Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Before you install Windows Server 2003 on a computer, particularly in cases where you are creating a new network infrastructure, you should create a map of what your network is going to look like. In particularly, you should outline the servers and other resource devices, such as printers, that will provide your network clients with services.

The role that a particular server will fill on the network should be determined long before you install the network operating system. The server's role, such as a domain controller (domain controllers are discussed later in this chapter) or a file server, will not only dictate the server's hardware configuration, but will also dictate the configuration of that server (and the services that it provides). We discuss server roles later in this chapter. Another important aspect of installing the network operating system is making sure that your server hardware is adequate to run the NOS and is also compatible with the Windows NOS.

Hardware Issues

Windows Server 2003 requires a minimum hardware configuration to run. As with all softwareparticularly network operating systemsthe more you exceed the minimum requirements in areas such as RAM, processor speed, and hard drive space, the faster the server supplies services to network users and the greater the number of roles one server can fill on the network. (For example, a server could be a domain controller and could provide the DNS and DHCP services.)

Microsoft's suggested minimum hardware requirements (and some Microsoft recommendations) for Windows Server 2003 (Standard) are listed here:

  • CPU speed: 133MHz (550MHz recommended)

  • RAM: 128MB (256MB recommended; 4GB maximum on Standard Server)

  • Disk space for setup: 1.5GB

  • CD-ROM drive: 12X

  • Monitor: Super VGA capable of providing 800x600 resolution

Not only must you meet the minimum hardware requirements to successfully install and run Windows Server 2003, but you also must have a server that provides hardware that is proven to be compatible with the network operating system. If you are to use the server in a true production environment where you must supply mission-critical services to network users, your server hardware must come right off the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Hardware Compatibility List. A copy of the list is available at

If you plan to upgrade a server that is running Windows NT 4 or Windows 2000 Server, you should run the hardware and software compatibility test provided on the Windows Server 2003 installation CD. This test lets you know if the server is configured with hardware that is not on the Windows Server 2003 Hardware Compatibility List, and it provides a list of any software running on the server that is not compatible with Windows Server 2003.

All you have to do is insert the Installation CD and then select the Check System Compatibility button on the screen that appears. On the next screen you are provided with the ability to have the server's current software (any software additions you are running on a previous version of the Windows NOS) and the server's hardware checked for compatibility. Running this system check will supply you with a list of incompatible hardware and software (if there are any).



In my humble opinion a "decent" hardware configuration for a computer running Windows Server 2003 is a processor in excess of 900MHz, with 512MB of RAM and a SCSI drive array with at least three 20GB drives (server hard drives are discussed in Chapter 3, "Networking Hardware"). Remember that any server hardware configuration must address the capacity that will be required by the services you run on the server.

Performing a Clean Install or an Upgrade

A major consideration related to a Windows Server 2003 installation is whether to upgrade in-place servers or do a clean install on a replacement server that will take over the role of a server or servers already on the network.

It actually requires fewer steps to perform a clean install on a computer that does not have a previous version (NT or 2000) of the Windows Server software installed. You can perform an installation of Windows Server 2003 on a new server (this also allows you to upgrade your server hardware at the same time) by simply booting to the Windows Server 2003 installation CD (the basics of the installation process are discussed in the next section). You can then configure this new server to take the role of domain controller.

Upgrading a Windows 2000 Server installation with Windows Server 2003 requires several other steps before you actually install the Windows Server 2003 software. Upgrading Windows NT servers also requires some preparation work. For example when you upgrade an existing Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2003, you are required to prepare the currently existing forest and the domain for the upgrade. The Windows Server 2003 provides a utility called adprep , which is a command-line utility found in the i386\ folder on the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM.

Whether you are upgrading Windows NT or Windows 2000 Server, you should think through the entire process of upgrading. Preplanning will make sure that you get your network up and running as quickly as possible.



All the ins and outs of creating Windows domains and configuring domain servers are beyond the scope of this book. For more information see Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Windows Server 2003 in 24 Hours .

The Installation Process

Whether you upgrade or perform a clean installation, the actual process of installing the Windows Server 2003 software on a server is a fairly straightforward process. An installation wizard walks you through the steps of a basic installation. Configuring a server for a specific role is reserved for after the installation of the NOS (which we discuss in a moment).

In the case of a server software upgrade, you maintain many of the settings and services already running on the server. In the case of a new installation, there are two parts to installing Windows Server 2003 on a server: a Text phase and then a Windows phase. During the Text phase you will need to specify (and create if necessary) the partition that will be used as the target for the Windows Server 2003 installation.

Windows Server 2003 supports three different file systems for partitions that you create on the server:

  • FAT . FAT volumes use a file allocation table that provides the name of the file and the location of the actual clusters that make up the file on the hard drive. FAT is a hold over from the days of DOS. I can see no compelling reason to use FAT volumes on your servers.

  • FAT32 . FAT32 is an extension of the FAT file system. It uses disk space on a drive more efficiently than FAT and was designed for Windows 95/98.

  • NTFS . NTFS 5 is the newest version of the NT file system (it was first introduced with Windows 2000 Server). It provides increased security for files on NTFS volumes and supports file system recovery. Microsoft recommends that you use NTFS as your file system on your server running Windows Server 2003. It is also required if you wish to install Active Directory on a server to make it a domain controller.

After the system partition has been created and formatted, the Text phase is complete. The system will reboot into a pre-Windows environment. The Windows phase of the installation will consist of a series of Windows-based screens that allow you to select configuration items such as the computer's name, the time zone and time for the computer, and the password for the computer's Administrator account. You are also asked to select your licensing mode during the installation of the server software (licensing issues related to network servers and clients is discussed in Chapter 7, "Network Operating System Overview").

The server installation will also require that you configure the network settings for the computer. You can go with the default of the client for Microsoft Networks, File and Print Sharing, and the TCP/IP protocol. If you wish to change this configuration, you can click the Custom settings option button on this screen. In most cases, it is probably easier to install additional network protocols such as NWlink (the Microsoft IPX/SPX compatible program) after the server is up and running.

Near the completion of the server software installation you are asked whether this server belongs to a workgroup or a domain. The default setting is that the computer is not on a network, or is on a network with a workgroup rather than a domain. The default workgroup name is WORKGROUP. Whether you are going to use the server in a workgroup (a small network) or a domain (a larger network), it is probably best to go with the default and complete the installation. It is very easy to change these settings once the server is actually up and running.

After all the software has been installed on the server, the system will reboot. To log in to your new server after it restarts, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. At the password prompt supply the password you set for the Administrator account during the installation process. You will be logged on to the server.



An upgrade of Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2003 requires that you upgrade the domain controller that serves as the Schema master. The schema defines the object types that can exist in the Windows Active Directory such as users, groups, and printers. The Schema master is typically the first domain controller that you brought online in your Windows 2000 Server domain. For more about upgrading to Windows Server 2003, see the Server 2003 Web site at The site provides a number of links with information on upgrading previous versions of Windows Server (such as NT and 2000) to Windows Server 2003.



One of the first things that you will want to do after installing Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is to activate the product. To combat software piracy, Microsoft has developed a product activation strategy for its network operating systems, client operating systems, and applications such as Microsoft Office. You can activate your Windows Server software either over the Internet or by telephone.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Networking
Absolute Beginners Guide to Networking (4th Edition)
ISBN: 0789729113
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 188
Authors: Joe Habraken © 2008-2017.
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