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Sneak Peek at Windows Server 2008 295

stinkymountain writes to tell us that NetworkWorld got their hands on Microsoft's latest addition to the server OS market and had a chance to poke around inside Windows Server 2008. It seems that the new release is a vast improvement over older versions in both security and performance but still lacking in several key areas. "There's even a minimalist installation called Windows Server Core that can run various server roles (such as DNS, DHCP, Active Directory components) but not applications (like SQL Server or IIS dynamic pages). It's otherwise a scripted host system for headless operations. There's no GUI front end to a Windows Server Core box, but it is managed by a command line interface (CLI), scripts, remotely via System Manager or other management applications that support Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), or by Remote Terminal Services. It's also a potential resource-slimmed substrate for Hyper-V and virtualization architectures."
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Sneak Peek at Windows Server 2008

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  • Embedded Hardware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:10PM (#22552070) Homepage
    Do you think Windows Server Core will run on embedded hardware? That seems like the best place for something like this.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:24PM (#22552248)
      Possibly, though MS already offer XP and CE in the embedded space. For more info on that sort of thing read []

      Lightwight secure OSs are pretty handy for industrial applications like robotics etc, but Linux is making huge inroads there too mainly because of reduced footprint (== lower cost) and better network management.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cheater512 ( 783349 )
        Yeah Linux can be crammed in to a much smaller space than Windows and space is a luxury when it comes to embedded devices.

        I cant see Microsoft getting a foot hold unless a company makes a kind of embedded small business server box.
        It would have to be cheap though.
    • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:30PM (#22552326)
      Absolutely, MS is well known for their lean, re-usable code which runs anything from watches, Zunes, XBOXes, Origami and mobile phones. It's a program once, use anywhere strategy that's been working quite well for them.

      nice, the captcha is "exploit"
      you got that right.
  • These are all great ideas but I would've liked to have seen them a decade or more ago.

    Even so, better late than never.
    • by Krondor ( 306666 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:24PM (#22552254) Homepage
      Powershell (Bash), XML Based IIS config (apache .conf), Hyper-V (Xen), GUI less installs (init 3 (or 2 on some systems))...

      Hey Microsoft, Linux, BSD, etc... called they want their ideas back! Actually though I'm really glad to see this stuff. It really is a step in the right direction, and even if it isn't my platform of choice, a good idea is a good idea.
      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:45PM (#22552536) Journal
        Oh fuck, XML configs. Let's take human-readable text and turn it into XML, thus destroying its readability.

        Is there something wrong with conf and ini files? Did the gods come down and declare that configurations must be system-locked registry hives, binary or XML (which is nearly as bad) files?

        I wish every system/OS programmer that came out using the latest fad file format was beaten half to death, then given one final chance to amend their ways before they were taken and thrown off a minimum thirty storey building.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Krondor ( 306666 )
          Oh fuck, XML configs. Let's take human-readable text and turn it into XML, thus destroying its readability.

          While I agree with you, I think MS wasn't thinking of humans reading and editing the XML by hand. They were undoubtedly expecting people to use the IIS Manager and it's probably easier for the programmers to generate the configs out of IIS Manager if it is a structured format like XML. Harder to systematically generate .conf if you don't know about neat things like Perl Config::General I suppose.
        • by Sparks23 ( 412116 ) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:10PM (#22552834)
          In fairness, reusing XML for any sort of structured configuration file (heavy emphasis on the 'structured') is just the simplest approach when you already have code to parse XML in the program. Otherwise, you have to reinvent the wheel (because doing structured data that has any sort of nesting more than one level deep in .ini/.conf type files is a royal pain).
        • by Enleth ( 947766 ) <> on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:18PM (#22552916) Homepage
          And how do you, exactly, express a complex, hierarchical configuration (as is often needed for real servers, not your typical home *NIX box serving your e-mail) in an unambigious, standard, predictable, system-independent way using ini files? Sooner or later, you will end up with an unloved, messy bastard child of ini and something XML-esque in its nature, if not looks. And it'll be even worse than a well-known evil you can deal with easily.

          Sure, more often than not, XML is an overkill, but sometimes there's no better way in the long run. Really, any extreme point of view is bad, pro- or anti-XML alike. So, know your enemy and be prepared to admit his strengths, for he has them regardless of what you think.
          • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:27PM (#22553010) Journal
            Just have include-style syntax like Apache does. You can configure pretty damned complex Apache server installs without needing to use all-but-unreadable xml files. I admit to trolling a bit in the last post, and am not saying that XML does not have its place, but so far as I'm concerned, it's an incredibly abused technology that renders the notion of plain text readability null and void. The idea of a conf file is that you can telnet/ssh into a server with a decent terminal emulator and work on the server. Admittedly XML configuration files solve one part of the problem, in that you can easily backup working configurations, make alterations, and if they explode, you can quickly get the server back to its previous working state. However, it's just horrific if you need to edit configurations in all but the most simplistic situations.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by aztracker1 ( 702135 )
              I always thought of apache config files as a psuedo-xml markup anyways with some god forsaken abundance of options that usually aren't needed, and would love a nice gui tool for apache similar to the IIS msc configuration tool... I know that tools such as webmin, plesk and other tools are available, but nothing that is a simple apache-only tool...
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by atamido ( 1020905 )
                Indeed. Using Apache config files as an example of good config file structuring is like describing limb amputation as a good weight loss method. It works, but there are much better ways. One of the biggest drawbacks of Linux config files is that they all have their own particular syntax, so knowing one tells you little about the syntax of other config files you encounter.

                XML shares some of the same benefits and drawbacks of the Windows registry. The big drawback is you can't easily edit it by hand or out
        • Let's take human-readable text and turn it into XML, thus destroying its readability.

          There's no such thing as human-readable text on computers, just different tools for representing sets of 1s and 0s.

          I know you're referring to ascii or equivalent text editors, but the point of XML is that you can represent hierarchical data in a way that can be parsed by an app which is aware of the conventions, no matter what platform or provider it's from.

          There are plenty of XML editing modes for Emacs, for example,

      • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:50PM (#22552604)

        XML Based IIS config
        That's ridiculous, you mean I have to waste my time going through a text file instead of just selecting the correct tickbox. You Linux freak wil... oh wait Microsoft is doing it? How innovative!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drspliff ( 652992 )
          XML is such a terse language, really - ignore what some people say, but it's not meant for humans.

          Sure, you can read it but writing it using a normal text editor is a boring, error-prone job that will drive any admin nuts if they are forced to do enough of it.

          Why not be _really_ innovative and provide a shell to manipulate XML files based on the schema.
      • They *insist* on using non-standard stuff, just to piss off the world, while *every* other prominent OS has at its core a bourne compliant shell.
      • You *do* know that Microsoft existed before Windows, right? And that Windows 1.0 wasn't graphical, at that, right?

        I remember having plenty of fun with DOS. I also remember having plenty of fun with Apple IIe's. And as far as I know, both of those predate Linux, although I suppose BSD predates all of the above by considerable margins.
        • by Krondor ( 306666 )
          You *do* know that Microsoft existed before Windows, right? And that Windows 1.0 wasn't graphical, at that, right?

          Sure I know that. Of course, you do realize that MS didn't write DOS they bought it and extended it. It seems as a company they tried their hardest to kill the command line since only to regress now. Interesting how it all comes full circle like that.
        • MS-DOS 8.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:07AM (#22554870) Homepage

          Windows 1.0 wasn't graphical,
          Huh? By what definition of "graphical"? Windows 1.0 wasn't pretty or quite as icon-happy as later versions, but it most certainly had a graphical user interface, complete with a bitmapped pixel-addressible display, an arrow-shaped mouse pointer, tiled windows with little control widgets in the corners, and icons along the bottom of the screen showing you what programs were running (a bit like OS X's dock). Perhaps you have it confused with OS/2 1.0?

          I do have to say that I'm amused at the idea of a GUI-less Windows, considering that Windows began as nothing but a GUI, which ran on top of DOS. After all the effort Microsoft went through to make the GUI mandatory and supposedly integral to the OS itself, now they're talking about uncoupling it. MS-DOS 8.0 anyone?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by guruevi ( 827432 )
            If you mean by 'graphical', binary colors (black and white or black and green or black and orange or if you were really rich, EGA card with 16 colors) 640k limit, no program groups, no multitasking, non-overlapping windows while competing products had 256 or more colors, overlapping windows and *gasp* hardware acceleration.

            Here is a funny video of Steve Ballmer commercializing Windows (back when it was only $99): []
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by masticina ( 1001851 )
      Yeah I mean geeh how renewing the idea of a small core and running different layers of applications on it. Anyhow atleast for Microsoft it is a huge move that somehow they we're able to cut allot of slack and somehow did go modular.

      To little to late? Very Probable!

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:11PM (#22552090)
    so you add or remove / trun it on or off at any time with out havening to reinstall widnows server.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:12PM (#22552102)
    anybody know?
  • I thought people who prefer Windows tended to like command lines,which would explain they preference in OS and why Linux is so often lambasted as being geeky.
    • by ianare ( 1132971 )
      I think you may have that the other way around, usually win admins like 'next'->'next'->'next' type stuff.
      Also, many modern linux distros do have GUI tools for various admin tasks, though they much less powerful than the equivalent CLI.
      • Yet often they are still far superior to Window's GUIs.
        E.g. Swat has far more features than Windows supports when it comes to file sharing.
    • by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:33PM (#22552364) Journal
      No, not really. Most good admins that manage Windows servers tend to use the Win32 console as much as possible. A great majority of them finally picked up on what WMI can do and actually took advantage of it.

      I'd think that if Linux is "lambasted" for being geeky it's because users need to do certain things with it, whereas most Windows users rarely ever open a console window.

      The number of things that you need to do with bash on any Linux distro have decidedly decreased in the past few years, so I doubt the label is really applicable anymore. Perhaps the problem is that a lot of the problem-solving advice you can find online for distros like Ubuntu tend to use command line solutions, which is predictable if those solutions are being provided by more knowledgeable people who don't have a problem using the console to begin with.

      I played with some of the early betas and Server 2008 is actually quite cool. The fact that most everything is now scriptable (the subset that wasn't before through WMI, at least, or the things that have been simplified) is a life saver, and the switching of server roles is very useful when you want to re-task a box quickly for whatever reason. Hosting companies will probably love it.

      I think the important thing about 2008 is that it gives you the option to use a character-based environment, and it gives you a very good one at that (PowerShell). If you feel more comfortable with the GUI tools, they're all still there.

      • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:04PM (#22552756)
        I think the important thing about 2008 is that it gives you the option to use a character-based environment, and it gives you a very good one at that (PowerShell). If you feel more comfortable with the GUI tools, they're all still there.

        How sad indeed that Powershell will not run on Server Core. Neither (as far as I've seen) will IIS or SQL. I would love to see a DB Server as close to bare hardware as possible for performance reasons! But really, no PowerShell on their brand new Server SKU? That is just stupid.
        • You are correct that their awesome new object based command environment does not run on the core install. I agree this is pretty weak. You can run IIS, but it is a stripped down version without any sort of dynamic content.
          • by afidel ( 530433 )
            Yeah it's almost criminal since they still don't have a good object serialization method implemented to interact with remote objects so you really need to run the scripts where they are manipulating the objects. I started to really like powershell until I realized that I would have to install the environment on all the servers I wanted to script and would still have to use something like psexec to run them, why not just continue to use WMI and batch scripting? Oh and the memory overhead for dealing with lar
      • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:28PM (#22554640) Homepage Journal

        Perhaps the problem is that a lot of the problem-solving advice you can find online for distros like Ubuntu tend to use command line solutions, which is predictable if those solutions are being provided by more knowledgeable people who don't have a problem using the console to begin with.

        That's because it's a lot easier to tell a quesion-asker to run

        $ sudo /etc/rc.d/sshd restart

        than to walk them through "open the control panel, click 'Sound Themes' then 'Color Editor', go to the 'Remote Widgets and Printing' tab, look for the 'Allow Zebras' checkbox, uncheck it, click apply, re-check it, click apply again, then close the window." Plus, users get it in their shell history so they can run it again without bookmarking the forum page and stepping through the instructions again.

        Command line interfaces aren't just "lower level". They allow a different kind of expressivness which lends itself very well to certain tasks. Routine administration is very often that sweet spot.

    • I thought people who prefer Windows tended to like command lines,which would explain they preference in OS and why Linux is so often lambasted as being geeky.

      They aren't taking away the UI.

      Since command lines is more "geeky", but also often more powerful, they're now including this.

      By providing this choice, they're trying to approach broader markets.

      Doesn't seem confusing, strange, a bad idea, or anything like that. It's a good idea in all aspects I can think of.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:18PM (#22552198) Journal
    It is as if millions of GUI-dependent MCSE's cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

    (yes, I know that some Windows admins can use a CLI for nearly anything that'll run on one, but I'm almost willing to wager that the majority do not).


    • Luckily, it's all vbscript!
    • Don't laugh. Just yesterday I showed one of my co-workers the NBTSTAT command and he got really excited: "Wow, I didn't even know you can do that!" - otherwise he's a smart guy, though.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:33PM (#22552370)
    There's no GUI front end to a Windows Server Core box, but it is managed by a command line interface ...

    Someone should let Bill know about this.
    from: Gates: Keyboard use will decline []

    Chairman Bill Gates predicted computer users will increasing use voice-recognition technology and touch screens rather than keyboards. The software maker is betting big on that trend, Gates told a crowd at Carnegie Mellon Univ. In 5 years, he predicted, more Internet searches will be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard.
    and this: Gates predicts fall of the keyboard []

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates says people will interact with computers mainly through speech and touch screens instead of keyboards.
    • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @07:47PM (#22552558)
      They're really pushing the command-line thing for all their products. We got a demo of Exchange 2007 and not everything is configurable from within the GUI. Where it is, it gives you the PowerShell [] command at the bottom.

      The worst part for me is that they're reducing support for a lot of their "old" API and everything has to be rewritten using command line tools. Essentially what I'm doing is making pretty web interfaces for something that should be part of their own product. Madness!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dedazo ( 737510 )
      What part of Server 2008 did you manage to miss? Bill Gates was talking about his largest market, which is the Windows client. No sysadmin is going to want to whisper sweet nothings to a server to release an IP lease.
    • by OzRoy ( 602691 )
      Just because it's a touch screen doesn't mean it can't have a keyboard like interface. The iPhone doesn't have a keyboard. I'm guessing that we will see the end of single purpose input devices like the keyboard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Has Bill Gates ever predicted anything even remotely correctly?

  • So there will be a cli only TS? What about just including sshd?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox ( 846076 )

      So there will be a cli only TS? What about just including sshd?

      When has Microsoft ever opted to follow a industry standard rather than use their own?

      Well... Besides TCP/IP... Though if it were up to them we'd be using NetBEUI for internet today.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
        Telnet was ( is? ) bundled as a service, and its standard. Just not secure enough to use these days. Replacing that with SSH would be nice.

        ( ya, i know there are 3rd party SSHD's but that isnt the point )
    • There is a CLI only admin feature. (WinRM) It is an implementation of WS-Management protocol. I'm not sure how this is better than SSH, but it is there.
  • Stripped down version, command line only.... Sounds like...

    "Those who don't understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." - Henry Spencer

    Give them another 5 - 10 years, and maybe, just maybe, they'll get there.
  • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:00PM (#22552714)
    Most people seem to miss the fact that it's not JUST a CLI, there are also a whole boatload of client GUI utilities that go with it, that you run on your workstation to manage the server. That's something that Linux has been largely missing (not counting stuff like Webmin, which isn't quite the same thing or remote X)

    For example, for a Server Core Active Directory Role, you can administer it from the standard AD Users and Computers applet from any client.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So the extra step of going "ssh myfuckingawesomeserver" and opening a remote shell is so onerous that it's of incredible import that we run CLI and scripting utilities from our own desktop machines?
      • Uhh.. what?

        Did you even read my message? Who said anything about CLI and scripting utilities on your own desktop?

        I said, there are a boatload of *GUI* utilities that you can manage the server remotely from the desktop. The point being, while the server itself may not have a GUI, the GUI tools are still there, just used remotely.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      What are you talking about? I can configure EVERY SINGLE aspect of my Unix servers not only from my workstation but from my fricking cellphone.

      Windows has not had that ability until the last 2 iterations.
  • Windows core server sounds a lot like Unix, only without the 25+ year history and renowned stability record... why did we need this again? /supposed to be funny, but headache causing tumors in funny region
  • by sentientbrendan ( 316150 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:18PM (#22552904)
    is something like core server with cheaper licensing. One area where linux kills windows right now are on clusters, where you have numerous relatively cheap boxes doing lots of raw computation.

    Using windows for this you get a lot of overhead both in terms of cost, wasted HD space, memory, and processor usage on software and services that are irrelevant to a headless cluster node. Windows would be a lot more compelling for this space if they offered some kind of really cheap volume license for a stripped down windows that came utilities for managing a cluster of them. Some kind of logarithmic pricing model for clusters would be nice and make them a lot more competitive.

    Of course I'm sure a lot of Linux enthusiasts would like to see Microsoft continue to price themselves out of the market. Personally, I think some more serious competition from windows on this front would be a good thing and spawn more innovation in the distributed computing space.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:30PM (#22553040) Homepage Journal
    Another turn of Bob Barker's The Price is Right Wheel o Windows is a waste of effort unless it leaps ahead into outerspace in relation to the current feature set.

    It has to run virtualization out of the box. It has to allow for per process and per CPU throttling. It has to run real time back up, support dedicated inline encryption and security subsystems. It has to support 16x more RAM and an order of magnitude larger AD spaces. It has to support virtualized patches, a journalled file system, a file system that spans physical volumes.

    THAT's what solid improvement looks like, not fixing 70% of what they left out or broke before and calling that a new version.
    • by Johnno74 ( 252399 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:18PM (#22554560)
      Windows 2003 already does most of what you said.

      per process and per CPU throttling

      you have a point there, it would be nice...

      It has to run real time back up

      see volume shadow copy

      support dedicated inline encryption

      See encrypting file system, or bitlocker.

      security subsystems.

      Not sure exactly what you mean, but windows has got a pretty good fine-grained sercurity system. The main problem is out of the box it is largely turned off, and by default users are administrators.

      It has to support 16x more RAM

      Really? 2TB isn't enough for you?

      and an order of magnitude larger AD spaces.

      Hmm I had never heard anyone complaining about any AD limits before so I did a quick search to find out what they were. I didn't find much, but I did see apparently has an AD implementation with 8 million accounts.

      It has to support virtualized patches

      Yep, you are right, that would be nice.

      a journalled file system

      See NTFS. Its only been around for 10+ years,

      a file system that spans physical volumes.

      See DFS.
  • GUI-est CLI Ever (Score:5, Informative)

    by LlamaDragon ( 97577 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @08:58PM (#22553304) Journal
    I've been playing with this at work, and for a "trimmed down CLI" version of the OS I find it telling that it uses just 60 mb of memory after booting than the GUI version and it still requires some 3.5 gb of hard drive space (this isn't precise, I'm not at work right now). And the weirdest thing about it is that it's not just command line. It actually loads, to a point, the windows GUI. There's no explorer, but the command line box it gives you is a window. You can move it with the mouse. You can open notepad, and it opens in a window. Regedit is still there. Just to see if I could, I installed Firefox. They leave out a few handy odds and ends like Explorer.exe so you don't get your usual file manager, but if they're serious about going with a real command line, this ain't it.

    Maybe it does have it's place. If you just want to run basic DNS or some of the 10 or so other things it's intended to do, then at least it's going to do that for you with slightly less memory/space requirements and without quite so much other stuff running that leaves it so open to other vulnerabilities. But I still find it kind of silly, a good Sys. Admin can lock down the regular GUI version just fine and resource savings are so minimal as to be nonexistent.

    But that's just my couple of cents...
    • So basically it's like booting 2003 in 'Command line only' mode, which is basically the same thing (except I think that doesn't load drivers).

      All you need to do is find an explorer.exe and I bet it'll start up a full shell. Interesting marketing exercise but nothing new.

      • It's also missing iexplore.exe, but if I recall the folder for it is still there in Program Files, so things that rely on "a version of IE greater than 5" won't install. I thought about copying explorer/iexplore over from the GUI install but then I found something constructive to do instead. There were a few other issues when I tried to install DB2, a few other things missing, but I don't recall what they were.

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."