The 12 best tricks for Windows Server 2012

Treasure Trove

Trick 4

Modifying the Server Name, Server Manager View, and IE

Many of the tasks that are part of the basic server configuration can be handled directly in Server Manager. To do this, click on Local Server . In the middle panel you will see the different tasks and can launch the corresponding wizards by clicking on the links.

In the View menu, you can disable the Welcome Tile ; then, in Manage | Server Manager Properties enable the option Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon . Normally you need Internet Explorer to install drivers. In Windows Server 2012, advanced security is automatically enabled for Internet Explorer, which can interfere with downloading the drivers. You can disable advanced security for Internet Explorer in Server Manager as follows: Open Server Manager and on the left side, click Local Server . On the right side, click the On link next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration in the Properties section. In the dialog box that then appears, disable the option for Users or Administrators only.

After advanced security is disabled, you should be able to download drivers with no trouble.

Trick 5

Managing Windows Server 2012 with Windows 8

Microsoft provides the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) to let administrators manage Windows Server 2012 with Windows 8. Installing the tools on a workstation with Windows 8 gives you all of the administration tools you need for managing Windows Server 2012.

In addition to the various management tools for the server roles, the RSAT installation wizard also adds the new Server Manager from Windows Server 2012 to Windows 8. Using Server Manager, you can connect the various servers on which Windows Server 2012 is installed to the network. You also can use Server Manager on a Windows 8 workstation to install server roles on servers.

The Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 include Server Manager, management tools for server roles and features of Windows Server 2012, PowerShell cmdlets, and command-line tools for the management of roles and features. The Remote Server Administration Tools can be downloaded as a .msu file directly in the Download Center [1]. To use Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 to connect to more servers, click on Manage and then Add Server . In the window, you can then search for servers and manage them in your local Server Manager.

Trick 6

Core Servers, Minimal Server Interface, GUI

Every installation of Windows Server 2012 has a Server Core as its basis. This provides all the essential command-line management tools, but it lacks all of the graphical management tools. You need to manage the server via some other server or with the Remote Server Administration Tools on Windows 8. During the installation, you can also opt to install Server Core mode. After the installation, you can easily install the management tools and the graphical interface on Windows Server 2012.

New in Windows Server 2012, besides the ability to install the graphical management tools on Server Cores, is the Minimal Server Interface. This installs the most important management tools for the graphical interface but is missing additional applications, such as Media Player, Explorer, and Internet Explorer. The desktop is also missing with this option. Many of the programs from the Control Panel and most of the administration tools for server roles and features, do work. The Minimal Server Interface is an intermediate stage between Server Core and servers with a graphical interface.

You can uninstall the graphical interface either in Server Manager or PowerShell. In Server Manager, use Manage | Remove Roles and Features . The Remove features page has a User Interfaces and Infrastructure field with three options:

  • Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure – This refers to the management consoles of the most important graphical tools on the server. If only this feature is installed, and not the graphical shell for server and desktop experience features, you have a server with a Minimal Server Interface.
  • Desktop Experience – This feature is especially intended for Remote Desktop Servers. It converts the server interface into a Windows 8 interface and provides tools such as Media Player, Photo Manager, themes, and more.
  • Server Graphical Shell – You can disable this feature together with the desktop experience to use the Minimal Server Interface. Note that this also removes Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) and Internet Explorer from the server. You can also use this feature in PowerShell with the command:
Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell

When you install a Core Server, the server is also missing the binaries for installing the graphical interface. You will need either to configure an Internet connection for the server for the installation so that you can download the required data from Windows Update, or you need to enter the folder with the Windows Server 2012 installation files.

You can perform the install on Server Cores with PowerShell using the command

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra

or you can connect with the server using Server Manager on a server on the network. Use the following commands in PowerShell:

Import-Module Dism
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -online -Featurename ServerCore-FullServer,Server-Gui-Shell,Server-Gui-Mgmt

Alternatively, you can do:

Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer/featurename:Server-Gui-Shell/featurename:Server-Gui-Mgmt

to install the graphical interface.

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