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I would like to install SQL Server 2012 with the bare minimum required. I just want a local database and to be able to create/edit/query tables/write queries in the GUI editor.

Which of the configuration tick boxes would satisfy this? There are a lot of options which I have no idea what they do. I want a small installation.

Please see:
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Why not simply install the express edition. – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Jan 26 '13 at 21:13

"Small" and "SQL Server" really don't go very well together without a negation in there somewhere, but installing Database Engine Services (without any of the subcomponents) as well as SQL Server Management Studio should get you a fairly minimalistic installation that will allow you to do the basic stuff but little else.

I'm not sure if you can/need to select SSMS separately or if it is considered a part of the DES, and don't exactly fancy downloading the whole thing just to check.

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All you need to install is SQL Server Database Engine. For the bare minimum, you won’t need any of the Database Engine sub-features: SQL Server Replication, Full-text and Semantic Extractions for Search, and Data Quality Services

The features available in the SQL Server Enterprise installation are:

  • SQL Server Database Engine – enables "storing, processing, and securing data, replication, full-text search, tools for managing relational and XML data, and the Data Quality Services (DQS) server". This will enable you to work on a database and create/edit/query tables and other database objects in SQL Server Management Studio Query Editor, what you asked for
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) - enables OnLine Analytical Processing (OLAP) and data mining • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) – enables creating, managing, and deploying interactive, tabular, graphical, or free-form reports that include data visualization, charts, and maps
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)– enables building complex solutions for enterprise-level data integration and data transformation
  • Master Data Services
  • Data Quality Services
  • Management tools – there are several components - SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Configuration Manager, SQL Server Profiler, Database Engine Tuning Advisor, Data Quality Client, SQL Server Data Tools, and Connectivity Components. The only one that is a must in your scenario is SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

As you’re a SQL Server newbie, I highly recommend the MS SQL Server sample database AdventureWorks

Useful resources:

Installation for SQL Server 2012

Install SQL Server 2012

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