Connect To a Console RDP / Terminal Server Session

1) Regardless of connection limits or licensing issues, you will always be able to connect to a server using a console session and an administrator account

2) The console session will often allow you to see errors and popups that won’t appear in other sessions

3) As documented in this MSKB article, you will also be able to have the local user see what you are doing in this session, and vice-versa. This is called a shadowed console session, and is very handy.

There are a few ways to get a console session in Windows 2000, XP, and Vista:

  1. Open your default.rdp file (typically in My Documents) and add the following line to the bottom: connect to console:i:1
  2. In the RDC window, after the address, use the switch /console
  3. From start, run, type: mstsc /console
  4. Make a shortcut to RDC, edit it, and add the /console switch to it
  5. If you are using visionapp Remote Desktop, there is a console session checkbox that you can use per connection

Use RDP Client 6 (from Vista) on Windows XP

UPDATE! The newest client found in the release candidate of Vista does not require MUI files at all. There is some speculation that this may in fact end up as the Windows XP RDP 6 client. Download RDP 6 Client for Windows XP using this link.

I’ve been trying to get the Remote Desktop Connection v6.0 client from Vista to run on Windows XP for months now. Microsoft has announced many times that it’s available tobeta testers through the Connect site, but try as I may I still can’t find it (I’m not alone). So I went ahead and popped the new RDP 6 client from Vista onto Windows XP and tried everything from dependency walking to regsitry hacks to get it going but to no avail. So i kept testing, and set up a Google alert to let me know if anyone had found a method or any information that I could use to get this done.

I got results from the hook today, and what a big fish it was. It seems that I had probably fixed it early on, but hadn’t followed the proper procedure of changing one setting, testing, then moving to the next. I had simply set up all the hacks I thought were needed and plowed ahead. This is what happens when you test with a bottle in hand.

So here is what I found out today: originally from a thread by Caelum over at AtomicPC, this quick hack allows you to install the Microsoft Vista RDP v6 client on a Windows XP computer. Caelum was trying to get widescreen working in RDP on XP, and most of you know that works fine already. But Caelum, you’ve solved another problem in the process!

The 6th iteration of the MSTSC binary has a bunch of outstanding feautures. The biggest one for me is better support for sound and video over terminal services, but also includes ClearType support for those with LCD monitors so fonts look much nicer now.

Let’s get cracking.

1. Download this MSTSC zip(1.3MB)

2. Unpack the ZIP file to a folder

Vista MSTSC Folder

3. Run the “Install.cmd” file

4. Once the installation has completed, press any key to close the window

5. The script does everything but copy the MUI files to SYSTEM32, so we’ll do that now: open your Windows folder, then SYSTEM32, and then en-US. Copy the *.MUI files from your unzipped folder to the en-US folder

6. Run your remote desktop connection application the same way you normally would

RDP 6 Screenshot

Note: If you use Windows XP 64bit Edition you’ll want to grab the 64bit bit files from a 64bit version of Vista.

Now we can connect to Vista and Longhorn Terminal Server using the most up to date client and test the new features offered by Remote Desktop Client 6. I’ve tested this out on both using my VMWare Server virtual machines and the results are very favorable so far – it’s faster than before!

6 Things You’ll Love About Longhorn

Forget Windows Vista.

The real new, exciting operating system from Microsoft is on it’s way and is supposedly slated for January.

Here’s a shortlist of reasons why you should care and what to look for:

LLMNR – Have you ever had master WINS browser woes? Name resolution problems? Microsoft wants to make this a thing of the past. In my experience this has been one of the largest pains – when the master browser goes down you lose name resolution. LLMNR fixes that. I’m happy. Testing the current Windows Server Codename Longhorn on virtual networks has shown so far that it works as expected already. I’m still happy. Basically this is multicast DNS (mDNS). Follow the link for a nice wiki article that will surely convince you.

Core Server Mode – Longhorn has a new locked down mode meant for bare-bones brass tax servers. They call it Core. What this means to the regular Windows admin is that there are no more wizards. Heck, there’s no more standard graphical UI. You get a command-line shell (DON’T call this DOS, they’ll find you!) to play around with. Servers are configured via preconfiguration scripts, this shell, and remote administration tools. If this is as fast and secure as it is supposed to be, it’ll be gravy. What you DO get: DHCP server, DNS server, file server, active directory, read-only domain controller, cluster services, load balancing, and services for Unix. That’s right, services for Unix is there too.

Windows Server Core

Application Publishing – I covered application publishing in Longhorn previously, and it’s what I am most excited about, to be honest. Pick an application, fire up the wizard, make an RDP file and send away to clients (even older XP terminals) – it’s that easy. While this will take the bread out of a lot of app vendors hands, it also allows for a wealth of innovation and I simply can’t wait to see what happens here.

Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 – In the same vein, and under the Terminal Server umbrella, the Remote Desktop Connection client gets an update that adds some much-needed and oft-asked-for features. Namely: PnP redirection for media players and digicams, multiple monitor support (I’m talking to you, Bill), desktop theming, and single sign-on. Whew. I’ll have to get into this one later.

Sharepoint V3 – It’s bigger, badder, and better code for Sharepoint. Better integration with Office 2007, faster load times, more features (of course), and item-level access control. Not to mention RSS by default – that’s was the deal-closer for me. Nor more need for infinite emails sent via alerts – just use RSS! Much like Apple, Microsoft has become a fan of RSS and it’s good news all around.

IIS 7 – You’re laughing. I see you snickering. Yes IIS is used externally, and its market share is growing right now, funnily enough. In IIS 7.0 you get reduced attack surface through feature modules. This is marketing-speak that means you can disable IIS services you don’t need. You get easy replication using web configuration files. And lastly you get better admin tools. Well slightly better anyway. This isn’t Plesk, Ensim or CPanel, but it’ll have to do ’til those guys get around to supporting Longhorn.

That about sums up the good things I’ve seen and tested to date on my virtual machines (VMWare Server, Virtual Server R2 and Parallels). Feel free to chime in about what tickles your fancy or rattles your chains, I’m all ears.