Deploy Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server Core


Hurrah! If you have not yet heard: Exchange Server 2019 Public preview was announced earlier, and it is the first version of Exchange that you can install on Server Core!

Now, while that’s great news, if you haven’t worked on Server Core, there may be bit of a learning curve. The purpose of this post is to help you install the Exchange Server 2019 on Server Core in your lab.

We are going to assume that you have:

  1. Installed an Active Directory global catalog domain controller. Exchange Server 2019 will work with writable DCs running Windows 2012 R2 and above. Here’s a link to get you going with Active Directory, in case you have not installed it yet.
  2. Installed Windows Server 2019 (or Windows Server 2016) Server Core operating system.

(In case you need help with Server Core deployment, please follow this link).

Getting started

Once you have installed Server Core and booted it up, you may find yourself staring at this strange, unfamiliar login prompt:

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From here on, this command line interface is your friend!

Once you’re logged in, you will get the basic Command prompt window. From here, you can use the start command to launch processes into a new window. For instance, if you type start powershell, PowerShell will be launched into a new window. You can also type start cmd to launch an additional instance of the command interpreter. You can use exit to close any process. Typing taskmgr will launch the graphical based TaskMgr application.

Example:

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If you close all command prompt windows and want to open a new one, you can do that from the Task Manager. To launch Task Manager try the CTRL+ESC shortcut, or if you’re logged in via Remote Desktop you may need to use CTRL+ALT+DELETE, click Start Task Manager. Then, , click More Details > File > Run, and then type cmd.exe. (Or Powershell.exe to open a PowerShell command window.) Alternatively, you can sign out and then sign back in.

Prepare the OS for Exchange installation

The following are preliminary tasks you will need to perform to configure the OS for Exchange installation. You can use Sconfig to configure the IP Address, install Windows Updates, enable remote desktop and join the server to AD domain. Alternatively, you can use PowerShell commands to perform each of these tasks, which is useful for scripted installations as well.

Configure IP Address:

Use the Get-NetIPAddress PowerShell command and identify interface index you want to configure the static IP on. Mostly, this should be the one that has Interface Alias Ethernet and AIPA auto assigned DHCP Address.

Sample Get-NetIPAddress output:

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Then use the following command to assign a static IP:

New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceIndex 6 -IPAddress 192.168.12.123 -PrefixLength 24 -DefaultGateway 192.168.12.100

If you are going to use a DHCP assigned IP Address, inspect the IP configuration provided.

Configure a DNS Server

Set-DNSClientServerAddress -InterfaceIndex 6 -ServerAddress "192.168.12.121"

Enable Remote Desktop:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\Scregedit.wsf /ar 0

Windows features

Use the following PowerShell command to install the OS component required for Microsoft UCMA 4.0 and the OS component required for Active Directory Preparation.

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Media-Foundation, RSAT-ADDS

Download necessary software

From an admin workstation, download the following software and copy it over to the Server Core we are preparing for the Exchange installation (let’s say you copy the files into a C:\Software folder):

Then login to Server Core and do the following:

Install VC++ 2013 Redistributable

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Install UCMA (Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API 4.0)

The UCMA installable is present on the Exchange Server 2019 media itself. Use the following PowerShell command to mount the Exchange Server media:

Mount-DiskImage c:\<FolderPath>\ExchangeServer2019-x64.iso

The UCMA installable is located under the “UCMARedist” folder on the Exchange Server 2019 .ISO. Start the UCMA installation:

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.Net 4.7.1

Check the .Net version installed by following this link

If you are not on .Net version 4.7.1 already, use the following command to install the .Net 4.7.1 (not required on Windows Server 2019 Server Core):

C:\<FolderPath>\NDP471-KB4033342-x86-x64-AllOS-ENU.exe /q /log c:\temp\ndp.log

The .Net installation will continue in quiet mode, i.e. no progress bar will be displayed. At the end of successful installation, you will be asked to restart the computer. You can also take a look at the log file to check progress of the installation.

Start Notepad c:\temp\ndp.log

Do not reboot the server just yet; join the computer to an AD domain and then reboot it.

Joining the computer to AD domain

The following command will:

  • Rename the computer to E19Core1
  • Add the computer to domain corp.contoso.com

Add-Computer -DomainName corp.contoso.com -NewName E19Core1 -DomainCredential contoso\administrator

Restart the server

Use the following PowerShell command to restart the computer:

Restart-Computer -Force

Exchange installation

After rebooting the server mount the Exchange .ISO image again using Mount-DiskImage as you did before.

Use the following command to start Exchange Server installation. The PowerShell command will also install the required OS components for Exchange:

.\Setup.exe /m:install /roles:m /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms /InstallWindowsComponents

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Notepad is available on Server Core, in case you want to open the Exchange Setup log just for review or to troubleshoot any exchange setup issues. Launch it as follows:

start notepad c:\ExchangeSetupLogs\ExchangeSetup.log

Once Exchange is installed, you can launch the Exchange Management Shell using LaunchEMS command from the command line.

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Alternatively, you can also use web browser from an admin workstation to access Exchange Admin Center.

Summary

We hope this article will help you to get started with your Exchange Server 2019 deployment on Server Core and help you perform various Exchange admin tasks once you are done!

Here are some more links that you can use to learn more!

Getting started with Server Core

Use the following information to install, configure, and manage the Server Core installation option of Windows Server.

Server Core installation:

Using Server Core:

Bhalchandra Atre

Comments (8)

  1. Wow, that was quick and looks good !!

  2. sfordham10 says:

    If not already, will the Exchange Hybrid Wizard be supported on Server Core?

    1. At this time the Hybrid Configuration Wizard does not support running on Server Core. We are looking into supporting this in the future. This largely has to do with how one acquires and installs the wizard at this point and less about it being a graphical application. It is a common misconception that Server Core does not include a graphical user interface. It does. You can see that above in the screenshot where the UCMA installer is running as a graphical application. You can also see the command interpreter running in a resizable graphical window as well. Applications may appear different but applications which are written to use the Graphical Device Interface on Windows, will function on Server Core. You can even run Exchange Setup in graphical mode on Server Core!

  3. Ken says:

    Install went fine on Windows 2019 Server Core, however, mail is stuck in Drafts folder when sending internal mail from one user to another. Did I miss a step?

    1. No special steps are required other than what is called out above. The installation of Exchange on Server Core is very straight forward and ensures that all pre-requisites are satisfied before Exchange will install.

  4. Wiseman says:

    “Exchange Server 2019 will work with writable DCs running Windows 2012 R2 and above”

    Does this means that Forrest and Domain have to be at Windows 2012R2 Functional Level?

    1. Our plan is to require Windows 2012R2 forest functional level at release. We will discuss more about system requirements at Ignite and at launch.

      1. Wiseman says:

        My humble Opinion is that the FFL is the most difficult requirement to beat in large Deployments as ours. Only Recently we manage to Upgrade to Win2008R2 FFL in order to be able to Deploy Exchange 2016 CU7 and up (we are at Exchange 2013 CU21).
        I strongly believe that only after one year of Mandatory FFL Win2008R2 (Sept 2017 CU7 for Exchange 2016 Deployments) it is too early to move to Win2012R2 FFL for Exchange 2019…

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