Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Greg O'Connor, Trevor Parsons, Sandi Mappic, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: .NET, Virtualization, Silverlight, Web 2.0

.NET: Blog Post

Server Core in Windows Server 2012 - Improved Taste, Less Filling

Reduce patch management by one-third or more with Server Core!

Want to reduce your patch maintenance requirements by 1/3rd or more?

Of course! Who wouldn't?

Well, Server Core in Windows Server 2012 reduces the disk footprint of the operating system by approximately 4GB!  When using the Server Core installation option, the features related to the Server Graphical Shell ( ie., Explorer, Start Screen, and Internet Explorer ) and Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure are not installed - GUI features that are usually not required on a dedicated server, because we tend to do most of our IT management work from our admin workstations anyway, as a "best practice".  By not installing these features, we gain several advantages:

  • Less filling - particularly useful when virtualizing Windows Server 2012 ... you can conceivably provision a whole lot more VM's on a Hyper-V host if each VM requires ~ 4GB less disk space!
  • More uptime - Fewer installed features means fewer features to patch and maintain.  Server Core has been available since Windows Server 2008, and historically we've noted as much as 35-45% fewer patches needed on Server Core installations!  The next time you review your "Patch Tuesday" updates, you'll notice that a number of the operating system updates note:


  • More secure - Fewer installed features also mean less of a potential attack surface, providing a more "hardened" server environment that is "purpose-built" for just the roles and features that you specifically install.

For these reasons, the "Server Core installation" option is now the default installation option when installing Windows Server 2012.

Sounds great! Why haven't more IT Pros used Server Core in the past?

OK - this is where we get to the "Improved Taste" of Server Core in Windows Server 2012! :-)  When I've talked with IT Pros prior to Windows Server 2012 being released, there were often two common reasons that IT Pros hadn't been using Server Core:

  • I'm limited - Not many roles and features ran on Server Core in the past
  • It's just "different" - without a GUI interface, a lot of IT Pros had difficulty initially configuring new servers using command-line tools - it was a different experience for building new servers.

Both of these areas have been addressed in Windows Server 2012, which greatly improves the number of roles and applications that can be supported without a full "Server with GUI" user interface, while also making the Server Core configuration experience a more familiar path for arriving at on your server.  Let's look at each of these areas of improvement ...

What can I run using Server Core?
Windows Server 2012 provides the ability to run many more roles when using Server Core, including:

  • Active Directory Certificate Services
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • DHCP Server
  • DNS Server
  • File Services (including File Server Resource Manager)
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)
  • Hyper-V
  • Print and Document Services
  • Streaming Media Services
  • Web Server (including a subset of ASP.NET)
  • Windows Server Update Server
  • Active Directory Rights Management Server
  • Routing and Remote Access Server

Great for "core" servers ... So, when you're setting up your next round of dedicated servers for Domain Controllers, DHCP servers, DNS serversFile/Print servers, or Web servers - be sure to consider Server Core!  These server roles are indeed "core" to the network infrastructure of many organizations, and I'm sure you'll appreciate the improved uptime you'll likely receive from having fewer patches to manage.

For the Hyper-V role ... while you can certainly install the Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2012 using Server Core, we also provide a preconfigured FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 product.  Hyper-V Server 2012 is a "prebuilt" edition of Server Core + Hyper-V without the other roles that are included in a full copy of Windows Server 2012.  Hyper-V Server 2012 includes all the same great scale, availability and virtualization features as Windows Server 2012 and makes a powerful dedicated virtualization host.  Oh ... and did I mention ... it's FREE? :-)

My good friend and colleague, Matt Hester, has a great post on his blog for learning more about Hyper-V Server 2012!.

SQL Server too! ... In addition to Windows Server 2012 roles, you can also install SQL Server 2012 on Server Core operating system installations - note that the SQL Server 2012 Database Engine, Analysis Services and Integration Services components are supported on Server Core, but Reporting Services is not currently supported in this configuration.  Since SQL Server is also a "core" component of many network environments, "SQL on Server Core" can be an attractive option worth considering!

As other new products are released, we expect that more and more products will begin providing support for Server Core where possible.

What about other applications ... Can they run on Server Core?
Be sure to check with your application vendors ... You may be surprised to find that many will run on Server Core in Windows Server 2012!  For those that don't, we do provide another option that's also new in Windows Server 2012: Minimal Server Interface.

Minimal Server Interface is a "half-way" point between the full "Server with GUI" installation option and the "Server Core" installation option  When using Minimal Server Interface, the Server Graphical Shell is still removed, but Graphical Management Tools & Infrastructure remains in place.  We're offering this mode primarily for 3rd party applications that have local GUI management tools that are required to run from the server console.  When using Minimal Server Interface, approximately 300MB less disk space is required after the Server Graphical Shell is removed.  It's not quite the same level of disk space savings as Server Core, but anything less in terms of a disk footprint is still a welcome benefit!

How do I install Windows Server 2012 with Minimal Server Interface
Unlike "Server Core installation" and "Server with GUI", Minimal Server Interface is not an install-time option.  Instead, to configure the Minimal Server Interface, you'd first install Windows Server 2012 using the full "Server with GUI" option and then remove the "Server Graphical Shell" feature post-installation by using the Remove Roles and Features wizard in Server Manager.  You'll find the Server Graphical Shell feature listed under the "User Interfaces and Infrastructure" feature category in the wizard.

Alternatively, you can also remove the "Server Graphical Shell" via PowerShell by running the following command line as an Administrator:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell -Restart

NOTE: A server restart is required when removing or adding the "Server Graphical Shell" feature.  The -Restart parameter on the command line above will force a server restart to occur.  After restarting and logging back in to the server console, you'll see a very sparse user interface that looks just like "Server Core".  Unlike Server Core though, you can still launch graphical management tools ( ie., Server Manager, MMC based tools, etc ) from the local server command prompt.

I love the new Server Core! But ... is it any easier to configure in Windows Server 2012?
Great question!  Many IT Pros didn't leverage Server Core prior to Windows Server 2012 because it was so different performing the initial configuration of a new server entirely using command line tools.  In prior releases of Windows Server, selecting "Server Core" or "Server with GUI" was an irreversible install-time decision - it was a "Life Choice" for that server!  In Windows Server 2012, this has changed, too - the Server Graphical Shell and the Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure are now modular features.  And, as with any other server features, we can install them and uninstall them at any point during the server's life.  Keep in mind that a server restart will always be required after installing or uninstalling these features, so plan for a short maintenance window when switching server UI modes.

Based on this new feature-based design, we can initially install and configure the server using the full Server with GUI installation option.  After we've finished all of our initial server configuration work, then we can remove both the Server Graphical Shell and Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure features using the Remove Roles and Features wizard in Server Manager.

I'm in Server Core ... Now, How do I get back to the GUI?

After configuring a new server and switching it to "Server Core", you'll likely be doing your daily IT management work remotely from your admin workstation using the Remote Server Administration Tools.  However, on occasion, you may find a need to switch back to the full "Server with GUI" mode, particularly if you need local console access to a graphical management tool for a 3rd party application.  You can easily switch from Server Core to the full Server with GUI by loading PowerShell ( yes, PowerShell is supported in Server Core! ) and running the following PowerShell command line as an Administrator:

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell -Restart

After server restart and login, you'll find the full "Server with GUI" back again for your administrative pleasure!

What's Next?

In this article, we've walked through the benefits of the improved Server Core in Windows Server 2012: smaller disk footprint, increased uptime and more secure.  Along the way, we explored the new Minimal Server Interface and feature-based installation options for easily switching between server UI modes and supporting compatibility with a broader collection of roles, features and applications.

Do it! We offer a step-by-step hands-on lab on Server Core in Windows Server 2012 so that you can easily gain more real-world experience with installing, configuring and managing servers using the Server Core installation option.

Learn more! To gain more experience with Windows Server 2012 in your lab, feel free to join our FREE Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge online study group and become one of the 1,000+ IT Pros that are now studying as "Early Experts" on Windows Server 2012.

What do you think of Server Core in Windows Server 2012?
Are you excited about using Server Core in your environment for "purpose-built" dedicated server workloads?  Feel free to share your feedback and stories in the comments below!

Hope this helps,

Keith

Build Your Lab! Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012
Build Your Lab in the Cloud! Don’t Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Join our "Early Experts" study group! Want to Get Certified? Join our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group

More Stories By Keith Mayer

Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Be Among the First 100 to Attend & Receive a Smart Beacon. The Physical Web is an open web project within the Chrome team at Google. Scott Jenson leads a team that is working to leverage the scalability and openness of the web to talk to smart devices. The Physical Web uses bluetooth low energy beacons to broadcast an URL wirelessly using an open protocol. Nearby devices can find all URLs in the room, rank them and let the user pick one from a list. Each device is, in effect, a gateway to a web page. This unlocks entirely new use cases so devices can offer tiny bits of information or simple i...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
TechCrunch reported that "Berlin-based relayr, maker of the WunderBar, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware dev kit which resembles a chunky chocolate bar, has closed a $2.3 million seed round, from unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. The startup had previously raised a €250,000 friend and family round, and had been on track to close a €500,000 seed earlier this year — but received a higher funding offer from a different set of investors, which is the $2.3M round it’s reporting."
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital busines...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things needs an entirely new security model, or does it? Can we save some old and tested controls for the latest emerging and different technology environments? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, will review hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal privacy options and a new risk balance you might not expect.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Swiss innovators dizmo Inc. launches its ground-breaking software, which turns any digital surface into an immersive platform. The dizmo platform seamlessly connects digital and physical objects in the home and at the workplace. Dizmo breaks down traditional boundaries between device, operating systems, apps and software, transforming the way users work, play and live. It supports orchestration and collaboration in an unparalleled way enabling any data to instantaneously be accessed on any surface, anywhere and made interactive. Dizmo brings fantasies as seen in Sci-fi movies such as Iro...
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other mach...
This Internet of Nouns trend is still in the early stages and many of our already connected gadgets do provide human benefits over the typical infotainment. Internet of Things or IoT. You know, where everyday objects have software, chips, and sensors to capture data and report back. Household items like refrigerators, toilets and thermostats along with clothing, cars and soon, the entire home will be connected. Many of these devices provide actionable data - or just fun entertainment - so people can make decisions about whatever is being monitored. It can also help save lives.