Getting started with managing Server Core

Perhaps the best starting point for managing a Server Core system is the new "cli" option for the SCREGEDIT. WSF script. The exact command is: cscript scregedit.wsf /cli.

Many administrators will most likely manage their Server Core systems by firing up an MMC console on a "full" server, or a workstation equipped with the Administrative Tools, and simply connect to the Server Core system (usually by right-clicking the topmost mode in the console and choosing "Connect To" or some similar command). Using this technique, I tried the Computer Management console, the Event Viewer, and the DNS console, and they all seemed to work fine. Windows Explorer also worked remotely.

Note that to manage Server Core remotely using MMC consoles and snap-ins, you must open the firewall on the Server Core system to permit remote management.)

Even though you can use existing MMC consoles remotely, that's not the only way to manage and configure Server Core roles. Command-line tools exist for some services. For example, you may be familiar with the DNSCMD tool for configuring DNS at the command line in a Windows Server 2003 environment. That tool is also present in Server Core and may be used just as you used it in the older Server product.

You can also manage Server Core remotely using the Windows Remote Management service (WinRM on the server side, WinRS on the client side) that made its debut with Windows Vista. This requires Windows Vista or Server 2008 on the client side; Windows XP won't work. Also, WinRM management is not interactive, so using Terminal Service Remote Administration mode (Remote Desktop) or even Telnet may be more convenient. Just be aware that activating these may reduce the overall security of the box. For example, to use Remote Desktop, you need to enable the Remote Desktop inbound rule in the firewall.

Finally, don't forget about Group Policy. Server Core includes a functioning Group Policy agent capability. I placed my test Server Core system into a special OU, created a Group Policy Object that I linked to that OU, and voila - the settings made it to the Server Core system. If you are planning to test multiple Server Core systems, this may be more convenient than making settings on each system individually using MMC consoles.

So, you have various options for managing the software on a Server Core system. From the hardware standpoint, you can manage installation of new devices by manually installing the driver files and instructing Plug and Play to process them by using the PNPUTIL program.

See Recent Posts:

A step by step on how to add a role to Server Core

How to get started with Server Core in WS2008

What you can and cannot do in Server Core

Server Core - A minimalist approach to managing WS2008

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)