Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Yeshim Deniz, Greg O'Connor, Trevor Parsons, AppDynamics Blog

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
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 Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The worldwide cellular network will be the backbone of the future IoT, and the telecom industry is clamoring to get on board as more than just a data pipe. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Evan McGee, CTO of Ring Plus, Inc., discussed what service operators can offer that would benefit IoT entrepreneurs, inventors, and consumers. Evan McGee is the CTO of RingPlus, a leading innovative U.S. MVNO and wireless enabler. His focus is on combining web technologies with traditional telecom to create a new breed of unified communication that is easily accessible to the general consumer. With over a de...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
SYS-CON Media announced today that 9 out of 10 " most read" DevOps articles are published by @DevOpsSummit Blog. Launched in October 2014, @DevOpsSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce softw...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionality and provide short-term introductory projects that developers can complete between sessions.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Grow your business with enterprise wearable apps using SAP Platforms and Google Glass. SAP and Google just launched the SAP and Google Glass Challenge, an opportunity for you to innovate and develop the best Enterprise Wearable App using SAP Platforms and Google Glass and gain valuable market exposure. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian McPhail, Senior Director of Business Development, ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, outlined the timeline of the SAP Google Glass Challenge and the opportunity for developers, start-ups, and companies of all sizes to engage with SAP today.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
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...