ASP.NET Core on Nano Server

By Sourabh Shirhatti


This tutorial uses a pre-release version of the Nano Server installation option of Windows Server Technical Preview 4. 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 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.


Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview offers a new installation option: Nano Server. Nano Server is a remotely administered server operating system optimized for private clouds and datacenters. It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than Windows Server. You can learn more about Nano Server from the official docs.

In this tutorial, we will be using the pre-built Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) for Nano Server from Windows Server Technical Preview 4. This pre-built VHD already includes the Reverse Forwarders and IIS packages which are required for this tutorial.

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.

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

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

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

If you have successfully connected then your prompt will look like this []: PS C:\Users\Administrator\Documents>

Installing the HttpPlatformHandler Module

The HttpPlatformHandler is an IIS 7.5+ module which is responsible for process management of HTTP listeners and to proxy requests to processes that it manages. At the moment, the process to install the HttpPlatformHandler Module for IIS is manual. You will need to install the latest 64-bit version of the HttpPlatformHandler on a regular (not Nano) machine. After installing you will need to copy the following files:

  • %windir%\System32\inetsrv\HttpPlatformHandler.dll
  • %windir%\System32\inetsrv\config\schema\httpplatform_schema.xml

On the Nano machine you’ll need to copy those two files to their respective locations.

Copy-Item .\HttpPlatformHandler.dll c:\Windows\System32\inetsrv
Copy-Item .\httpplatform_schema.xml c:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\config\schema

Enabling the HttpPlatformHandler

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


This script runs on a clean system, but is not meant to be idempotent. If you run this multiple times it will add multiple entries. If you end up in a bad state, you can find backups of the applicationHost.config file at %systemdrive%inetpubhistory.

Import-Module IISAdministration 

$sm = Get-IISServerManager

# Add AppSettings section (for Asp.Net Core)

# Unlock handlers section
$appHostconfig = $sm.GetApplicationHostConfiguration()
$section = $appHostconfig.GetSection("system.webServer/handlers")

# Add httpPlatform section to system.webServer
$sectionHttpPlatform = $appHostConfig.RootSectionGroup.SectionGroups["system.webServer"].Sections.Add("httpPlatform")
$sectionHttpPlatform.OverrideModeDefault = "Allow"

# Add to globalModules
$globalModules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/globalModules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $globalModules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="httpPlatformHandler";"image"="%SystemRoot%\system32\inetsrv\httpPlatformHandler.dll"}

# Add to modules
$modules = Get-IISConfigSection "system.webServer/modules" | Get-IISConfigCollection
New-IISConfigCollectionElement $modules -ConfigAttribute @{"name"="httpPlatformHandler"}

Manually Editing applicationHost.config

You can skip this section if you already ran the PowerShell script above. Though is not recommended, you can alternatively enable the HttpPlatformHandler by manually editing the applicationHost.config file.

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

Under <configSections> add

    <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" />

Add httpPlatformHandler to the globalModules section

    <add name="httpPlatformHandler" image="%SystemRoot%\system32\inetsrv\httpPlatformHandler.dll" />

Additionally, add httpPlatformHandler to the modules section

    <add name="httpPlatformHandler" />

Publishing the application

Copy over the published output of your existing application to the Nano server.

$ip = "" # 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:\HelloAspNet5 -Recurse

Use the following PowerShell snippet to create a new site in IIS for our 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 "AspNet5" -PhysicalPath c:\HelloAspNet5\wwwroot -BindingInformation "*:8000:"

Manually Editing applicationHost.config

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

    <site name="AspNet5" id="2">
        <application path="/">
            <virtualDirectory path="/" physicalPath="C:\HelloAspNet5\wwwroot" />
            <binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:8000:" />

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

At this point your published web application, should be accessible in browser by visiting http://<ip-address>:8000. If you have set up logging as described in Log Redirection, you should be able to view your logs at C:\HelloAspNet5\logs.