Microsoft made a new “exception” to Exchange 2019. You can install it on Windows Server 2019 Core. Yes, you heard it right. This means that you will be managing a server without a desktop and everything is done through the command line. This is not as difficult as you might think. In Server Core, you use a utility called sconfig.cmd. With it, you can do the following:
- Join domain/workgroup
- Computer name
- Add local administrator
- Configure remote management
- Windows updates
- Remote desktop
- Network settings
- Date and time
- Windows activation
- Reboot/shutdown options
Here is a snippet of what the window looks like:
As you can see, you enter a number to configure that option. We are not going to cover the basics of sconfig here but you get the idea of how the configuration is done on Windows Server 2019 Core. This is the same for earlier versions of Core as well.
You can access this server from a network share as you will need to copy the setup files and prerequisites needed for the Installation of Exchange 2019 on Server 2019 Core.
Here are steps to be performed on the server:
- Enable file sharing
- Download the Exchange 2019 ISO from the MSDN/Visual Studio. (You need a subscription to download it.)
- Mount the Exchange Server 2019 ISO
- Install UCMA runtime 4.0
- Install Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable Package
- Install the prerequisites
- Install Exchange Server 2019
Once you exit sconfig.cmd, you need to run the following command to enable file sharing.
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”File and Printer Sharing” new enable=Yes
Once done, the next step is to mount the Exchange Server 2019 ISO. To do this, run the following command:
Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath “C:\Installs\ExchangeServer2019-x64.iso”
The next thing we need to do is to install UCMA runtime 4.0 as this is required by for Exchange setup. You need to navigate to the UCMARedist folder in the ISO and run the setup from there. Once UCMA has been installed, we can now install Visual C++ 2013
Reboot your server after all installations are done. I normally install all Windows updates and get that out the way. When the server is ready we can now move ahead with the installation of Exchange 2019.
You need to navigate to the drive where the ISO is mounted and once complete, run the following command:
Setup.EXE /Mode:Install /InstallWindowsComponents /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms /Roles:MB
You probably have noticed that I have not done the prerequisites as I had it listed in the section above. Well, with the command above, you will see I used a switch called /InstallWindowsComponents.
If you prefer to do the installation of the prerequisites manually, you can do so by running the following PowerShell command:
Once complete, reboot your server and then be sure to run the setup command in the previous step.
Note: If you are having trouble getting the PowerShell command to work, you can go here for more information about the Install-WindowsFeature cmdlet.
The setup is unattended just like Exchange 2016 or 2013 when run from the command line. Depending on how much RAM and CPUs you assigned to your server or if this is a lab with limited resources, the setup can take a while. Don’t panic if it seems nothing is happening at times — the setup is busy in the background.
Once your server installation finishes, reboot your server. The post-setup tasks are the same as you would do with Exchange 2016 or Exchange 2013. These include the following:
- Import your SSL certificate or create a new certificate request
- Configure your URLs (Autodiscover, OAB, MAPI, OWA, ECP)
- License your Exchange 2019 Server so you don’t hit a limitation on the number of databases you can mount
- Attach your storage (mount points or direct-attached)
- Create your Exchange databases
- Create your database availability group (DAG)
- Add your DAG copies.
- Test that your DAG works before you put the workload on
- Create a test mailbox and make sure that Outlook works. Test Autodiscover, OWA, etc.
- Configure your DNS (internally and externally)
- Test mail flow (internally and externally)
The items listed above are not in a specific order. Once you have configured your server and done testing, you can now test a migration of a user from Exchange 2016 or Exchange 2013 if you are running a coexistence environment. If this is a brand-new environment with no users, then you can go ahead and create your users, meeting rooms, shared mailboxes, etc. Remember that PowerShell is your friend and you can pretty much create your organization units and users with a script and CSV file.
As you can see above, it is not difficult to get an Exchange 2019 Server installed on Windows Server 2019 Core Edition.
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