Server 2008 R2 instead of Win 7? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-22-2009, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I am going to have to do another OS install after 1 month with Win 7 x64. My attempt at relocating user folders to the RAID array, while initially successful, has resulted in erratic behavior following some MS upgrades to office. I was warned . . .

So, I now have a second computer and a laptop in addition to my HTPC/server/gamer. I am considering a technet subscription and trying out Server 2008 R2. I think I might like the ability to create a domain and have the second PC login to the same desktop as the main PC, and other nice networking features that (I think) are only available in 2008 server.

So, my question is, are Win 7 and 2008 essentially the same underneath? Will I have access to media center? Any reason that games that run on Win 7 won't run on 2008? Yeah, I imagine there are lots of features to disable, as I don't need a webserver or mailserver. Some features could be useful tho. I always run an FTP server, for example.

Does 2008 use gobs of CPU cycles relative to Win 7? I have an i7 920, so am not short on CPU or RAM.

Are there any snags I haven't thought of going this route?

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post #2 of 21 Old 10-22-2009, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeEby View Post

Actually I consider Vista and Server 2008 closer relatives. Vista, Server 2008 & Windows 7 all use the same driver model.


Mike

Well, I had hoped Server 2008 R2 had Win 7 underpinnings. Similar though they may be, I don't want to step back to 'Server Vista' from Win 7.

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post #3 of 21 Old 10-22-2009, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

Well, I had hoped Server 2008 R2 had Win 7 underpinnings. Similar though they may be, I don't want to step back to 'Server Vista' from Win 7.

LOL... I deleted my post after I saw you were talking about R2... I'm not sure about that.


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post #4 of 21 Old 10-22-2009, 07:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Wikipedia seems to imply it is Win 7 underneath.

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post #5 of 21 Old 10-22-2009, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

Wikipedia seems to imply it is Win 7 underneath.

It sure does...We just got a copy at work...I haven't done anything with it yet.


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post #6 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 08:24 AM
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It's a server OS, it won't even have windows media player never mind media center.

It's the same kernel as Windows 7 but it really ends there.

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post #7 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:19 AM
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On Server 2008 you could add WMP into the operating system, I'm guessing the same is possible with 2008 R2

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post #8 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:22 AM
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2008 R2 and win7 are the same kernel.

Windows Media Center is not part of 2008 R2.

I'm sure it would work if you got everything moved over, but I'm not an expert on that at all. But 2008 R2 and win7 will take all the same patches/drivers/ect... They have the same guts, but just packaged with different services/apps.

The OOB experience with 2008 server is no additional services installed. That keeps it secure, no web server by default, no domain by default. So you add what you want.

Yes should play games fine

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post #9 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:38 AM
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Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 share similar Kernels - which fundamentally mean software will run on both OS but that is not the case all the time. Some necessary services and restrictions are put on server based OS. Such as running Windows Media Center, directx libraries,etc. In addition the server is NOT tuned for the visual aspects (Gaming, running movies, etc.) but as a server (tuned for background procsses). You may run into issues being your primary machine.

If your looking for a dedicated server that is one thing.. If your looking for it to be HTPC then your looking into the wrong OS.

If your looking for a pleasant experience and you dont have much networking or Win Server experience then Windows Home Server is your best bet.

Its has all the under pinnings of Windows Server (it is windows server) but with a layer that makes life easier to maintain and setup. I chose Windows Home Server (which is included in your technet subscription which I have) to manage and stream all my movies to my HTPCs which are all running Win 7 32 bit (32vs64 for a HTPC is debateable and I have my own opinion on this) media center with absolutely no issues.

You can download a trial version of WHS to see if you like it.. Though it doesnt have raid it has folder duplication which is all that is needed for most if you have enough storage. There are pros and cons... also look into FlexRaid - I actually like this a lot better but doesnt have some of the other features I like about WHS.
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanglx View Post

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 share similar Kernels - which fundamentally mean software will run on both OS but that is not the case all the time. Some necessary services and restrictions are put on server based OS. Such as running Windows Media Center, directx libraries,etc. In addition the server is NOT tuned for the visual aspects (Gaming, running movies, etc.) but as a server (tuned for background procsses). You may run into issues being your primary machine.

Except it has all the directX libraries. All the visual goodies can be turned back on. The drivers for video and the directX libraries (wich are the same) are what drive speed and quality.

A 2008 R2 box would get nearly identical frame rates in all games and do just as well playing back video in any 3rd party app as win 7.

The only thing you won't get is media center and the associated codecs. Full stop. Otherwise it's just as functional as the desktop OS.

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post #11 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:54 AM
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It has all the directX 10 libraries but I do NOT believe it has the directX 11 library's unless your running Win 2008 R2. Those features can be turned on (Enhanced Desktop Experience using Areo and Media Player) but you are still missing as you stated some components.

In other words you can NO benefit from running a Server based OS. Just because most libraries are included does not mean the OS was tuned to operate under those conditions. I can almost guarantee eventually you will hit a snag.

I highly recommend you do not use a Server based OS unless its being used as a workstation or a server- they typucally have overhead that is unneeded int he home and not optimized for home use - which in either case does not mean watching movies or playing games.


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Except it has all the directX libraries. All the visual goodies can be turned back on. The drivers for video and the directX libraries (wich are the same) are what drive speed and quality.

A 2008 R2 box would get nearly identical frame rates in all games and do just as well playing back video in any 3rd party app as win 7.

The only thing you won't get is media center and the associated codecs. Full stop. Otherwise it's just as functional as the desktop OS.

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post #12 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanglx View Post

It has all the directX 10 libraries but I do NOT believe it has the directX 11 library's unless your running Win 2008 R2. Those features can be turned on (Enhanced Desktop Experience using Areo and Media Player) but you are still missing as you stated some components.

In other words you can NO benefit from running a Server based OS. Just because most libraries are included does not mean the OS was tuned to operate under those conditions. I can almost guarantee eventually you will hit a snag.

I highly recommend you do not use a Server based OS unless its being used as a workstation or a server- they typucally have overhead that is unneeded int he home and not optimized for home use - which in either case does not mean watching movies or playing games.

We are talking about R2, and it does have DX11.

The internal MS codecs are only for WMP and Media center.
The overhead for the services that aren't turned on is Zero.
The kernel tuning v the desktop OS is minimal, it's mostly on the desktop things are turned off.

The only thing you may want to change is in system properties under advance, under perfomance on the advanced tab switch from adjust for best perfomance from background services to programs.

It comes down to this. If you want Windows media center, don't install server. If you want a server and don't need media center, server can do everything a win7 box can do and will do it just as well.

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post #13 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 02:39 PM
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Windows 2008 R2 and Win 7 share the same base kernel.

You don't have to worry about disabling things like mail server, web server and other server services on 2008 R2 because they aren't installed or enabled by default. Only the main server kernel is installed, then after that you enable and features and roles.

One of those features is Desktop Experience (google it for more details).
This allows the desktop frame work to allow things like Themes, Aero and also enables WMP.

There's one big hitch tho - there's no Media Center in Server 2008 no matter what you do to it. Not going to happen. If MCE is an absolute must, stick to W7 and forego the roaming desktop/domain.

If you're willing to be slightly more flexible - setup as a dedicated server (since you already have everything in a Norco 4220 and a raid hw raid array) and tuck this away in the basement running 2008 R2 with domain and all that there. Use a lighter thin pc as your MCE on W7 and the rest of your desktop clients. Enable the Hyper-V role on the 2008 R2 server. Use your technet sub to download and install WHS into a VM and use that just for it's great automated dedup server based and controlled client backups and live happily ever after. It all just works
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post #14 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 02:41 PM
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I've used Server 2K8 instead of Vista. There's a guide for it. It's quite common.

The basic theory is that the even though both Win7 and Server 2K8 are all NT 6.1 (or whatever) the exact build that 2K8 is (let's say it is 5821 instead of 5772 for Win7) is a superior product. It will be more stable, and more effort has been put into making it 'right', because it's the server OS. My experience has not proved that to be true.

The process is not as easy (though almost) as I made it sound, either.

I have no idea if WMC can be moved over. I would not be at all surprised if it couldn't without some serious hacking that would be way over our heads.

The main problem I've noticed is that there is no GPU hardware acceleration of HD content.

This means that if you don't have at least one powerful core (>Opteron 2.4ghz) you will stutter with some 1080p content.

Also, some applications, especially games, refuse to install or don't work with server, for whatever reason. This can be as simple as installing with compatibility for another OS (just a context menu option when r-clicking installer), or involve some more complicated work around, or not currently possible.

For instance, I loved the PowerToys Calculator for XP. I couldn't get it working in either Vista or Server2K8. I didn't try too hard, but I suspect some software is hard coded to not work with Server, and it would be very difficult for someone to bypass that.

There is a forum for using Server 2K8 as a workstation. A cursory glance reveals that many tout the befits based on the lack of 'MCE extensions' in server. I wasn't able to confirm or deny if anyone had got it working from a few brief searches. Like I said before, I would not be surprised if it would be practically impossible for us, and would require someone with a deep familiarity with the inner workings of the OS, and maybe even a dll hack/patch or something to make it work.
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post #15 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 03:47 PM
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Regarding creating a domain...if all you're looking for is nice and easy sharing features, Windows 7 offers HomeGroup for smaller numbers of users and computers. The only caveat is any PC connecting to the HomeGroup needs to also be running Windows 7.

I would highly recommend not using Windows 2008 R2 as your new HTPC/server/gaming rig. My main concern, in addition to the points made above, are running directory services alongside everything else. I'm sure you could install games and applications in a similar fashion to Win7, but that is the kind of stuff you intentionally leave off of a domain controller. Any programs/files/patches you install on a DC could potentially cause harm to a whole slew of other services that keep active directory running smoothly. It's just not an optimal scenario.

So far though, Windows 2008 R2 is a great server-side OS compared to previous versions.
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post #16 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the interesting info. It sounds like 2008 R2 is close to what I want, but not quite. I do want WMC, the wife and kids are used to it.

The roaming desktop would really make things easier in the WAF department though.

I suppose I'll just have to stick with W7 x64 pro and setup file sharing, and two (or more) computers to look like they have the same desktop.

Unfortunately, relegating the Norco 4220 machine to server-only duty is not going to happen any time soon. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have blown far too much $$ on the HTPC thing. I am not buying another PC anytime soon, even if it is a 'thin' entertainment center client. And how thin could it be with the gaming requirement, anyway?

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post #17 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

Thanks for all the interesting info. It sounds like 2008 R2 is close to what I want, but not quite. I do want WMC, the wife and kids are used to it.

The roaming desktop would really make things easier in the WAF department though.

Lol WAF. I had to look it up. I guess I have a GAF spectrum to work off of?

I've never tried this, but is there any reason you couldn't run a samba server in cygwin or even CoLinux and achieve what you want w/o buying a new computer (aside from the PITA it would be to learn and setup)?
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post #18 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

Thanks for all the interesting info. It sounds like 2008 R2 is close to what I want, but not quite. I do want WMC, the wife and kids are used to it.

The roaming desktop would really make things easier in the WAF department though.

I suppose I'll just have to stick with W7 x64 pro and setup file sharing, and two (or more) computers to look like they have the same desktop.

Unfortunately, relegating the Norco 4220 machine to server-only duty is not going to happen any time soon. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have blown far too much $$ on the HTPC thing. I am not buying another PC anytime soon, even if it is a 'thin' entertainment center client. And how thin could it be with the gaming requirement, anyway?

well you could move the servery bits like the raid into the closet and leave the HTPC parts like the video card / proc /ram / case in the living room.

I think you can configure roaming profiles inside the domain to copy user data around the network.

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post #19 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sotti View Post

well you could move the servery bits like the raid into the closet and leave the HTPC parts like the video card / proc /ram / case in the living room.

Yeah, I could. Still involves at least half of a new computer. I may someday, but not really interested right now.

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I think you can configure roaming profiles inside the domain to copy user data around the network.

Doesn't that involve a server OS? I can't do any domain-ish stuff with W7 pro other than join it to an existing domain, not create one, right?

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post #20 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

Yeah, I could. Still involves at least half of a new computer. I may someday, but not really interested right now.



Doesn't that involve a server OS? I can't do any domain-ish stuff with W7 pro other than join it to an existing domain, not create one, right?

right, part #2 required part #1.

I just ment that you didn't have to all be terminalling into the HTPC machine, just that you can have roaming profiles in a domain.

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post #21 of 21 Old 10-23-2009, 08:02 PM
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One other important reason to avoid Windows 2008 R2 as an HTPC is the lack of bluetooth support. There are hacks to bring bluetooth to Win2008 R2 but I have not been able to get them wokring on my Dell laptop.

I have been testing Win2008 R2 to see if it would be a good replacement for my Win2003 R2 server. My initial thoughts are that there are so many small changes that affect overall desktop like usability that I may try WHS or even use Win 7 on my server. Still working this one out. One example, I installed a Citrix client on the Win2008 R2 server and it took my over an hour to figure out an obscure IE setting that allowed the Citrix client to function properly. Not to mention the 10 minutes it took to figure out how to get Win2008 R2 to use the Wifi adapter in the laptop.

Does WHS allow software RAID1? Can Mac clients use WHS shares? (Don't intend to hijack this thread)
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