I installed my Server Core Domain Controller

After you install Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" you end up with a locked down server, with a blank Administrator password. I changed the password for the administrator to p@ssword! by typing:

net user administrator p@ssword!

Now that we've established some basic security we can change with a host name you don't want (in my case LH-FOAT5VUV6C07), with a dynamically assigned IP address, etc. (I acquired this information using the systeminfo command)

We need to make the server recognizable within the network. On my Server Core installation I ran:

netdom renamecomputer localhost /NewName:lh-dc1

I proceeded with the name change and I decided to reboot the system after the command completed successfully. I used the shutdown -r command, which restarted the server after a minute. My server automatically received an IP address since I have a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server in my network. To offer services a server is best equipped with a static IP address.

I logged in as LH-DC1\Administrator with the new password and changed the IP Address to something more suitable for a server. First I looked at the LAN interfaces, configured with the Internet Protocol (IP):

netsh interface ip show

This command returned two interfaces: "Local Area Connection" and "Loopback Pseudo-Interface 1". I decided to equip my Local Area Connection with an IP4 address, typing:

netsh interface ip set address "Local Area Connection" static 192.168.1.250 255.255.255.0 192.168.1.1 1
netsh interface ip set dns "Local Area Connection" static 192.168.1.1

I effectively gave my server the 192.168.1.250 IP4 address and told it to use 192.168.1.1 as its DNS server and default gateway with metric 1. I checked this configuration with the ipconfig /all command.

Since I had successfully installed the server and changed its configuration to correspond with my needs I decided to activate my copy of Windows Server Codename "Longhorn":

Slmgr.vbs –ato

When I installed my server I told the Setup Wizard to make one big volume on the hard disk and install Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" there. Since I don't want to store my Active Directory files on the C: drive of my computer I decided to shrink the C: drive a little to make room for a new drive, where I will be placing my Active Directory files. I entered the following commands:

diskpart

DISKPART> select disk 0
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART>
shrink desired=1539
DISKPART>
create partition primary
DISKPART>
select partition 2
DISKPART> format fs=ntfs label="ActDir"
DISKPART> assign letter=E
DISKPART> exit

 

Installing Active Directory

Now we can run dcpromo. Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Server Core requires us to specify an answer file with dcpromo, so we'll make one. I opened notepad.exe and entered the following text:

[Unattended]
Unattendmode=fullunattended

[DCInstall]
ReplicaOrNewDomain=Domain
NewDomain=Forest
NewDomainDNSName=pokkiewokkie.test.
InstallDNS=Yes
Databasepath=E:\NTDS
Logpath=E:\NTDS
SysVolPath=E:\SYSVOL
RebootOnSuccess=NoAndNoPromptEither
SafeModeAdminPassword=p@ssword!

I saved the file as E:\DCInstall.txt. I closed Notepad and ran:

Dcpromo.exe /unattend:E:\DCInstall.txt

After Active Directory setup was finished I restarted the server using the shutdown -r command again.

 

Verifying Active Directory installation

Assumption seems to be the mother of all f*ckups, so I decided to verify my Active Directory installation. I logged in as POKKIEWOKKIE\Administrator and started out with reading the Active Directory Setup log files:

notepad.exe C:\Windows\Debug\dcpromo.log
notepad.exe C:\Windows\Debug\dcpromoui.log

After that I ran dcdiag.exe. I noticed Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" didn't add a reverse lookup zone in DNS, which is consistent with DNS behavior in Windows Server 2003. I ran the following command:

dnscmd localhost /ZoneAdd 1.168.192.in-addr.arpa. /DSPrimary
net stop DNS
net start DNS

 

Installing DHCP Server

In my network my router provides DHCP services. Of course I want to use DHCP with DNS integration, which allows a DHCP server to perform dynamic updates in DNS for DHCP clients supporting dynamic updates. . I installed the DHCP server role, with the following commands:

start /w ocsetup DHCPServerCore

You guessed it! Installing these roles isn't enough. We've got to authorize the DHCP Server and setup a DHCP scope. I resorted to Netsh again, but decided to use the interactive mode this time:

netsh

netsh> dhcp
netsh dhcp> add server lh-dc1.pokkiewokkie.test 192.168.1.250
netsh dhcp> exit

sc config DHCPServer start=auto
net start DHCPServer

netsh

netsh> dhcp server
netsh dhcp server> initiate auth
netsh dhcp server> add scope 192.168.1.0 255.255.255.0 LHScope
netsh dhcp server> 
scope 192.168.1.0
netsh dhcp server scope> set optionvalue 003 IPAddress 192.168.1.1
netsh dhcp server scope> set optionvalue 006 IPAddress 192.168.1.250
netsh dhcp server scope> set optionvalue 015 String pokkiewokkie.test
netsh dhcp server scope> set state 1
netsh dhcp server scope> exit

 

Concluding

I believe Server Core is an installation method that comes in handy when planning dedicated Domain Controllers. You can use Server Core to offer other services as well. The combination of Active Directory, DNS Server, DHCP Server and File/Print (Netlogon and Sysvol are shares too...) is compelling:

  • Low RAM Usage
    Server Core allows you to build a Windows Server that provides the right amount of services. My Server Core Domain Controller only used 207 MB or RAM. (It used 160 MB before I promoted it to Domain Controller) This is way less than 462 MB, which I saw a couple of other Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Domain Controllers do.
  • Less patches
    If you look at the patches Microsoft offers each month, than roughly 60% are patches for Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, the .Net Framework, Windows Media Player and other stuff you won't find in Server Core. This means you will only have to install 40% of patches on Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Server Core. (This does not necessarily mean a significantly higher uptime...)

When you look more closely at Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Server Core you will find that the small calorific value of Server Core comes with a price. There's no way to install a Server Core Domain Controller in a graphical way. There's no Powershell. (Server core doesn't have a .Net Framework, which is needed for Powershell. If you're used to running administration tools from your workstation, than you won't feel any difference between a Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Domain Controller and a Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Server core Domain Controller.

Further reading

Server Core: Windows Without Windows
Creating a core Longhorn server
Installing Server Roles and Optional Features on Server Core
How to Activate Server Core 
Longhorn Server Beta 3 released 
Appendix of Unattended Installation Parameters
What's New in AD DS Installation and Removal
How can I configure TCP/IP settings from the Command Prompt? 
Create an answer file for domain controller installation
DNSCmd Overview  
Configure how a service is started 
Longhorn Server Beta 3 release!!! 
Longhorn Server 101 – what’s all the fuss about ? Your chance to see. 
Powershell in "every" version of Windows Server? 
Windows Server Longhorn - Installing, Removing and Upgrading to AD 
Longhorn - Windows Server Virtualization and Server Core 
Active Directory in Longhorn Server 
How to install Active Directory on Longhorn Server Core 
Server Core Installation Option of Windows Server "Longhorn" Step-By-Step Guide

 

Disclaimer Beta Software

The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

Posted: Friday, May 04, 2007 1:34 AM by Sander Berkouwer

Comments

The things that are better left unspoken said:

I'm proud to be selected as one of the Speaker Talents for the upcoming Technet Live event in Amsterdam

# June 12, 2007 10:51 PM

Jorge 's Quest For Knowledge! said:

You probably already know it by now. If you don't, where the heck have you been lately? Windows Server 2008 provides two installation options. The first is Windows Server WITH a GUI (Full Server) and the second one is Windows Server WITHOUT a GUI (Server Core). Although it only shows a command prompt after logon, it supports very limited GUI functionality (e.g. NOTEPAD, REGEDIT, etc.). It could however be called "Windows without Windows".

So, if you want to manage Server Core locally your knowledge of command line utilities must be quite good. If you want manage it remotely, you can use MMCs and WinRS. To summarize, these are notes I made once during betatest. Enjoy!

# March 26, 2008 6:17 AM

The things that are better left unspoken said:

Server Core is proving to be a versatile infrastructure platform. After installing your basic Server

# April 24, 2008 12:56 PM

Installing Windows Server 2008 (x64) on my laptop « JTango said:

With the much anticipated (by me at least) RTM of Windows Server 2008, I decided it was time to do a reinstall of my laptop. I generally prefer to use Server operating systems for development because they provide me with everything I might need to simulate in a client’s environment locally; be it an Active Directory Domain Controller or a DNS Service. More importantly, I was very much looking forward to running Hyper-V for all my virtualization needs

# October 28, 2008 6:18 PM

Installing Windows Server 2008 (x64) on my laptop « JTango said:

With the much anticipated (by me at least) RTM of Windows Server 2008, I decided it was time to do a reinstall of my laptop. I generally prefer to use Server operating systems for development because they provide me with everything I might need to simulate in a client’s environment locally; be it an Active Directory Domain Controller or a DNS Service. More importantly, I was very much looking forward to running Hyper-V for all my virtualization needs

# October 28, 2008 6:24 PM

(2008-03-26) A New Gang In Town – Server Core (W2K8) « Jorge's Quest For Knowledge! said:

You probably already know it by now. If you don’t, where the heck have you been lately? Windows Server 2008 provides two installation options. The first is Windows Server WITH a GUI (Full Server) and the second one is Windows Server WITHOUT a GUI (Server Core). Although it only shows a command prompt after logon, it supports very limited GUI functionality (e.g. NOTEPAD, REGEDIT, etc.). It could however be called "Windows without Windows".

# July 29, 2011 10:31 PM
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