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Archive for the ‘Server Core’ Category

Windows Server Core 2012 R2 Remote Management

Posted by Alan McBurney on October 8, 2013

In my last blog post I added certificate services to a server core installation.

Well as it turns out after some more hands on with server core I did it the hard way as Server 2012 brings with it a new level of remote or headlesss management.

When I first got this up and running I was pretty blown away by the experience.

What I’m going to walk though in this blog post are the configuration steps that are required in order to get remote management of the server core installation up and running via a dedicated management server.

In this lab I have 2 Windows 2012 R2 Servers

  • 1 Server Core
  • 1 GUI

I’m not going to include the steps that are required in order to get the VM’s installed.
I’m going to pick this up from the point that the installation is complete.

Once Server Core has been installed and you have created your admin password and logged in. The first thing to do is fire up SConfig in order to set:

  • Server Name
  • IP Address\Subnet Mask
  • DNS Servers
  • Remote Desktop


Running sconfig from the command prompt brings up the screen as below and allows basic server setup options to be configured


Select Option 2 and enter a computer name for the server. This requires a reboot once complete

Once the server comes backup and your logged back in run sconfig again and this time choose option 8 in order to set the IP Adresss, Subnet mask, Default Gateway and DNS Servers

Once complete that’s about all that needs done on the server core installation.

We can now switch over to the Management Server.

Configure this server up in the normal way, setting:

  • IP Address\Subnet Mask
  • Default Gateway
  • DNS Server
  • Server Name

Reboot the server and get logged back in.

As we are still to configure a domain we are effectively in a workgroup.
And as there is no domain there is no DNS for name resolution.

To work around these issues there are few steps that need to be taken.

  1. Add a host file entry for the DC on th emanagement server
  2. Add the would be Domain Controller to the trusted hosts file on the management server

Lets go ahead and take care of the easy task of assining the Domain Controller ServerName to the management servers host file

Open Notepad as administrator and then open:


Add an entry for the domain controller similar to that below


Close the file and test name resolution via ping.
We won’t get a ping response due to the Firewall on Quarkalbs-DC01 but thats not the point. The point here is to test name resolution.


Now that name resolution is functional for QuarkLabs-DC01 the next step is to add the server to the trusted hosts file on the management server

Open PowerShell and run the following command

Set-Item WSMAN:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts quarklabs-dc01 -force


All items are now set and we can go back to the Server Manager Dashboard on the management server and add our remote server

From Server Manager choose Add other server to manage


Select DNS and add the remote server


Click OK and wait for a moment while the remote server is added.

The server count should have increased from the dashboard


Open All Servers and be sure that the recently added server is now present


The server can now be managed via the management server like any normal server.

That wraps it up for this post. In the next post I’ll configure and promote the server to be a domain controller all via the management server.



Posted in Active Directory, Server 2012 R2, Server Core, Windows Servers | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Install Certificate Services on Server 2012 Core

Posted by Alan McBurney on July 24, 2013

I’m finally getting the time to focus more and more on Windows Server 2012.

With Server 2012 I’m running Domain Controllers as server core installations.

My reasoning for running DC’s using core is as follows:

  • No additional software can be installed on the server. Domain Controllers are Domain Controllers are Domain Controllers.
  • With server core installations admins generally don’t log onto the server unless they are comfortable with the command line and Shell and even then they only log on typically when something needs to be changed with the configuration.
  • Surface area is greatly reduced as there are limited binaries installed.
  • Memory is also minimal. My server core installs are running with 512MB RAM
  • Disk requirements are reduced

All of the above in my opinion leads to a more stable system.
On the downside though it takes a bit more work to get things up and running.

Getting Certificate Services up and running on the server core installation was pretty easy.

Once logged onto the server I run PowerShell from the cmd line and then Import-Module ServerManager


Next is to add the Active Directory Certificate Services & Certification Authority roles

Add-WindowsFeature AD-Certificate, ADCS-Cert-Authority

A reboot is required after installation.

After the comes has rebooted we can check that the features have been installed by running

Get-WindowsFeature | Where Installed


We now need to configure the Certificate Authority. To do this we need a bit of code that Microsoft has handily already provided here

Copy the code into notepad on the server core installation and save to a  location on the disk.
(I RDP to my server core installation and therefore can paste the clipboard contents from my desktop to the server core console.)

Final piece of the configuration is to run the SetupCA.vbs fiile using the following parameters

cscript SetupCA.vbs /IE


Once installed I can now manage the CA from any workstation or  server running RSAT.


Posted in Certificate Authority, Certificates, PowerShell, Server Core, Windows Server 2012 | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »