John Taylor's blog

Desktop Management

Converting from Server 2012 Core install to Full GUI

Converting from Server 2012 Core install to Full GUI

  • Comments 17
  • Likes

Windows Server 2012 Core boasts many enticing enhancements which include reducing the installation footprint, attack surface and management overhead.  Features on Demand allows the administrator to remove roles which are not needed to help reduce the disk size required for the installation.  By default all features are stored in the %windir%\winsxs directory, but administrators can use the uninstall-windowsfeature <featurename> –remove command to delete the files associated with that feature from the winsxs directory. 

If you install Server Core edition or have removed the Server-Gui-Shell feature from Windows Server 2012 and want to convert to full GUI, you have some additional tasks that you will need to perform.  I attempted to just execute the widely published PowerShell command to convert to full GUI and received the following message.

The installation froze for some time at this stage before showing the error message.



The error message says it cannot find the source files to perform the installation. 

I was building a new lab environment and didn’t have the ability to stage the installation files on the network, but that is an option.  My environment was inside a Hyper-V environment on my Windows 8 system, so I needed to pull the files from the disk.  As you know the installation files are located inside the /sources/install.wim file.  To get the Full GUI running, I performed the following steps:

  1. Mount the Windows Server 2012 ISO to the host.
  2. open an administrative command prompt
  3. mkdir c:\mount
  4. ‘dism /mount-wim /wimfile:d:\sources\install.wim /index:4 /mountdir:c:\mount /readonly
  5. powershell (enter PowerShell prompt)
  6. install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra,server-gui-shell –restart –source c:\mount\windows\winsxs


The last command will finish the installation and restart the server when complete.  When the Install-WindowsFeature PowerShell command is executed and the server has internet access, the required files can be downloaded from Windows Update.   Some of these features are very large, so specifying a network location or mounting the installation WIM, using the procedure above, may be the best alternative for installing removed features.



  • Thanks you for this post, was having the problem and it wasn't making much sense.  if you don't mind I'm going to post the content of the error message so that it comes up in search results easier


    install-windowsfeature : The request to add or remove features on the

    specified server failed.

    Installation of one or more roles, role services, or features failed.

    The source files could not be downloaded.

    Use the "source" option to specify the location of the files that are required

    to restore the feature. For more information on specifying a source location,

    see Error: 0x800f0906

    At line:1 char:1

    + install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra,server-gui-shell

    + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

       + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (@{Vhd=; Credent...Name=localh

      ost}:PSObject) [Install-WindowsFeature], Exception

       + FullyQualifiedErrorId : DISMAPI_Error__Cbs_Download_Failure,Microsoft.Wi



  • Hi Chad,
    The best way is to place W2012 Source file on a share (e.i \\fileserver\W2012Source)
    from server core, use net use to map drive to \\fileserver\W2012Source ==> net use \\fileserver\W2012Source /persistent:yes

    Then, the command prompt usind DISM to mount W2012 image file from the network drive you just mapped
    then launch add-WindowsFeature again and if DISM detect the correct source file you will be able to switch to Core with GUI or Shell GUI


  • hi if you don't mind i was having the same error and i followed the steps to see if it would work but when i i typed in the command "dism /mount-wim /wimfile:d:\sources\install.wim /index:4 /mountdir:c:\mount /readonly" it gave me an Erro:87 and said the mount-wim/wimfile option is unknown
    any idea on what i should do

  • when i type i the command dism /mount-wim /wimfile:d:\sources\install.wim /index:4 /mountdir:c:\mount /readonly i get the error 21 device is not ready, what should i do? please help

  • Thanks John. Took no more than 10 mins in total to convert core to GUI (mounting the image and then installing GUI feature) Worked a treat! Dee

  • This was a life saver. I had a project where the GUI was not installed and needed this exact set of steps to quickly continue progress. All steps worked perfectly.
    The world is a better place because of people who provide this information. Pay it forward folks.

  • Well done, it worked smoothly, thanks alot

  • Only enter the command dism /mount-wim /wimfile:d:\sources\install.wim /index:4 /mountdir:c:\mount /readonly

    You should not enter any symbol like " . It will work

  • Here is a simpler method:

    1. get the wimfile index of your current installation
    2. mount or map to the w2k12 media DVD
    3. Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Source wim:x:\sources\install.wim:y
    x is from step 2. y is from step 1


    Here is a simpler method:

    1. get the wimfile index of your current installation
    2. mount or map to the w2k12 media DVD
    3. run powershell by running POWERSHELL.EXE in the CMD prompt.
    4. Issue the command :
    Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Source wim::\sources\install.wim:

    where x is from step 2. y is from step 1

  • pikasuoh method worked because you need to find out which index number you need to use. My version only had 1 index, not 4.

  • Hi,

    I followed above steps and all worked ok. I notice that the c:\mount folder is using almost 10GB space. Can I delete that folder? Or are there any special commands to remove it?

  • To clean up and unmount the wim when you're finished, follow this link.

  • hi i have installed server 2012 core after installing in command prompt i have entered powershell, then in powershell i tried install command of gui install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra, server-gui-shell-restart . but it is not installing gui and iam getting error. please help me

  • install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra, server-gui-shell-restart

Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment