INTRODUCTION

Server Core was introduced in Windows Server 2008, but was confusing to a lot of administrators. This was mainly due to the fact that you as an administrator was restricted to a command line and needed to know the commands for doing your tasks. One of the main problems with it, was that if you installed your server as a Server Core, you would need to reinstall it if you wanted the GUI.

This has changed in Windows Server 2012. Now it’s possible to install your server with a GUI and remove the GUI once you’ve set everything up. It’s also possible to install your server as a Server Core and then add the GUI if needed, by just entering a simple Powershell command..

SOLUTION

Adding the GUI to a Server Core installation

Enter this command in to a Powershell prompt, running as Administrator. To enter Powershell, simply type Powershell from the Command Prompt 🙂

Then run:

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra
Add GUI Server Core Windows Server 2012 Powershell

Once installed, you need to restart the server. Use this command:

Restart-Computer

If you do not have Internet connectivity, the installation will hang at 68% and after a while display an error message to you:
Install-WindowsFeature : The request to add or remove features on the specified server failed.
This means that the source files for the GUI installation cannot be located.

Installation 68% Powershell Windows Server 2012 GUI Core
Installation failed source Windows Server 2012 Powershell

To solve this, follow these steps:

Start by creating a mount directory (i.e C:\Mount)

mkdir c:\mount
Get the index number of the WIM file for the GUI (if WS2012 media is on D:). Since all of the Windows Server 2012 installations are stored in the same *.wim, we need to specify what version we want to mount. In this case, we'll be using the Datacenter version with GUI, which is Index #4
dism /get-wiminfo /wimfile:d:\sources\install.wim
dism Windows Server 2012 GUI Powershell Index Datacenter

Mount the WIM file:

dism /mount-wim /wimfile: d:\sources\install.wim /Index:3 /mountdir:C:\Mount\ /readonly
Dism Windows Server 2012 Mount Datacenter GUI Powershell

Install and specify the source:

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Source C:\Mount\Windows\SXS
Install GUI Server Core Windows Server 2012 Powershell Datacenter


Once installed, you need to restart the server. Use this command:

Restart-Computer
Add GUI Windows Server 2012 Server Core Powershell Windows Feature

Removing the GUI from a full installation, using the GUI:

Open Server Manager, open the Manage menu and go to Remove Roles and Features

Remove GUI Windows Server 2012 Core

Press Next until you reach the Features page

There are two different features that you can choose:

  • Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure (server-GUI-mgmt-infra) basically provides Powershell, MMC and Server Manager.
  • Adding the Server Graphical Shell (server-GUI-shell), will add the rest of the GUI experience. This feature is dependent on the first, so you can’t just add this one.

Note that if you remove Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure, you will also remove Server Graphical Shell.

Remove GUI Windows Server 2012 Core

Once deselecting one of the features, you will get a popup. Here, press Remove Features.

Remove GUI Windows Server 2012 Server Core
Remove GUI Windows Server 2012 Server Core

The User Interfaces and Infrastructure feature should now be deselected. Proceed by pressing Next.

The final step is to confirm the removal process. Press Remove and select Restart the destination server automatically if required.

Remove GUI Windows Server 2012 Server Core

Removing the GUI from a full installation, using Powershell:

Enter this command:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra
Remove GUI Powershell Windows Server 2012
Remove GUI Server Core Windows Server 2012 Powershell
Remove GUI Server Core Windows Server 2012 Powershell

REFERENCES