Working With Terminal Services Remote Applications (Part 2)

by [Published on 17 March 2009 / Last Updated on 17 March 2009]

A walk through the configuration process necessary for application hosting.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

In the first part of this article series, I talked about some of the benefits associated with using Terminal Services RemoteApp. In this article, I want to continue my discussion by guiding you through the deployment process.

Before We Begin

Before I get started, I need to point out that the Terminal Service RemoteApp feature is different from a normal Terminal Service session. Because of the inherent differences, not all Windows clients will be able to work with remotely hosted applications. Terminal Service RemoteApp only works with clients that are running Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP with SP2 or higher installed, and Windows Server 2003 with SP1 or higher and the new Remote Desktop Client installed.

Installing the Terminal Services

Let’s get started with the installation process. For the purposes of this article series, I am going to assume that you have already installed Windows Server 2008, and that you have joined the server to the appropriate domain.

Begin the installation process by opening the Server Manager, and selecting the Roles container. Next, click the Add Roles link, located in the Actions pane. This will cause Windows to launch the Add Roles wizard.

Click Next to bypass the wizard’s Welcome screen, and you will be taken to a screen that lists the various roles that are available on the server. Select the Terminal Services role, and click Next. Windows should now display a screen that serves as an introduction to the Terminal Services. Go ahead and click Next, and you will be taken to a screen that allows you to select the role services that you want to install. For right now, go ahead and choose the Terminal Server role and the TS Licensing Role.

For the sake of this article series, I am assuming that you do not have an existing Windows 2008 terminal service deployment in place. We are selecting the TS Licensing role, because Microsoft requires all terminal servers to be connected to a licensing server, although there is a grace period before you actually have to license your servers.

Go ahead and click Next, and you will see a warning message that tells you that any applications that were installed prior to the installation of the terminal services may not work with the Terminal Services. Go ahead and click Next to ignore this warning.

Windows will now display a screen that asks you if you want to perform network level authentication. Network level authentication is a new mechanism that allows Windows to perform user authentication before a full blown Terminal Service session is established. Network level authentication is generally considered to be a good thing, because it simplifies the authentication process and conserves server resources. Even so, only clients running Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 support network level authentication. Therefore, you will want to carefully consider whether or not network level authentication should be enabled. For the purposes of this article series, I will be enabling network level authentication.

The next screen that you will be taken to asks you if you want to use per user or per device licensing. You can choose either one, but the option that you choose must correspond to the type of Terminal Server licenses that you have actually purchased.

Click Next, and Windows will ask you which users and groups should be allowed to connect to the terminal server. For now, just click Next to accept the defaults.

You will now see a screen asking you to make a decision about the discovery scope. What this means is that you have to decide whether your licensing server should only service terminal servers that are members of the same domain as the licensing server, or if you want the licensing server to service the entire forest. Once again, you are going to have to select the option that is the most appropriate for your own organization, and then click Next.

At this point, the wizard should display a summary of the installation options that you have chosen. I recommend that you take a moment or two to read over the installation summary just to make sure that the correct options have been selected. After doing so, click the Install button. Windows will now install the requested services. When the installation process completes, click the Close button. You will now be prompted to restart your server. Go ahead and click Yes to reboot the server.

RemoteApp

Now that we have got a basic Terminal Service deployment established, I want to give you a quick preview of what RemoteApp can do. In the next part of the series, I will go back and do some fine tuning and show you some other options for application hosting.

In the interest of simplicity, let us start out by hosting the Windows Calculator. To do so, click the Start button and choose the Administrative Tools | Terminal Services | TS RemoteApp Manager options from the Start menu. 

When the RemoteApp Manager starts, select the Add RemoteApp Programs link from the Actions menu. When you do, Windows will launch the RemoteApp Wizard. Click Next to bypass the wizard’s Welcome screen, and you will be taken to a list of the applications that are installed on your terminal server. Select the check box corresponding to Calculator, and click Next, followed by Finish. You should now see the Windows Calculator added to the list of RemoteApp Programs, as shown in Figure A.


Figure A: The Windows Calculator has been added to the list of RemoteApp Programs

When you select the listing for the Calculator, a number of additional options become available on the Actions pane. Click the Create .RDP File option. This will cause Windows to launch the RemoteApp Wizard.

Once again, click Next to bypass the wizard’s Welcome screen. You should now see a screen that asks you to enter a bunch of different options related to the remote application. Our goal for right now is to simply try out a remote application, so change the Location to Save the Package field to point to a network share that is accessible from a client machine. Do not worry about any of the other settings for now. I will address them later in this series.

Click Next, followed by Finish, and Windows will create a custom RDP file and place it into the location that you have specified. An RDP file is a Remote Desktop file. RDP files are normally used to establish Terminal Service sessions with remote machines, but in this case, the RDP file is application specific. If we open the RDP file from a client machine, the client will launch the Calculator (keep in mind that right now the Administrator is the only user who has access to the Calculator). If you look at Figure B, you can see that the Calculator appears to be running locally. The only indication that it is a hosted application is the word Remote in the bar at the bottom of the screen.


Figure B: This is what a RemoteApp looks like when it is running

Conclusion

In this article, I have shown you the basics for hosting an application. In the next part of this article series, I want to take a step back, and show you how to fine tune the application hosting experience.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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