One of the big challenges with installing Windows Server Core is that after the installation you are presented with this:
Even if you are comfortable on the windows command line (and let’s be honest here) most of us (pretty close to all of us) would be hard pressed to even set an IP address. With PowerShell becoming very popular among IT Pros the CLI skills of the average Windows Administrator are improving but PowerShell was not available on core until R2 was released.
In my environments I try to do as much server configuration by group policy as possible so that helps a lot with manual configuration of settings. However when using Windows Server 2008 Core you are going to have to input some fairly complex commands to get an IP address set and the server joined to the domain. In R2 though Microsoft has included a tool called SConfig to simplify those initial configuration tasks. When you run the command it calls itself Server Configuration, but I choose to let the “S” stand for Simple Configuration.
As you can see the basic commands you need to get your server up and running are here for you. Generally speaking I simply run command #2 to set the computer name, command #8 to set the IP settings, and command #1 to join the server to the domain.
After that point I like to let Group Policy take over to provide a central point for configuration settings. If you are not in an Active Directory environment I would recommend scripting out your settings to provide consistency and easy documentation.