Category: Hyper-V

Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

In Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing on a couple of things. One of the things Microsoft wants to improve with Windows Server 2019, is the Windows Server Core experience. Bringing a great remote management experience with Windows Admin Center is one thing, the other feature which should improve the Server Core experience, is the Server Core App Compatibility feature-on-demand (FOD).

In the past you might have some problems running application that required a local GUI interaction on Server Core. Some of the applications you couldn’t install, failed after the installation or just didn’t work right. With the Server Core App Compatibility FOD, Microsoft improves this situation in Windows Server 2019 Core. FoD improves application compatibility of Windows Server Core by adding binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop UI.

Here are some Operating system components that are available with in the FOD package.

  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

Like the new Windows Container Image, the Server Core App Compatibility FOD should make sure you can run more apps on Server Core.

How to install Windows Server 2019  App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

Windows Server 2019 App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

First you will need to download the Feature-on-Demand ISO and safe it on your server. Mount the ISO Image:

Install Server Core App Compatibility

After that you can use DISM to add the FOD package to your Windows Server 2019, installation. Just be sure, this only works on Windows Server Core, Desktop Experiences already has these binaries.

Windows Server 2019 Core App Compatibility FOD

You will need to restart your server. After the restart you can run tools like explorer.exe, Device Manager and many more on Windows Server Core.

When to use which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option

With WIndows Server 2019 you now get a couple of installation options, I tried to summrize this in this table:

Installation OptionScenario
Windows Server CoreServer Core is the best installation option for production use and with Windows Admin Center remote management is highly improved.
Windows Server Core with Server Core App Compatibility FODWorkloads, and some troubleshooting scenarios, if Server Core doesn’t meet all your compatibility requirements. You can add an optional package to get past these issues. Try the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD).
Windows Server with Desktop ExperienceWindows Server with Desktop Experience is still an option and still meets like previous releases. However, it is significantly larger than Server Core. This includes larger disk usage, more time to copy and deploy and larger attack surface. However if Windows Server Core with App Compatibility does not support the App or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.

Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview for Server Core App Compatibility FOD

As of today Windows Server 2019 is still only available as Windows Server Insider Preview. You can download the Windows Server 2019 Preview and the App Compatibility Feature-on-demand from the Windows Server Insider download page.

You can read more about the Server Core App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand on the Windows Server Blog.

 



Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox – Isolated Windows Desktop

Today Microsoft announced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is built based on Windows Container technology, which allows you to spin up an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software. The software you run and install in the Windows Sandbox does not affect the host. If you shut down the Windows Sandbox all changes and all software you installed in the Sandbox are gone again. This sounds very similar to the technology Windows Defender Application Guard already used to build a sandbox environment for Microsoft Edge.

Windows Sandbox Overview

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows – everything required for this feature ships with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. No need to download a VHD!
  • Pristine – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows
  • Disposable – nothing persists on the device; everything is discarded after you close the application
  • Secure – uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation, which relies on the Microsoft’s hypervisor to run a separate kernel which isolates Windows Sandbox from the host
  • Efficient – uses integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU

Windows Sandbox brings the advantages of Windows Containers and also adds a desktop. If you compare this to a Windows 10 Virtual Machine, the Windows Sandbox will consume much less resources, it starts up match faster and will be much more efficient with hardware resources. You can think of it as a lightweight virtual machine, which can share the same hardware but also the same kernel and memory as the host system (like a container).



System Center release cadence

System Center 2019 – What’s new

Microsoft just launched Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center, which also raised the interest in System Center 2019. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft was talking about what is new in System Center 2019, the future of System Center, and how it fits in with Windows Admin Center and other management tools.

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Story

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Overview

With Microsoft now offering a range of products to manage your Cloud and Datacenter environments, the question comes up “which is the best solution?”. It is not only depending on the size of your company, it also depends on which services you are using and what your job role is. Coming from the Azure site, you have Azure Security and Management, which allows you not only to manage your Azure resources but also integrates and extends with your on-premises environment. System Center is aimed to manage fatacenter environments at scale, and Windows Admin Center helps you to dig deeper to manage individual servers or single cluster management. Both Windows Admin Center and System Center 2019, can be used side by side and both are integrated into Microsoft Azure.

System Center Windows Admin Center better together

System Center vs Windows Admin Center

I often get the question, does Windows Admin Center replace System Center? The answer to this is no, System Center is aimed to do management at a datacenter scale, while Windows Admin Center is giving you deep management access to a single server or clusters. In small environments you might end up using Windows Admin Center only, but in larger datacenter deployments, you are likely to use a combination of System Center and Windows Admin Center.

System Center 2019 Suite Improvements

System Center 2019 Focus

The System Center 2019 release focuses on three main areas. First of all, it adds more capabilities to the existing components and features which were requested by customers. Secondly, it brings integration for the next version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2019 and brings new Windows Server features to life in System Center. Last but not least, System Center 2019 adds more Hybrid Cloud integrations with Microsoft Azure.



Geeksprech Podcast Windows Server 2019 with Thomas Maurer

GeekSprech Podcast – Windows Server 2019 (German)

Microsoft just released Windows Server 2019 to the public and with that I was invited to be a guest in the GeekSprech Podcast from Microsoft MVPs Eric Berg and Alexander Benoit. We talked about the Windows Server 2019 release and what great new features in this release. We also got off topic and had some chats about security, Azure Stack and more.

If you want to listen to it (it is in German), you can do this on the GeekSprech website or here:

It was an honor and a lot of fun talking with Eric and Alexander!



Azure Live Migration

Azure uses Live Migration for VMs

If you have worked with Azure in the past, you might have been aware that Azure didn’t have live migration for VMs hosted in Azure for a long time. This had an impact for customers in terms of VM up-time during host maintenance. You basically got emails, that the host your VMs were running is going into maintenance during a specific time, and you will have a possible outage. Microsoft Hyper-V, which is the Hypervisor in Azure, had Live Migration for a long time. Today, Microsoft revealed that they are using Live Migration in Azure since early 2018 to move virtual machines in cases of rack maintenance and software and BIOS updates, as well as hardware faults.

But Microsoft didn’t stop there, they made even better using Machine Learning. Predictive ML helps Microsoft to detect proactively failure and do failure predictions. And in case a hardware failure is predicted, Microsoft can move the virtual machines from that host without downtime, using live migration.

To further push the envelope on live migration, we knew we needed to look at the proactive use of these capabilities, based on good predictive signals. Using our deep fleet telemetry, we enabled machine learning (ML)-based failure predictions and tied them to automatic live migration for several hardware failure cases, including disk failures, IO latency, and CPU frequency anomalies.

 

We partnered with Microsoft Research (MSR) on building our ML models that predict failures with a high degree of accuracy before they occur. As a result, we’re able to live migrate workloads off “at-risk” machines before they ever show any signs of failing. This means VMs running on Azure can be more reliable than the underlying hardware.

Microsoft talks in a blog post more about Live Migration in Azure and goes more in details about the challenges and how live migration in Azure works. It is great to see Microsoft adding features to improve VM resiliency with features like live migration and machine learning technology.



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Remove All Docker Container Images

New Windows Server 2019 Container Images

Microsoft today released the new Windows Server 2019 again. After they quickly released Windows Server 2019 during Microsoft Ignite, they removed the builds again, after some quality issues. However, today Microsoft made the Windows Server 2019 builds available again. Microsoft also released new Windows Server 2019 Container Images for Windows, Windows Server Core and Nano Server.

Download Windows Server 2019 Container Images

You can get them from the new Microsoft Container Registry (MCR).

Microsoft was hosting their container images on Docker Hub until they switch to MCR (Microsoft Container Registry). This is now the source for all Windows Container Images like Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016 and all the Semi-Annual Channel releases like Windows Server, version 1709 or Windows Server, version 1803.

Download the Windows Server 2019 Semi-Annual Channel Container Images (Windows Server, version 1809). This includes also the new Windows Container Image.

The Windows Server Core Image is also available as a Long-Term Servicing Channel Image:

However, if you want to browse through container images, Docker Hub continues to be the right place to discover container images. Steve Lasker wrote a blog post about how Microsoft syndicates the container catalog and why.

Download Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server SAC Container Images

Also the existing Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server, version 1803 and Windows Server 1709 container images moved to the Microsoft Container Registry (MCR).

You should also make sure to update your Dockerfile references:

Old Windows Server Dockerfile reference

FROM microsoft/windowsservercore:ltsc2016

New Windows Server Dockerfile reference

FROM mcr.microsoft.com/windows/servercore:ltsc2016

Removing the “latest” tag from Windows Images

Starting 2019, Microsoft is also deprecating the “latest” tag for their container images.

We strongly encourage you to instead declare the specific container tag you’d like to run in production. The ‘latest’ tag is the opposite of specific; it doesn’t tell the user anything about what version the container actually is apart from the image name. You can read more about version compatibility and selecting the appropriate tag on our container docs.

Removing Container Images

Remove All Docker Container Images

If you want to remove existing container images from your PC, you can run docker rmi to remove a specific image. You can also remove all containers and container images with the following commands:

If you want to know more about Windows Containers and the Microsoft container eco system, visit the Microsoft container docs.