Do you ever use Windows Server Core rather than the GUI? If so, why?

hi guys

Do many of you ever install the Windows Server core version rather than the GUI?

If so, are you doing so to minimise the amount of resources taken up and reduce security risks?

Also, would you say most larger enterprises do that? I'm familiarising myself with the CLI.

Thanks for helping
Yash
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YashyAsked:
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Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Do many of you ever install the Windows Server core version rather than the GUI?
Primarily web servers

If so, are you doing so to minimise the amount of resources taken up and reduce security risks?
GUI not really needed but, yes, less patches

Also, would you say most larger enterprises do that? I'm familiarising myself with the CLI.
You and majority of people misunderstand core/nano. You can still manage it via server manager and almost do everything without Powershell/CLI
However, managing it (and full GUI servers) via remote Powershell is powerful and convenient
DevAdminSystem Engineer | .NET Developer | Microsoft MVP | Technical SpeakerCommented:
Starting with Windows Server 2012 R2 there are also a third installation option: Minimal Server Interface read this:
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/yungchou/2014/01/16/windows-server-2012-r2-installation-options-and-features-on-demand-part-4-of-5/

this third mode could be the right compromise for those who want to have the GUI on the server, but only when they need it
timgreen7077Exchange EngineerCommented:
I generally install windows core on systems because it has a smaller security foot print which requires substantially less patches and updates than GUI installed systems. Sometimes there are windows patches needed for GUI servers and there are no required patches for core systems.

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YashyAuthor Commented:
thanks for the answers guys.
YashyAuthor Commented:
Shaun - in reference to "You and majority of people misunderstand core/nano" I certainly hope this is a constructive criticism.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
All of our cluster nodes are installed with Server Core. We're also starting to deploy Domain Controllers in Server Core as opposed to full GUI.

There is a reduced attack surface in Core but now that .NET is built-in that surface is a lot broader than it used to be.

MinShell is no longer available (the Server 2012 R2 ability to have MMCs). It's Core or GUI (Desktop Experience).

As a point of reference: Here are some PowerShell guides:
PowerShell Guide - Standalone Hyper-V Server
PowerShell Guide - New VM PowerShell
PowerShell Guide - New-VM Template: Single VHDX File
PowerShell Guide - New-VM Template: Dual VHDX Files
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Shaun - in reference to "You and majority of people misunderstand core/nano" I certainly hope this is a constructive criticism.
Of course :). Not really even criticism
kevinhsiehCommented:
I use Core wherever possible. Hyper-V hosts are either Core or Hyper-V Server, both of which have the same UI. All of my file servers are Core, as are DCs wherever possible. Historically NPS required full GUI, so my full DCs with NPS run full GUI. It has taken Microsoft a long time to get all of their stuff running on Core. Exchange 2019 is the first version, and I am not sure when SQL supported Core.

I do Core for the smaller disk footprint (helps on my SAN and backups), and for reduced patching and attack surface.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Thanks for that.

A couple of additional thoughts ...

Server Core can run a lot longer in between reboots though as a rule that may not be a great idea as patches are important. The slimmer code does make for stability improvements over Desktop Experience in our own experience running 100% Server Core since Windows Server 2008 released the ability to do so (with very little PowerShell to boot!).

Nano was initially released as an ultra-slim OS to run either as a Hyper-V or Scale-Out File Server cluster node and that was all. We tried to get it going on bare-metal but it was such a pain that we dropped it and stuck with Server Core. Microsoft transitioned Nano from that idea to running it solely as a Container OS and that's where it resides today. In containers.
McKnifeCommented:
As for "less patches on core" - I don't see less patches coming in. Sure, there is no flash inside the browsers as there are no browsers, but the cumulative updates that server 2016 with GUI gets are the same that server 2016 without a GUI gets.
I don't think we can say that what Microsoft claims to be more secure ever proved to be true in this case.

Could anybody here name a few 2018 security problems that don't happen on the core edition?

Why I write: I would not make someone install core for security reasons but only for performance reasons.
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
..."less patches on core"...
Same patch, not doing as much patching on core as on GUI
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