Eric's Technical Outlet

Learning the hard way so you don't have to

Installing the WSUS Server component on Server Core 2008 R2

There is a key limitation to installing WSUS on Server Core: Neither Microsoft SQL Server nor Windows Internal Database will install on Server Core, so you will have to install a SQL instance somewhere else in order to do this. That means that no matter what, you’ll still need a full GUI install of Windows Server somewhere.

The best case I can conceive of in which this is desirable is when you need multiple WSUS servers in the same location for some reason and it’s not a problem to set up a centralized or multiple SQL Server. In our case, we want our remote users laptops to get install approvals from our central server during VPN sessions but to download the actual updates from Microsoft using their own Internet connections. We want our in-house computers to get approvals and updates from the in-house WSUS server. One WSUS installation cannot handle that. Therefore, it made sense for us to add a SQL Server Express instance to the existing WSUS Server and install WSUS separately (because you can’t have two instances of WSUS on the same Windows Server), using Core to minimize resource usage.

Update: SQL Server 2012 is supported on Server Core. The continued relevance of this document is primarily to show you how to install the WSUS component itself. Also, if you look, you can find instructions for installing earlier editions of SQL Server on Server Core, but be advised that these are not supported configurations.

  1. Install a SQL (Express) instance on another server and configure it for remote access (enable TCP/IP in its “Protocols” entry in Sql Server Configuration Manager and use Mixed Mode Authentication and set the SQL Browser service to Automatic and start it).
  2. On the Server Core computer, run the following (all on one line, feature names are caSE sEnSItIVe):
    DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx2-ServerCore /FeatureName:IIS-WebServer /FeatureName:IIS-WebServerRole /FeatureName:IIS-ASPNET /FeatureName:IIS-WindowsAuthentication /FeatureName:IIS-HttpCompressionDynamic /FeatureName:IIS-IIS6ManagementCompatibility /FeatureName:IIS-ISAPIFilter /FeatureName:IIS-ISAPI-Extensions /FeatureName:IIS-NetFxExtensibility /FeatureName:IIS-Metabase
  3. Download the 64-bit version of WSUS 3.0 SP2. Copy it to the local drive of the Core server and run it. It will complain that MMC 3.0 and Report Viewer are not installed, which only means that the GUI can’t be run from the Core server. Proceed with the install, pointing it to the SQL Server you set up in step 1 once you reach the relevant screen. When install completes, it will start will start the initial server setup wizard. You can complete that or Finish and configure the server from a management station.
  4. If you don’t already have the console installed on a GUI computer, use the same installer from step 3 and choose the console-only option. Inside the console, right-click the “Update Services” root node at the very top of the left pane and choose “Connect to Server…”. Key in the name of the server that you just installed WSUS to, as well as any port information. These directions did not include enabling SSL.
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