Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Windows Server 2012 Server Core. It's a MUST.

Seriously, you don't have any 2012 servers yet?

Or if you do, are you still wasting resources and patching efforts by leaving the GUI installed?

Microsoft hit the nail on the head with this operating system. It is truly designed for cloud, but that does not mean that smaller organizations cannot utilize some of the very cool features like "remote everything" through the server manager to manage all of your server core machines. In Server Manager you simply go to the All Servers page, right click and add one, some or all of your servers at the same time. Once they are considered to be "Online", you can right click any server and get a list of the administrative tools available on that machine. Or even open a Remote Powershell session. Powershell is your best friend if you don't already know.

The resource footprint for server core is dramatically smaller than a full GUI install, and, even better, the patching requirements are much, much smaller. As of this post, there is not a single patch out yet for Server Core, yet the GUI version has about a dozen or so. This simplifies server management and reduces reboots, awesome news for those critical services.

Did you already install Windows Server 2012 with the full GUI and wish you had Server Core instead so you can be cool like me? No problem. Open the Remote Powershell on the server that you want to remove the GUI from and use either one of these commands:

Add-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra


Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra
(this is an alias for the first one, take your pick)

You should see a light blue progress bar and once it completes, you will be told that you need to restart that server (it had to happen at least once). This can be done using the good ole standby in your Remote Powershell session:

shutdown -r -t 0

If you are lucky enough to be running virtual machines for your servers, this reboot should be pretty fast (another reason to virtualize, and I highly recommend Hyper-V 2012, but that's another upcoming topic). If you can reconnect with Remote Powershell and do anything, the server is back online.

Now your server runs better, requires less maintenance and resources and might actually be fun to manage! You can even monitor all of your servers right from a single Server Manager interface to see if they are online.

Windows Server 2012. Get it and go Core!!

"If you haven't found it yet, keep looking" -- Steve Jobs

- Peter Trast, MCITP EA, MCITP DBA, MCT LinkIn with Peter