First look at Nano Server

What is Nano server?
Nano-server-slide

Nano server was first presented at the Build Conference

At #MSIgnite 2015 conference there were more presentations and a new ISO that contains Nano server (a.k.a. Windows Server Technical Preview 2) was published:

Some blog posts started to talk about it:

And the official “Getting Started with Nano Server” guide was published: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt126167.aspx

Hands-on!

I’ve installed the Hyper-V feature on my Windows 10 laptop.
I’ve downloaded the Windows Server Technical Preview 2 iso file I mentioned above.
I’ve installed an Internal switch in Hyper-V and set a static IP Address as I don’t have a DHCP server.
New-VM-Switch-Internal

New-VMSwitch -Name "Internal" -SwitchType Internal
# Disable DHCP
Get-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (Internal)" | 
Set-NetIPInterface -Dhcp:Disabled
# Set a static IP
Get-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (Internal)" | 
New-NetIPAddress -IPAddress 192.168.137.1 -AddressFamily IPv4 -PrefixLength 24 -Verbose

If you double-click the Windows Server Technical Preview 2 iso file, it will be mounted and you’ll see:
Nano-DVD-Content

Let’s quickly have a look at the NanoServer.wim image
Nano-Get-DiskImage

I’ve created a script to provision Nano server virtual machines attached to the Internal switch from the ISO file. Every repeated task should be automated, right? 😉
https://gist.github.com/p0w3rsh3ll/0bb479be3d7a547f5101

Let’s see it in action:
Nano00

When I booted the Nano server VM, I could see the output of the setupcomplete.cmd script that runs at the end of the OOBE phase.

I couldn’t apply the OfflineServicing phase to change the computername as it’s described in the getting stared guide. I’ve got error 0x80220001.
This means that the computer will be named ‘MINWINPC’.
nano01

nano02

I’ve also installed only 1 NiC and only loaded the Microsoft-NanoServer-Guest-Package.cab package as it contains drivers for hosting Nano Server as a virtual machine.
Because the administrator password wasn’t changed through the unattend.xml file or the setupcomplete.cmd script, it means it’s blank.

These are the process running on the VM
nano03
Here’s the list of modules available on the Nano server I provisioned (remember, I didn’t load all the packages: Hyper-V, Failover Clustering and Storage)
nano04

Both memory and the size of the VHD file are about 512MB. If I had loaded all the packages, the image size would have grown to ~1GB.

Get-VM -Name Nano002 | Get-VMMemory
(Get-item (Get-VM -Name Nano002 | 
 Get-VMHardDiskDrive).Path).Length /1MB -as [int]

Nano06

Nano Server looks very promising and it’s only the beginning.
Back in 2006, I created a WinPE 1.0 that was less that 100MB and as far as I remember, I was able to run some AV products, run Firefox, the minesweeper, the remote desktop client, load the firewall… and was also able to remote in the WinPE using the NT4 remote command server.
These days are dead but almost 10 years later Nano server is born with built-in PSRemoting. I believe it has a bright future and that miniaturization will carry on. It will for sure be a success because it’s robust, easily manageable (using PowerShell, DSC,…), cloud-optimized (scales more quickly, allows a better VM density), less vulnerable and exposed to security threats (attack surface is reduced, less security updates and reboots?) and will probably be the 1rst and a 1rst class cloud-OS for Windows Containers.

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5 thoughts on “First look at Nano Server

  1. I’ve updated the link to the gist. There was a problem with the previous one. Please let me know if you still encounter a problem with it.

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