Best Practice Ezine #71 Terminal Services

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Terminal Services for Windows 2003

This week is an Introduction to Terminal Services
Next week covers Advanced Server Configuration.

I would like to begin by explaining how I got started with Terminal Services.  Back in NT 4.0 the product was called Terminal Server, and I thought that it was a joke.  Then in Windows 2000 I tolerated it, now in Server 2003, I am a champion and tell anyone who will listen that Terminal Services is wonderful.  These days I actively encourage my clients to at least trial this thin client and see the remote XP desktop for themselves.

As an aside, I later found that this progression of ridicule, violently oppose, then champion was first identified by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).  You may see Schopenhauer’s principle operate not just with Terminal services but also with many new computer systems.

One of my most descriptive pictures of Terminal Services is of little men each with their own XP desktop compartment in server.  This image demonstrates elegantly the principle of thin clients with session using resources on the server and not on the local machine.

It is my belief that people who will benefit most from Terminal Services are schools and libraries.  My reasoning is that each has it’s share of psycho’s or users from hell who can easily wreck an expensive desktop.  If a wayward student wrecks a Terminal Service client you could just replace with an old 486 or other ultra cheap machine.  That said, several of my school clients shun Terminal Services, whereas my corporate clients think Terminal Service is great for their laptop users.

Administrative Mode (Free in Windows Server 2003)

Starting with Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has installed Terminal Service by default.  ‘Out of the box, every Windows Server 2003 has two free terminal server connections.  The idea is that an administrator, and only an administrator, can connect to a distant server and configure it as though they were a console user.  However, there is one extra step, by default, terminal service is disabled you have to have the foresight to configure the System Icon, Remote (Tab), Remote Desktop (Check Box).

Even if you forget to enable the Terminal Services administrative connection, there is a back door via the registry in general and the fDenyTSConnections setting in particular.

Thin Client Strategy and Tactics.

Before your users connect with their thin clients, there is work do be done on the server.  However, before begin configuring Terminal Services, take a step back and like a general, survey the troops at your disposal.  What you will see are at least three strategies.  In the case of Outlook, you have OWA (Outlook Web Access), RPC over HTTP (replacement for VPN) or a Terminal Server session, which could also support Word or Excel. 

Once you have decided on your overall strategy, there is still the matter of connection tactics, do you use Terminal Services, Citrix or is the browser all that you need?  One of my themes this week is ‘Ask a salesman’.  As I don’t know what applications you need to run, whether you have Unix or Linux clients, there is a limit to how much I can advise you.  But a salesman will be only to keen to extol the advantages of their particular system.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

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Getting Ready for the Clients

There are two tactics for configuring Terminal Services on the Windows Server 2003.   You could call for the ‘Configure your Server’ Wizard, or you could just get out the CD and then go to the Add or remove programs, Windows Components, tick Terminal Server and Terminal Server Licensing.  Then install software, for example Office 2003.  Now you are in a position to install the Terminal Service Client from the %systemroot%\system32\clients folder. However, would this client roll-out be a job for a Software Group Policy?  As for the remote desktop logon, it’s very similar to the normal XP logon.

Terminal Server Licensing is horrific.  You are going to have to buy client licenses from somewhere.  Therefore, this is a classic case of picking the brains of the salesmen.  I am bowing out here, partly because Microsoft keep changing the rules, partly because I don’t need to know, my role is just to configure the server (easy). 

What I can tell you is that you get temporary Terminal Services licences for your clients.  To give you a flavour of changing the rules, these used to last 90 days in Windows 2000, but now they last 120 days in Server 2003.  I say again, left on your own licensing is tricky, find a friendly salesman and they will help you painlessly. (your financial directory may not agree, but that is a different story.)

Next week I will tackle more advanced and more specific Terminal Services settings.

Free Jokes – Will and Guy’s Humour

The ‘killer’ feature of Will and Guy’s humour, is variety.  Usually in joke books all the funnies have a sameness you either like the genre, or you hate it.  Not so with Will and Guy’s humour, we give you a mixture, not only of pictures, jokes and stories, but also a variety of styles.  Consequently, I guarantee that at least one joke will bring a smile to your face.  Incidentally, why not sign up for our free joke of the day.  Better still sign up a fiend.

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