SQL 2012 Setup Rules – The ‘Missing Reference’

Troubleshooting SQL Server setup can be a ‘dark science’ at times. There is overall documentation on where to look, and some interesting articles on the Support website. But other times, you might be left clueless on the root cause of failures, or why you are receiving a specific error message.


For example, one of my customers was adding a node (running Windows 2012 and SQL 2012 SP1) to an existing cluster. They were receiving a specific message when adding the node: “You have selected a feature that is not supported on Windows Server Core. The supported features on Windows Server Core are: Database Engine Services, SQL Server Replication, Full-Text and Semantic Extractions for Search, Analysis Services, Client Tools Connectivity, Integration Services, and SQL Client Connectivity SDK.”

With a bit of probing we understood what was going on: the second node (this was part of a test setup) was setup as a Windows Core setup (no GUI) while the first node was a full edition. Now, we do NOT recommend such mixed setups but given that this was a test setup, we wanted to unblock them and skip the rule. But which rule? There is no documentation on the rule name (which is what the SkipRules parameter takes.)

The Ask

With a bit of looking in the log files, we found that the relevant rule name is ServerCoreBlockUnsupportedFeaturesCheck. But the question from my customer was two-fold:

  • Can we get a list of all the rules, proactively so that we can ensure some basic things are out of the way before we even start running setup?
  • In the worst case scenario, if we do need to skip a rule, which rule name should that be?

It turns out that in SQL 2008 R2, we have a good list of all the rules, neatly categorized into their groups. However, we do not have an updated version of that for SQL Server 2012.

The Answer

If we look at the C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft SQL Server110Setup BootstrapLog<timestamp>DatastorePackage.xml file you will find that it is a rich source of information on all the rules and their rule groups which would run during setup. Not all rules are always applicable; some are specific to scenarios like Failover Cluster installation, Upgrade etc.

But that in itself is not enough. For looking at more descriptive information on the rules, you have to look at the SystemConfigurationCheck_Report.htm file described in KB article 955396. The rule ‘name’ mentioned therein would be the one you would, for example, pass to /SkipRules.

I’ve also listed all the rules evaluated in SQL 2012 in an Excel sheet – I hope that this list will make up for the lack of official documentation (SQL 2008 R2 was the last time this kind of list was made available as I mentioned previously.) The spreadsheet is quite self-explanatory, and I’ve included a screen shot of an extract here:


Hope this helps you somehow! If you can share your experiences or have additional questions please do let me know!