Windows Server 2019 – What happened to Nano Server?

Installing an FTP server

This story about small-footprint Windows Server platforms doesn’t used to end with Server Core. Anyone who kept tabs on the new features coming out with Server 2016 is aware that there was another installation option for the Server 2016 operating system called Nano Server. The premise of Nano Server was an even smaller, more secure, more efficient, super-tiny operating system that could run a limited set of roles. Though limited, it was still capable of being installed onto a physical or virtual server platform, run as a true server operating system, and could still host traditional workloads on it.

Unfortunately for Nano Server enthusiasts, and especially for anyone who has already done the work of installing and using it, the story behind Nano Server has flipped around completely over the last couple of years. To make a long story short: you can no longer use Nano Server for anything that a traditional server can do. You cannot install it onto physical hardware; you cannot even install Nano onto a VM. Additionally, management functionalities, such as PowerShell and WinRM, have been removed from Nano Server, and you cannot install any of the Microsoft infrastructural roles onto it.

With all of this functionality having been ripped out of Nano Server’s scope, what is left? Is it dead? Can Nano Server do ANYTHING?

The answer is containers. If you are interested in utilizing containers in order to build and host cloud-ready and scalable applications, this is where Nano is now focused. We will cover more information about containers and the fact that Nano Server is completely married to them in Chapter 11, Containers and Nano Server, but suffice it to say that downloading container images from Microsoft will now be the only place that you will find Nano Server.

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