Tag: Intel NUC

Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

My Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit

Since I am working a lot with Azure Arc and Windows Server with Hybrid Cloud integration, I need a lab and demo environment for my presentations, workshops and to try new features. When Windows Server 2019 was released, I bought an Intel NUC for the first time. Now I bought another Intel NUC so I can build my Windows Server 2022 and Azure Arc lab environment. In this post I am going to share my Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit running on an Intel NUC.

The Hardware – Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

My lab kit is built by using an Intel NUC, NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing and is a line of small-form-factor barebone computer kits designed by Intel. The advantage of this little machine is the small formfactor, low power consumption and almost no fan noise. However, the disadvantage is that it is design to run client operating systems such as Windows 10 or Windows 11 and doesn’t officially come with drivers for Windows Server, which is painful when it comes to the network adapter drivers. There are some workarounds to make it work anyway.

I went for the Intel NUCPAHIi5 which is a NUC with a 11-gen Intel i5 processor (Intel NUCPAHIi5) which is more than enough for my lab environment. Another advantage of having this machine is that it allows me to add up to 64GB of RAM and a fast M.2 SSD, and it comes with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0.

The Software and the Cloud – Windows Server and Azure Arc Lab Kit

On top of the Intel NUC, I am running Windows Server 2022 which allows me to run Hyper-V virtualization to create different virtual machines for Windows and Linux as well as Kubernetes clusters, which can all be managed through Azure Arc. I also use Windows Admin Center to manage my Windows Server machines locally. To install Windows Server 2022 on that machine, I recommend that you check out my blog post on how to create an USB thumb drive to install Windows Server 2022. You can download Windows Server 2022 Evaluation version from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit
Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit

By connecting lab environment to Azure using Azure Arc, I can now use it to manage servers, Kubernetes clusters and deploy Azure Arc enabled services on top of it.

Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit
Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit

Here are some of the Azure Arc features you can use on your hybrid cloud lab kit:

  • Azure Arc enabled Server
  • Azure Arc enabled SQL Server
  • Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes
  • Azure Arc enabled Data Services (such as Azure SQL and PostgreSQL)
  • Azure Arc enabled Application Services (such as Web Apps, Functions, Logic Apps, and more)
  • and more

To learn more about Azure Arc, check out the Azure Arc website and the Microsoft Docs.

The Setup

You can learn more about the setup and capabilities of my Windows Server and Azure Arc hybrid cloud lab kit built with an Intel NUC on my Twitter feed. Check out my tweets here.

Also, here a quick summary of additional useful links:

Conclusion

The Intel NUC is a great platform to build a Windows Server and Hyper-V home lab. Together with Azure Arc you can used it as a great hybrid cloud lab environment. And just for you information, this is just my personal lab, and not an official Microsoft lab kit.

If you don’t want to run your own hardware or want to make it easy to build some of the Azure Arc scenarios, check out the Azure Arc Jumpstart project. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.



Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

Install Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter Driver

As you know, I am using an Intel NUC as my Windows Server lab machine, where I run Windows Server 2019 and Hyper-V on. Many people asked me about how you can install the Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter driver because there are no Windows Server 2019 drivers for it. My blog reader, Michael Williams, shared how you can install the Windows Server 2019 Network adapter drivers on the Intel NUC 8th generation.

Here are the simple steps you can follow to install the Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter Driver:

  1. Download the latest PROWinx64.exe for Windows Server 2019 from Intel including drivers for the Intel® Ethernet Connection I219-V
  2. To manually install the network drivers, extract PROWinx64.exe to a temporary folder – in this example to the C:\Drivers\Intel\ folder. Extracting the .exe file manually requires an extraction utility like WinRAR or others. You can also run the .exe and it will self-extract files to the %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Temp\RarSFX0 directory. This directory is temporary and will be deleted when the .exe terminates.
  3. The driver for the Intel I219-V network adapter can be found in the C:\Drivers\Intel\PRO1000\Winx64\NDIS68.

    Extracted Network Drivers for Windows Server 2019 - Intel NUC PROWinx64

    Extracted Network Drivers for Windows Server 2019 – Intel NUC PROWinx64

  4. Open Device Manager right click on Ethernet Controller and select Update Driver.

    Device Manager Update Driver Ethernet Controller - Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Driver

    Device Manager Update Driver Ethernet Controller – Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Driver

  5. Select “Browe on my computer for driver software”, and select “Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer”, now you can select Network Adapter.

    Update Driver

    Update Driver

  6. Click on “Have Disk…” enter the following path “C:\Drivers\Intel\PRO1000\Winx64\NDIS68.”

    Driver Location

    Driver Location

  7. Now select Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM (The I219-V version is not shown)

    Select the Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM

    Select the Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM

  8. And you are done.

Huge thank you again to Michael Williams for sharing that with us. I hope this short blog post provides you a step by step guide on how you can install Windows Server 2019 Network adapter drivers on the Intel NUC. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



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 datacenter grade hardware, and it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not the machine for a home lab under 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 a very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. The NUC is mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features are also making it an excellent 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

If you want to know how to install the network adapter driver for Windows Server 2019 on your Intel NUC, check out my blog post here.

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.

You can download Windows Server 2019 Evaluation version from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

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