Switching from full Windows 2012 Server installation to Server Core

I do my development work primarily on a late 2012 Macbook Pro Retina Display. It’s a fantastic machine, more powerful than anything else I’ve used before. But sometimes development can push it to the extremes. I run Parallels on my machine, with Windows 8.1, which I primarily use for Quicken 2012 and Steam and some windows-only games.  If Intuit ever developed a Home and Business edition for the Mac, I’d switch to it in a heartbeat, but as it stands, the ability to easily manage business finances vs personal is too important to give up.


In addition to my “personal” windows installation, which takes up 20+ Gb on my hard disk, I also have Windows Server 2012 installed.  That has a local installation of SQL Server 2012 and Coldfusion 11. I’ve been debating whether to just ditch that in favor of a Mac based Coldfusion/mySQL combination, but most of my development is for my employer–which still runs Windows based servers.

The thing is, I almost never actually log in to my windows server.  I just turn it on, minimize it, and off I go.  I do my coding in Mac-based eclipse, and use Safari to access the web server. So it occurred to me, wouldn’t it be awesome if I only had the server core installation?

It turns out you can.  I found this blog which describes the process in detail.

The key thing for me was to do some initial cleanup and removal of unwanted applications.

import-module ServerManager
uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell -Restart

That was it. On restart, I was presented with a simple command prompt. Space saved on my disk drive? about 3 Gb.  More importantly though was memory usage. My virtual machine was noticably zippier, as was the Coldfusion installation. On a whim, I cut memory allocated to the server from 4 Gb to 2Gb and so little performance hit.  Since I’m using this primarily for development, that’s perfect. I don’t even really notice when it’s running, especially if I close the command prompt.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s fully started:


Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 3.43.28 PM
Yes, that’s it. It’s easy enough to start server manager from the command prompt, which gives me some gui-capabilities if I need them (I do).

Now, there is one issue which I haven’t sorted out a solution for yet, though I will.  Starting SQL Server Management Studio locally gives me an error: “Visual Studio requires Internet Explore 6.0 or greater to run properly. Please re-install Internet Explorer 6.0”

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 3.45.30 PMI’ll sort that out soonish. In the meantime, virtually everything I need to do with the databases I can do with the free mac utility dBeaver. I know there are some more polished SQL managers out there for the mac, but this one is -free- which is a big endorsement.



Handy also, since it’s running invisibly in the background, I installed the telnet server and can access command line administration and Windows Powershell that way. But obviously I don’t recommend that on a production server.


Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 4.28.15 PM


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