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The things that are better left unspoken

a blog by Sander Berkouwer

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Overview of free Server Core configuration tools

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators get the most out of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 installations.

This blog post features free configuration tools and initiatives to develop this kind of tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. You will find both graphical and command line tools to help you configure (some of the) settings in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 lack large portions of the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Most administrators have come to love the GUI over the past years, so configuration of these installation is deemed difficult.

While the Server Core Step-by-step Guide offers tremendous help (and provides help that stays around in the long run) and Microsoft certification exams require scripting knowledge for years, administrators have jumped on configuration tools to:

  • Change the hostname
  • Join a domain or workgroup
  • Provide access to the 2 remaining Control panel applets
  • Configure networking settings
  • Configure firewall settings

Let's look at the tools that are available now, have been publicly available in the past and will be available in the near future:

    

CoreConfigurator

The first tool to appear to help administrators was CoreConfigurator. (back in March 2008)

This graphical tool was designed and coded by Guy Teverovski, a former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and now a Microsoft employee.

This tool was very popular and several versions of the tool were downloaded roughly 35,000 times since Guy released version 1.0.

Version 1.1.5 was the latest version and is arguably the most advanced tool to configure Server Core installations up to date.

Unfortunately Guy was forced to abandon development of his tool due to Intellectual Property issues with his former employer. The tool was pulled from its download location on the Israeli Microsoft Blog website.

I've attached version 1.1.5 to this blogpost.
You can download it here.

Pros Cons
Graphical Tool Needs to be installed before use
Most complete (at the moment) No longer available

      

CoreConfig

Over on CodePlex Andrew Auret and Tony Ison formed the CoreConfigTeam to join forces on writing CoreConfig, a tool to (you guessed it) configure Server Core installations more easily.

The tool is under heavy construction and big steps are being made to achieve the rather ambitious project goals: CoreConfig aims not just to provide the services other tools provide, but to leapfrog the competition with features like Add/Remove Drivers and Add/Remove Shares.

The fact this tool is available in two easy formats (CAB and ISO) to me shows the team has a good strategy. The Cab file can be used for easy installation from USB media, while the ISO can be used in virtual environments and to burn physical media.

Both formats offer file checking when used. They ensure the files are OK when you use them.

The current release is version 17029 and is released under the Microsoft Public License.
You can download it here.

Pros Cons
Source Code available Needs to be installed before use
Available in many formats (ISO) Not a Point & Click interface

 

  

Core Configuration Console

Joachim Nässlander introduced a new tool a few days ago, called Core Configuration Console, or CCC for short. You might already know Joachim Nässlander from nullsession.com and the Microsoft TechNet Forums. He became a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) July 1, 2008

The most appealing aspect of the Core Configuration Console is the fact it is a single batch file: It makes optimum use of the standard tricks up a Server Core's sleeve. Menu Option 6 makes the Core Configuration Console available at launch and functions as its installation mechanism. It may not be as fancy as Guy Teverovski's CoreConfigurator, but is sure gets the job done!

Joachim has been using and tweaking this tool in the last few months. He also showed it at the Windows Server 7 TAP Summit, held in Redmond last week. Joachim is adding functionality to this tool rapidly.

At this moment Core Configuration Console is at version 0.91.
You can download it in ZIP format here and in ISO format here. Instructions here.

Pros Cons
Lightweight Tool Command Line tool
Actively maintained  

         

HVConfig

The latest available tool is Microsofts own HVConfig tool. This tool was released a week ago together with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 and is primarily targeted at making Hyper-V Server 2008 easier to use and a more viable alternative to VMWare's ESXi. HVConfig is supported on Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.

Click to see original sized screenshot

HVConfig is a command line tool, like Joachim's Core Configuration Console (CCC). This may or may not be a showstopper, depending on your view on the command line.

Last week I've shown how to get the files from a Hyper-V Server 2008 installation. I've copied the files from a Hyper-V Server 2008 installation to a compressed folder (zip) for your convenience.

You can download the three files making up the functionality of HVConfig here.
Instructions here.

Pros Cons
Microsoft written tool One version available
Supported on Microsoft forums Command Line tool

         

Concluding

This post contains links to four configuration help tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

All four tools have their pros and cons. I have pretty high standards when it comes to tools on my servers. I see these tools evolving into beautiful, well thought through and functional tools.

Now only if we could see some roadmaps...

Related posts

Making HVConfig work on a normal Server Core installation 
About Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 
My beef with CoreConfigurator 
RIP CoreConfigurator (as we know it) 

Further reading

Server Core Installation Option of Windows Server 2008 Step-By-Step Guide 
CoreConfigurator - MS Israel Community   
Windows Server Core - CoreConfigurator to the rescue ...  
Download Free Windows 2008 Server Core Configurator   
CoreConfigurator clarifications   
Easily Install Active Directory on Windows 2008 Server Core with CoreConfigurator 
Manage WS2008 server core with CoreConfigurator     
Download CoreConfigurator for Server Core   
CoreConfigurator - A GUI for Windows Server 2008 Core edition ... 
Codeplex: Windows 2008 Server Core Configurator (CoreConfig)  
CodePlex Windows 2008 Server Core Configurator Download 
(Another) GUI-based Server Core Configurator    
Windows 2008 Server Core Configurator 
Server Core Configuration tool - now available 
Need a little Windows Server 2008 Server Core help?
Core Configuration Console   
Core Configuration Console 0.91   
Core Configuration Console (CCC) - CLI tool for Win Server 2008 Server Core setup   
FREE: Core Configuration Console (CCC) - basic Server Core setup   
Windows Server 7 TAP Summit    
Windows Server 2008 Core Config   
Windows Server 2008 Core Configurator

Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 10:27 PM by Sander Berkouwer
Attachment(s): CoreConfigurator_1.1.5.zip

Comments

TrackBack said:

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators get the most out of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 installations.

This blog post features free configuration tools and initiatives to develop this kind of tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. You will find both graphical and command line tools to help you configure (some of the) settings in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

# October 15, 2008 12:15 AM

News said:

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators

# October 15, 2008 6:44 AM

TrackBack said:

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators get the most out of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 installations.

This blog post features free configuration tools and initiatives to develop this kind of tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. You will find both graphical and command line tools to help you configure (some of the) settings in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

# October 15, 2008 1:44 PM

TrackBack said:

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators get the most out of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 installations.

This blog post features free configuration tools and initiatives to develop this kind of tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. You will find both graphical and command line tools to help you configure (some of the) settings in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

# October 15, 2008 1:48 PM

TrackBack said:

Since the launch of Windows Server 2008 a lot of configuration tools have been released to help administrators get the most out of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 installations.

This blog post features free configuration tools and initiatives to develop this kind of tools for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008.

You will find both graphical and command line tools to help you configure (some of the) settings in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008.

# October 19, 2008 12:21 PM

TrackBack said:

A very nice list of free tools to configure Win 2008 core edition.

Very usefull.
# October 19, 2008 12:21 PM

TrackBack said:

Nachdem Guy Teverovsky seine Version des Core Configurators nicht mehr zur Verfügung stellt, habe ich mich auf die Suche gemacht und eine Alternative zur Configuration von Windows Server 2008 Core gefunden: CoreConfig von CodePlex

Ein Nachtrag: hier gibt es noch die Möglichkeit den ursprünglichen CoreConfigurator zu bekommen und auch etwas zu den Hintergründen, warum das Tool nicht mehr angeboten wird. 

Zugegeben, nicht ganz so elegant wie Guy Tool, aber eine enorme Erleichterung um seinen Server Core zu administrieren und nicht jede Zeile Code in die Commandline einzugeben.

# October 20, 2008 2:07 AM

Nullsession said:

Hi!

Released version 0.91 today, the previous version was 0.9. Some of the new features are screen resolution, windows update and firewall mgmt.

If you have the time, please update your comparison chart. See you in Barcelona in November? Send me an email if you're going.

# October 21, 2008 10:00 AM

Sander Berkouwer said:

Hi Joachim,

Nice to hear from you in a comment! I've checked out the new version and I like it a lot. The new ISO format is easy in virtual deployments.

You've got mail! Yes

# October 21, 2008 1:51 PM

TrackBack said:

I have been working with server core for about a month now.  The first thing you will notice about server core is that there really is no GUI interface.  Like most administrators we tend to get a little lazy and don’t keep up with all the command line statements to get simple tasks done.  Thankfully there are other administrators out there that realize this.  So they create nice little programs that help us command line challenged people in our daily job.  Below are the links to the GUI configurators that I am aware of.  I have also included a couple blog posts that go into detail on some of these tools.
# October 28, 2008 1:48 AM

TrackBack said:

Nachdem Guy Teverovsky seine Version des Core Configurators nicht mehr zur Verfügung stellt, habe ich mich auf die Suche gemacht und eine Alternative zur Configuration von Windows Server 2008 Core gefunden: CoreConfig von CodePlex

Ein Nachtrag: hier gibt es noch die Möglichkeit den ursprünglichen CoreConfigurator zu bekommen und auch etwas zu den Hintergründen, warum das Tool nicht mehr angeboten wird. 
Hier der direkte Link zum Download.

Zugegeben, nicht ganz so elegant wie Guy Tool, aber eine enorme Erleichterung um seinen Server Core zu administrieren und nicht jede Zeile Code in die Commandline einzugeben.

# October 28, 2008 1:48 AM

The things that are better left unspoken said:

I remember pretty well when Guy Teverovsky shared his CoreConfigurator tool, to help Server Core Systems Administrators. Now Smart-X brought his tool back to life.

# December 20, 2008 3:22 AM

baryt said:

I've installed Windows server Core a couple of times.
Until now I've been using only the Core Configurator.

Now I think I'll check the rest.
Actually, yesterday I installed the CodePlex one but didn't get the time to sit on it properly.

By the way - The core Configurator 1.0.39(the one before 1.1.5 has several bugs(i.e can't update the DG in network configurations).

Thanks again.

Hoping for updates.

Bary

# January 2, 2009 12:45 AM

Sander Berkouwer said:

Hi Bary,

Thanx for your reply!

The folks over at Smart-X acknowledge the bugs in version 1.0.39 (without being specific though) and use version 1.1.5 as the basis for the official Smart-X CoreConfigurator tool. I've done a review of the Smart-X tool here.

# January 4, 2009 3:40 AM

baryt said:

I wanna understand something...

I can actually download the Hyper-v tool(that is basically used for the Hyper-v server) and use in the in 2008 Core version?

By the way - I opened a blog at www.windowseven.net.

I'd love to cooperate with you on several common stuff.

# January 5, 2009 12:43 AM

Sander Berkouwer said:

I can actually download the Hyper-v tool(that is basically used for the Hyper-v server) and use in the in 2008 Core version?

Yes, you can.
Instructions can be found here.

# January 5, 2009 10:14 AM

The things that are better left unspoken said:

Smart-X, the Israel-based company behind CoreConfigurator and former employer of Guy Teverovsky has released

# January 26, 2009 3:16 PM

The things that are better left unspoken said:

I just realized I like Smart-X CoreConfigurator a lot . This is not just due to the improving quality

# February 21, 2009 7:00 AM

TrackBack said:

Před časem psal Martin Pavlis na svém blogu o Server Core Configurator. Před chvílí jsem objevil další nástroj, s docela pohnutou minulostí, který na první pohled pokrývá ještě víc úkonů. Název je obdobný – Core Configurator. Free je však pouze pro nekomerční použití, pro komerční 99 USD. K dispozici je PDF manuál, instalace v ZIPu i v ISO formátu. A hlavně se zdá, že se produkt aktivně vyvíjí, jsou odstraňovány nalezené chyby.

Další dva nástroje CCC a HVConfig mne již tak nenadchly, porovnání všech čtyř utilit k určitému datu se nachází na tomhle výborném blogu.

# March 17, 2009 4:09 PM
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