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Is it possible to run SQL-Server 2008R2 or 2012 on Windows Server 2008 R2 Core installation.

There are three questions to answer:

  • Does the license allow this?
  • Can I install and operate it?
  • Is it supported by Microsoft?

This question came up on a question about WSUS on Server Core, other products require SQL-Server as well, so it would nice nice to know.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

While SQL-Server 2012 has been tested and and is fully supported by Microsoft, this is not the case for SQL-Server 2008R2. However is it still possible to install and run this version of SQL-Server on Windows Server Core installations.

Here's what to do to install SQL 2008R2 on a Server 2008R2 core edition:

  • install dot.NET Framework 3.51

    pkgmgr /iu:NetFx2-ServerCore;NetFx2-ServerCore-WOW64
    ocsetup ServerCore-WOW64
    ocsetup NetFx2-ServerCore
    ocsetup NetFx2-ServerCore-WOW64
    DISM /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore
    DISM /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore-WOW64
  • install PowerShell

    pkgmgr /iu:MicrosoftWindowsPowerShell
  • Prepare a SQL-Server setup configuration file, this example is for SQL-Express:

    ;SQLSERVER2008 Configuration File
    INSTALLSHAREDDIR="C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server"
    INSTALLSHAREDWOWDIR="C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server"
    INSTANCEDIR="C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server"
    ;The Database Engine root data directory.
    ;Directory for Database Engine TempDB files.
    ;Directory for the Database Engine TempDB log files.          
    SAPWD = "*********"
    SQLBACKUPDIR = "D:\Backups\Sql"
    SQLUSERDBDIR = "D:\SqlData\UserData\Data"
    SQLUSERDBLOGDIR = "D:\SqlData\UserData\Logs"

For more information about the configuration file see the TechNet article: How to: Install SQL Server 2008 Using a Configuration File

If you have downloaded an .exe rather than using a DVD/ISO, you have to extract the setup files first:

    SQLEXPRADV_x64_ENU.exe -x
  • Run the installed in quiet mode:

    setup.exe /ACTION=Install /IACCEPTSQLSERVERLICENSETERMS /q /ConfigurationFile=C:\SQL2008ForCore.ini
  • Extract the Service Pack files:

    SQLServer2008R2SP1-KB2528583-x64-ENU.exe -x

Installing the service pack from a network drive did not work for me, make sure the files are on a local disk.

  • Install the service pack:

    setup.exe /quiet /allinstances /IAcceptSQLServerLicenseTerms

You should now be able to connect to the instance from a remote SQL-Server Management Studio. You can also use sqlcmd.exe on the command line.

If you need a local GUI tool to run your queries, you can use Query Express, a small no-install single file application that works in Server Core.

I've been using SQL 2008R2 on Server Core for about six months now. I have not tested it with heavy loads but I don't see why it would behave any different from a version installed on a full-GUI windows.

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yes sql 2012 will install on server core either version w2k12 or 2k8.

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Ah, it apparently depends on the version of MS SQL Server. MS SQL Server 2008, no. MS SQL Server 2012, yes.

Starting with SQL Server 2012, you can install SQL Server on a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows Server 2012. This topic provides setup-specific details for installing SQL Server 2012 on Server Core.

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