Windows Server 2012 - The Basics (Part 2)

by [Published on 26 Feb. 2013 / Last Updated on 26 Feb. 2013]

This article guides you through the process of performing some common Windows Server 2012 configuration tasks.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

I spent most of the first part of this series showing you how Windows Server 2012’s new user interface works. In this article, I want to shift gears a little bit and walk you through some common tasks that you might typically need to perform when setting up a new server.

Renaming the Server

Although Windows Server 2012 automatically assigns each server a random name, administrators often like to change the name to something more meaningful. This is especially true in virtual server environments where it can become quite confusing if the server’s computer name (the name used by Windows to identify the server) doesn’t match the virtual machine name (the name displayed within the Hyper-V Manager).

To rename a server, move the mouse pointer to the lower left portion of the screen to reveal the Start tile. Right click on this tile and select the System command from the shortcut menu. Upon doing so, Windows Server 2012 will display the System dialog box, which is nearly identical to the version used in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. You can see what this looks like in Figure A.

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Figure A: You can use the System dialog box sheet to change the computer name.

Now click on the Change Settings link and Windows will display the System Properties sheet. Make sure that the Computer Name tab is selected and then click the Change button. Enter the new computer name and click OK. You will have to reboot the server in order for the change to take effect.

Assigning an IP Address to the Server

The process of assigning an IP address to a Windows Server 2012 server is very similar to the method used in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. Begin the process by moving the mouse to the lower left corner of the screen to reveal the Start tile. Right click on the Start tile and then choose the Control Panel option from the resulting menu.

When the Control Panel opens, click on the Network and Internet link, shown in Figure B. Next, click on Network and Sharing Center, followed by Change Adapter Settings. 

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Figure B: Click on the Network and Internet link.

At this point, Windows should display a series of network adapters. Right click on the adapter to which you want to assign an IP address and choose the Properties command from the shortcut menu. Scroll through the list of networking components and select the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) component and click Properties. You will now be taken to a screen that allows you to enter an IP address for the adapter. After doing so, click OK.

One thing that you need to know about IP address assignments in Windows Server 2012 is that you must be careful to only assign IP addresses to adapters that are not being used for other purposes. For example, if an adapter is being used by Hyper-V then the only component that should be enabled for that adapter is the Hyper-V Extensible Virtual Switch. You cannot assign an IP address directly to the adapter without causing problems. Instead, Hyper-V creates a virtual network adapter on the physical server. This virtual network adapter corresponds to the physical network adapter, and that is where you should make the IP address assignment.

The same basic concept applies to Windows 2012 servers that are using a NIC team. When you create a NIC team, you are binding multiple network adapters together into a logical network adapter. The Network Adapters screen displays the physical network adapters alongside the NIC team, as shown in Figure C. The only component that should be enabled on teamed physical adapters is the Microsoft Network Adaptor Multiplexor protocol. IP address assignments must be made only to the teamed NIC, not to individual NICs within the team.

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Figure C:
The Network Connections screen shows physical network adapters and NIC teams.

Joining a Server to a Domain

The process of joining a Windows Server 2012 server to an Active Directory domain is very similar to the method that I previously demonstrated for renaming a server. Keep in mind however, that before you can join a server to a domain, the server must be able to communicate with the domain. Specifically this means that the server’s IP address configuration must reference the domain’s DNS server. Otherwise, Windows will be unable to contact a domain controller during the domain join.

To join the server to a domain, move your mouse pointer to the lower, left corner of the screen and then right click on the Start tile. Select the System command from the Start tile’s menu. When the System dialog box appears, click the Change Settings link, which you can see in Figure A. The server should now display the System Properties sheet. Make sure that the Computer Name tab is selected and then click the Change button. When Windows Displays the Computer Name / Domain Changes dialog box shown in Figure D, enter your domain name and click OK. Windows will locate the domain and then prompt you for a set of administrative credentials. When the domain join completes you will be prompted to restart the server.

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Figure D: Enter your domain name and click OK.

Disabling Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration

In Windows Server 2012, Microsoft uses a mechanism called Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration to lock down Internet Explorer, thereby making it more or less unusable. The good news is that you can disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration.

Before I show you how to accomplish this, I need to point out that Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is put in place for your protection. The Internet is not a riskless place, and it is possible to infest a computer with malware just by accidentally visiting a malicious Web site. Most security professionals agree that you should never use a Web browser directly from a server console.

While I certainly agree with the sentiment of these ideas, I find that I often need access to the Internet when I am setting up a new server. Often times I will need to download patches, drivers, etc. and Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration gets in the way. What I usually do (and this is by no means a recommendation) is to disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, download anything that I need, and then re-enable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration.

To disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, open the Server Manager and then click on the Local Server tab. When you do, the console will display the local server properties. Click on the Unknown link next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration, as shown in Figure E.

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Figure E: Click on the Unknown link next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration.

You will now see a dialog box that allows you to enable or disable this component. Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration can be enabled or disabled separately for users and for administrators.

Conclusion

In this article, I have walked you through a few basic configuration tasks in Windows Server 2012. In Part 3 I will continue the discussion by showing you how to perform some more common configuration tasks.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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