Changing your Windows Server 2012 from Server Core to GUI and back again! #windows

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Image via CrunchBase

With the update to the Server Core functionality in Windows Server 2012 – it is now possible to switch from Server Core to the GUI and also from the GUI to Server Core. It does involve a restart but this is something that wasn’t possible in the first edition (Server 2008) without completely reinstalling Windows.

I like the Microsoft approach to this kind of new technology – release something – listen to the customers/technical implementers – improve the product

It’s a system that has worked well for Microsoft for years, yes there are some issues (Vista/ DRM on Xbox One) – but at least there isn’t a dictatorship like with some fruity products we know. Who in the technology industry wants to be told that a certain feature you like, isn’t in fact likeable, not because they have a solid reason, just simply because it interferes with the pretty colours of the GUI.

I digress –

Here is a little run through of how to get from Server core to the GUI and back again (by Bilbo Baggins ūüėČ

Run the following command in Powershell (requires a restart)

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-GUI-Shell -Restart


To convert from Server Core mode to a GUI mode, follow these steps when the server is initially  configured for Server Core mode;

  1. Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath path to wim\install.wim
  2. Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-GUI-Shell -restart – Source wim: path to WIM\install.wim: (Index # from step 1)
  3. For Windows Update as the source use – Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell -Restart

After this point you can switch he server back to Server Core mode whenever it is convenient

Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server0Gui-Mgmt-Infra -restart (Restart required)


Hope this helps for your practicing with Server Core ūüôā

Managing ADFS with PowerShell

Some of the items within ADFS can be managed via PowerShell, these include;

  • Add trust partners
  • Add SAML 2.0 federation trust partners
  • Manage trust partner settings
  • Configure claim types and ADFS 2.0 server policy
  • Manage policy using more complex sets of stored rules
  • Monitor partner metadata

For introductory information regarding Windows PowerShell please refer to the following link – Scripting with Windows PowerShell

The ADFS PowerShell snap-in is automatically installed when the ADFS Server role is installed on a Server 2008/201server. You can confirm the cmdlets are ready for use by entering the following command in the PowerShell prompt;

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.AD FS.PowerShell

Once this has been ran, you will see the following as part of the output of the get-PSSnapin command:

Name        : Microsoft.AD FS.PowerShell

PSVersion: 1.0

Description: This PowerShell snap-in contains cmdlets used to manage Microsoft Identity Server resources.

To view a list of all the AD FS 2.0 cmdlets, run the following command in the PowerShell:

Get-Command *-AD FS*

 You can obtain syntax help for individual cmdlets by using Get-Help followed by the name of the cmdlet, as follows;

Get-Help Set-AD FSProperties

Similar to other PowerShell snap-ins, the AD FS cmdlets adhere to a predictable <Verb>-<Noun> syntax. So when managing an AD FS Relaying Party trust, you can use cmdlets such as;

  • Add-AD FSRelyingPartyTrust
  • Remove-ADFSRelyingPartyTrust
  • Set-AD FSRelyingPartyTrust
  • Enable-AD FSRelyingPartyTrust
  • Disable-AD FSRelyingPartyTrust
  • Update-AD FSRelyingPartyTrust

As is the case with other PowerShell snap-ins, you can autocomplete longer cmdlet names using the TAB key.

While the most comprehensive list of available cmdlets can be found using the Get-Command *-AD FS* syntax described as above, the following is a list of the AD FS properties and configuration items that can be managed using PowerShell;

  • AD FSClaimsProviderTrust
  • AD FSAttributeStore
  • AD FSClaimDescription
  • AD FSEndpoint
  • AD FSCertificate
  • AD FSProxyProperties
  • AD FSClaimRuleSet
  • AD FSSAMLEndpoint
  • AD FSContactPerson
  • AD FSOrganization
  • AD FSCertSharingContainer
  • AD FSSyncProperties


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