Tag Archive for: remote-desktop

Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2

04 Jun 2010
June 4, 2010

Microsoft released version 2.2 of Remote Desktop Connection Manager last week and I have to say that I am rather impressed. Been a long time since I checked out their RD Connection Manager so I’m not sure what’s new to this version but there are some great features here.

For instance, you can create a group of machines and then connect to all of them with a single click. Nice when working on a project that spans servers like a lab. You can see each machine framed in the connection manager or you can monitor them all at once by thumbnails. The thumbnail view over multiple machines is pretty awesome – you can even click in the thumbnails and control them! An interesting way to monitor process monitors on a bunch of machines at once.

The image below shows the “Connect Group” option and one of my home desktops in a (rather large) thumbnail view:

Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2 in action

You can have many machines open at once and toggle the thumbnails you see just by clicking the groups that you’ve pre-configured.

Not as fancy as my essential app mRemote, but for “just” remote desktop connections this is about as good as I could ask for (mRemote adds VNC, ssh/telnet, HTTP(s), etc) and the price is right. The thumbnail view option alone has me planning on using this more often now that I’ve discovered it.

Belt and Suspenders With ChrisControl

18 Jul 2008
July 18, 2008

I found a great new utility this week and I’ve already had the chance to use it several times. It has yet to disappoint and I love the flexibility it offers.

Suppose you manage Windows machines and periodically need to remotely access them. There are several great utilities to help streamline this (for instance, I like Royal TS and Terminals) but there’s a new player to add to the mix and it has a great little twist.

image ChrisControl (I’m using beta 1.7 found at Chris’s Realm) is a slick little application that will check for RDP or VNC and then establish a session with a machine that you want to control. Neither protocol responding or installed? If your credentials are sufficient, it’ll push the VNC server install to the remote machine, fire up the service and then connect your VNC Client to it.

Slick! And it worked great on a server this week that didn’t have RDP running after a routine reboot.

But wait, it goes one better: When you disconnect the client the default action is to uninstall that VNC Server you just installed.

It was built as a PE Extension but it can also just be ran directly. Only one file in the zip and no install is necessary. In fact, I’m sure it would run just fine on a USB stick or other portable means.

Oh, and it is free, licensed under GNU GPL and source is even available.

This one is a winner and it’s been added to my toolkit as another great method to get to my servers. I love options like this as they tend to save me frantic drives across town to data centers late at night :-)

Security

Since I’m sure it’ll get questioned, here’s the blurb on security from the help file (there’s more in there about necessary access requirements)

ChrisControl does not allow unauthorised access to machines because it requires administrator rights on the target machine. This means that any user who uses ChrisControl to remotely control a machine had numerous other ways of controlling the machine anyway.

ChrisControl uses VNC or RDP for its network remote control. No changes to the security of these programs have been made in compiling ChriControl. Because the program is intended for use on a local network, this is assumed not to be a problem. Authentication is not performed by ChrisControl itself, but by the Windows operating system. If you can access a machine with this program, it is very likely that other applications (in particular windows file sharing) would have been available anyway.

Remote Desktop: No Console from Vista?

04 Jan 2008
January 4, 2008

[May 15, 2008: If you found this article from a search on XP SP3, please see XP Service Pack 3 — Remote Desktop Change. Regardless, the answer to the following post can be found in the comments: Try /admin instead of /console]

A console
Back in August, I wrote about how you can use Remote Desktop to connect to the console of a Windows 2003 server. It can be a helpful little trick, especially when using the “admin” mode of terminal services (2 seats) and you need a third seat for a quick look at something on the server.

Today, however, I noticed something quite odd. The /console option doesn’t seem to work from my Vista machine! I’ve tried via the command line (as in the tip above), the Royal TS Client and the Vista Remote Desktop Gadget. No luck with any of those.

How could I be sure I wasn’t getting on the console? Well, I had the physical monitor connected to the server in front of me — and I made sure Task Manager was up and on display. If I’m “remoting” into the console on that server, I’d expect to see Task Manager, right? I never do when connecting from Vista.

However, it works just fine from my XP workstation. I see the same thing in my remote session as I do on the monitor connected to the server.

If I try to connect to the 2003 server’s console twice from the XP machine, the first connection is dropped. If I try to connect to the server’2 console twice from the Vista machine? Well, I get two separate sessions. Neither of which is the “real” console.

Now why would this be? I did some web searches, but haven’t found anything that would show this to be a common issue. Granted, how many people even give a dump about remote desktop to a server’s console — but I do! For example, with some apps that’s where the error dialog shows up.

Something to note: the XP machine is not running the optional upgrade of Terminal Services Client 6.0. Maybe that matters? I may have to do some experimenting next week.

[Image from Fin Fahey]

Nesting Remote Desktop Connections

07 Jun 2007
June 7, 2007

The Challenge

RDC Logo Have you ever used Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to control one machine, and then from that first session used RDC to control another machine? It gets a bit dicey if you want to see the first session again. Clicking the minimize button on the little control bar minimizes everything and you’re back to looking at your desktop. Until recently, I always thought I had to log out from the second to see the first. A major pain if you just want to check something quick.

The Refresher

RDC is a convenient way to control Windows machines. There are clients built-in with XP and higher.

With Remote Desktop Connection, you can easily connect to a terminal server or to any computer running Remote Desktop. All you need is network access and permissions to connect to the other computer. Optionally, you can specify special settings for your connection and then save the settings for the next time you connect.

If you’re not on a windows client, you might look into rdesktop.

The Story

Earlier this week I was connected to a server on a client’s network. It was the only server I had direct access to from the outside (via the wonders of Hamachi). However, once I was RDC’d to that machine, I could then access other servers on their network. So, from the first RDC session I’d start another one to control another server. I call this “nesting” RDC sessions.

When running RDC in full screen mode I could never get back to the original/primary RDC session. Hitting minimize on the control bar would minimize everything. This is an issue when I’m using my laptop — the 1280 x 800 resolution just makes me tend to run ‘em full screen. RDC sessions in a window, with no scrolling, end up being at 800×600 to fit which is a bit silly.

RDP_Pin My solution to this turns out to be simple. After I connect to the first server, I unpin the top “control” bar. That will cause it to disappear unless the mouse is hovered at the top border of the screen. The picture there to the right shows the pin icon. Just click it to unpin.

Now, after making the connection to the second server, I don’t unpin that one. Thus, the minimize icon will actually do something useful: minimize the second session and show me the first session. Be careful though — if you hover the mouse up there too long, the session 1 control bar will drop down.

That’s a lot of build-up for something so simple, eh? I’m just sad it took me so many years to figure it out.

But Wait, There’s More!

Oh, and here’s an alternative: When in the second session, hit ctrl-alt-Break. That will pop the RDC app into windowed mode, but will leave the control bar still showing. Minimize via the control bar, then use the windows maximize to get back. This works great if you forget to unpin the first session’s control bar.

To illustrate
After ctrl-alt-Break, minimize using the red circled icon below

RDC Minimize

Now, you just have session one in the window, session 2 is minimized. So maximize 1 back to full screen by clicking the usual maximize button (again, circled red):

image