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CM12 MP and DP with no Server GUI

Here is something I've wanted to try forever - heck since they used to call it Server Core.

For my role servers like the MP or DP servers, would CM still work if I remove the GUI from the OS?  Because Server 2012 R2 lets you take the Windows shell off and put it back on, it's easy to test.  So just I did.

I mix my MP and DP servers on the same VM.  So my test here is to see if those roles will still work after I take the UI away (and manage the servers strictly with PowerShell).


By using Service Manager, I ask to remove the feature User Interfaces and Infrastructure.  Well that's a bit too extreme because we'd evidently lose the IIS BITS Server Extensions and Remote Differential Compression.  And I know I need those for CM.  So I back off and select only to remove the Server Graphical Shell (essentially Explorer and IE).  That works!

So why am I even playing with it?  Theoretically, the loss of the UI means a smaller attack surface so my server should be safer.  And it could mean fewer patches might be needed in the future which could lead to fewer reboots and more uptime.

In reality, I doubt I'm gaining much here.  The actual best benefit would be that my team is forced to manage more using PowerShell and quit playing with things one at a time in a UI.  When you RDP to this server, you just get a cmd box and no explorer.  This isn't supported by Microsoft yet as far as I know, but because my MP and DP logs (and CM client logs) look good, I'm sure it's simply a matter of Microsoft not testing this setup yet to support it.

I'll let this server in the lab sit for a couple months like this and decide then if I'd like to do the rest in the lab (role servers only; I highly doubt a primary site could work like this).  Also, I have other internal apps to consider beyond CM.  Like is Symantec Endpoint Protection still fine?  Other server base apps I'm required to run also need to be checked.

Many apps might fail if you start with no UI, but it seems they mostly work if you remove it after the install.  And if I change my mind about this or run into an issue, it's easy to put the Server Graphical Shell back on.  Oh, and Kaido has a tip regarding this as your source files for the GUI can become stale.


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