With the recent release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the first thing that any self-respecting IT Pro tries to do is to break it And what better way than to set up a Windows 8 Server instance as a Configuration Manager 2012 standalone primary site, complete with SQL instance?
Actually it’s not just to try and break it. I’ve been impressed by the new management experience in Windows 8 Server from the Developer Preview, and wanted to see what the administration/configuration experience was like when trying to do something a lot more complex than just tinkering with roles and features, hence the attractiveness of this RC Sandwich Project (RC on Beta).
Of course, all the usual caveats apply. This scenario is as supported as a backench MP who has just learned via a press release that he enjoys “the full confidence” of his leader.
So, on with the installation.
The first part is to set up the server prerequisites, which are documented in this TechNet article. Of course, you can go through and install the necessary roles and features manually via the new Server Manager (Local Server –> Manage –> Add Roles and Features) but personally I prefer to use PowerShell and let the server figure out what it needs in terms of dependencies.
So, open up a new administrative PowerShell window and copy in the following:
Get-Module servermanager Install-WindowsFeature Web-Windows-Auth Install-WindowsFeature Web-ISAPI-Ext Install-WindowsFeature Web-Metabase Install-WindowsFeature Web-WMI Install-WindowsFeature BITS Install-WindowsFeature RDC Install-WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Features Install-WindowsFeature Web-Asp-Net Install-WindowsFeature Web-Asp-Net45 Install-WindowsFeature NET-HTTP-Activation Install-WindowsFeature NET-Non-HTTP-Activ
PowerShell will then step through and install each component, automatically installing any dependencies (such as IIS).
.NET Framework 4.5 is installed and enabled by default, and just like .NET Framework 3.5.1 in Windows Server 2008 R2, it is a server feature. This is useful for registering .NET in IIS, because to do this you just need to enable/disable the relevant feature, rather than having to use aspnet_regiis.exe.
Once complete, the next step is to spin up a SQL instance. When you fire up the SQL Server 2008 R2 installer, you’re presented with a compatibility warning, just like that with the combination of SQL Server 2008/Windows Server 2008 R2.
The “Get help online” option doesn’t return any results at this stage – the online help is still in the process of being fleshed out, so this isn’t too surprising.
However, we can move past this error, and given that the SQL instance will be patched up to the latest levels post-install, it’s not too worrying.
Select the appropriate SQL components and step through the installation as is relevant to your environment (making 100% SURE that you select SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS as the server collation, because the SCCM 2012 installer will slap you if you don’t).
Once complete, take a couple of minutes to jump out to the Start screen. This is where working everyday with Windows 8 Server will take some re-adjustment. The SQL applications which have been installed are available on the Start screen in what is probably some kind of order. Given than I’m likely to access Management Studio fairly frequently, I chose to pin it to the taskbar, in which case it’s now available from the Desktop.
Next is to patch the SQL instance. Officially, Configuration Manager 2012 is supported on SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 CU4, but I installed CU5. Because I’m crazy that way. Actually I just figured that I’ve already travelled a long way down the rabbit hole of “WTF you expect us to support THAT?” without worrying unduly about an incremental cumulative update.
Next is to kick off the the Configuration Manager 2012 install. Of course, this assumes that you’ve already done the OTHER non-Windows 8 Server-specific work of assigning server permissions to the System Management container, setting up and required AD groups and configuring internal PKI (if you want HTTPS-only mode).
If you haven’t, check out my other blog posts on installing Configuration Manager 2012 (although be aware that this post has the updated prerequisite information).
I’m very happy to report that the installer went through with absolutely no problems whatsoever – it was EXACTLY the same experience as installing on Windows Server 2008 R2.
There were a number of prerequisite warnings, such as SQL Server memory allocation/configuration, and the lack of the WSUS binaries, but nothing to worry about. And at the end of it all, Configuration Manager 2012 was happily installed and running on Windows 8 Server.
To be honest I wasn’t too worried about installing Configuration Manager 2012 on Windows 8 Server. Microsoft have too much riding on each new major operating system version to introduce too many changes which could lead to backwards compatibility issues, especially in enterprise space.
What was interesting was working with Windows 8 Server on this little project. There’s a lot about the UI which, as an administrator, you take for granted. I found that I had to pin a few shortcuts to the Desktop (like CMtrace, Notepad) because I really needed to access them quickly and often, and that was a little frustrating.
However, working with the Desktop and Start screen didn’t slow me down anywhere near as much as I thought it might do. Everything is still accessible, and accessible relatively quickly.
So far, I’m impressed with Windows 8 Server, and it looks like it will serve as the base of my Configuration Manager 2012 lab for a while to come