When the Terminal Server role is installed on Windows Server 2008, remote connections initiated using the Remote Desktop Client application consume Client Access Licenses (CAL's). To administer the machine remotely without consuming a CAL, you can use the /admin switch when launching the Remote Desktop Connection client application (e.g. "mstsc.exe /admin"). Using the /admin switch, you can have a maximum of two active administrative sessions, including the one on the physical console. There are a few differences between administrative sessions and user sessions:
There can be a maximum of two active administration sessions on a server. When a third user attempts to log on to an administrative session when there are already two active administrative sessions, a dialog box is displayed that allows them to disconnect an existing user. The list of users in this contention dialog only includes users with administrative sessions on the server. The dialog box is shown below (yes, I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan!).
The Force disconnect of this user option does not exist if the new user is not a member of the local Administrators group. When one of the administrative users is selected to be disconnected, they receive the dialog box shown below. They can choose to stay connected by clicking on Cancel , disconnect immediately by clicking OK or take no action at all, in which case they will be automatically disconnected in 30 seconds. In this instance, the user named Gandalf has elected to disconnect the user named Bilbo because I know that the Samwise user is working on a software installation.
Well, it turned out that Bilbo wasn't done with what he needed to do, so he clicked the Cancel button - which denied my connection request. Below is the message that Gandalf receives that informs him that Bilbo has denied the disconnect request.
Gandalf decides that his need to access the server is greater than Bilbo's, so he forces a disconnect of Bilbo's session. Note that the disconnect does not reset the session, it only disconnects it. Whatever Bilbo was working on is not lost, so when he reconnects to the session, he can pick up right where he left off. Reconnecting to a session on the physical console (or any active sessions) is driven by the Restrict user to one session policy. This policy is enabled by default, restricting users to one session on the Terminal Server.
Now let's switch focus from the Administrative sessions in RDC and look at some of the Display Enhancements in the new client. There are several enhancements to discuss - beginning with Custom Display Resolutions. The RDC 6.1 application provides support for newer monitors with display resolution rations such as 16:9 or 16:10, in additional to the traditional 4:3 resolution ratio that most of us are used to. Monitors with resolutions such as 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 are now supported. The maximum supported resolution is 4096x2048. To set a custom display resolution when launching a remote session, you would use the /w <width> and /h <height> switches - for example: mstsc.exe /w:1680 /h:1050 to start a session using a resolution of 1680x1050.
The RDC 6.1 client also supports monitor spanning which allows a user to support a single remote desktop session horizontally across multiple monitors. There are some requirements to be aware of however:
To enable monitor spanning, use the /span switch as shown: mstsc /span .
Windows Server 2008 supports ClearType, which is a technology for displaying computer fonts so that they appear clear and smooth, especially when viewing them on an LCD monitor. A Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server can be configured to provide ClearType functionality when a client computer connects using the RDC client. This functionality is referred to as Font Smoothing. Font Smoothing is available if the client computer is running any of the following:
Font smoothing allows the local settings on the client computer to help determine the user experience in the remote desktop connection. Allowing font smoothing does not change the display settings on the Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server. An important note here - using font smoothing in remote desktop connection will increase the amount of network bandwidth used between the client and server.
That brings us to the end of this post. In tomorrow's post we will discuss Frontside Authentication and Single Sign-On (SSO). Until next time ...
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