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Windows Server Reference Guide

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Running Windows Server 2003 Setup

Last updated Sep 26, 2003.

To install Windows Server 2003 on a computer that doesn’t have an operating system installed, you have three options:

  • Set the computer's CMOS to boot from the optical drive (CD-ROM / DVD-ROM), then load the Setup disc into that drive before you start.
  • Boot the computer using a recovery disc in the optical drive or using a diskette (if the computer's old enough to still have one of those), where the recovery diskette includes drivers for network access. Then run Setup by pointing the computer to a copy of the Setup files elsewhere on the network—for instance, a shared device such as a storage network or shared optical drive. A WS2K3 startup diskette might work in a pinch, though it will try to start the operating system on the boot partition that isn't there yet, before failing over to the command prompt.
  • The alternative direction is to use an existing computer to "push" the Setup files to the new server installation. You can use the Remote Installation Services (RIS) to download an image from elsewhere on the network to the new system.

System Settings

The Windows Server 2003 Setup program installs the operating system and configures as many of the devices on the computer as it can. However, once that program has done its work, you may have additional configuration work to do to make the best use of your computer’s hardware. These configuration tasks fall into three main areas:

  • User preferences. These settings are stored on a per-user basis in the user’s profile. User preferences include settings such as the desktop colors, the location of the Taskbar, print settings, and mapped network drive letters. Users can make changes to their own user preferences without affecting other users of the computer.
  • System settings. These settings—virtual memory settings and the like—affect all users of a computer. Only administrators can change system settings.
  • Device drivers. These software components provide the interface between WS2K3 and hardware devices such as printers or network adapters. Only administrators can install, remove, or configure device drivers.

Disk Configuration

Normally, WS2K3 would be installed as the only operating system on a server. If that’s your plan, format the first partition of the first hard disk as NTFS, and install the OS there. After Setup is complete, you can create additional disk partitions or volumes using the Disk Management tool in Computer Management.

In the past, admins used to recommend FAT or FAT32 for the system and boot partitions, on the basis that you could always boot from the floppy to repair your installation if anything went wrong. But WS2K3 contains significantly more files and takes up more space than NT 4.0 or Windows 2000. Using FAT on these volumes wastes a tremendous amount of space. With the recovery console, you can reboot your system and access all the files in your installation. You could use FAT32, but NTFS comes with the capability of setting access control lists (ACLs) on key files, file-level journaling for recovery, file and folder compression, and file and folder encryption.

How big should the boot partition be? Although 1 GB is the recommended minimum, you’re better off using at least 10 GB. It’s not like disk space is expensive these days. You’ll need even more room in the boot partition if the server will be a domain controller in a large domain or if it has a large amount of RAM, which will require frequent paging to disk (virtual memory).

Network Configuration

You must know the manufacturer and model number of the computer's network interface card. Chances are that WS2K3 will recognize your card(s), but if not, you could be in for a world of hurt. If you're installing to a virtual machine, that problem's taken care of for you; VS2005 is capable of convincing a VM that it's running an ordinary Intel NIC. Also, you should know which other network protocols may be needed for the server to communicate with the rest of the network—for instance, NetBIOS. TCP/IP is installed by default, and is required for Active Directory.

You also need to know the TCP/IP settings that are required to communicate successfully on your network: IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, the addresses of your DNS and (if you use them) WINS servers. By default, WS2K3 acquires the computer's IP address dynamically from a DHCP server. That’s fine for a pilot migration unit, but it’s probably not a good idea for production. It’s more likely that you’ll want to use a static IP address for all your servers. That way, if the DHCP server goes on strike, the rest of your servers won’t join it.

Identity and Roleplaying

During Setup you’ll need to provide a name for your computer, its domain or workgroup name, whether it will be a standalone or a member server, and its administrative password. You’ll also be asked whether to use per-seat or per-server licensing. Don’t know? Choose per-server; you can always change to per-seat later if you blew it.

You’ll be prompted to choose the server role that this system will play, in order for the Configure Your Server Wizard (a concept which could only have been conceived by Microsoft) to determine which software components to install. Any services not installed here can be added later, after Setup finishes, using the Manage Your Server Wizard. Both wizards consolidate configuration tools and features into one place, enabling administrators to set up and manage profiles for one or more servers. Server roles are initially created by using the Configure Your Server Wizard, which allows administrators to assign server roles at setup. The Manage Your Server Wizard then lets administrators change profiles to adapt to the server's evolving role.

Server roles cover all aspects of server management from print and file services to streaming media and remote access. You can also combine roles; on small networks, for example, many servers are used for file, print, and DHCP services. You specify the appropriate roles and answer a few questions; Setup does the rest. A complete description of the roles currently offered by the Configure Your Server Wizard appears here.

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