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Server 2012 - Core or GUI

Hi guys,

I hope you are all well and can assist.

We are looking at deploying windows 2012 and would like your guys opinions on what configuration you have your 2012 servers in and why.

I believe there are 2 options - namely:
1) Core
2) GUI

Do you build the server in one mode then flick to the other?

What we would like to know is what option do you guys use for your 2012 servers and why?

Sny help greatly appreciated.

Thank you
5 Solutions

Core is more secure as it need less updates because GUI is stripped off. But unelss you are well werse in PowerShell and Cmd commands, it may not be a good option. This is what you get after loggin in to core server.

Core Desktop
Windows Server 2012 has made it easier to switch between core and full server installation. So you could install the server with GUI and complete all the configuration, install RSAT on another server or desktop and make sure you can manage server remotely and then remove GUI from the server and make it Core.

If you are looking at ease of use and configuration, then I would suggest using GUI mode. If you are looking for a more secure platform and lower foot print for OS, then Core is the good option.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Our preference is to run with Core.

The Threat Landscape out there is pretty nasty. Core's reduced footprint means less vulnerabilities.

Plus, we do not need to reboot our Core servers nearly as often.

PowerShell can be used to configure almost all of the setup though there are some steps that are required in the command line.

SandeshdubeySenior Server EngineerCommented:
GUI to or from Server Core in Win2012.

You can switch between a Server Core installation and full installation in Windows Server 2012 because the difference between these installation options is contained in two specific Windows features that can be added or removed.
The first feature, Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure (Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra), provides a minimal server interface and server management tools such as Server Manager and the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). The second feature, Server Graphical Shell (Server- Gui-Shell), is dependent on the first feature and provides the rest of the GUI experience, including Windows Explorer.

You can see these two features in the Add Roles And Features Wizard, on the Select Features page, beneath User Interfaces And Infrastructure. To convert a full installation to a Server Core installation, just remove these two features in Server Manager.
Note that removing the first feature will automatically remove the second, dependent feature

You can also remove these graphical interface features in Windows PowerShell.If you have deployed a full installation of Windows Server 2012 and want to convert it to a Server Core installation, run the following

Windows PowerShell command:
Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-GUI-MgmtiInfra -restart

Remember that you only need to specify Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra  for removal to remove both this feature and Server-Gui-Shell. Once the graphical management tools and graphical shell have been removed, the server restarts. When you log back on, you are presented with the Server Core user interface.

Hope this helps
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Rob StoneCommented:
This link will give an overview of when Server Core is best used:

Remember, flicking between core and gui is great, but it does require a reboot.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Given that we run Core for production systems running Hyper-V clusters it is not a good idea to flip between Core and GUI.

In a pinch, when things are not working on a node or on the cluster trying to flip back to GUI may not work. Then what?

For standalone situations one can install RSAT on a Win8 desktop/VM and use HVRemote to configure both Hyper-V host and the management Win8 to communicate no matter whether domain or workgroup.

HVRemote: http://bit.ly/13pOYph

Ultimately though, Core requires a fairly solid level of expertise in the way the OS behaves, Roles work, and management via PowerShell and Command Line. So, if there is no one around that can handle Core in production, especially in a bad situation, then stick with GUI.

A lab would be a good place to start getting used to working with Core.

As a side note, core installations in a workgroup is a bit of a headache. More enjoyable to have the core installations in a domain for ease of management via RSAT and Server Manager from a different server/Windows 8.
Simon336697Author Commented:
thanks so much everyone.
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