DISCLAIMER: Starting with a 1709 update, Microsoft has shifted Nano Server from being a compact server option to an optimized container image and will continue to improve it in this direction only. Please refer to release notes for more details.


We wrote about this new technology from Microsoft, and why it is important that you look, investigate and play with it, a few months ago. I am not going to repeat those reasons, as you can always read them. You also had the opportunity to work through all of the examples and documentation I created in my eBook based on technical preview 4 (TP4). Note that this eBook was revised and updated to support all functionality and changes that came to us in technical preview 5 (TP5).

I want to quickly look at some of the important changes for Nano Server that came with TP5.

In TP4, the PowerShell module made it easier to deploy or generate Nano images. This was a huge improvement compared to what you had to go through in earlier versions. But, there were still some items that you had to do manually when you were looking at more advanced deployments. Items such as unattend.xml and setupcomplete.cmd had to be added after the image creation, and while it wasn’t that difficult, it did require additional work and proved to be difficult to automate.

Microsoft has received a lot of feedback on its deployment script and made a few enhancements to it. You can now use parameters to define the unattend.xml and setupcomplete.cmd file(s). It is now easier to choose whether it will be used as a guest virtual machine or host (physical machine). Other new items include the possibility to choose an edition (standard or datacenter) that will be important depending on the workloads you want to run on top of Nano Server. A small example can be seen below:

New-NanoServerImage -DeploymentType Guest -Edition Datacenter -TargetPath .\NanoServerVMs\TP5Nano03\TP5Nano03.vhdx -BasePath .\Base -Clustering -Compute -ComputerName TP5Nano03 -CopyFiles D:\Scripts -DomainName MD.local -EnableRemoteManagementPort -InterfaceNameOrIndex ethernet -Ipv4Address -Ipv4Dns -Ipv4Gateway -Ipv4SubnetMask -MaxSize 100GB

This is possibly my favorite new feature of TP5. You can now install roles and features from an online package repository with a running Nano Server. If your Nano Server has access to this package repository, you can now find, download and install packages while the Nano Server is running. But, before you can do that, you need to install the NanoServerPackage provider first.

Install-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage -Force
Import-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage -Force

Then, you can start searching for packages, download them and install them online.

Find-NanoServerPackage –AllVersions -Name *IIS* -RequiredVersion 10.0.14300.10
Install-NanoServerPackage -Name Microsoft-NanoServer-IIS-Package -Culture en-us -RequiredVersion 10.0.14300.1000

This one is improved even more since TP4, and will certainly be the tool of choice if you’re in trouble. Additionally, there is a possibility to reset the WinRM configuration to default again, and a split-up of inbound and outbound firewall rules.

Nano Server Recovery Console

A lot of issues and functionality that didn’t work in Microsoft Management Console (MMC), such as event viewer or server manager consoles, have been fixed. Now, managing your servers remotely through your known consoles will become easier.

Nano Server Computer Management

Fixes on packages such as the DNS package or IIS package, and completely new packages such as the Shielded VM package (and more), have come available.

It would be very difficult to describe all the new items in one post. I haven’t yet talked about improvements on updating your servers with windows update (or through WSUS if you want), MPIO improvements, how to connect to a DFS host, or last but not least, improvements for when you want to run Nano Server as a container host.

For more information, check out the updated eBook on Nano Server TP5.

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