Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012

Server Core Installation

Like Windows Server 2008 R2, the Server Core Installation option is available in Windows Server 2012. When you perform this type of installation, you elect to install Windows Server 2012 without the Server Graphical Shell. In this configuration, neither the Microsoft Management Console nor the Desktop Experience features are available. You can manage a Sever Core Installation server locally using the command line or Windows PowerShell, remotely from a server that was installed using the Server with a GUI installation, or from a workstation that is configured with the Windows 8 Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT).

The Server Core Installation option is the default option for Windows Server 2012. Because it does not load the Server Graphical Shell, it is the recommended installation method to minimize server update requirements, reduce operating system size on disk, and minimize the server attack footprint. You can still configure server roles on this type of installation. However, none of the associated GUI-based management consoles will be installed during the configuration process. As such, the Server Core Installation requires approximately 4 GB less of hard disk space than the Server with a GUI installation option.

You can use the steps in the following procedure to perform a Windows Server 2012 Server Core Installation using the Windows Setup GUI:

  1. Boot the physical server or virtual machine using the Windows Server 2012 media.
  2. At the Windows Setup screen shown in Figure 1, select the appropriate Language, Time and Currency Format, and Keyboard or Input Method options using the pull-down menus, and then click Next.


Figure 1:
Windows Server 2012 Setup Screen

  1. As shown in Figure 2, select Install Now on the next screen.


Figure 2: Windows Server 2012 Installation Screen

  1. The Windows Server 2012 Setup begins as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3: Windows Server 2012 Setup screen after Install Now Selection

  1. On the next Windows Setup screen (Figure 4), enter your Windows Server 2012 product key, and then click Next.


Figure 4:
Windows Server 2012 Setup screen for Product Key Input

  1. As shown in Figure 5, select the Server Core Installation option for your Windows Server 2012 edition (Windows Server 2012 Standard in Figure 5), and then click Next.


Figure 5: Windows Server 2012 Setup screen for Operating System Selection

  1. After reading the License Terms on the next Windows Setup screen (Figure 6), click the
    I Accept the License Terms checkbox if you agree, and then click Next.


Figure 6:
Windows Server 2012 Setup screen for License Terms

  1. As shown in Figure 7, click on the Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced) option to install a clean version of Windows Server 2012. Alternatively, you can select the Upgrade: Install Windows and Keep Files, Settings, and Applications option to update a previous Windows Server version in a supported upgrade scenario.


Figure 7: Windows Server 2012 Setup screen for Installation Type Selection

  1. On the next Windows Setup screen (Figure 8), select the Drive and Partition where you
    want to install Windows Server 2012 operating system files, and then click Next.


Figure 8:
Windows Server 2012 Setup screen for Drive and Partition Selection

  1. As shown in Figure 9, the Windows Server 2012 installation begins. During installation, the system may reboot several times.


Figure 9:
Windows Server 2012 Installation Snapshot

  1. When the Windows Server 2012 Server Core Installation is complete, click Next to change the Administrator password (Figure 10).


Figure 10:
Windows Server 2012 Administrator Password Screen

  1. After you enter the new Administrator password and verify it, click OK to acknowledge the password change (Figure 11).


Figure 11:
Windows Server 2012  Password Acknowledgment Screen

  1. Because this is a Server Core Installation, only a command window is open after you are
    logged into the system (Figure 12).


Figure 12:
Windows Server 2012 Server Core Installation Command Window

After Windows Server 2012 is installed, you make the server useful by configuring network, firewall, domain, update, and other standard settings, as well as the roles and features for which it must provide service. With a Server Core installation, you can configure roles locally using the Windows PowerShell.

You can use the steps in the following procedure to discover server roles and features, and install multiple roles and features using Windows PowerShell:

  1. As shown in Figure 13, type in PowerShell in a command window.


Figure 13:
Windows Server 2012 Command Windows – Starting PowerShell

  1. Type Get-WindowsFeature at the PowerShell Command Line (Figure 14) to view the server roles and features that are installed or available on the server.


Figure 14:
Windows Server 2012 – Get-WindowsFeature PowerShell Cmdlet

  1. Type Install-WindowsFeature followed by the feature name (e.g., Hyper-V in Figure 15) listed in the Get-WindowsFeature cmdlet output to install a role or feature.


Figure 15:
Windows Server 2012 – Install-WindowsFeature PowerShell Cmdlet

  1. As shown in Figure 16, the installation begins and the progress updates throughout the operation.


Figure 16:
Windows Server 2012 Role Installation in Windows PowerShell

  1. After the installation is complete, the status of the operation is displayed as shown in Figure 17.


Figure 17:
Windows Server Role Installation Status in Windows PowerShell

It is possible to install multiple features at once by separating the feature names with commas. If you want to uninstall a server role or feature, you can use the Uninstall-WindowsFeature PowerShell cmdlet followed by the feature name. If you uninstall a role or feature, the installation files remain on disk to allow you to reinstall at a later time without needing original installation media.

Server with a GUI Installation

The process for the Server with a GUI installation is identical to the Server Core installation option, with the exception that you select the Server with a GUI option at the installation prompt (Figure 18).


Figure 18:
Windows Server 2012 Server with a GUI Installation Selection

After the Server with a GUI installation completes, you can configure the server and install roles and features using the Server Manager console shown in Figure 19, or using Windows PowerShell if you prefer to script the server configuration process.


Figure 19:
Windows Server 2012 Server Manager Console – Add Roles

Switching Between Server Core and Server with a GUI Installations

In Windows Server 2012, you have the option to switch between a Server Core Installation and a Server with a GUI installation or vice-versa, based on changes in requirements for any particular server.

Converting from a Server Core Installation to a Server with a GUI Installation

The procedure to convert a Server Core to a Server with a GUI installation is simple using Windows PowerShell. However, it is a requirement that you issue the PowerShell cmdlets using elevated (Administrator) privileges.

You can use the steps in the following procedure to convert a Server Core installation to a Server with a GUI installation using Windows PowerShell:

  1. From a command window running with Administrator privileges, type PowerShell to invoke the Windows PowerShell environment.
  2. As shown in Figure 20, type Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath <path to wim>\install.wim to determine the index number for the appropriate Server with a GUI image.


Figure 20:
Windows Server 2012 – Get-WindowsImage PowerShell Cmdlet

  1. As shown in Figure 21, type Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source wim:<path to wim>\install.wim:<Index#> at the PowerShell Command Line to install the Windows Server 2012 GUI components.


Figure 21:
Windows Server 2012 – Install-WindowsFeature PowerShell Cmdlet

  1. If you prefer, you can use Windows Update as the source of the installation files by typing Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell.
  2. As shown in Figure 22, Windows Server 2012 restarts to complete the installation of the GUI components.


Figure 22:
Windows Server 2012 Features Configuration

Converting from a Server with a GUI Installation to a Server Core Installation

Conversely, you can convert from a Server with a GUI installation to a Server Core installation (a restart is also required) using the Windows PowerShell cmdlet Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra –restart, as shown in Figure 23.


Figure 23:
Windows Server 2012 Uninstall-WindowsFeature PowerShell Cmdlet

Minimal Server Interface Option

Another Windows Server 2012 configuration option, Minimal Server Interface, allows you to remove some of the graphical components installed with a Server with a GUI installation. The components that are removed include:

  • Internet Explorer 10
  • Windows Explorer
  • Desktop
  • Start Screen
  • Control Panel
  • Taskbar

The Microsoft Management Console, Server Manager, and some Control Panel applets remain on the server.

Converting to a Minimal Server Interface from a Server with a GUI Installation

Both the Server Manager and Windows PowerShell can be used to convert a Server with a GUI installation to a Minimal Server Interface configuration.

You can use the steps in the following procedure to convert a Server with a GUI installation to a Minimal Server Interface Configuration using Server Manager:

  1. On the Windows Server 2012 system, open Server Manager as shown in Figure 24.


Figure 24:
Windows Server 2012 – Server Manager Console

  1. As shown in Figure 25, click Manage and select Remove Roles and Features.


Figure 25:
Server Manager Console – Remove Roles and Features Selection

  1. In the Remove Roles and Features Wizard (Figure 26), on the Before You Begin page, select Next.


Figure 26:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Before You Begin Page

  1. On the Select Destination Server page (Figure 27), select the server and click Next.


Figure 27:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Select Destination Server Page

  1. On the Remove Server Roles page (Figure 28), click Next.


Figure 28:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Remove Server Roles Page

  1. On the Remove Features page (Figure 29), scroll down to the User Interfaces and Infrastructure feature, click to expand it, unselect the Server Graphical Shell option, and then click Next.


Figure 29:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Remove Features Page

  1. On the Confirmation Page (Figure 30), click Remove.


Figure 30:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Confirm Removal Selections Page

  1. After the removal process completes (Figure 31), click Close and restart the server.


Figure 31:
Remove Roles and Features Wizard – Removal Progress Page

  1. As shown in Figure 32, after the restart the Minimal Server Interface is enabled, and the Server Manager and a command window are displayed.


Figure 32:
Windows Server 2012 – Minimal Server Interface Configuration

If you prefer, you can use the steps in the following procedure to convert a Server with a GUI installation to a Minimal Server Interface Configuration using Windows PowerShell:

  1. On the Windows Server 2012 system, type Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell in a Windows PowerShell window with elevated privileges (Figure 33).


Figure 33:
Windows Server 2012 – Uninstall-WindowsFeature Cmdlet

  1. When the removal process completes, restart the server using the Restart-Computer PowerShell cmdlet.

With a Minimal Server Interface configuration, you can continue to use the Server Manager to manage the server or use Windows PowerShell.

It is also possible to achieve a Minimal Server Interface configuration by adding the Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure feature to a Server Core installation.

You can use the steps in the following procedure to convert a Server Core installation to a Minimal Server Interface Configuration using Windows PowerShell:

  1. On the Windows Server 2012 system, type Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra in a Windows PowerShell window with elevated privileges (Figure 34).


Figure 34:
Windows Server 2012 – Install-WindowsFeature Cmdlet

  1. When the installation process completes, restart the server using the Restart-Computer PowerShell cmdlet.

In this configuration, you can benefit from a Windows Server 2012 installation with a minimized attack surface, and smaller operating system footprint on disk while still being able to perform management tasks using the GUI management tools like Server Manager.

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