Windows Small Business Server 2011 : Installing the Second Server (part 1) - Installation and Initial Configuration - Installation

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1. Minimum System Requirements

There are no special requirements for installing the second server that make it different from installing any other version of Windows Server 2008 R2. Your minimum requirements and steps remain the same. The official minimum requirements are shown in Table 1, along with our commentary on those requirements and suggested real-world minimums.

Table 1. Table Minimum system requirements for second server
Processor1.4 GHz, single core2 GHz or greater is more realistic, and at least two cores.
RAM512 Mb1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM is a more realistic minimum; 2 GB is recommended. For Server Core, 1 GB of RAM is normally sufficient for typical infrastructure workloads.
Disk32 GBNo less than 60 GB of hard disk space on the system drive, please. And if your server has more than 16 GB of RAM, increase the minimum to at least 50 GB.
Optical DriveDVD-ROMIf no optical drive is available, a bootable USB flash drive can be used for installation.
Video800 x 6001024 x 768 is a more realistic minimum. Some screens will be difficult to use at a resolution below 1024 x 768.
OtherKeyboard and mouse 
NetworkNot requiredWho are they kidding? A supported network card is required for joining a domain or almost anything you’ll want to do with Windows Server 2008 R2.
Notice what is not on the list of required hardware—a floppy drive! Beginning with Windows Server 2008, we can get rid of the floppy requirement, even if we need to load drivers for our hard disk controller. Drivers can now be loaded from CD or DVD, from a USB flash drive, or from floppy disk.

64-Bit and Signed Drivers

As you’ve seen for installing the main SBS server, signed 64-bit drivers are required for Windows Server 2008 R2. This requirement means that you must do your homework and make sure that your vendors provide full support for their hardware in Windows Server 2008 R2. Although the initial response from even major vendors to the need for signed 64-bit drivers was slower than we’d have hoped, there is no issue with current server hardware and 64-bit. If you need to use legacy hardware cards or peripherals that aren’t part of the server you ordered from your server vendor, be sure to verify the availability of a supported, signed driver for that hardware card or peripheral before installing Windows Server 2008 R2. Remember, you have the option of downgrading to the 32-bit version of Windows Server 2008 if it is more appropriate for your environment.

Of course, if a driver isn’t available, choose a vendor that does have a driver to retain all the advantages that 64-bit provides. Personally, we chose to change hardware vendors when we found deficiencies in 64-bit driver support. And we told our old hardware vendors exactly why we dropped them, too.

2. Installation and Initial Configuration

Installation and configuration of Windows Server 2008 R2 has changed significantly from the process we’re all more or less familiar with from Windows Server 2003. There are far fewer steps required to actually begin the installation, with hardly any input required from the user. You don’t even need to enter a Product ID (PID). Eventually, you’ll have to enter the PID before you can activate the server, but a lot of steps that used to be required before the installation process would begin have now been moved to the initial configuration stage.

UNDER THE HOOD: PID-less Installs

Windows Server 2008 R2 normally requires you to enter a PID for installation. But you can simply skip entering the PID and then you’ll have to select exactly which version of Windows Server 2008 R2 you’re installing. You’ll get a couple of extra prompts and warnings, but if you only want to run a demonstration or evaluation environment for 30 days or fewer, just skip entering the PID. You’ll have a fully functional Windows Server 2008 R2 installation for those 30 days.

If you decide to convert a server installed without a PID to a fully activated Windows Server 2008 R2 server, you need to enter a PID for the exact same version of Windows Server 2008 R2 that you said you were installing when you initially installed. That means if you used retail media to install the server, you must provide a retail key. If you used the SBS 2008 media, you use the key provided with SBS 2008. You can’t change which version is installed without completely reinstalling Windows Server 2008 R2.

To enter a product key for a server installed without a PID, use the slmgr.vbs -ipk command.

2.1. Installation

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 from standard distribution media onto a clean server with no operating system on it requires just seven screens at the very beginning, and the entire rest of the installation will complete without further interruption. You don’t need to enter any network information, computer name, domain name, or other information except the actual PID associated with the installation and the language to install.

Use the following steps to install Windows Server 2008 R2 onto a bare server using standard DVD media:

  1. Turn on the server, and immediately insert the Windows Server 2008 R2 DVD for the Windows Server 2008 architecture you want to install. If the primary hard disk hasn’t got a bootable operating system on it, you’ll go directly into the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation process. If the disk has a bootable operating system on it, you might be prompted with Press Any Key To Boot From CD Or DVD. If you are, press a key.

  2. When the initial Install Windows page appears, shown in Figure 1, select the language and other regional settings to use for this installation.

    Figure 1. The initial page of the Install Windows Wizard

  3. Click Next to open the page shown in Figure 2. From here, you can choose to repair a corrupted Windows Server 2008 R2 installation, or get additional information before installing.

    Figure 2. The Install Now page of the Install Windows Wizard

  4. Click Install Now to open the Type Your Product Key For Activation page of the Install Windows Wizard as shown in Figure 3. (If you’re installing a volume license version of Windows Server 2008 R2, you won’t see this screen.)

    Figure 3. The Type Your Product Key For Activation page of the Install Windows Wizard

  5. Type in a product key for this installation of Windows Server 2008 R2.

  6. Leave the Automatically Activate Windows When I’m Online check box selected unless you need to control when activation occurs.

  7. Click Next to open the Select The Operating System You Want To Install page of the Install Windows Wizard as shown in Figure 4. If you’re installing a version that allows you to enter a product key, you’ll only see a list of versions that match the product key you entered.

    Figure 4. The Select The Operating System You Want To Install page of the Install Windows Wizard

  8. Select either a Full Installation or a Server Core Installation. This selection is irrevocable—you can’t change an installation at a later time from Full to Server Core, or from Server Core to Full.

  9. Click Next to open the Please Read The License Terms page. Select I Accept The License Terms. You don’t have a choice—either accept them or the installation terminates.

  10. Click Next to open the Which Type Of Installation Do You Want page, and select Custom (Advanced) to open the Where Do You Want To Install Windows page shown in Figure 5.

    Figure 5. The Where Do You Want To Install Windows? page of the Install Windows Wizard

  11. The first disk on your computer will be highlighted. You can select any disk shown, or if the disk you want to install on isn’t displayed, you can load any required driver at this point by clicking Load Driver. Clicking Drive Options (Advanced) will give you additional options to repartition or format the selected drive.

  12. When you’ve selected the drive to install on, click Next and the installation will begin. You won’t be prompted again until the installation completes and you’re prompted for a password for the Administrator account.

UNDER THE HOOD: Drive Options

The default selected drive when you’re installing an SBS second server is the first drive as enumerated by the BIOS. You can change the selection if the drive you want isn’t selected, or add drivers for additional controllers if the drive you want isn’t visible. For those familiar with earlier versions of Windows, you’ll be glad to know that Windows Server 2008 R2 finally adds support for something besides a floppy drive for loading storage drivers during installation! As shown in Figure 6, you can load drivers from floppy, from CD or DVD, or from a USB flash drive.

Figure 6. Windows Server 2008 R2 supports loading storage drivers from floppy disk, optical drive, or USB drive

If you need to change partitions on a drive, format it, or even extend it to add additional space, just click Drive Options (Advanced) to display additional options for managing and configuring your disks during installation, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Advanced drive options are available during installation of Windows Server 2008 R2

New in SBS 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is the ability to extend existing partitions, even during the installation process. Although this isn’t a feature that matters in completely new installations, it can be a useful feature when you’re recycling a computer. You can extend a partition onto available unallocated space on the same disk.


If you need to open a command window during the installation process, just press Shift+F10. Now you can manually run Diskpart.exe or any other tool available at this point in the process to manually load a driver or fine-tune partitioning.

When the installation completes, Windows Server 2008 R2 will restart and proceed to the logon screen. You’ll need to enter a new password for the Administrator account, as shown in Figure 8, and then log on to the new server.

Figure 8. Setting the initial password for the Administrator account

When you log on, you’ll see the Initial Configuration Tasks (ICT) Wizard, shown in Figure 9, which makes the initial setup of your new server easy.

Figure 9. The Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard for Windows Server 2008 R2

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