Windows Server Core Install - When Would You Use It?



  • I am building a Server 2012 VM this morning, and I thought to myself, when would someone use the core install instead of the GUI? I know people probably do that, but when does that make more sense? And additionally, why would you do that instead of just using some Linux distro if you really want command line?



  • If you have a data center license it makes perfect sense. You have hyper-v and then server core. The servers are managed remotely anyway.
    I would install the core, add GUI and configure so needed then remove the GUI once it is able to be easily handled via the remote admin tools.



  • It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.

    I haven't had the luxury of time enough to learn the relevant powershell scripts, that is why I add GUI, then drop it.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.

    I haven't had the luxury of time enough to learn the relevant powershell scripts, that is why I add GUI, then drop it.

    I'm in the same boat. I'll get to powershell in due time.



  • There are remote GUI tools. You don't need PowerShell to manage Core.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    There are remote GUI tools. You don't need PowerShell to manage Core.

    Remote server management prior to the system being joined to the domain is a pain in the ass. I have never been able to get it to work well. Tons of information out there stating you can do it with trusted network rules and such, but again, I have never gotten it to work right. Why waste my time when I can just turn on the GUI, handle the few tasks I need / want to handle on server turn up, then drop the GUI.



  • True. GUI dropping is nice.

    Going cloud the core install will be a big deal in the future.



  • If I did not before, I realize now I have much to learn about Server 2012.



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    If I did not before, I realize now I have much to learn about Server 2012.

    Ditto. I feel that there was little to learn going from Windows Server 2003 through Server 2008 R2. But Server 2012+ have been game changers. Of course my view has been narrowed by my SMB working environment.



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    If I did not before, I realize now I have much to learn about Server 2012.

    It's the first Windows platform that the Unix world really likes.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @NetworkNerd said:

    If I did not before, I realize now I have much to learn about Server 2012.

    It's the first Windows platform that the Unix world really likes.

    From a server perspective? I knew many linux people that were pretty happy when Windows 7 came out too.



  • When you really get down to it, core still has a GUI. If you log in, you're presented with a command line italicised textwindowitalicised text. There's still a GUI rendering the window, even if it is a minimalist one. With as little resources as the 2012 full GUI takes, I just leave it in. Perhaps if a file server's going to be just a file server, it would be ok, as it could be completely managed from Server Manager and PowerShell. However, it seems like along the way, something always comes up that either requires or works best with the GUI. Something that comes to mind is the QuickBooks database manager. It's a small program that runs on the file server that the QB files are on. Perhaps down the road, third parties will start designing their software to work fluidly without the GUI, and it would be more of an option.
    *Edited for spelling



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.

    It's the default option and the option that is suggested with all new 2012 R2 installs thanks to the Server Manager and PowerShell. The really nice thing is that you can deploy Server Core, and if you so choose at a later date install the full GUI and even revert it back to Core. It's not a irrevocable decision now with 2012.



  • The place where Core really matters is for cloud deployments where you are rolling out scores or hundreds of identical systems from an image and you need to manage it with tools like cfEngine, Chef, Puppet, etc. Core is the only way that makes sense there.



  • @Bill-Kindle said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.

    It's the default option and the option that is suggested with all new 2012 R2 installs thanks to the Server Manager and PowerShell. The really nice thing is that you can deploy Server Core, and if you so choose at a later date install the full GUI and even revert it back to Core. It's not a irrevocable decision now with 2012.

    That has saved me a few times so far.



  • @Nara said:

    @Bill-Kindle said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    It's the only install option that I normally use. I only install the GUI if there is a specific site technical deficiency making it necessary.

    It's the default option and the option that is suggested with all new 2012 R2 installs thanks to the Server Manager and PowerShell. The really nice thing is that you can deploy Server Core, and if you so choose at a later date install the full GUI and even revert it back to Core. It's not a irrevocable decision now with 2012.

    That has saved me a few times so far.

    Up until about a month or so ago I was still afraid of doing this because I thought it was still irrevocable like it was in 2008 R2. After seeing how to switch back and forth with a few PowerShell cmdlets and parameters, I'm going to install and maintain more core systems because I always have RSAT and Server Manager now.