Remotely managing your Server Core using RSAT
A little while ago I showed you how to perform some of the common management tasks on your Server Core installation using the Microsoft Management Console Snap-Ins, available through Computer Management (compmgmt.msc). Last week I showed you how to install Server Roles and Features on top of your Server Core installation.
This time I want to take the opportunity to show you around in the recently released Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) which allow you to manage the roles you can install on your Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008.
In order to use the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) you need to download the standalone setup package from the Microsoft Download servers, install the update package and after installation use the Programs and Feature control panel applet to actually install the parts of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) you'd wish to use.
Fulfilling system requirements
In order to run the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows Vista you'll need a box with Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise or Windows Vista Ultimate installed with Service Pack 1 in one of the languages mentioned below.
Downloading the standalone setup package
While the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) are available in English since March 24th 2008 only a few days ago Microsoft released the RSAT in the following languages:
Like a couple of persons already observed in the TechNet forums: Only 18 of the 36 languages are here. Is Microsoft using it's wave method for distribution again?
Installing the package
Since you're a server administrator (what else would you need the Remote Server Administration Tools for) I won't bore you with how to double click the standalone setup package. (*.msu file) You all know how to download stuff, relocate it, run it and get through the UAC messages, right? If not, just read this Microsoft Knowledge Base article...
Selecting RSAT features
Once you've installed the package you can begin selecting features from the Remote Server Administration Tools using the Programs and Feature control panel applet. Simply:
- Go to the Control Panel and select Programs and Features or begin typing Progra... in the search field of the Start Menu
- Select Turn Windows features on or off in the taskpane.
- Press Continue when you have User Account Control (UAC) enabled
- Scroll down to Remote Server Administration Tools and select the features corresponding to your remote management wishes:
Selecting Applicable Tools
Server Core offers only a subset of the Roles and Features you can install on a Full Installation of Windows Server 2008. The interesting features in the context of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 are:
- Bitlocker Drive Encryption Tools
- Failover Clustering Tools
- Group Policy Management Tools
- Network Load Balancing Tools
- Active Directory Domain Services Tools
- Active Directory Domain Controller Tools
- Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services Tools
- DHCP Server Tools
- DNS Server Tools
- File Services Tools
- Distributed File System Tools
- Share and Storage Management Tools
The other tools in the collection of Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) do not apply to Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. When paying attention you might have already seen some management tools are missing. Kurt Roggen compiled a comprehensive list.
Displaying Administrative Tools
By default a Windows Vista box will not display the Administrative Tools in the Start Menu. When you're comfortable with the Administrative Tools folder being accessible through the Control Panel and the Search field of the Start Menu just use those.
To display the Administrative Tools in the All Programs list and/or on the Start Menu follow the steps below:
- Right-click on the Pearl (Start button) and select Properties from the context menu.
- On the Start Menu tab click the button labeled 'Customize' next to the Start Menu (This menu style gives you easy access to your folders, favorite programs, and search.) radio button.
- scroll all the way down in the list.
- Under the System Administrative Tools header select one of the two other options:
- Display on the All Programs menu
- Display on the All Programs menu and the Start menu
- Press OK to close the Customize Start Menu window
- Press OK to close the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window
Now that we've managed to install the Remote Server Administration Tools package on our Windows Vista management workstation and made the Administrative Tools folder visible where we can reach it with as little as three mouse-clicks, let's dive into the tools I've been using the most in my Server Core environments:
Active Directory Domain Services Tools
The Active Directory Domain Services tools in the Role Administration Tools folder apply to the Active Directory Domain Services Role. It consist of two tools. Only the Active Directory Domain Controller Tools are of interest for a Server Core Domain Controller. Once installed you should find these tools in the Administrative Tools folder of your Windows Vista box:
- Active Directory Domains and Trusts (domain.msc)
- Active Directory Sites and Services (dssite.msc)
- Active Directory Users and Computers (dsa.msc)
- ADSI Edit (adsiedit.msc)
These tools work largely as you would expect them to on Windows XP to administer a Windows Server 2003 environment. (You can even use the tools to administer a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory environment!) There are a few exceptions though:
Group Policy Management Tools
As you may recall installation of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista uninstalls the Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc). This would have been inexcusable if the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) wouldn't provide a better tool. In fact: The Group Policy Management Tools in the Feature Administration Tools folder for the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) provide the successor to our beloved Group Policy Management Console: Group Policy Management (gpmc.msc)
Although this tool's MMC Snap-In name resembles the Group Policy Management Console it is greatly enhanced with the integration of:
The Group Policy Management Tools are a good companion to the Active Directory Domain Services Tools above and can be used in Active Directory environments.
DNS Server Tools
When you install the DNS Server Tools from the Role Administration Tools section of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) you find a new shortcut in your Administrative Tools folder called DNS, which points to dnsmgmt.msc. With this tool you can remotely manage your Server Core DNS Server to your heart's content.
Even though the Remote Management Console isn't all that different to the Management Console in the adminpak.msi for Windows Server 2003 there is one major difference between the DNS Server in Windows Server 2003 and the DNS Server in Windows Server 2008: Full IPv6 integration. The Cable Guy has more information.
DHCP Server Tools
The DHCP Server Tool, called DHCP (dhcpmgmt.msc) also received a IPv6 revamp and is now fully ready to serve both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to clients asking for them. The tool is actually divided into two different DHCP servers you can run (and stop) independently of each other, create and reconcile scopes independently on and can define classes on independently. (Authorization is still handled on the server level though) 2 DHCP servers for the price of own!
When this tool doesn't automatically work in your environment be sure to set the DHCP Server Service to start automatically on your Server Core box. It doesn't do this by default. Use the Services MMC Snap-In remotely (more info here) or type the following commands on the console of your Server Core box
sc \\localhost config DHCPServer start= auto
sc start DHCPServer
File Services Tools
The File Services Tools folder inside the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) contains a lot of interesting tools. When you add the Distributed File System Tools and Share and Storage Management Tools you receive the following new shortcuts in your Administrative Tools folder:
- DFS Management (dfsmgmt.msc)
- Share and Storage Manager (storagemgmt.msc)
The third tool that's listed in the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) regarding File Services is the File Server Resource Manager. Since you can't install the File Server Resource Manager on a Server Core box, this tool cannot be pointed towards a Server Core file server and is therefor useless for managing Server Core boxes.
Share and storage management
The Share and Storage Management MMC Snap-In (storagemgmt.msc) is tool that is only supported to remotely manage Windows Server 2008 and above (can't be used to manage Vista though) and it provides an overview of all the shares and volumes on the server. The Share and Storage Management MMC Snap-In (storagemgmt.msc) provides much more information than the Shared Folders MMC Snap-In inside Computer Management (compmgmt.msc) does and can be seen as its successor.
It's almost a shame this tool is much harder to get working than the Shared Folders Snap-In. This is because of the Volume Management features which requires the Virtual Disk Service (VDS) to be properly configured and some firewall exceptions to be enabled on both the server and your Windows Vista workstation as pointed out here. To accomplish this, type the following command at both boxes:
sc \\localhost config vds start= auto
sc start vds
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="Remote Volume Management" new enabled=yes
The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows Vista add remote Server Core administration functionality to Windows Vista and can be used in that manner, when you know your way around them.
The Tools have some rough edges, some missing functionality (by default mostly) and most of them can't even be used with Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008, but they fulfill my remote administration wishes. When used in conjunction with the tools from Computer Management (compmgmt.msc) as shown here, you too can enjoy the bountiful joys of remote management from the comfort of anywhere you'd like. (in my case: my sunny backyard)
RSAT has been released/freigegeben/解放される/libéré/lanzado
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