This 5-part blog post series details the concepts, processes, and operations of Windows Server 2012 R2 installations options and the underlying technology, Features on Demand, as the following:
A quick review of these capabilities in Windows Server 2012 is included in http://aka.ms/7ways.
In Part 1, I talked about at server installation time, there are two installation options: Server Core and Server with a GUI, available. And the third installation option, Minimal Server Interface, is configurable after an installation is completed. Minimal Server Interface is basically a Server Core installation with Server Manager and MMC. And as needed, an administrator can switch among the three installation options with Features on Demand as detailed in Part 1.
The operations to switch installation options are on mainly two components: Graphic Management Tools and Infrastructure and Server Graphical Shell. The following shows where the two components are listed in Server Manager “Add roles and features” wizard and an output of PowerShell Get-WindowsFeature cmdlet, respectively.
Notice in Server Manager wizard, what we see are display names. When Server Manager is available, i.e. either in a Server with a GUI or Minimal Server Interface, we can simply use checkboxes of the two components to change installation options.
The output of Get-WindowsFeature as shown above on the other hand returns a table of Display Name, (Class or Object) Name, and Install State listing out all the roles and features with their states. And the highlighted items are the corresponding part to what is shown in Server Manager wizard.
The following depicts the two components involving server installation options. The two components are with (class or object) names: Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra and Server-Gui-Shell.
In production, Server Core may be employed as a deployment standard. Which does not provide the server graphical UI like Server Manager or MMC at all. There are times it is more productive or as a preference to operate with the server graphical UI. In such case, an administrator can enable or disable the server graphical UI, namely switch the installation options by enabling or disabling the above mentioned components.
The process of switching from one installation option to another is very straightforward. There are four facts to remember:
Using Server Manager PowerShell cmdlets as detailed in Part 3 below is the most straightforward way to switch a server installation option. Here are four sample statements to all possible scenarios.
Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell -Restart
Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart
Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart
Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell –Restart
Notice that the above statements can include the parameter, –Source, to specify installation sources if the workload of an operated feature has been previously removed as shown below. By default, if an installation source is needed and not found or not specified, it will try to download the source from Windows Updates.
Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell –Source d:\source\sxs
Or use the parameter, –Remove, as in the following sample to in addition to disabling the feature remove the associated workload from the side-by-side store as well.
Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell –Remove -Restart
Part [1, 2, 3, 5]