In this first part of the build guide series we look at building a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 server. Whilst installing the basic operating system on a server is fairly straightforward it is as good a place as any to start as we lay the foundations for the rest of our infrastructure.

In future parts of this series we will look at automating this install as much as possible, after all, we want our time spent on working with the awesome technologies available out there instead of installing servers all day now don’t we J.

So lets get this party started!

Setting up

If you are installing a physical server chances are it came with a “smart start” CD or DVD which will run you through a number of steps configuring your server and launch the installation of windows. Using this media to start the setup of windows injects the required drivers straight into the installation process and saves you the effort of getting the drivers installed after the initial installation has been completed.

As you might have noticed I’m running this build guide from a VMWare esx host so that’s slightly different in regards that I’m running the install in a virtual machine and will be installing the optimized VMBus drivers afterwards.

So how about you insert that DVD or mount that ISO and we get on with this guide!

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Right after you install boots you’ll be presented with the above screen. What you choose here will impact the rest of your server lifetime as the defaults would be set to these values.  In my case I’d be changing the values to the following:

  • ·         English
  • ·         English (united kingdom)
  • ·         UK

And click next

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Not much to say here,  Install now is your only option to continue the install…

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Once you’ve chosen to continue with the install Windows setup will present you with the above screen where it is doing some “in the background loading” magic!

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The following screen you’ll be presented with is very critical. Get this choice wrong and you’ll have to reinstall your server… You’ll be presented with different choices between Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter edition (core and full installation).

The main difference you would have is that a standard installation is your normal run of the mill version with nothing fancy,

Enterprise adds clustering support and Datacenter supports larger environments with more memory and CPU power.

The most notable choice here is if you want to install a full installation or a core installation. A core installation is very limited in most of its options as you only get a command prompt to manage your server. You can manage it with GUI tools from other machines after you configure it, has a smaller disk and memory footprint as well as a smaller attack surface.

However I would say it is not worth the effort and headache of the added administration difficulties so stick with the full installation if you can… Once you selected the right version for your install (typically the standard option) click next.

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And get presented with the ever standard “Accept our license or don’t use our software!” screen. Feel free to read through the text (in theory you should) and check the “I accept the license terms” checkbox. Click next…

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If you’re trying to upgrade a previous version you can use the upgrade button here but typically you’ll be using the “custom (advanced)” option.

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As always you’ll need to select a disk you want to install the operating system to. If you have a number of formatted or partitioned disks already in place you can use the “Drive Options” to format, delete or change partitioning.

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Once you have selected disk to install and click next windows will start installing. Get a cup of coffee, a smoke or something to kill the time because the unpacking and setting up of the image 2008 uses might take a while.

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Throughout the installation setup will initiate a number of restarts, nothing to be alarmed about but be aware…

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Once the installer performs the reboot  you’ll see this screen where the registry gets setup for use followed by a screen informing you “Setup is starting services”

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After this last one the installer will be in its final fase and the installation of your brand sparkling new windows 2008 server is almost complete.

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But first:

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Another reboot J

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And if you get through that reboot with issues (you shouldn’t get any for the record) you’ll be prompted to change the password of the administrator account. By default this has no value and security dictates you use a strong password here (alphanumerical, capitals, special signs,…)

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And once you changed your password you’ll be presented with the “initial configuration tasks” screen.

Congratulations ! You have just completed the basic install of a windows server!

Fortunately the story does not end here. Having this server installed will not give it any use before you do a number of other tasks:

  • ·         Set up an IP address (for network connectivity)
  • ·         Activate windows (To avoid the pesky “Not genuine” messages)
  • ·         Give it a computer name
  • ·         Update the server
  • ·         Join it to the domain once it has been updated.


A number of these tasks will require you to reboot the server once again to get changed properly.

On networking

Whilst it is a bit of a discussion point, you can actually disable the IP v6 safely. Unfortunately removing the bind from the network card is not enough and you need to dig into the register to do this…

  1. Open the start menu
  2. Click on run
  3. Type in regedit and hit enter
  4. Now navigate to H_K_Local_machine
  5. Expand system
  6. Expand currentcontrolset
  7. Expand services
  8. Expand tcpip6
  9. Expand parameters
  10. Create a new DWORD key named DisabledComponents
  11. Enter a value of 0xffffffff (that’s 8 times f)
  12. Reboot the server

Note that setting this value disables all IP v6 components. It is safe to do if you are consistent on ALL your servers. Don’t do it on an SBS server as it will end up breaking the SBS installation!

For more information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/92985

*Update 05/12/2011*
Based on the following information I'm going to take a stand and disadvise disabling IPv6. I know for one that the MS Exchange services require IPv6 and cause problems if you haven't disabled them as stated above.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.07.cableguy.aspx

Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks

That’s the end for this build guide. Obviously having a configured server is not going to get you very far but it is a start! More build guides will be coming soon that continue on this build!