This article was written by Perumal Raja and Rajkumar MR of the Dell Operating Systems Engineering team
Dell provides a number of different ways to order a platform, peripherals, or OS individually or in combination. Buying a Server with a preinstalled Operating System reduces your initial setup and configuration effort in a number of different ways. With Windows Server 2008 R2, we began to offer the option of having your PowerEdge server+OS configured for a virtualization host, including a preinstalled virtual disk. With Windows Server 2012, we’ve taken it to another level.
“Standard” Advantages of Factory Preinstall
Buying a server with no OS means that in addition to tracking down and buying the OS, you have to install, patch and configure it. It can take a long time to make sure you have all the right updates. By opting for platform with OS installed, Dell customers can take advantage of benefits such as:
New in Windows Server 2012 preinstall
We’ve incorporated more OS customizations in WS2012 to ease the initial installation effort and to improve your overall experience. Here are some examples, with explanations of the benefits:
Multilingual Windows Server 2012 image*
Prior to Windows Server 2012, factory installed servers shipped with a single language OS installed determined by the geographic region. Now, servers will be shipped with a multilingual OS interface which allows you to choose one of our supported OS languages (See Figure 1). This one-time task will set the language used from then on. If you desire to switch to a different language, the multilingual media kit shipped along with server can be used to re-install the OS
Figure 1. OS Language selection
Pre-deployed Multilingual Virtual Hard Disk*
To simplify virtualization configuration, Dell provides a multilingual virtual hard disk (VHDx) file with Windows Server 2012 pre-installed. This is a free, orderable option. When you choose to receive a multilingual VHD, we enable the Hyper-V role and required BIOS settings (Intel VT or AMD-V). You can use the VHDx file (Available at c:\Dell_OEM\VHD) with Hyper-V to create virtual machines (VMs) in seconds [subject to Microsoft's normal licensing restrictions (two per Standard license and unlimited for Datacenter)]. Since this is also a multilingual VHDx, you can use it to install any Dell supported languages.
Hardware Event Log Integration in the Windows Event Viewer.
All Dell servers come with a repository (BMC) where the system hardware events are logged. To retrieve these logs from the OS, administrators traditionally have used some of the Dell management software tools. In Windows Server 2012, we have configured the factory installed servers to report these logs to the Hardware Event section of Windows Event Viewer. With this configuration, you can directly monitor the system event logs in the Event Viewer (See Figure 2).
Figure 2. Hardware Events Made Available in the Windows Event Viewer
Script to convert from Server core to full OS and vice versa
In Windows Server 2012, Server Core is the Microsoft preferred deployment configuration. A notable feature of this configuration strategy is that a server can transition between the Full-GUI installation and a Server Core installation simply by rebooting the server and selecting the appropriate feature option. This involves executing multiple commands either at command prompt using DISM tool or using PowerShell. A PowerShell module “DellTools.psm1” (Available at c:\Dell_OEM) has been provided to assist with common tasks (See Figure 3). The module includes a function that allows you to configure your system in “Server with a GUI” mode then convert over to “Server Core” to place the system in production and can be used to switch back for configuration, troubleshooting or other needs.
Figure 3. Set-GUI Command Executed from Dell PowerShell Tool
These new options available in Windows Server 2012 on Dell PowerEdge Servers will make deploying and monitoring systems in your environment easier. For more information about optimizing your Dell hardware for use with WS2012, visit the Dell TechCenter wiki page for Windows Server 2012.
*Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are not part of multilingual options due to legal restrictions.
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