Anyone who’s deployed Windows Server 2008 (Pre-R2) with the Server Core deployment option will know it requires a slight behavioural change from what most Windows guys will have been used to. For those of you who need a refresher, the Server Core interface, in all it’s glory, looked like Exhibit A, below:
OK, the eagle-eyed among you will know that isn’t a screengrab from a Server Core box, as I’ve got aero-glass present – it’s actually from my Windows 7 box, but, the point is, the interface is the same, all you get is the command line for manipulation and local management. With a reduced overhead, less patching, reduced attack surface, and the ability to trim the install size still further using DISM, there are some key benefits to using Core, however, for some, those benefits are outweighed by the additional ‘overhead’ around managing the thing! Locally at least.
Step up Core Configurator. Developed by Andrew Auret and Tony Ison from Microsoft UK, this little tool, which can be run from a USB stick, gave the usual GUI-admins much more of a GUI to work with, simplifying and speeding up implementation of aspects such as installing Roles and Features, managing Windows Updates, and Licenses, but also turning on things like MPIO and setting iSCSI options. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it looked like this:
As you can see, even in V1, it was a much simpler and more streamlined interface than just using CMD!
Fast forward to now, and V2 is upon us, with significant GUI and usability improvements (click to enlarge):
As you can see, it’s pretty rich, and you can run it directly from a USB stick, so it’s always handy to have with you! What else can it do?
You can download it here. I know I will be!
this tool is nice. But what do you do when you need to configure NIC specific settings like teaming. Specially when you use HyperV Server 2008 R2 with Clustering and you want to have the NICs redunded and you have to have the NIC vendors configuration GUI. This basically disqualifies Core as a serious plaform for HyperV clusting. What do you think?
Things are slowly getting better for NIC Teaming in Core, but this tool wouldn't directly help with that. HP, Broadcom and Intel either have, or are working on solutions that are supported in the Core environment and provide a GUI (just like Core Configurator), but I appreciate it isn't where it needs to be right now. I would say, test with the very latest version of the respective drivers, and then use Core Configurator from that point to set network addresses and so on.
Hope that helps,
You're right. This is a cool tool.
I could have done with this a few months back!!!
You and me both!