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Windows Admins Need To Prepare For GUI-Less Server 780

Posted by Soulskill
from the back-to-basics dept.
msmoriarty writes "We knew Windows Server 8 was going to be a departure for Microsoft, including an 'optional' GUI, but in a blog post made earlier this week, the Windows Server team said that working without the GUI will be the 'recommended' method, and is telling developers not to assume a GUI will be present. According to Windows consultant and author Don Jones, this is a big hint to Windows admins that they better get used to not having a GUI in future releases. From the article: 'I'm well aware that many Windows admins out there aren't looking forward to a GUI-less server operating system from Microsoft. ... I'm sure Microsoft has, too.They're proceeding anyway. We have two choices: adapt or die.'"
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Windows Admins Need To Prepare For GUI-Less Server

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  • by antitithenai (2552442) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:13AM (#38685914)
    Often Windows servers are also used to run actual programs with GUI's, like you do on your home computer. Having them on server means you have access to much better bandwidth and your programs can run 24/7, and you can easily deploy more servers if you need to. If GUI's are completely removed then you would need to run desktop version of Windows on a server, which is far from ideal. Servers aren't just used for web servers and things like that, they are also used for supporting programs or having a remote location. Windows server with RDP works really well for that. Even Linux servers can have GUI, as it's easy to install X11 and some desktop environment.
  • Obligatory quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:20AM (#38686028)

    Those who do not understand UNIX are doomed to reinvent it, poorly.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:24AM (#38686116)

    Microsoft's intention is to just have GUI clients for admin, don't get your hopes up that they would actually raise the bar to have real computer sysadmins who can function from a command line

  • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#38686128)

    If you want to talk about server administration, you'd do well to remember that Novell didn't even give you many options on the console on the server. Most of the tools were run on the workstation. The whole point was that there wasn't much reason to ever sit at the server itself.

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:26AM (#38686136) Journal

    He's just trolling. Not every server application for Windows is made by MS, and therefore not all of them will go GUIless. One of the two I administrate cannot be administrated without the GUI, except possibly by some of it's developers. The other can be administrated without the GUI, but even if you run it on Linux, Solaris or HPUX, the creator highly recommends using the GUI and won't support some changes being made except within the GUI.

    HOWEVER, as long as I've administrated Windows and *Nix server, and applications on them, I have very much missed the ability to have GUIless access to a server, when working with Windows. This change should mean that pretty much every server/os level task can be done without a GUI, which will be nice. I prefer to not have to pick one or the other, I'd rather have a server that allows both options well. Using the GUI for tools I don't use much, and CLI for tools I use frequently.

  • by bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:28AM (#38686158) Homepage

    What they actually recommended is running the GUI on the client.

  • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:29AM (#38686178)

    Right, but when a huge chunk of your market is going to be businesses with 15-20 employees and no dedicated IT person, or if they have a dedicated IT person they're not actually a trained IT person, having a CLI only is utterly braindead. Part of the appeal of a windows server is that the poor dude who is asked to do all the IT stuff, but isn't actually an IT guy has a much lower barrier to entry in understanding 'Windows that happens to be a server' than trying to understand 'LAMP'.

    Now admittedly, MS may be envisioning this is a 'off in the cloud' scenario, where even small businesses buy time on a professionally run server where that barrier to entry is immaterial. But that's a significant misread of a big blob of their market. All the attention this has been getting should have told them that.

    I'm a professional CS guy. I'm getting a PhD in comp sci, and I used to be a dedicated IT guy. I consult and teach people how to do this stuff. When I consult, sometimes even at big outfits (think something like CBS or a hospital) their little offices or division that handle something in particular have a guy on staff who is the least technically incompetent person. They might have a degree in history, but be the youngest person on staff, or they're a gamer and know more about computers than say... anyone else. But they look at a CLI (correctly from their perspective) as something that died 20 years ago, and they have no desire to learn. Even kids in IT programmes are generally unprepared for this. And making them uninspired about your product before they've even started working doesn't seem like a great plan.

    Windows server is less about technology and more about brand familiarity. Obviously Microsoft is completely unaware of this.

  • Reading the actual quotes from Microsoft, what they are saying is that if you are developing a server application, you need to expect that there may not be a GUI and you should develop the application with that understanding. Microsoft never said that a GUI may not be available to install, but that applications should be able to handle the case of their not being a GUI. This is drastically different from what the headline is implying.

  • Remote GUI Tools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:33AM (#38686238)

    Admins should just use the GUI tools remotely. That way they do not need remote desktop and GUI tools installed on the servers. This would provide the best of both worlds and make remote management for servers simpler. Most current admin tools can operate on remote servers. Microsoft could easily ensure all tools can operate remotely to make this transition easier for administrators.

  • Bad idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:36AM (#38686290)

    I'm pretty comfortable with a CLI, it's what I grew up with and use on a routine basis for many things. That being said there is a lot out there in terms of server based applications that are wholly dependent upon having a GUI.

    Were not talking about simply rearranging the desktop here, were talking about removing the very interface that is depended on by an entire ecosystem of software. That market is easily in the billions of dollars per year. If your going to force all those developers and legacy applications to run as CLI only than your giving those companies an opportunity to re-evaluate the platform they use for a CLI based tool.

    If your giving companies the impetus to decide what platform to use for a CLI based tool than many of them are simply going to switch to *nix support since there is a strong legacy ecosystem to support it. In other words if Microsoft were to do this for all of the Window Server based platforms it would be suicidal. That's a pretty poor business case and it simply doesn't make sense.

    I think the far more likely case is that certain versions of Windows server will be available as CLI only (web platform etc), which they already are. I really have to question if the source of the story got their facts right, it doesn't make sense unless they didn't.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:37AM (#38686312)

    Finally the manager in our IT dept will have to get a clue.
    I'm guessing he will do everything he can to hold off upgrading as he knows he wont be able to cut it.
    I'm actually hoping he will get moved out so we can finally move to Linux.

  • DOS? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by egyas (1364223) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:37AM (#38686314)
    Maybe as a Linux guy I'm not getting this but.... Isn't "Windows" without a GUI simply .... DOS?
  • by somersault (912633) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:40AM (#38686350) Homepage Journal

    Any sane person recognises that both have their benefits and drawbacks.

  • by gazbo (517111) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:41AM (#38686374)
    Wait, you think that NAT is a good thing? Well I suppose there has to be one.

    NAT solves ONE problem: more devices than public IPs. Any perceived security benefits are purely incidental and can be solved (better) by a firewall.

  • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:49AM (#38686522)

    "According to Windows consultant and author Don Jones, this is a big hint to Windows admins that they better get used to not having a GUI in future releases."

    Is it? or is that theory just completely made up?

    Just because the server doesn't locally have a GUI doesn't mean it wont allow RDP connections, and doesn't mean you wont just be able to use the likes of event viewer, IIS manager, or whatever, installed on your local system, to connect to and manage a remote server.

    I don't think most people manage Windows servers locally anyway nowadays, most IT staff are too busy enjoying the fact they no longer have to get off their arse to go to the server room because they can do everything they need with a GUI from their desk. I don't see anything to indicate that side of things is changing - just that Windows Server will no longer by default sit their handling a locked GUI for local users no one ever fucking uses anyway whilst continuing to offer the console based management option that was introduced in what, Windows 2008 Server? even then I suspect, being Microsoft, the Windows GUI will only be a quick click or command away but will simply be initialised on demand, rather than always there.

  • In reality, Microsoft doesn't need to be more efficient. You can always buy more processing power, which everyone loves. You buy more hardware and more Windows licenses.

    The real key is administrative tasks. If you have 100 servers in a pool dedicated to a single task, you need to be able to perform tasks easily on all of them at the same time. The shift to Powershell is all about administering MULTIPLE servers. Removing the GUI is forcing people to learn more efficient ways to manage their environment.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:51AM (#38686570) Homepage

    There's a reason we use GUI's now a days - it's better for some stuff.

    Some stuff, sure. But, if you maintain clusters of machines or need to do hugely repetitive tasks, a GUI can actually be a hinderance.

    I have seen applications in which you might be administering literally hundreds of items, if not thousands ... for some maintenance tasks, you end up manually going through a GUI for hundreds of items one at a time to make a change. Which is boring, repetitive, and error prone. One of the advantage of doing things GUI-less is that it allows for automation of tasks more than a GUI.

    Almost anything you need to run at a corporate level where you have a lot of them works way better if you can automate it ... I have seen people trying to make changed to a large number of SAN allocated volumes, and it's painful to watch someone go through the steps with a GUI, and it's a lot more error prone.

    If you're talking about a single, stand-alone piece of software that doesn't devolve into having hundreds (if not thousands) of items to control, sure, a GUI is great ... but if you ever have to update hundreds of items at a time, the GUI paradigm can fall apart completely. I once had a task to do in which I had to modify around 75 things ... it took me about 4 hours of "click button, wait, click next button, wait" and made me want to kill the developers who had written it. Partly because there was no multi-select, and partly because if it was scriptable it would become an easy maintenance task -- without it, it's painful. And, it's not like they couldn't anticipate people would need to do this often and to a large number of items.

    Even for some routine maintenance I need to do on some machine clusters, it's easier to write a batch script and use "sc" to start and stop services .. because I need to shut down and disable the exact same service on 15-20 machines, I need to do it right now, and I need to get them all down as close as possible. Logging into each machine and shutting these services down with Task Manager ... well, that's pretty much a time sink. Then when I need to start them all up, I've got a corresponding script. These are tasks that we do approaching daily in one or more clusters.

    For years Windows has had the "GUI only" paradigm for most applications ... pushing more applications to be scriptable and run headless will go a long way to making many administrative tasks much easier to handle. It may take a bit of a learning curve, but being able to automate certain tasks eventually becomes a huge time save (so it saves money), and is a lot more consistent (which also saves money).

    I applaud Microsoft starting to push application developers towards this ... because the sheer amount of items I've seen which can benefit from this has convinced me that we must spend countless man hours of someone clicking through a GUI when a script could do it in a few minutes. That tends to be hugely lost productivity that people could be spending doing other tasks.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:51AM (#38686572) Homepage Journal
    No, it means that all of the Linux distributors are going to be sued because Microsoft obviously has a boatload of bogus patents for "method and apparatus for a server operating system running without a graphical user interface" and they'll find a bunch of patsies to roll over and sign licensing agreements proving that the bogus patents are valid.

    Just like they did with Android.
  • Innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raxhonp (136733) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:52AM (#38686604)

    Microsoft, the company for which the future is what everybody else is doing for more than 30 years.

  • by pe1rxq (141710) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:53AM (#38686620) Homepage Journal

    I'm just waiting to see the reactions from guys who are always saying how Windows is better than Linux because everything is GUI based. This is pretty hilarious..

    Soon the pigs will write 'Gui good, no gui better' on the wall....

  • by wzzzzrd (886091) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:53AM (#38686624)
    Same setup as a remote web admin UI. Or remote X. Or VNC to any operating system. But claiming that windows servers with GUI have more bandwidth because of that is ridiculous.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:58AM (#38686720) Homepage

    GUIs can be built to send commands to a command line.

    By removing the GUI they're actually opening things up to have bigger/better GUIs than before. The difference is the GUI won't be running on your server, it can be running anywhere.

    This enables servers without graphics cards - potentially a massive saving in the datacenter.

  • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:59AM (#38686744)

    So the path to making better software is to make it more obfuscated and less user friendly? Making it easier for those poor dudes is what MS has been doing for 20 years, and why they finally made some inroads into the market.

    20 years old today have no clue how to use a command line unless they are from the 1% of users that have a linux desktop at home. We see, in a programme with about 200 students, one or two kids a year like that (and this is in CS). I had to do a class thing yesterday which was basically an 'intro to our unix systems' for non CS kids. Basic stuff, make a directory, list contents that kinda thing. None of them had the slightest clue how to do anything on their own. I was starting from scratch, completely, they didn't even know what to search for on the web, or that such commands still existed. These are kids in physics, math, biochem, and they didn't know how to make a directory without a GUI. Admittedly, that's why we're teaching them the CLI stuff. But they won't use it. It might take longer, but they've grown up with a GUI, so they'll use a GUI. My suspicion is their immediate impression of linux was 'antiquated'. That's not accurate of course, but that was the perception we created. MS should realize who their market is, and make better software and tools for them.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:09PM (#38686920) Homepage

    Wait, you think that NAT is a good thing? Well I suppose there has to be one.
    NAT solves ONE problem: more devices than public IPs. Any perceived security benefits are purely incidental and can be solved (better) by a firewall.

    Yeah, and my firewall/router currently does both for me.

    Which means I can use one of the internal-only address ranges to layout my home network, be secured behind a firewall, and not have my network layout be made obvious to anyone else. Which is good, because I have two different sub-nets and two different wifi hotspots in my house.

    Since I only get one public IP from my ISP, that covers exactly what I need. I'm sure the greedy bastards would like to charge me for each computer I have, but tough.

    Are you implying there's a downside to NAT for a home user? For smaller networks, being behind a NATed, firewalled connection gives me exactly what I need ... and, let's be honest, IPv6 has been about to become widespread for slightly longer than the "year of the Linux desktop" has been imminent.

    Tell us, how is NAT a bad thing? So far you've just sneered at it -- from my perspective, it solves the problem it's meant to. And I can't even begin to tell you the number of large corporations I've worked at with computers all addressed within these [wikipedia.org] ranges. Not having them routable to the rest of the planet is actually a useful thing.

  • by homb (82455) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:36PM (#38687364)

    There is a massive downside to NAT that any home user at an ISP that has been allowed few IPs will tell you.
    Any ISP in a non-western country will probably have been allocated far far fewer IPs than it's got clients. Therefore that ISP will be using NAT on his outside network. Couple that with NAT on the inside network for the home user, and you've got the clusterfucks called NAT444 and (the slightly better) NAT464 among others. They're also commonly called Carrier-grade NAT (CGN) or large-scale NAT (LSN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier-grade_NAT [wikipedia.org]

    This consistently completely screws up all sorts of connections, such as:
    - XBox and Playstation 3 networking (you'll see "NAT Type 3" on the network config)
    - FaceTime
    - etc...

    Basically anything that is a peer-to-peer protocol with reciprocal client-server stuff is shot.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:58PM (#38687780) Homepage Journal

    "Having them on server means you have access to much better bandwidth and your programs can run 24/7, and you can easily deploy more servers if you need to"
    What?
    Really what are you talking about? If you are running a GUI application on a server that is not just wrong but down right silly.
    You need more bandwidth? Then you get it more bandwidth.
    Now if you are talking about machines with more than one CPU and a lot of memory then sure. Those are called workstations. They may use the same motherboard as a server but they are not being used as a server.
    A server needs a GUI like a submarine needs a screen door. If you are going to run anything like that on a server you should really use a VM anyway so that it will not take down the entire box when it crashes.

    Anything on a server that you can get ride of like a video card means less heat, less power used, and less cost. It is also one less thing to fail. RDP? how much bandwidth does that take? A lot more than ssh and command line.
    And that is why real tech companies use Unix/Linux for servers.

  • by SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:22PM (#38689116) Journal

    "subliterate" (n): someone who knows only a subset of the English language. Example: you.

    Here, enlarge that subset a little. [merriam-webster.com]

  • by budgenator (254554) on Friday January 13, 2012 @02:40PM (#38689398) Journal

    Many years ago my son asked me after attending an Army training course on Linux Administration, "Dad why is Linux so hard, everything is command line; on Windows everything is GUI?" So as a good Dad I just had to show him how to fire up a command line on windows and how almost all of the "hard" cli stuff he learned in Linux training was also in Windows with only trivial changes, how editing /etc/hosts in nano in Linux was almost exactly the same as editing \windows\hosts in wordpad. Then I told him there are two reasons that he thought Linux was harder than Windows, first the instructors were ordered to teach the class and they did, but they didn't want anybody to learn the subject so they taught it in the most obtuse arcane way possible; secondly if someone thinks Windows is that much easier than Linux, they really don't know Windows as well as they think.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @03:57PM (#38690592)

    If we had IPv6 we would all have as many ips as we needed free of charge.

    Are you serious?

    You think that ISPs will throw away the opportunity to charge you extra money for more IPv6 addresses?

    They will justify the charges like this:

    1. You have additional devices that you want connected directly to the public Internet? Then you must pay your ISP for the privilege.

    2. When switching to IPv6, you no longer need to buy a NAT box? Then the ISP deserves at least part of the money you saved.

    3. You no longer need to screw around with manually configuring your router ports for your various applications (P2P, etc.)? Then you must pay your ISP for that extra convenience.

    4. They have to hire someone to enter your request for extra IPv6 addresses into their database. You must pay for that expense.

    You WILL be charged for your IPv6 addresses -- each and every one of them.

    Just because IPv6 addresses SEEM like they should be free (from a mathematical perspective), there is no way they are actually going to be free (from a marketing perspective).

  • by Locutus (9039) on Friday January 13, 2012 @04:24PM (#38690946)
    Microsoft will have to imply the GUI won't be there or else developers will just continue and tell the admins to install the GUI system and effectively eliminating any benefits of keeping the GUI out of the server.

    What is this, something like 15 years after they put the GUI into the NT kernel in NT 4.0? That fantastic Window 95 desktop wasn't even close to the OS/2 WPS yet still was a performance sucking pig so they had to pull the GUI into the kernel to keep an acceptable performing GUI experience.

    I wonder what's causing them to do back to pulling the GUI out of the kernel and even telling server software vendors to code to this configuration? It's SOP for *nix systems so what's going on? From what I've seen running Windows in VM's, you can fit way more Linux servers in VM's than you can Windows and it has everything to do with the performance requirements(CPUs and memory) of the environments. Where's the leaked memo about this anyways?

    LoB

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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