Weekly quickTIP

GUIs for a GUIless OS

Not ready for Server Core's command-line-only interface? An alternative.

Server Core in Server 2008 is a fantastic "new way" of dealing with the administration of the Windows operating system. Eliminating the graphical user interface and streamlining the OS to something just short of an appliance makes this OS more secure and highly tailored for specific functionality.

But, there's a learning curve most administrators will need to overcome to get familiar with this new OS. Managed entirely from the command line, there are a host of tools that most administrators haven't needed to know -- until now. Netsh, reg, netdom, net, slmgr ... all of these are command-line tools that have been around for a while but don't get a lot of attention from administrators because they're usually overshadowed by their GUI adjuncts.

But with Server Core, there is no GUI, and in many cases there isn't even the processing capability on board to even instantiate a graphical tool. So, if you want to use Server Core, you're stuck learning these new/old commands. Until now.

Over at the Windowmaker's blog, Guy Teverovsky introduces the world the first custom GUI for Server Core's GUIless operating system. For administrators resistant to Server Core because of its command-line learning curve, Guy's tool eliminates much of the initial configuration pain by wrapping it into a graphical interface.

Need to change IP settings? Click the Networking button. Adding to a domain? Click the Computer Name button. RDP, licensing, display, and firewall settings among others are all wrapped up into this little widget.

I'll admit that I'm impressed. For a GUIless OS, this GUI tool at first blush seems to go backwards from Microsoft's intentions, but it's a great stepping stone if you're not ready to move to a complete command-line basis for all your administrative needs.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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