Server Core + IIS7 + PHP + MySQL

Wow. Take Windows Server 2008 Server Core + PHP + IIS7 + MySQL + WordPress, mix them together, will they blend well and work out as a nice concoction? Matty challenged me to this blend, and guess what, we have a powerful cocktail to offer after all!

I scuffled around to see if anyone had come up with this powerful blend. Surprisingly, no one offered it on Server Core. There are bits and pieces everywhere, but none quite fit the blend we needed. I then decided to take up Matty’s challenge and come up with one.

With my buddy Matty, we decided to take a spin for it (He challenged me to it). The whole ordeal was over in a day and we finally got it working. Thanks to another great pal in the next cube, Chris Ismael (Interop Expert).

Alright, here is the story on my adventure.

The Hardware

Matty brought me his machine for the adventure. A cool looking machine with a red glow. Deserves some mention because he sponsored this equipment to mess with. It is a Dell XPS. But it is more like desktop replacement than a laptop. 😉 It is powered by an Intel Core2DUO 2GHz with 4GB of ram. In this adventure, a Server Core installation took a mere 4 minutes to complete on this beast.

Windows Virtualization

I chose to do my adventure using Virtualization technology. I loaded a Windows 2008 x64 onto the Dell machine and installed the Virtualization server role. Using virtualization allows me to take snap shots in time. This will allow me to revert back to a previous time in seconds. So for example, if I crash and made a grave mistake, I do not have to redo or try figure out what to undo. Windows Server Virtualization is definitely a technology every one serious in optimizing the data centre should take a serious thought about it.

The Ordeal Begins

Alright, let’s get to our stuff and begin our adventure.

I will take you through Server Core, IIS7 with FastCGI, PHP, MySQL and WordPress. The rest are on your own. Seriously, there is nothing else apart from learning how to use WordPress. 😉

Getting Server Core onto the Network

You will setup Server Core the same way as you setup a typical Windows server, except you select “Core” installation. The first thing Server Core will get you to do is force you to change your admin password.

A Server Core in Windows Server Virtualization (WSV) will not have any network card installed. We will need to install Integration Services into the Virtual Machine (VM). By the way, my tests so far, WSV allows my VMs to run 3 times faster than on Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Here are some tasks you need to get over;

1. Install Integration Services (Skip this if you’re not using WSV)

On the VM Connection Window, Click on Action -> Insert Integration Services Setup Disk or Hit Ctrl+I. This step loads vmguest.iso onto the VM’s DVD Drive and lets you access the ISO contents. In this case, the Integration Services.

Auto run won’t happen. So you need to execute “<DRIVE>:\support\x86\ and execute setup.exe
You will be prompted to reboot twice, go ahead.

This will load up the smooth mouse integration, NICs bla bla.. I’ll save the details. Let’s move on.

2. Verifying NIC and IPConfig

If you have a DHCP server running on the network, you can skip this unless you want to use static IP configuration

To fix an IP Address;
netsh interface ipv4 set address name=”Local Area Connection” source=static address=<IPADDRESS> mask=<> gateway=<GatewayIP>

To add a DNS Server entry;
netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name="Local Area Connection" address=<IPAddress of DNS>

3. Changing the Computer Name & Joining a Domain if needed

Find out the current hostname: "hostname" (Take note of it)

To change the computer name:
netdom renamecomputer <Current Computer name> /NewName:<NewComputerName>

To join the domain (if you need to, Server Core and be in workgroup mode):
netdom join <ComputerName> /domain:<DomainName> /Userd:<UserName> /passwordd: *

4. Opening an Exception for MySQL

netsh firewall add portopening tcp 3306 "MySQL"

This step prevents a setup error in MySQL later.

You need to reboot at this stage to take effect: shutdown /r /t 0

5. Activation of Windows Server Core

If you are connected to Internet: slmgr.vbs –ato

Else to use phone activation:

slmgr.vbs –dti (Displays the Installation ID to be given to Microsoft)

slmgr.vbs –atp <ConfirmationID> (Activates server using Confirmation ID given by Microsoft)

Loading IIS 7.0 with FastCGI

This is where Microsoft has placed lots of focus on making IIS 7.0 highly secure, highly modular and highly interoperable. For more details on the installation commands, you may visit this web page for installation tips.

For this adventure, I will install the minimum required. I used the following command;

start /w pkgmgr /iu:IIS-WebServerRole;WAS-WindowsActivationService;WAS-ProcessModel;IIS-CGI

To verify the installation, use this command “oclist” and verify the installation.

Loading PHP

Reference: Using Fast CGI to Host PHP Applications on IIS7
Download: Non-Thread Safe PHP 5.2.1

Extract contents of downloaded files onto c:\php\

Updating the PHP.INI File

Copy c:\php\php.ini-recommended c:\php\php.ini
Notepad c:\php\php.ini
– Change: extension_dir=”c:\php\ext”
– Uncomment: extension=php_mysql.dll
– Add: Extension=php_gd.dll
– Save the file php.ini and exit notepad

Creating PHP Handler in IIS 7.0

Reference: Using Fast-CGI to Host PHP Applications on IIS7

appcmd set config /section:system.webServer/fastCGI /+[fullPath=’c:\php\php-cgi.exe’]

appcmd set config /section:system.webServer/handlers /+[name=’PHP-FastCGI’,path=’*.php’,verb=’*’,modules=’FastCgiModule’,scriptProcessor=’c:\php\php-cgi.exe’,resourceType=’Either’]

Setting Default Document to index.php

appcmd set config "Default web site" /section:defaultDocument /enabled:true

appcmd set config "Default Web Site" /section:defaultDocument /+files.[value=’index.php’]

Loading MySQL

Download: MySQL 5.0.45

This is the only section where you will encounter a GUI setup. 😉 Enjoy.

Running the Setup:
Execute the file, mysql-essential-5.0.45-win32.msi
At Welcome, Click next
Select Typical, Click next
Click Install, Next all the way and Finish.

Instance Configuration will now begin:
At Welcome, Click next
Select Standard Configuration, Click next
Select Install as Windows Service, Click next
Specify the root password and Click next
Click Execute and Finish

Creating a MySQL Database

Reference: PHP on IIS7.0 WordPress
Execute “c:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.0\bin\mysql.exe –u root –p
Key in your root password specified earlier.

mysql> create database wordpress;

mysql> grant all privileges on wordpress.* to ‘wordpress’@’%’ identified by ‘password’;

Loading WordPress

Reference: PHP Applications on IIS7 – WordPress
Download: WordPress

Extract the download file’s contents into c:\inetpub\wwwroot\wordpress\

Next make a copy of the WordPress Configuration Sample file;
cd c:\inetpub\wwwroot\wordpress
copy wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php

Edit wp-config.php

We need to modify the wp-config.php to reflect the right UserID, Password, MySQL Database Name and server. So we need to modify these 4 attributes to reflect what we have setup so far; DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, DB_HOST

// ** MySQL settings ** //
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘wordpress’);    // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘wordpress’);     // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password’); // …and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);    // Change this to IP address of your database

We are done. Open a browser from a client that can see this server we have setup. Browse to http://<Server>/wordpress/wp-admin/install.php and start configuring the WordPress application.


We now have a running Web Server (on Server Core) with PHP enabled running the WordPress application. In essence, we have pieced together the following technologies; Windows 2008 Server Core + PHP + MySQL + IIS 7.0 + WordPress.

Off my mind, there are many aspects which are compelling;

– Small foot print – Server Core is light in foot print. Much lesser binary. Takes about 1/4 to 1/5 the footprint of a full install. Disk storage is less demanding.
– Small surface attack area – Less binaries, less requirements to update the binaries if a vulnerability is discovered
– Requires less resources to run
– Concentrated workload
– Fast and speed server provisioning

I had fun in this adventure and thanks to Matty and Chris. We are looking out for more fun and will share with you what we have. If you have an idea or would like to know more, contact me or Matty anytime. Drop us an email today.

BTW, this is a supported scenario in IT Pro Momentum. So if you like to give Server Core running IIS7 a try in your environment and receive a free 1 year TechNet+ Subscription, wait no further, drop me an email now.


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11 thoughts on “Server Core + IIS7 + PHP + MySQL

    Oh I WANT THIS!    Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my desk!  

  2. Yup, pretty amazing. Oh, just in case everyone here gets a little astonished.. 4 minutes is without the Initial Loading time and the process of putting the keys and selecting the partition to install. 🙂 Its the portion where setup starts running.
    Initially that process took about 10 mins, but i had to shave off time coz i need to do a prezo on it.
    So the fastest way was to load the installation disc as an ISO running off the local harddrive.
    The Virtual Machine VM is running on a USB 2.0 connection with no other data on it.
    Plus, i assigned 2 CPUs to the VM and had CPU utilization locked at minimum 40%. 😉 That managed to shave from 10 mins to about 4 mins. 😉
    Virtualization in Windows 2008 rocks. My experience so far on it is about 3 times faster than on Virtual Server 2005. Awesome.

  3. Yes. Matty is doing some tests using VSTS. But this is not indicative since its not the type of hardware a typical production deployment will be using such a setup (Laptop !! 😉 )
    So we\’re working on building another one using Linux and doing a performance comparison. At the moment, we\’re pretty tied up, and i\’m not an Linux expert, so we\’re working with an Interop guy and get one with similar setup but running Linux. 😉
    Will share the information when the results are out.

  4. You may wish to add-in some URL Rewrites to have friendly post titles. I have just added this to a test WP blog running on a full install (i.e. NOT Core) and this works a treat with the x64 version. WordPress URL Rewrite ISAPI download and is a freebie.

  5. This is a GREAT post!  Information about installing WordPress on a Windows server is almost impossible to find.  In fact this is the only satisfactory document I\’ve found.I have one question:  Have you tested email notification on this system?  As a blog administrator, I like to get email notification of comments to my blogs.  And that works on the blog that runs on the LINUX server, but not on the one that runs on a Windows Server.Do you have suggestions for how to fix that?  I\’d really rather run everything off the Windows server.

  6. Hi Dennis
    This is the first post I see, installing WordPress on a Windows server system.
    This is for sure a great and informative post you have made there.
    I have installed a new WordPress Blog from your post/guidelines and its just working.
    I only have one problem.
    Please see the link below
    I have tried to make two clean installations (default template) with the same negative result.
    Is the Archives and Previous Entries function working on your installation?
    Jesper Ravn

  7. Pingback: Wordpress 3.1.2 on Server 2008 R2 Core » Kirwin Computing

  8. Pingback: » Kirwin Computing

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