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Is it possible to install 3rd party components on a Windows Server 2012 Core installation that typically require a GUI? For Example, if I want to install a MySQL server on a Core installation, would that be possible? Eventually, the database server will run as a service and will require no GUI.

Am I basically limited to native Windows 2012 components in a core installation?

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Yes. You can install 3rd Part Applications so long as they don't rely on the parts of Windows that are missing. In your case, MySQL will install.

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How would I install it? Wouldn't that require the GUI to be installed on Windows Server? –  Danish Nov 14 '12 at 15:14
    
@Danish You can just launch the installer from the command line. E.g. setup.exe –  jscott Nov 14 '12 at 15:34
    
@Danish Core has a GUI (despite what marketing has to say), with a standard Windows Command Prompt. It doesn't have the Desktop Environment that you're accustomed to in Windows. –  Chris S Nov 14 '12 at 15:58
    
Ah I see what you mean now, the basic window manager is still there. It all makes sense now. Thanks! –  Danish Nov 19 '12 at 19:42

It depends on the installer of your software. Many installers wont run because they rely on Windows components that are not present in Server Core.

Many installers come with a -quiet or -silent switch to perform the installation without starting the GUI part of the installer. In many cases they have an answer file in which you can specify the components to install.

As Chris S. said, Server Core is not GUI-less, it has the normal Windows GUI with windows, what it is missing is Windows Explorer, IE, management console, WPF etc.

It is hard to tell whether a GUI program will run on Server Core, many small tools do. I even run the Netscape 3 browser sometimes for local troubleshooting

Some of my dot.NET Windows forms applications are running as well, while others don't because certain components are not present.

If the installer of your software does not run, you may still be able to get the software to run. In some cases I just installed the software on a GUI server, then copied the files and potentially registry entries over to the core server.

Over time more and more vendors will offer installers that work on Server Core.

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