Uninstall GUI from Windows Server 2012 R2

Some programs require the desktop environment to be present. Otherwise the installation procedure doesn’t work. I came across such a program and was forced to install it on a server with GUI installed. Later I realized that the program itself doesn’t require the GUI (at any time), so i decided to remove the GUI. Here’s how:I’ll show how to do it via PowerShell only. The only way to learn PowerShell it is to use it.

Cmdlet used to achive this is ‘Uninstall-WindowsFeature’ (or it’s alias ‘Remove-WindowsFeature’). In my case, I want to remove both GUI Shell and GUI Management Tools and Infrastructure. Run PowerShell in elevated mode and list the features in order to get the percise feature name:

PS C:\Users\tpl-adm> Get-WindowsFeature -Name *gui*
Display Name                                            Name                       Install State
------------                                            ----                       -------------
    [X] Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure   Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra          Installed
    [X] Server Graphical Shell                          Server-Gui-Shell               Installed
PS C:\Users\tpl-adm>

Because I know that the uninstall requires a restart, ill use the ‘-restart’ parameter, and I’ll simply pipe the results of ‘Get-WindowsFeature’ to ‘Uninstall-WindowsFeature’

Get-WindowsFeature *gui* | Remove-WindowsFeature -Restart

If you plan on installing it again at the later time, you’re done. Else you can use the ‘-Remove’ parameter .

Get-WindowsFeature *gui* | Remove-WindowsFeature -Restart -Remove

This will delete the feature from the side-by-side store (“$env:windir\WINSXS”).

Server Core Minimal Server Interface Server with a GUI Server with a GUI with Desktop Expirience
Avaliable tools Command Prompt, Windows powerShell, .NET Framework MMC, Server Manager, several Control Panel applications Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Task Bar, Control Panel Windows Media Player, Themes, Windows 8 shell, Windows Store
PowerShell Features None Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell, Desktop-Expirience
Server Manager Features None Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure, Server Graphical Shell Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure, Server Graphical Shell, Desktop Expirience

It is not recommended to install the desktop experience on a production server unless there is a real-life, honest compelling business reason for doing so.

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  • windows/server_os/core_to_gui.txt
  • Last modified: 2019-10-31 09:06
  • (external edit)