Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server Resources

As I’ve done with Active Directory and Failover Clustering I”m going to share with you some links and resources for Server 2008’s Terminal Services.  I for one really like some of the new features of Terminal Services.  I also seen some really cool customizations that people have been doing with these components.  Although I’m not completely sold on renaming the service to Remote Desktop Services when R2 comes out for Server 2008.

The links are bucketed in three categories but not placed in any specific order.

General Resources

Webcasts:

Terminal Server Performance Posts

Server Core CoreConfigurator

I know i”m late on this but I”ve got to blog about it.  Fellow Directory Services MVP Guy Teverovsky has created the coolest tool yet for Server 2008 Server Core.  It is the Server Core CoreConfigurator

After you copy the four files to your Server Core server you have a great tool to help with the most common tasks within Server Core.  Included features are:
Features:

  • Product Activation
  • Configuration of display resolution
  • Clock and time zone configuration
  • Remote Desktop configuration
  • Management of local user accounts (creation, deletion, group membership, passwords)
  • Firewall configuration
  • WinRM configuration
  • IP configuration
  • Computer name and domain/workgroup membership
  • Installation of Server Core features/roles

The latest build added support for 3 scenarios for DCPromo:

  • Additional DC in existing domain new forest
  • Few Forest
  • New Child Domain

I highly recommend you go to his blog to view some of the screen shots.  To bad he didn”t get to make it to the last MVP summit because it would have been nice to catch up with him again.

RSAT Missing Tabs in Active Directory Users and Computers

Some of you may have noticed there were some missing tabs in Active Directory Users and Computers after you installed RSAT on Windows Vista.  Specifically the Terminal Services Profile, Remote Control, Environment, and Sessions tabs are not there.  The reason behind this is because Windows Vista is missing the TSUSEREX.DLL…basically it can”t be a Terminal Server.

Ned from the Directory Services team has posted an unsupported fix for this on the Directory Services blog.  I snagged the fix here for you to see.
  1. You can use your Windows Server 2008 AD Users and Computers snap-in by terminal serving into the remote administration sessions.
  2. You can make your RSAT DSA.MSC work the way you’d expect by taking the following unsupported steps:

A. Locate a Win2008 Server which has DSA.MSC installed via Server Manager features/roles. The installed OS platform architecture must match your client (so use 32-bit OS server if using 32-bit OS client, and the same for 64-bit).

B. Locate the following two files:

%systemroot%system32tsuserex.dll %systemroot%system32en-ustsuserex.dll.mui

(NOTE: If not running US English, the path would not be EN-US; it would be the language(s) running on the server)

C. Copy these two files to the Vista machine running RSAT tools and place them in the same paths.

D. Run as an administrator:

regsvr32.exe tsuserex.dll

E. Start DSA.MSC on the Vista machine and look at a user”s properties – the tabs will now be there.

Windows Server 2008 Reviewers Guide – Reviewed

After spending a bit of time on Amazon I noticed that books, movies, and other random things you can buy all had customer reviews.  I started to think, why don”t white papers and technical documents have the same?  Today I”ve decided to take action against poorly written technical papers and ensure that those companies are held accountable to what they are publishing.  OK, maybe I”m not that gun-ho about it but I do think it would be nice to give a review here and there on stuff i”ve read through.

Today”s review is on the Windows Server 2008 Reviewers Guide.  How interesting to start my reviews on a Reviewers Guide.  From what I can gather this guide has been available since early February and is in two forms, Full and Short.  The Full version weighs in at just under 11 MB while the Short version is just over 8 MB.  Not much a difference on the size.  The Full version is a whopping 250 pages while the Short version is 116 pages.  I actually thought the Short version would have been much shorter.  This review is for the Full version.

 

Usually when I download these Guides I notice that they are 100% marketing speak and 0% technical.  I was pleasantly surprised that this Guide had only a few areas littered with  marketing junk.  If you can get past the first few pages you are presented with several tables detailing which features work on which edition of Windows Server 2008.  Since this is a new OS i”m quite fond of it since i”m trying to figure out what goes where.

Section 2: Server Virtualization – I really hoped to gather a lot out of this section and quite frankly it did not deliver.  It provides a good high-level overview of Hyper-V but not much of anything when it comes to technical details.  I”m also not sure why there is even a page on Server Core here as it is really out of place.  Feel free to skip this section if you have been working with Virtualization for some time now.

Section 3: Centralized Application Access – This section was all about Terminal Services (TS).  Since there is quite a bit of changes with this service in Windows Server 2008 I again was looking forward to this section.  For me, this one delivered.  It went over all the new features and the best part of the entire section was that it gave you Group Policy locations to configure certain TS options! 

Section 4: Branch Office – All i”ve been hearing about with Sever 2008 is branch office this and branch office that.  Because of that I expected to see a lot of stuff in this section. The Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) part was decent.  It actually gave some info that I didn”t expect to see like detailing which Active Directory Services attributes that were added to the schema to support RODCs.  I also thought a decent job was done on the BitLocker portion as it went into commands to help install it and Group Policy settings. As for the DFS portion I really wanted to see more.  This one lacked some of the details in the other products from this section.

Section 5: Security and Policy Enforcement – At over 80 pages this was the largest of all sections and covered a wide range of features within Windows Server 2008. The first few areas go over some definitions and can be used for a good reference at a later time.  There were so many in fact that I had to skip ahead because I felt I was studying for an exam. The Routing and Remote Access Service portion was very light and only highlighted some new technologies and removed ones (thanks for finally removing OSPF…it never belonged on a server).  I wanted to see more in the next section on how some of the services would work with IPv6. There was very little detail on that.  The Firewall portion of this section did a good job explaining what changed in Server 2008 from previous versions (client and server).  The Cryptography Next Generation portion provided nothing more then an overview. 

Now we began the Active Directory portion of this section.  Starting with an excellent write up of the Active Directory Certificate Services.  I felt that it was adequately covered hitting all major points of interest.  This portion was followed up by Active Directory Domain Services and the team did another good job on this area.  There isn”t a lot of technical How-To stuff here but it will inform you on what is new.  Federation Services was covered next and there was some good reading there with a nice flow chart to follow along with.  Let”s just say that the Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services was…well…light.  Finishing up Section 5 was an area that I really wanted to read up on, Active Directory Rights Management Services.  I was disappointed but only because I wanted to read more technical information on this product. Perhaps a scenario or two here with some flow charts would have been beneficial.

Section 6: Web and Application Platform – I”ve been a big fan of IIS since all the great changes that were made with IIS6.  I haven”t had time to look into IIS7 with great detail but this was about to change.  I felt empty after readying this portion.  What about FTP being completely redone?  Nothing!  The last portion is about Transactional NTFS, I think that page and a half will only confuse people and have them wondering how do I turn this on.

Section 7: Server Management –  The first three portions of this section are a very basic introduction to Server Manager.  It is nice to have a reference of all the Roles and Features in Server Manager though. The next area goes over a brief introduction to PowerShell.  As much as I would love to see more technical info here, this is the one area that I can give that a pass on.  PowerShell is not something you want people learning from a Reviewers Guide.  To my dismay there were a total of 4 pages on Server Core and all of them marketing!  I really wish there would have been some more info here.  The same marketing theme was put into the Backup portion but that is ok with me because not many mid-to-large companies use the built in backup tool.  An area I thought would have been really nice was the Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor.  Again there really lacked any details about the feature. The only thing I would have liked to seen added to the Windows Deployment Services (WDS) portion would have been some sample scripts or commands…also any Group Policy settings that apply to WDS.  The Group Policy portion finishes this section off and saves the section in my opinion.  Great job to the people that put that area together.

Section 8: High Availability Introduction – Why is it every guide I read through lacks information on clusters and network load balanced systems?  All 7 pages are marketing and nothing to get the technical person excited about high availability. 

Section 9: Better Together & Section 10: Miscellaneous – Feel free to skip these areas now.  Section 9 is a sales pitch to put Vista and Server 2008 together and Section 10 should have been put in the first section.

It”s now time for my rating.  This is 100% totally subjective to my opinion and only my opinion.  If you feel it should be different let me know by proving feedback in the comments section.  I will rate each section on a scale of 1 – 5 with 5 being the best possible.  Then I will rate the entire guide but it will not just be the average of all the scores.  I will rate it on usefulness to the community.

Brian”s Official Rating Scale
1 = Why were calories spent on this?
2 = Save some trees and don”t print this one
3 = Some areas are good but some aren”t so good
4 = Kept my technical interest and definitely printable
5 = Excellent – Print it out and keep it as a reference in your office

 

Rating on a scale of 1 – 5
Section 1 2
Section 2 2
Section 3 5
Section 4 4
Section 5 4
Section 6 1
Section 7 3
Section 8 2
Section 9 1
Section 10 1
Windows Server 2008 Reviewers Guide 3

Windows Server 2008 Component Posters

Back in January of 2007 I posted that TechNet Magazine had a really cool poster that showed Active Directory as a Jigsaw puzzle. I noticed in my latest copy of TechNet Magazine that it included two new posters. One of them was another Active Directory poster that showed all the cool new stuff in Windows Server 2008 and the other was one of the Windows Server 2008 Components. I just saw that the both of these are now available to download from Microsoft. This is something you will want to get your hands on and if you don”t get TechNet the magazine this is a great way to print it out too.

Update: AdminPak for Windows Vista

I wanted to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest developments of the missing AdminPak for Windows Vista. To catch up on the subject you can look here and then here.

I have some good news and some OK news. First the good news:

I have been informed by Microsoft (the team that is responsible for Admin Pack) that they will be coming out with a new tool tentatively called Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) which will replace AdminPak for Windows Vista. This is not a direct replacement but a solution similar to AdminPak. I don”t have any details yet but once I do (and am able to talk about it) I”ll keep you informed.

Now on to the OK news:

This looks like it will not be available until Vista SP1. I don”t call that bad news because at least something is coming out to help with the administration. Before anyone asks I have no idea when SP1 will be released.

Even though this is going to come out sometime in the future I still think the community should try to work together and see if they can create a cool way of doing this type of administration in the mean time. Take a look here for further details.

AdminPak for Windows Vista

Updated News Here

Here is a brief update to a problem a lot of us have encountered, installing the AdminPak on Windows Vista to support your server environment. Take a look here for my previous post on this that has the only supported work around from Microsoft.


I”ve heard from some pretty reliable sources at Microsoft that there is indeed going to be no update to the AdminPak for Windows Vista. While this is sad I understand their direction. They would prefer you to specify a management server that is running Terminal Services that you remote desktop into and perform your management of your servers. This works great for companies the size of the one I work for (Intel) because of the advanced setup we have where everything is behind a firewall. This way you can restrict which servers have access inside the firewall and you don”t have to worry about setting rules for each client system that is going to perform these tasks.


While it works great for larger companies there is still a gap for smaller companies. I”m no expert on Small Business Server but the problem doesn”t rely with the server but instead is a problem with the client…and in this case Windows Vista. If you”re in this boat I would recommend that you remote desktop to a server hopefully not your Domain Controller but if that is all you have then that is what you will have to connect to. Once connected then you do all your administration from that server.


I really wish I could have posted some wonderful news about a new AdminPak but it really doesn”t look like there will ever be one.

Vista Remote Desktop Connection Authentication FAQ

If you haven”t noticed my links on the left hand side of my blog you really need too!!! I”ve had the Terminal Services Team Blog up there for some time now and I check it often. Tonight I just saw another great post from the team. This post addresses a lot questions that have been raised with the new authentication features introduced with the latest RDC client. If you have questions this is the first place to stop and read up on it.

Unbelievable Remote Desktop Software!!!

I’ve been looking for a good tool that allows me to manage a large amount of servers via Remote Desktop for…well for as long as I can remember.  I’ve become tired of the Remote Desktops MMC because of its lack of features.  Yesterday I found a truly unbelievable application that I have to share with all of you.  Its name is VisionApp Remote Desktop  and best of all it is FREEWARE!


VisionApp Remote Desktop allows you to manage your servers via Remote Desktop with the following features:


·      Sort Servers Alphabetically (This made me so angry that I couldn’t do this with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop MMC.  When you have to manage a lot of servers it really sucks that when you add new ones that follow a naming convention that they fall out of order now.)


·      Create folders to help sort different types of servers (I created folders for my Production, Integration, Development and Virtual servers.  This has made it extremely easy to find what I’m looking for.)


·      Tabbed Remote Desktops (Tabs are huge right now and this tool takes full advantage of them.  I can now open several different types of servers from different folders and access them via the tabs on the top.)


Please take some time to evaluate this product yourself as it is a huge timesaver.

New Remote Desktop Connection tool

On the subject of managing your servers, Microsoft recently released the Remote Desktop software to go along with the one that is built into Windows Vista. If you have Windows Vista you don’t need this but if you are using XP SP2 or Server 2003 you may want to download it and try it out.


This will also allow you to connect the operating systems below to Vista and Longhorn using the new Network Layer Authentication technnolgy 


Here is download links for Remote Desktop Connection 6 for various OS: