Saturday, 11 September 2010

Using servermanagercmd to automate the installation of common roles and features in Windows Server 2008 (inc R2)

I try to configure as many of the settings on a server via group policy. This not only saves time, but provides 100% consistency and a very simple way of making system wide changes. An example of this is I will configure SNMP settings via group policy.

This is all well and good, but many of the configuration settings are dependent on a “role” or “feature” that may not be installed (such as SNMP) there is no built in way to automatically install roles and features using group policy like there is to configure services, or firewall rules.

This is where servermanagercmd comes in. as you will probably gather this is a command line interface to the server manager GUI.

If you’re deploying a large amount of servers and you want to avoid manually installing a common role or feature, this is very useful, and will save hundreds of clicks!

Within the Active Directory design of the network I support, each server role has its own OU, which is under a generic servers OU. In most cases there is a group policy applied to each OU, so settings specific to a server role can be set.

Because of this, I can use group policy preferences to create a registry entry under the runonce key which will run servermanagercmd with the appropriate switches to install what I want based on the role of the server.

The runonce key is located:


Any REG_SZ string that is created under this key will be run once on startup (hense the name)

I typically install three features on most of the servers I look after, Telnet Client, SNMP Services and Failover clustering, these are the commands I use:

Servermanagercmd –install –telnet-client

Servermanagercmd –install snmp-services –allsubfeatures

Servermanagercmd –install failover-clustering

You will notice on the SNMP string, I have added –allsubfeatures, this installs all the sub features under the feature or role heading you have specified.

More information on the servermanagercmd as well as switches for other roles and features can be found here:

Other switches of servermanagercmd worth noting are:

-query this will output the current roles and features installed

-remove this does the opposite of add

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