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Ok, so I've never used a server version of Windows before (I've worked on, but never administrated, Linux servers). Because of this I decided to install Microsoft Windows Server 2003, set it up, and learn to use it. My hardware specifications are:

  • Dual Intel Xeon 2.4GHz processor
  • 1.5 GBs of RAM
  • Rack mountable chassis (from around 2002)

Currently it's not "serving" anything to anyone, and I'm running it like a desktop box, but I figure that's no reasonable way to operate a server in the long term -- I want to put it in a rack and run it remotely (quite likely I will have only limited access to the server room with some borrowed rack space).

I'm sure this can be done (it's "the norm" for the Linux server I've worked on), but have no idea how. I'm mostly wanting to do things like running a Team Foundation Server, and maybe also some long-running computational programs, or even use it like some kind of remote desktop (so I don't have to use my Wimpy NetBooks hardware for running Visual Studio software).

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I think I've worked this out, Remote desktop connection :-) –  Oxinabox Jun 22 '11 at 3:12
    
Get UltraVNC (free and open source) installed so that you can have a useful alternative when Remote Desktop fails temporarily or just plain crashes: ultravnc.com –  Randolf Richardson Jun 22 '11 at 5:16

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The real power of Microsoft server OS'es is that you can install active directory, and centrally manage the domain and its users. That does not seem appropriate here though.

Basically, what you are describing is still using like a desktop computer, but a remote one. That is fine: You can set it up, enable remote desktop, and connect using RDP from your Windows desktop computer(s). One nice little advantage, that may, or may not, be useful, is that with Server 2003, you can have 2 RDP sessions plus one session to the console (as it you hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and were sitting in front of it).

You would install any normal software it would run, and you would remote into it, and it would execute on the faster, remote server.

One tip: If you use the obvious Start>Shutdown>Reboot, you risk the server not actually rebooting. We have all seen situations where you just log off of a computer, but it waits for you to end task on some program hung in the background. If that happens, you may be going into work to fix the problem immediately if the server is important enough.

I strongly suggest that you never reboot a computer remotely using Start>Shutdown>Reboot, or to allow a program install to do it (say no to the reboot, then follow the directions below), but rather create a batch file called reboot.bat with the command “shutdown -r -f -t 00” (minus the quotes) and put it in %windir%\system32 directory. The switch -f forces those tasks closed, and you are much more likely to have a successful reboot. You then just run reboot in either Start>Run, or as I prefer, simply at a command prompt. I prefer not to leave a command in the run box that can accidentally reboot a server.

If this helps you, please upvote and accept the answer.

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+1 for a helpful and informative answer (especially the part about the alternate reboot method using the "shutdown -r -f -t 00" command). –  Randolf Richardson Jun 22 '11 at 5:26
1  
"forces those tasks closed" - and doesn't give them a chance to shutdown gracefully. –  ta.speot.is Jun 22 '11 at 6:02
    
@todda.speot.is If you are remote to a server, let's say an hour away, and that little "End Task" button comes up, you are going to have to force it closed anyway. It does not force every task closed, but what it does is that in any of those "End Task" situations, it hits the button for you. Feel free not to do it, but enjoy your drive at 1 am as you are rebooting a client's server and it does not come back up. –  KCotreau Jun 22 '11 at 11:11

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