This blog post was originally written by Thomas Cantwell & Michael Schroeder.

Introduction

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 will have an additional install option in the image that is, for lack of a better phrase, “for more sophisticated users”. This deployment option is located in a folder on the Microsoft Windows Server 2016 image and is called “\NanoServer”. Microsoft’s Nano Server is a re-envisioning of a server OS to remove anything extraneous to the core product functionality, then providing specific, limited sets of drivers, roles, and features to add, to provide a targeted server OS that tightly fits the role it needs to serve.

This will be the first in a series of blogs covering how to deploy, manage, maintain, and debug Nano Server on a physical host. While it is somewhat easier to deploy Nano Server in a VM (useful for “kicking the tires” on Nano Server), deploying to a physical host is a scenario that we believe will see more real-world use with Hyper-V and Storage Space Direct. We will cover topics that highlight Dell capabilities and their use in a Nano Server environment.

For this walkthrough, we’ll be using the PowerEdge™ R730xd Rack Server in legacy BIOS mode. 

 

Prerequisites

 

Nano Image Preparation

First, you’ll need to build a Nano Server image for the R730xd using the New-NanoServerImage cmdlet provided in the folder. We created a Windows Server 2016 TP5 VM as a management station to assist building the Nano Server images.

New-NanoServerImage -Edition Datacenter -DeploymentType Host -MediaPath E:

-BasePath .\Base -TargetPath .\NanoServerPhysical\NanoWDS01.vhd -OEMDrivers

-Compute -EnableRemoteManagementPort

 

 

Take note of the DeploymentType 'Host’ parameter which is for deploying for a physical host. Complete details on creating your Nano Server images can be found under the ‘Nano Server on a physical computer’ section on the Getting Started with Nano Server blog.

 

Windows Deployment Services Preparation

Within WDS, you can:

  1. Create a new image group (VHD in this instance) to house your unique VHD images.

  2. Add the install image (the newly created Nano VHD) to the group.

    1. The demo VHD image includes the “Compute” & “OEM Drivers” features. Compute adds the Hyper-V role and OEM Drivers adds basic drivers for a variety of devices needed to install Nano Server on a physical Host.

 

  1. Next, provide a boot image for the PXE boot process under Boot Images in WDS.

    1. Add the boot.wim from the \sources folder on the TP5 evaluation iso. This version of WinPE will now match the version of Nano Server we are deploying.

       

 

For additional details on Windows Deployment Services, please refer to the Windows Deployment Services Getting Started Guide for Windows Server 2012 and the How to use WDS to PxE Boot a Nano Server VHD blog.

 

 

R730xd Settings -

  1. On initial power on, press F2 to enter System Setup.

  2. Under Device Settings, you can select or confirm which network card to enable for PXE.

     

 

By default, NIC1 Port 1 is PXE enabled from factory. Here we have enabled PXE for the third port on our NDC card.

 

  

  1. If necessary, configure your storage controller and drives to ensure a drive is presented to host the Nano Server VHD during WDS deployment.

 

After the deployment is complete, you’ll be introduced to the new “face” of Windows Server – Nano Server!

 

 

  1. The first screen is where you enter your credentials.

  2. The next screen allows you to change only the following settings on the local console:

    1. Network Settings

    2. Firewall settings (inbound)

    3. Firewall settings (outbound)

    4. WinRM settings

Every other setting or task must be set, viewed, or changed via remote management, using tools such as PowerShell Remoting, Server Manager, etc.

 

Summary -

Using WDS can help simplify the installation & deployment process for Nano Server in your labs. It enables you to quickly deploy this new Windows Server OS model, so you can spend more time evaluating Nano Server. Nano Server is a paradigm shift in Windows Server OS, and a long term strategic focus of Microsoft for a more focused server operating system that can be deployed with just the features you need for the task at-hand. In this case, less may be more and we wanted to share our insights into this new server OS.

We’ll be providing additional Nano Server blogs with a more hardware focused perspective. Let us know if you have any specific ideas for what you would like to see at WinServerBlogs@dell.com or leave a comment below.

It is important to understand that Nano Server and Windows Server 2016 are still under development. This blog does not reflect what the final product will look like, nor Dell official support for Nano Server as a separate offering. This is for test purposes only.

 

Additional Resources:

PowerEdge R730xd Rack Server

Getting Started with Nano Server

Windows Deployment Services Getting Started Guide for Windows Server 2012

How to use WDS to PxE Boot a Nano Server VHD