A Noobs Guide To Renaming Your Server

Alright, noob. So you have a server but nothing much else. Before you start getting up and running with your server on the network, you would need to find a way to identify your server out of the possibly hundreds of other servers on the network. You have to draw up some naming convention for your servers to easily identify your server by its role, purpose or location in your data center. I will probably talk about how to get a good server naming system going but for now, let’s try learning how to rename your server.

When the server starts up, it will automatically start Server Manager. Click on Local Server from the menu on the left.

On the right side, click the Computer Name. This will open up System Properties. Click the Change button.

In Computer Name/Domain Changes window, type in your server’s name in the Computer name text box based on your server’s naming convention. Click on the OK button when you are done.

Click OK in the window asking to restart the computer to apply the changes.

Click OK again in the Computer Name/Domain Changes window. Click the Restart Now button to immediately apply the server name change.

Once it restarts, your server should now be using the name you assigned to it.

A Noobs Guide To Installing Windows Server 2016

One of the more important tasks you would be doing as a systems administrator is setting up or installing operating systems on servers. Although most of the steps specified in this guide can now be automated by using an image-based installation or by orchestration, it is still expected that you would know how to install the operating system manually. If you are working in a Microsoft shop, you would most probably be using the Microsoft Windows Server operating system.

To install Windows Server, you would first need to have the installation media either in ISO format or in a physical media like a DVD or in a flash drive. In this noobs guide, we will be using the file we have previously downloaded in the previous post.

Note: Windows 2016 comes in 2 editions, Standard and Datacenter. In a production environment, make sure to select the right edition by making sure it has the features and server roles that you require. If you would like to know the differences between the two editions, you can refer to this Microsoft Docs.

Lets get started.

Mount the ISO or plug in the installation media to the server. Make sure to configure the system to boot up from the ISO or from the install media (DVD, flash drive). Press any key once you see the prompt.

Boot Up

In the first screen, select your Language, Time and currency format and the keyboard or input method preferences. Since all of these are my default, I just selected Next.

Initial Window

Click Install now to begin the installation process.

Install Now

Remember what I mentioned earlier about the different editions of Windows Server 2016? In this window, select the edition that fits your requirements. If you want a GUI (a graphical user interface) on your server, you have to select the edition with Desktop Experience. If not, you would only get a command line based server installation. Once you have selected the edition you want, click Next.

Select your edition

In the next page, click on the I accept the license terms to put a check mark. You could read through the applicable notices and license terms if you are interested but this is most boring lawyer stuff. Click Next when you are done.

Accept the license

In the next window, I usually would select the Custom: Install Windows only. You could, of course, upgrade a previous version of Windows Server to 2016 but that’s a demo for another time. Click Custom: Install Windows only to proceed with the installation.

Select your install type

At the juncture, you would select the drive where you want to install the Windows server operating system. In production environments, you probably would have multiple drives in this window. I normally would select the first drive as my system drive (or OS drive). For this demo, we only have one drive and wanted to use the whole drive as one partition so I just clicked on Next to proceed

Select your system drive

At this point the installation gets real and start installing files and features. Go grab a drink (alcohol or non-alcoholic, caffeinated or not). This is mostly boring stuff at this time and you don’t really need to stare at it. Your server might also reboot multiple times to apply changes.

Installing…

Once all the boring stuff is complete, you will get into the customization settings. Put in a complex password (do I really need explain why?) twice on the password boxes and make sure they’re the same. Click the Finish button when you are done.

Put in your password

Your system then reboots and brings you to these login screen. Follow the instructions on the screen, press Ctrl+Alt+Del to unlock the system.

Login screen

Type in the complex password you have inputted earlier and press Enter (->) to login to your server.

Logging in

Tadaaa! You have completed the Windows Server 2016 installation.

Windows Server desktop

At this point, we have a working Windows server. Give yourself a pat on the back, noob! However, depending on your needs and requirements, you might need to further customize the system. We’ll try to discuss that on the next post. For now, browse around your server.

Getting Windows Server Trial Software

One of the more important resources that you would need when trying to learn a new application, operating system or technology is getting access to the software itself. While some of these applications or software usually comes with a cost, a lot of them are available online for free for a trial period.

In this post, I will show how to get access to Windows Server operating systems and other software evaluations from Microsoft. Although this might sound very trivial for most experienced sysadmins, a lot of students or newbies don’t actually know where to get these resources to learn new stuff.

For this guide, I will show how to get access to a trial version of Windows Server 2016. However, the steps below could also be used to get other versions of Windows Server operating system.

To start, open your favorite browser and go to the Microsoft Evaluation Center and sign in with your Microsoft account on the top right corner. If you don’t have one, I would highly recommend to create one to be able to download or use any of their trial software.

Select Windows Server, click View All, and scroll down to Windows Server 2016. Click the + symbol to expand the selection and give you more information about the software you are downloading, its limitations and other important information.

For the purpose of this guide, we will be selecting ISO file type. An ISO file or ISO image is an archive file that contains a copy of files found on a physical media like CD or DVD drive. This is a more convenient option when we are planning to install the operating system in a virtual machine or a test environment. You can also “burn” or copy the ISO file into a physical media if you would need to install it on a physical machine. Click the Continue button after you have selected ISO.

Complete the required information on the form and click the Continue button.

Select your preferred language. As I have always used English, I wouldn’t have any knowledge or experience if you select a language other than English. Click the Download button to continue.

The download should automatically start on most browsers. If you are using Google Chrome or the new Edge browser, you should see the download progress at the bottom of the page. If not, click the download button again.

Once the download completes, you should have a Windows server ISO file waiting for you in your downloads folder.

As I have mentioned earlier, this ISO file will allow you to install a fully functional Windows server operating system that you can use for 180 days (6 months). If you are testing or you are trying to learn how to manage this operating system, that should be enough time for you to learn it. If you do run out of time, there are methods that you could use to extend the trial period legally which I would probably discuss in some future post. In the mean time, I would be detailing next how to install this operating system. Stay tune.