Windows Server 2012 - The Basics (Part 3)

by [Published on 2 April 2013 / Last Updated on 2 April 2013]

This article discusses some more of the basics of working with Windows Server 2012’s user interface.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

My goal throughout this series has been to walk you through the process of performing common management tasks in Windows Server 2012. Windows Server 2012’s version of the Server Manager is radically different from what was included in previous versions of Windows Server. That being the case I wanted to try to help people by demonstrating some of the more common management tasks.

Configuring the Windows Firewall

Some administrators like to control the Windows Firewall through group policy settings, but others configure the firewall manually (especially in smaller shops). If you need to access the Windows Firewall you can do so by opening the Server Manager and then choosing the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security command from the Tools menu, as shown in Figure A.

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Figure A:
You can open the configuration interface for the Windows Firewall by choosing the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security command from the Server Manager’s Tools menu.

Adding Roles and Features

The process of adding new roles and features to Windows Server 2012 is at least somewhat intuitive. The easiest way to accomplish this is to open the Server Manager and choose the Add Roles and Features command from the Manage menu, as shown in Figure B. This causes Windows to launch the Add Roles and Features wizard. In many ways this wizard is similar to what you might be used to in some of the previous versions of Windows Server, but there are a few differences.

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Figure B:
You can launch the Add Roles and Features Wizard by choosing the Add Roles and Features command from Server Manager’s Manage window.

When the wizard begins, click Next to bypass the Welcome screen. The next screen that you will see asks you if you want to perform a Remote Desktop Services installation or if you would prefer to perform a role based or a feature based installation. Unless you are configuring the server to run the Remote Desktop Services, you should choose the Role Based or Feature Based Installation option. Click Next to continue.

The next screen that you will see is very different from anything that existed in previous versions of Windows Server. This screen asks you where you would like to install the role or feature. Although this is a seemingly simple question, the wizard gives you a few different options, as shown in Figure C.

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Figure C:
You must tell Windows where you want to install the role or feature.

In previous versions of Windows Server it was assumed that if you were installing a role or a feature then you were performing the installation on the local server. Windows Server 2012 still allows you to perform local installations of roles and features. As a matter of fact, this is the default behavior. If you were to simply click Next on the screen above then the wizard would assume that the roles or features that you choose later on will be installed on the local server. Although this is the default behavior, it is not your only option.

If you look closely at the screen capture shown above, you will notice that the option that is selected allows you to select a server from a server pool. In Windows Server 2012, a server pool is simply a collection of servers that can be managed through Server Manager. As it stands right now, no additional servers have been added to the server pool for the lab server that was used to create the figure above. If additional servers had been added to the server pool however, those servers would appear directly beneath the server that is selected. I will show you how to add a server to the server pool a little bit later on.

The other option that appears on the screen capture is the option to select a virtual hard disk. Previous versions of Windows Server required you to install roles and features on a running copy of Windows. This isn’t the case in Windows Server 2012. It is actually possible to install a role or a feature on to a virtual hard disk that contains a Windows Server installation that is not currently running.

When you click Next, you will see a screen displaying all of the various server roles that you can install. The list of server roles really isn’t all that different from those found in Windows Server 2008. When you make your selection you can click Next and you will be taken to the Features screen. Here you can choose the features that you want to install.

When you click Next once again, you will see a confirmation screen that provides information about the roles were features that are about to be installed. It is a good idea to take just a moment to read this screen and verify that the roles or features that are about to be installed are the ones that you intended. Assuming that all is well, you can click the Install button to perform the installation.

Adding Servers to the Server Pool

In the previous section, I mentioned that it was possible to add additional servers to the server pool so that those servers could be managed through Server Manager. The advantage to populating the server pool is that doing so allows you to manage multiple Windows servers through a single pane of glass.

If you want to add additional servers to the server pool, open Server Manager and choose the Add Servers command from the Manage menu as shown in Figure D. When you do, you will see the dialog box shown in Figure E.

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Figure D:
To add servers to the server pool choose the Add Servers command from the Manage menu.

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Figure E:
You can use this dialog box to add servers to the server pool.

As you can see in the figure, Windows provides three different methods for adding servers to the server pool. In most cases, you will probably want to use the Active Directory tab. This tab allows you to specify the names of computers that are registered in the Active Directory database. You will notice in the figure above that Windows gives you the option of specifying the computer’s location, and you can even filter the search results by operating system.

Another option is to specify computers by their fully qualified domain names or by IP address. This can be accomplished through the DNS tab. The DNS tab is useful for adding computers that exist on your network, but that are not members of an Active Directory domain. For example, edge servers are almost never domain members.

Finally, the Import tab is used for importing large numbers of computers. This method allows you to add all of the computers to a file, and then import that file rather than having to import each computer individually. Once added, the servers in the pool will be accessible through the Server Manager, as shown in Figure F.

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Figure F:
Server Manager can be used to manage multiple computers.

Conclusion

In this article, I have explored some more of the basics of working with Windows Server 2012. In Part 4 I plan to conclude this series by showing you some more techniques for working with roles and features.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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