Is Windows Server 2008 “Server Core” appropriate for a SQL Server instance?

By | December 11, 2017

I’m setting up a dedicated SQL Server 2005 box on Windows Server 2008 this week, and would like to pare it down to be as barebones as possible while still being fully functional.

To that end, the “Server Core” option sounds appealing, but I’m not clear about whether or not I can run SQL Server on that SKU. Several services are addressed on the Microsoft website, but I don’t see any indication about SQL Server.

Does anyone know definitively?


Not sure how credible this source is, but:

The Windows Server 2008 Core edition can:

  • Run the file server role.

  • Run the Hyper-V virtualization server role.

  • Run the Directory Services role.

  • Run the DHCP server role.

  • Run the IIS Web server role.

  • Run the DNS server role.

  • Run Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services.

  • Run the print server role.

The Windows Server 2008 Core edition cannot:

  • Run a SQL Server.

  • Run an Exchange Server.

  • Run Internet Explorer.

  • Run Windows Explorer.

  • Host a remote desktop session.

  • Run MMC snap-in consoles locally.


ASP.Net will be enabled on server core in R2.


No. For some things you will need the .net Framework (like reporting services), and you can’t install it (in a supported way) in a server core.


Server Core 2008 R2 can run Sql Server, but this is unsupported (for now). Check for an article + video on how it’s done.


Server Core won’t be very useful (to me at least, and I think many others as well) until they get a version of .Net framework on it. Maybe a specialized subset like they have in the Compact Framework on smart phones.


Following are new features for Server 2008 R2 Server Core:

  • .NET Framework – 2.0, 3.0, 3.5.1, 4.0 are now supported on Server Core installation

  • ASP.NET – as .NET is now supported on Server Core R2 ASP.NET can be enabled

  • PowerShell

  • AD CS – AD Certificate Services role can be installed on Server Core R2 system

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