Installing Server 2008

Last month, I decided to take the plunge and install Windows Server 2008 on my Dell SC1425, and the first thing that involved was checking whether my hardware was going to support the new operating system. That’s what I described in last month’s column, using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Solution (MAPS) Accelerator (if you missed that, it’s issue 165 you’re after). Suffice to say, my hardware was pronounced fit for purpose, so this month I’m going to start the installation preparation in earnest. Does that mean I’m just going to just lob in the DVD, run it up the flag-pole and see who salutes? Not on your life. I intend to do it properly, step by step, and I’m going to tell you all about each step as I do it. This brings several advantages, not least of which is that I actually get paid to write it, but also reading the documentation that accompanies Windows Server 2008 has convinced me that this is definitely not a “suck it and see” sort of OS.

Installing Server 2008

My first step was to check the system requirements. The hardware check had told me that what I have is okay for purpose, but it makes sense to also compare what’s regarded as acceptable with what Microsoft regards as optimal, since those of us with long teeth know these are rarely the same thing. Here are the recommended specs:

Processor: minimum 1GHz; recommended 2GHz; optimal 3GHz

Memory (RAM): minimum 512MB; recommended 1GB; optimal 2GB (full install); 1GB (core installation, more on that later)

Maximum memory supported:

Windows Server 2008 Standard: 4GB (32-bit); 32GB (64-bit)

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter 64GB (32-bit); 1TB (64-bit)

Disk space: minimum 8GB; recommended 40GB (full installation); 10GB (server core installation); optimal 80GB (full installation); 40GB (server core installation)

My Dell had 1GB RAM and a couple of 75GB hard disks, but I was looking at installing several server roles for testing, so I was going to be in the Recommended rather than Optimal zone. This suits me fine, since it tends to highlight why you might wish to be closer to Optimal, and you can then report on the upgrade, plus it’s more “real world” because how often in reality do you run on “optimal” kit all the time?

There are a whole bunch of installation options for this operating system, including all sorts of fancy stuff with unattended installs, scripts coming out your ears, deployment servers and so on. I was aiming for something a little less glamorous, a manual approach by lobbing in the DVD and following the onscreen instructions. I restarted the Dell and selected the option to boot off the DVD, after which I was presented with the opportunity to specify language, currency, time and keyboard setups – I was really pleased to see that when I selected English (United Kingdom) for time and currency the keyboard setting automatically changed to UK, too. I know it’s a minor improvement, but I always used to find it highly irritating when my language preference was effectively ignored, so thanks for that guys and gals.

After clicking on Next, the first thing you’ll see is a large button in the middle of the installation dialog that says: “Install now”. The bit that made me smile is that there’s a big arrow on it pointing toward the right, because I couldn’t help wondering whether the Hebrew setup has a similar big button saying: “Install now” in Hebrew but with an arrow pointing to the left. Other than this big button, the only options on the dialog are two links entitled “What to know before installing Windows” (a sort of desperate final attempt to reach those people who really won’t read the manual) and the other labelled “Repair your computer”. My computer was just fine, so I wasn’t sufficiently curious to follow that link, but I’ll take a look at it another time to see what it actually does.

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