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What is Nano Server?

Nano Server is a new installation option in Windows Server 2016, which cannot be installed the normal way. Nano Server is an operating system optimised for private clouds and data centres and can only be administered remotely. It is similar to Windows Server Core, but is a lot smaller, has no local logon capability, and only supports 64 bit applications, tools, and agents. It takes up far less disk space, installs faster, and requires less updates and restarts. Microsoft has said they expect Windows Nano Server will need maybe 2 reboots a year! The restarts are much faster too. Nano server can be installed in either Standard or Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2016.

Nano Server is ideal for a number of scenarios:
As a “compute” host for Hyper-V virtual machines, either in clusters or not
As a storage host for Scale-Out File Server.
As a DNS server
As a web server running Internet Information Services (IIS)
As a host for applications that are developed using cloud application patterns and run in a container or virtual machine guest operating system

Create a Nano Server Image.

First, you will need to download the Windows Server 2016 ISO from here.

Mount the ISO.

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Copy the folder NanoServer to the root of C:\

This can be done via an elevated Powershell window using the following command. NOTE: Remember the media in this step-by-step was mounted to drive D. This command copy the required bits and drop it in Drive C: to build the required image. Change Drive letters to what your system is using.

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In the same PowerShell window navigate to the folder where we copied the files from the ISO to. If you used the above PowerShell command it will be c:\NanoServer

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Import the Nano server module

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Create a Nano Server Image by using the following cmdlet. This will create a VHD of Standard Nano ready for a virtual environment.

The cmdlet will accomplish all of these tasks:

    Select Standard as a base edition
    Prompt you for the Administrator password
    Copy installation media from the mounted ISO into .\Base
    Convert the WIM image to a VHD. (The file extension of the target path argument determines whether it creates an MBR-based VHD for Generation 1 virtual machines versus a GPT-based VHDX for Generation 2 virtual machines.)
    Copy the resulting VHD into .\PIXEL-NANO01.vhdx
    Enable Remote Management
    Set the Administrator password for the image as specified
    Set the computer name of the image to PIXEL-NANO01
    Install the Hyper-V guest drivers

All of this results in an image of .\PIXEL-NANO01.vhdx.

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You have now created a basic Nano Server image ready to be used in Hyper-V.

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You can also create Nano Server Images including other roles. For a list of roles click here.

To Install the DNS role you can use the following cmdlet

You should notice the addition of -Packages Microsoft-NanoServer-DNS-Package. This is what installs the DNS Role.

Now you have your Nano Server Image. We will need to set IP address to be able to manage it. I will go in depth on setting an IP address and managing Nano Server in another article. Have a play around with your new Nano server and let me know what you think.

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Pixel Robots.

I’m Richard Hooper aka Pixel Robots. I started this blog in 2016 for a couple reasons. The first reason was basically just a place for me to store my step by step guides, troubleshooting guides and just plain ideas about being a sysadmin. The second reason was to share what I have learned and found out with other people like me. Hopefully, you can find something useful on the site.

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