More Terminal Services Tricks

Thought you were through messing with your terminal servers? (Well, probably not, but you can dream.) On June 28, Microsoft released three new terminal services tools. The first tool is a Terminal Services Web client; the second lets you connect to servers with a display protocol embedded in a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in instead of having to load the RDP client onto servers; the third is a repackaged RDP client that makes distribution under Windows 2000 easier. If you use Terminal Services, I strongly recommend that you download these files and check them out.

The Web client for Terminal Services is RDP 5 through an ActiveX control, which you can embed in a Web page to let users run terminal sessions from Internet Explorer (IE). (The RDP client isn't available as a plug-in, so you can’t run the sessions from Netscape, which doesn't support ActiveX.) To install the client support and some sample Web pages, run tswebsetup.exe on a Win2K or Windows NT server running Microsoft IIS 4.0 or later. Because the browser-based client works with IE security zones, you can’t run all Terminal Services functions (e.g., launching a program at startup) if the Web site with the terminal connection is in the Internet or Restricted Sites zones, but the client otherwise works much like RDP 5.

The .msi package for the RDP client lets you more easily distribute the client using IntelliMirror and Systems Management Server (SMS), so the auto-repair feature will work. Win2K clients and servers can use the .msi installation files immediately; NT and Windows 9x computers need the Windows Installer, which you can download from the Microsoft Web site. When you run tsmsisetup.exe, the installation doesn’t install the client. Instead, it copies the installation files to a directory (by default, \\Program Files\Terminal Services Client MSI) and from there runs the Terminal Services client.msi file to install the client from Windows Installer. The procedure doesn't differ significantly from the one that installs previous versions of the RDP client. The new client replaces the existing RDP client files on your computer without affecting any saved connections.

Running tsmmcsetup.exe adds Terminal Services Connections to the list of available MMC snap-in tools. With the new snap-in, you can line up every Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition (TSE) server and Win2K Terminal Services server on your network and display a management window in the body of the MMC. Instead of appearing in a window on the console desktop, the remote desktop displays in the right pane of the MMC itself, sized to fit in the pane without scrolling. With this feature, you don’t have to manually install the RDP client on any Win2K server from which you want to manage other servers. In fact, you can easily maintain several server connections at once, flipping between them as you select different icons on the MMC. One suggestion: Maximize the MMC before you attempt to connect to a server. The management window doesn’t resize with the MMC window, and unless you maximize the MMC, the desktop display isn’t really big enough to do anything. According to the readme file that comes with the new snap-in, upgrading to Win2K Service Pack 1 (SP1) should take care of that problem. (The three tools I've described also come with SP1, but they don't install automatically with the rest of the service pack.) Even if you only use terminal services for remote management and don’t need the first two tools, you should download the Terminal Services Connections snap-in if you use Win2K. The new snap-in really streamlines the process of hooking up to multiple remote sessions.

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