Configuring Windows Server Core 2012

How can I configure Server Core 2012?

Server Core is the default installation option in Windows Server 2012, but many will choose the full GUI because it’s easier to configure and manage. In this article, I’ll show you how to set basic configuration parameters in Server Core so that you can get it up and running quickly, and take advantage of the small footprint and reduced attack surface.

Rename Server Core

Once Server Core has installed, log on with the local administrator account and run the following command in the console: sconfig

Configuring Server Core 2012: server configuration console

The first task is to give the server a useful name. You can see in the figure above that a name has been automatically generated, but it doesn’t have any meaning on my network or help me to identify the server. To change the server’s name, do the following.

  • Type 2 in the Server Configuration console window and press Enter. 
  • Now type a new name for the server and press Enter again.
  • Click OK in the dialog to restart the server.

Network settings

  • Assign the server a static IP address.
  • Open the Server Configuration console again by typing sconfig.
  • Choose Network Settings (8) and press Enter. 

You’ll see a list of network adapters and corresponding index numbers. Choose the network adapter that you want to configure by typing its index number and pressing Enter. Usually the index number is 12, but this can vary.

  • Choose Set Network Adapter Address (1).
  • To change from automatic DHCP configuration to a static IP address, choose (S)tatic and press Enter.
  • Now type the static IP address you want to assign to the adapter and press Enter.
  • Do the same for the network subnet mask and default gateway.
  • Now choose the Set DNS Severs (2) option.
  • In this example I’m going to set the preferred DNS server to a domain controller, so that I can join Server Core to my domain, and the secondary DNS server will be left empty.
  • Choose Return to the Main Menu (4).

Join Server Core to a domain

Sconfig doesn’t allow us to join Server Core to a domain. To do that, start PowerShell from the command line console:

  • Type PowerShell and press Enter.
  • Now type Add-Computer –DomainName, replacing with the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of your domain.
  • When prompted, type the username and password in the pop-up dialog of a user that has permission to add devices to your domain.
  • You’ll then be prompted in the PowerShell console to restart the server. Type shutdown /r and press Enter to restart the server.