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July 2, 2007 / Steve Rosa

Windows Server 2008 Core – Installation and Initial Configuration

In this post, I will focus on the Core version of Windows Server 2008.

More particularly, we will see:

  • the installation of the OS
  • the activation of the OS
  • the renaming of the server
  • how to set a password on the local Administrator account
  • how to join the server to a domain

I recommend you reading the Server Core Installation Option of Windows Server “Longhorn” Step-By-Step Guide for detailed information on how to setup/configure Windows Server Core. You can find the document here.

OK, so now let’s start. First of all the installation. As usual, the process is quite straightforward. Boot from the DVD, select the keyboard type


Click Install now:


Select the Server Core edition of Windows Server 2008:


Accept the license agreement:


As we are doing a fresh install, let’s go for the custom type:


Then we select the partition on which we want to install Server Core:


The installation is ongoing:


When the installation is over, we are welcomed by the usual screen:


Important to know: the local administrator account has no password set after the Server Core installation.

So for the first logon, we just need to specify the Administrator account without password:


After the logon, we are greeted by the command prompt:


Now that the OS is installed, we need to activate the license. To do so, first make sure that the server is connected to Internet, as the activation process requires connectivity to Microsoft Activation servers.

Then, we can invoke the slmgr.vbs script (more info here):


We even receive a confirmation pop-up:


During the installation of Server Core, the setup assigns some random computer name to the server. In my case, the name of the server was LH-BE9610E35DZJ, not really funny ;). So I decided to change this to something more inline with my naming convention.

I used the command netdom renamecomputer in order to rename my server to SRO-LH-02 (SRO-LH-01 being my DC, DNS and DHCP server).


Now, let’s (try to) secure our server a bit by setting a password on the local administrator account. To do this, we can use the command net user administrator *:


The following step is to configure the network settings. When installed, Server Core is configured to use DHCP. The current DHCP-assigned IP address of the server is (the DHCP server leases address from to 200).

Let’s change this so that we have:

  • static IP address:
  • subnet mask:
  • default gateway: none
  • DNS server: (we aboslutely need the DNS resolution as we will later on join the server to our domain)

First, we need to determine the index of the network card. To do this, we use the command netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces. In our example, we can see that the Local Area Connection is on Index 2.

Then we use the appropriate netsh command to set the static IP address, subnet mask and default gateway:


A little check with ipconfig:


Setting the DNS server on the interface requires the use of another netsh command:


Finally, let us join the server to our SRO-LH.local Active Directory. The command netdom join allows us to do so:


After the reboot, we are finished so far.


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