Category: Server Core

Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed, browser-based app for managing servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. If you ever asked yourself if Windows Admin Center (WAC) runs on Windows Server Core, the answer is yes. Run and install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core, simply copy the MSI installer to the Windows Server, or download it directly. If you are running Windows Server in a Hyper-V virtual machine, PowerShell Direct and be very handy to copy files using the VMBus from the Hyper-V host to the virtual machine.

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Download Windows Admin Center (WAC) from here. You can simply use the following commands on your Hyper-V host to copy a file using PowerShell Direct.

$cred = Get-Credential
$s = New-PSSession -VMName WindowsServerInsider -Credential $cred
Copy-Item -Path .\WindowsAdminCenterPreview1908.msi -ToSession $s -Destination "C:\Users\Administrator"

Now you can run the MSI installer for Windows Admin Center. There is also an unattended option for WAC on Windows Server Core. You can find more about installing WAC here.

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

After the installation has finished you can now remotely access the Windows Admin Center web portal form your workstation. However, if you install the new Microsoft Edge Insider Preview, which runs on Windows Server Core as well. You can access the console form your local machine. Don’t do that in production, but it is great if you are running demos or you need to troubleshoot the installation.

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

You can download the Microsoft Edge Insider from here. Thanks to Jeff Woolsey for the tip.

If you want to know more about Windows Admin Center check out my blog post and the Microsoft Docs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. By the way, also make sure that you check out the Windows Admin Center Hybrid features, which allows you to easily connect Azure services.



PowerShell Get-WindowsImage Windows Server 2019 Editions

Add Drivers to a Windows Server 2019 ISO Image

In this blog article, I am going to show you how you can add drivers to a Windows Server 2019 ISO Image or WIM file using PowerShell and the DISM module. This will allow you to already have the latest drivers within the Windows Server installation image when you install Windows Server 2019. We will add drivers to a Windows Server 2019 WIM file (WIM stands for Windows Imaging Format), which then can be used to create a new ISO image or for example in Windows Deployment Services.

Preparation

Folder for adding drivers to Windows Server 2019

Folder for adding drivers to Windows Server 2019

First, you will need to create three new folders called Drivers, ISO, and Mount. In my example, I created these in C:\Images.

  • Drivers – This is the folder where you put all your extracted drivers, which you want to add to your Windows Server 2019 Image.
  • ISO – This is where you can extract the Windows Server 2019 ISO Image. Basically all the files on the ISO file.
  • Mount – This is an empty folder, which will be used to mount the WIM files.

You can now mount the ISO using Windows Explorer or the following PowerShell commands and copy the files to the ISO folder.

Mount ISO PowerShell

Mount ISO PowerShell

Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath C:\Temp\17763.379.190312-0539.rs5_release_svc_refresh_SERVER_EVAL_x64FRE_en-us.iso
Copy-Item D:\* C:\Image\ISO\ -Recurse

In your case, the ISO may be mounted on a different drive letter instead of my D: drive.

Add drivers to the Windows Server 2019 Image

First, you can check in which Windows editions you want to add the drivers. To check that you can use the following PowerShell command:

Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath C:\Image\ISO\sources\install.wim
PowerShell Get-WindowsImage Windows Server 2019 Editions

PowerShell Get-WindowsImage Windows Server 2019 Editions

The Get-WindowsImage cmdlet will show you the different editions included in the WIM file.

After we have seen the Index numbers, we can now mount the Windows Image our Mount folder. In my example, I use Image Index 3, which is the Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Edition. If you want to check which editions of Windows Server 2019 you should use, check out the Microsoft Docs.

Mount-WindowsImage -Path C:\Image\Mount -ImagePath C:\Image\ISO\sources\install.wim -Index 3
Mount-WindowsImage

Mount-WindowsImage

After the image is mounted you can now add the drivers to the Windows Server 2019 Image using the following command:

Add-WindowsDriver -Path C:\Image\Mount -Driver C:\Image\Drivers -Recurse
Add Drivers to Windows Server 2019 ISO Image

Add Drivers to Windows Server 2019 ISO Image

After you have added all the drivers to the image, you need to dismount the image and save it.

Dismount-WindowsImage -Path C:\Image\Mount -Save

We have now added the drivers to the Install image, and you should also add the drivers to your boot image if it is, for example, a network or storage controller driver you might need to install the server. To do this do the same steps to the C:\Image\ISO\sources\boot.wim.

Now you can use these WIM files with Windows Deployment services or create a USB drive to install Windows Server 2019. If you want to create an ISO file, you can use the oscdimg command-line tool. The oscdimg tool comes with the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK), which you can get here.

oscdimg -n -m -bc:\temp\ISO\boot\etfsboot.com C:\temp\ISO C:\temp\mynew.iso

I hope this post helps you to add drivers to your Windows Server image. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Windows Server 2019

Which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option should I choose?

Windows Server 2019 will bring several installation options and tuning options for virtual machines, physical servers as well as container images. In this blog post, I want to give an overview of the different installation options of Windows Server 2019.

To compare the different Windows Server 2019 editions, check out the Microsoft Docs.

Installation Options for Windows Server 2019 Physical Servers and Virtual Machines

As always, you can install Windows Server 2019 in virtual machines or directly on physical hardware, depending on your needs and requirements. For example, you can use Windows Server 2019 as physical hosts for your Hyper-V virtualization server, Container hosts, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure using Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct, or as an application server. In virtual machines, you can obviously use Windows Server 2019 as an application platform, infrastructure roles or container host. And of course, you could also use it as Hyper-V host inside a virtual machine, leveraging the Nested Virtualization feature.

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, Scenario or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.


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 an application that required a local GUI interaction on Server Core. Some of the applications you couldn’t install failed after the installation or 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. To get more information on Feature on Demand (FOD), check out the Windows Server 2019 documentation.

Here are some Operating system components that are available within 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 save it on your server. Mount the ISO Image:

 
Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath PATH.iso

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.

 
# For the App Compatibility Package
 
DISM /online /add-package:"Microsoft-Windows-InternetExplorer-OptionalPackage~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~.cab"
 
# For Internet Explorer
 
Dism /online /add-package:"DISM /online /add-package:"Microsoft-Windows-InternetExplorer-OptionalPackage~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~en-US~.cab"

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 summarize 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, Scenario 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 and the Microsoft Windows Server 2019 documentation page.



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.

 
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows/servercore:1809
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows/nanoserver:1809
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows:1809

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

 
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows/servercore:ltsc2019

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).

 
# Here is the old string for pulling a container
 
# docker pull microsoft/windowsservercore:ltsc2016
 
# docker pull microsoft/nanoserver:1709
 
# Change the string to the new syntax and use the same tag
 
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows/servercore:ltsc2016
 
docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/windows/nanoserver:1709

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:

 
# Remove all containers
docker rm $(docker ps -a -q)
 
# Remove all container images
docker rmi $(docker images -q)

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



E2EVC

Speaking at E2EVC 2018 Athens

I am back from some great travel and speaking opportunities like Experts Live Europe 2018 last week. That said, I’m happy to speak at the E2EVC Conference in Athens this week. E2EVC stands for Experts 2 Experts Virtualization Conference, and brings the best people together to talk about virtualization. This will be my 11th E2EVC, I was speaking in many events since 2012 in cities like Rome, Hamburg, Dublin, Copenhagen, Brussels and last year in Prague. I am really happy to speak at this event again.

In my session I will speak about the great new feature in Windows Server 2019.

Windows Server 2019 - The Next Generation of Software-Defined Datacenter

Join this session for the best of Windows Server 2019, about the new innovation and improvements of Windows Server. Learn how Microsoft enhances the SDDC feature like Hyper-V, Storage and Networking and get the most out of the new Azure Hybrid Integration and Container features. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job.   In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations in Windows Server 2019 and the Semi-Annual Channel including: ○ Windows Server Containers ○ Azure Integration ○ Hyper-V features ○ Storage ○ Networking ○ Security ○ Windows Server Containers And more!

About E2EVC

E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, virtualization community event. The main goal of the E2EVC is to bring the best virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. E2EVC is a weekend crammed with presentations, Master Classes and discussions delivered by both virtualization vendors product teams and independent experts. I am happy to be part of the community and listen to other industry leading experts.

I am looking forward to the E2EVC and hopefully see you in Athens.



Thomas Maurer Speaker

Speaking at Cloud Camp 2018 Dublin

I am very excited to announce that I will be speaking at Cloud Camp 2018 in Dublin. Cloud Camp is Irelands Inaugural Conference for Microsoft Cloud & Server 2019. The conference takes place on October 17th 2018 in the Dublin Convention Center. In my sessions I will be speaking about Microsoft Azure Stack and Windows Server 2019, the latest and greatest new features.

Azure Stack - Your Cloud Your Datacenter

Microsoft released Azure Stack as an Azure appliance for your datacenter. Learn what Azure Stack is, what challenges it solves, how you deploy, manage and operate a Azure Stack in your datacenter. Learn about the features and services you will get by offering Azure Stack to your customers and how you can build a true Hybrid Cloud experience. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations and experience during the Azure Stack Early Adaption Program and Azure Stack Technology Adoption Program (TAP).

Windows Server 2019 - The Next Generation of Software-Defined Datacenter

Join this session for the best of Windows Server 2019, about the new innovation and improvements of Windows Server. Learn how Microsoft enhances the SDDC feature like Hyper-V, Storage and Networking and get the most out of the new Azure Hybrid Integration and Container features. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job.   In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations in Windows Server 2019 and the Semi-Annual Channel including: ○ Windows Server Containers ○ Azure Integration ○ Hyper-V features ○ Storage ○ Networking ○ Security ○ Windows Server Containers And more!

About Cloud Camp

In a time of rapid changes to “the cloud” – with continuous and frequent changes to Windows Server; Azure and even Microsoft 365. Add in the ever increasing importance to security and the challenges of compliance at its too easy to fall behind.

Cloud Camp brings together international speakers to one event where you will learn the latest about digital transformation, IT modernisation, productivity, security and compliance and governance.