Brian has put together a comprehensive guide to Server Core Introduction. One place you should know about is the Official Server Core Blog, as it is where I learned my all time favorite command which embeds the time into the Command Prompt (read on to see that one!). As I've collected my own list internally and blogged on for about a year now I see a lot of the same commands there. The Windows Server 2008 Administrator's Companion has a nice chapter on Server Core but by far the best resource are the scripts that accompany the book. They allow you to very easily configure common settings. One last area you should look into is of course Guy Teverovsky's Server Core Configurator...if you haven't see it check it out now!
Server Core is a version of Windows Server 2008 that has a minimal Graphical User Interface (GUI). I say minimal when most say command-line only because there are GUI tools available such as Notepad and Task Manager. One thing that definitely doesn't run on Server Core is the Explorer process. If you're unaware of what that process does, just end the explorer.exe process in Task Manager from your client and look what happens...don't freak out, all you need to do is then go back to Task Manager and select File —> New Task (Run...) and then type explorer.exe.
The purpose of this article is not to give you every last detail to Server Core but to provide you with what you need to know it get it up and running in your environment.
Server Core has a limited amount of roles that can be installed on it, which include:
- Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) and AD Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
- DNS Server
- Internet Information Services (IIS) (No ASP.NET support)
- DHCP Server
- File Services
- Print Services
- Streaming Media Services
- Hyper V