From the July 2015 archives Best Practices – Configure the Server and Remove the GUI
This is a best practice for Windows Server 2012 R2 Active Directory Domain Services
The Best Practice – Remove the graphical user interface (GUI) from the Windows Server 2012 R2 by running it in the server core mode.
Why use it – A smaller OS footprint that will increase your server’s security lockdown and better utilization of resources. Server administrators will appreciate this additional information from Microsoft.
“Why Is Server Core Useful?”
How to install it – As mentioned at the onset, you may like to initially set up your server through the GUI. I recommend anyone unfamiliar with an operating system should use the GUI if one is provided. It gives you a faster visual understanding of everything that is going on with your configuration.
After you have installed the features and roles in addition to activating your server, administrators can carry out these enumerated steps to switch on server core mode.
1) Manage -> Remove Roles and Features
2) Press next -> Select a server from the server pool -> Press next
3) Press next on the Remove server roles screen
4) On Remove feature screen expand the User Interfaces and Infrastructure -> remove the check mark from “Server Graphical Shell” -> Press next
5) Place check mark in the “Restart the destination server automatically if required” box
6) Press remove
The wizard will do its work. Make sure the server restarts; if it does not restart, you must manually restart it.
There you have it.
Some like to remove the “Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure” feature for an even smaller footprint. The Graphical Management Tool still brings up the Server Manager when you log in. I personally would keep it on at least one domain controller for local and remote management of other servers. However, you may want to remove all GUI features from all servers and just manage the server systems from a Windows 8.1 machine with Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed.
For your information- Server core can run the services below
AD DS; AD LDS; DNS; DHCP
File Services; Print Services; Streaming Media Services
Web Server (IIS); Remote Access Server; Remote Desktop Services
Windows Deployment Services; Windows Software Update Services