PermaLink Windows 2008 Core Install Is Only 3.7GB in a VM08/03/2011 02:03 PM really is a minimal install.  I got it to a minimal 3.7GB VM file (compared to about 14GB for a Win2008 Standard install) by doing the reboot/compact trick (after the files are installed by the installer, reboot using the CD and go to Repair mode to get a command line and execute "\windows\system32\compact.exe /c /s /i" to compact everything on the C: drive).
After the first Windows Update, you can also delete all the files out of the download cache which is in \windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download (why Windows doesn't do this automatically after it installs them, I have no idea)-:
If you had IE installed (not installed if you installed Core server), you can also disable IE ESC by doing "“\Windows\system32\rundll32.exe” \Windows\system32\iesetup.dll,IEShowHardeningDialog" to bring up the dialog or you can do it the hard way by mucking with the registry.  If you don't do this, you get all sorts of aggravating behavior like not being able run executables off a network share, not being able browse any untrusted sites, etc.  Unfortunately, this doesn't affect .msi files which cannot be run off network shares.
And if you don't want to remember all the arcane (yes, arcane, and I'm very used to using Linux so I actually like command line tools) Win2008 Core commands, you can grab CoreConfigurator to make your life easier.  Win2008 Core isn't really command line because it brings up the graphics subsystem).
Install vim (add it to the path by modifying the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment), wget and KpyM SSH and allow ssh through the Windows Firewall (netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SSH" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=22) and you're all set for remote admin of a minimal server.

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Full-stack developer (consultant) working with .Net, Java, Android, Javascript (jQuery, Meteor.js, AngularJS), Lotus Domino