[UPDATE] Instructions below are for Windows Server 2008 which does not have PowerShell or .NET support for Server Core. Windows Server 2008 R2 released later, has native support for these, so you can simply follow these Microsoft instructions to enable PowerShell there:
Below is a step-by-step instruction on installing Windows PowerShell on Windows Server 2008 in Server Core mode.
Note that these are in no way official or supported by Microsoft. Microsoft is working on official version of .NET and PowerShell for Server Core installations, so eventually you will be able to get this fully supported. Until then below are the instructions you can use at your own risk, etc., etc.
Windows Server 2008 has a command-line installation option – Server Core – which significantly reduces the attack surface and patch requirements by the virtue of not having Explorer and other UI components not needed in datacenter.
The problem is that it only ships with traditional cmd.exe and not PowerShell. To make things worse neither PowerShell nor .NET as they are today can be installed on such systems.
Below are the steps you can take to create packages of these tools which can be installed. Basically the whole procedure consists of just four main steps:
- Installing Visual C++ Redistributable Packages (required for .NET).
- Installing .NET 2.0 SP1
- Installing PowerShell.
- Jumping around the computer and shouting “I’ve got it!”
So let’s get started!
1. Visual C++ Redistributable Packages
This is the easiest one. All you need to do is download the packages you need:
- Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package (x64)
- Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package (x86)
After that, copy these files to your Server Core computer (e.g. using Robocopy) and simply run them there.
If your Server Core is 32-bit – just run
If it is 64-bit, you need to install both x86 and x64 versions (
2. .NET Framework
This is the most tricky part. PowerShell needs .NET 2.0 and .NET 2.0 is supposed to be a component of Windows Server 2008 so we will have to get a package of the framework which can get installed on such a system. To accomplish that we will:
- Download .NET Framework 3.5.
- Unpack the setup to get access to the .NET 2.0 Service Pack 1 installation files.
- Download and install the Orca MSI editor.
- Use Orca to remove the Windows version check.
- Run the updated MSI.
2.2. Unpack the file:
a. Create a folder
b. Save the downloaded .NET framework package to this folder.
c. Download the wonderful deploy.cmd script which Artem has posted and put it into the same folder.
d. Run the script.
After the script executes, the
C:\Deploy\AIP folder will have both
NetFx20_x86 folders with .NET 2.0 framework files you need.
2.3. Install Orca:
This is great but unfortunately you cannot just install the files because the MSIs are specifically checking for Windows version. So now we need to disable this check. To do this we will use Microsoft’s
Orca MSI editor.
Note: This all needs to be done on a regular, not Server Core, machine. We will copy the results of our Orca operations to the Core box later on.
If you don’t have Orca, follow these steps to download it:
a. Download the Windows SDK for Windows Server 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 installer.
b. Run the installer and deselect everything except
Win32 Developer Tools (this will make sure that you only download the few megs you need.)
c. After the installation completes, go to
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\Bin and install
2.4. Tweak the setup:
Now its time to do some patching.
Orca and open the MSI you need (
C:\Deploy\AIP\NetFx20_x86\NetFx20a_x86.msi for 32-bit version or
C:\Deploy\AIP\NetFx20_x64\NetFx20a_x64.msi for x64).
b. Click Component.
c. In x86 locate:
In x64 locate that one and
d. Change the Condition from
(VersionNT < 600) or Version9X to just
VersionNT or Version9X.
e. Save changes (either to that same MSI or a transform file.)
2.5. Install .NET
Copy the files (the whole folder) to your core machine and start the MSI via this command line (note that you need to use msiexec in order to pass the
If you saved a transformed file and are running 64-bit version you will probably run:
%SystemRoot%\system32\msiexec.exe /package "NetFx20_x64\NetFx20a_x64.msi" vsextui=1 transforms="ServerCore.mst"
On x86 without a transform that would be:
%SystemRoot%\system32\msiexec.exe /package "NetFx20_x86\NetFx20a_x86.msi" vsextui=1
That’s it. Now we have .NET installed and can go to the final step – PowerShell installation!
3. Windows PowerShell
There is no PowerShell v1 setup for Windows 2008 (again, because it is supposed to be a component) but you can actually download and install the CTP (note: this is a pre-beta code – not for production use). PowerShell v2 CTP2 is available from Microsoft’s downloads page.
Download the version you need, copy the msi over to the Server Core box and simply run the msi.
Now you can start PowerShell!
And you will see the prompt change to:
That’s it. Now you are among the first geeks in the Universe to have PowerShell on Server Core!
Acknowledgments: I could only have this all accomplished thanks to the help I got from Alex Kibkalo and a great post by Artem Pronichkin on installing .NET on Server Core.