ASP.NET Core on Nano Server

By Sourabh Shirhatti

Attention

This tutorial uses a pre-release version of the Nano Server installation option of Windows Server Technical Preview 5. You may use the software in the virtual hard disk image only to internally demonstrate and evaluate it. You may not use the software in a live operating environment. Please see https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=624232 for specific information about the end date for the preview.

In this tutorial, you’ll take an existing ASP.NET Core app and deploy it to a Nano Server instance running IIS.

Introduction

Nano Server is an installation option in Windows Server 2016, offering a tiny footprint, better security and better servicing than Server Core or full Server. Please consult the official Nano Server documentation for more details. There are 3 ways for you try out Nano Server for yourself:

  1. You can download the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 ISO file, and build a Nano Server image
  2. Download the Nano Server developer VHD
  3. Create a VM in Azure using the Nano Server image in the Azure Gallery. If you don’t have an Azure account, you can get a free 30-day trial

In this tutorial, we will be using the pre-built Nano Server Developer VHD from Windows Server Technical Preview 5.

Before proceeding with this tutorial, you will need the published output of an existing ASP.NET Core application. Ensure your application is built to run in a 64-bit process.

Setting up the Nano Server Instance

Create a new Virtual Machine using Hyper-V on your development machine using the previously downloaded VHD. The machine will require you to set an administator password before logging on. At the VM console, press F11 to set the password before the first logon.

After setting the local password, you will manage Nano Server using PowerShell remoting.

Connecting to your Nano Server Instance using PowerShell Remoting

Open an elevated PowerShell window to add your remote Nano Server instance to your TrustedHosts list.

$ip = "10.83.181.14" # replace with the correct IP address
Set-Item WSMan:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts "$ip" -Concatenate -Force

Once you have added your Nano Server instance to your TrustedHosts, you can connect to it using PowerShell remoting

$ip = "10.83.181.14" # replace with the correct IP address
$s = New-PSSession -ComputerName $ip -Credential ~\Administrator
Enter-PSSession $s

A successful connection results in a prompt with the following format: [10.83.181.14]: PS C:\Users\Administrator\Documents>

Install-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage
Import-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage
Install-NanoServerPackage -Name Microsoft-NanoServer-IIS-Package

Installing the ASP.NET Core Module

The ASP.NET Core Module is an IIS 7.5+ module which is responsible for process management of ASP.NET Core HTTP listeners and to proxy requests to processes that it manages. At the moment, the process to install the ASP.NET Core Module for IIS is manual. You will need to install the version of the .NET Core Windows Server Hosting bundle on a regular (not Nano) machine. After installing you will need to copy the following files:

Installing IIS

Add the NanoServerPackage provider from the PowerShell gallery. Once the provider is installed and imported, you can install Windows packages.

Install-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage
Import-PackageProvider NanoServerPackage
Install-NanoServerPackage -Name Microsoft-NanoServer-IIS-Package

Installing the ASP.NET Core Module

The ASP.NET Core Module is an IIS 7.5+ module which is responsible for process management of ASP.NET Core HTTP listeners and to proxy requests to processes that it manages. Currently, installing ASP.NET Core Module requires the following script:

copy <update-this>\aspnetcore_schema.xml C:\windows\system32\inetsrv\config\schema
copy <update-this>\aspnetcore.dll C:\windows\system32\inetsrv
# Backup existing applicationHost.config
copy C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost_BeforeInstallingANCM.config
Import-Module IISAdministration
# Initialize variables
$aspNetCoreHandlerFilePath="C:\windows\system32\inetsrv\aspnetcore.dll"
Reset-IISServerManager -confirm:$false
$sm = Get-IISServerManager
# Add AppSettings section
$sm.GetApplicationHostConfiguration().RootSectionGroup.Sections.Add("appSettings")
# Set Allow for handlers section
$appHostconfig = $sm.GetApplicationHostConfiguration()
$section = $appHostconfig.GetSection("system.webServer/handlers")
$section.OverrideMode="Allow"
# Add aspNetCore section to system.webServer
$sectionaspNetCore = $appHostConfig.RootSectionGroup.SectionGroups["system.webServer"].Sections.Add("aspNetCore")
$sectionaspNetCore.OverrideModeDefault = "Allow"
$sm.CommitChanges()
# Configure globalModule
Reset-IISServerManager -confirm:$false
$globalModules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/globalModules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $globalModules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="AspNetCoreModule";"image"=$aspNetCoreHandlerFilePath}
# Configure module
$modules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/modules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $modules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="AspNetCoreModule"}
# Backup existing applicationHost.config
copy C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost_AfterInstallingANCM.config

Enabling the ASP.NET Core Module

Execute the following PowerShell script in a remote PowerShell session to enable the HttpPlatformHandler module on the Nano server.

Note

This script runs on a clean system but is not idempotent. Entries are added each time the script is run. You can restore applicationHost.config with backups from %systemdrive%inetpubhistory.

Import-Module IISAdministration 
$sm = Get-IISServerManager
# Add AppSettings section (for Asp.Net Core)
$sm.GetApplicationHostConfiguration().RootSectionGroup.Sections.Add("appSettings")
# Unlock handlers section
$appHostconfig = $sm.GetApplicationHostConfiguration()
$section = $appHostconfig.GetSection("system.webServer/handlers")
$section.OverrideMode="Allow"
# Add httpPlatform section to system.webServer
$sectionHttpPlatform = $appHostConfig.RootSectionGroup.SectionGroups["system.webServer"].Sections.Add("aspNetCore")
$sectionHttpPlatform.OverrideModeDefault = "Allow"
# Add to globalModules
$globalModules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/globalModules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $globalModules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="AspNetCoreModule";"image"="%SystemRoot%\system32\inetsrv\aspnetcore.dll"}
# Add to modules
$modules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/modules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $modules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="AspNetCoreModule"}
$sm.CommitChanges()

Manually Editing applicationHost.config

Skip this section if you ran the PowerShell script above. Running the PowerShell script above is the recommended approach to enabling the ASP.NET Core Module; alternatively you can edit the applicationHost.config file.

Open up C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config

Under <configSections> add

<configSections>
    <section name="appSettings" />

In the system.webServer section group, update the handlers section to allow the configured handlers to be overridden.

<sectionGroup name="system.webServer">
    <section name="handlers" overrideModeDefault="Allow" />

Additionally, add ASP.NET Core Module to the modules section

<modules>
    <add name="AspNetCoreModule" />

Installing .NET Core Framework

If you published a portable app, .NET Core must be installed on the target machine. Execute the following Powershell script in a remote Powershell session to install the .NET Framework on your Nano Server.

$SourcePath = "https://dotnetcli.blob.core.windows.net/dotnet/beta/Binaries/Latest/dotnet-win-x64.latest.zip"
$DestinationPath = "C:\dotnet"
$EditionId = (Get-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion' -Name 'EditionID').EditionId
if (($EditionId -eq "ServerStandardNano") -or
    ($EditionId -eq "ServerDataCenterNano") -or
    ($EditionId -eq "NanoServer") -or
    ($EditionId -eq "ServerTuva")) {
    $TempPath = [System.IO.Path]::GetTempFileName()
    if (($SourcePath -as [System.URI]).AbsoluteURI -ne $null)
    {
        $handler = New-Object System.Net.Http.HttpClientHandler
        $client = New-Object System.Net.Http.HttpClient($handler)
        $client.Timeout = New-Object System.TimeSpan(0, 30, 0)
        $cancelTokenSource = [System.Threading.CancellationTokenSource]::new()
        $responseMsg = $client.GetAsync([System.Uri]::new($SourcePath), $cancelTokenSource.Token)
        $responseMsg.Wait()
        if (!$responseMsg.IsCanceled)
        {
            $response = $responseMsg.Result
            if ($response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
            {
                $downloadedFileStream = [System.IO.FileStream]::new($TempPath, [System.IO.FileMode]::Create, [System.IO.FileAccess]::Write)
                $copyStreamOp = $response.Content.CopyToAsync($downloadedFileStream)
                $copyStreamOp.Wait()
                $downloadedFileStream.Close()
                if ($copyStreamOp.Exception -ne $null)
                {
                    throw $copyStreamOp.Exception
                }
            }
        }
    }
    else
    {
        throw "Cannot copy from $SourcePath"
    }
    [System.IO.Compression.ZipFile]::ExtractToDirectory($TempPath, $DestinationPath)
    Remove-Item $TempPath
}

Publishing the application

Copy over the published output of your existing application to the Nano server. You may need to make changes to your web.config to point to where you extracted dotnet.exe. Alternatively, you can add dotnet.exe to your path.

$ip = "10.83.181.14" # replace with the correct IP address
$s = New-PSSession -ComputerName $ip -Credential ~\Administrator
Copy-Item -ToSession $s -Path <path-to-src>\bin\output\ -Destination C:\HelloAspNetCore -Recurse

You may also need to make the following OS changes:

netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="File and Printer Sharing" new enable=yes
net share musicstore=c:\deployed\musicstore /GRANT:EVERYONE`,FULL

Use the following PowerShell snippet to create a new site in IIS for the published app. This script uses the DefaultAppPool for simplicity. For more considerations on running under an application pool, see Application Pools.

Import-module IISAdministration
New-IISSite -Name "AspNetCore" -PhysicalPath c:\HelloAspNetCore\ -BindingInformation "*:8000:"

Manually Editing applicationHost.config

You can also create the site by manually editing the applicationHost.config file.

<sites>
    <site name="AspNetCore" id="2">
        <application path="/">
            <virtualDirectory path="/" physicalPath="C:\HelloAspNetCore\wwwroot" />
        </application>
        <bindings>
            <binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:8000:" />
        </bindings>
    </site>
</sites>

Open a Port in the Firewall

Since we have IIS listening on port 8000 and forwarding request to our application, we will need open up the port to TCP traffic.

New-NetFirewallRule -Name "AspNet5" -DisplayName "HTTP on TCP/8000" -Protocol TCP -LocalPort 8000 -Action Allow -Enabled True

Running the Application

The published web app should be accessible in browser at http://<ip-address>:8000. If you have set up logging as described in Log creation and redirection, you should be able to view your logs at C:\HelloAspNetCore\logs.