Changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008

Changes to Remote Administration in Windows Server 2008

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This article describes the differences between Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 when you use the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client to remotely connect to the server for administrative purposes.

 

In Windows Server 2003, you can start the RDC client (mstsc.exe) with the /console switch to remotely connect to the physical console session on the server (also known as session 0). In Windows Server 2008, the /console switch has been deprecated. (For more information, see the “Why the /console switch is no longer needed” section of this article.) In Windows Server 2008, session 0 is a non-interactive session that is reserved for services.

 

You can use the new /admin switch to remotely connect to a Windows Server 2008-based server for administrative purposes. The /admin switch is introduced with RDC 6.1. RDC 6.1 is included with the following operating systems:

       Windows Server 2008

       Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and RC

       Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Beta and RC

 

Note   RDC 6.1 (6.0.6001) supports Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) 6.1.

 

RDC 6.1 does not support the /console switch. However, for backward compatibility, you can use the /admin switch to connect to the physical console session on a Windows Server 2003-based server. For example, to connect from a Windows Vista SP1 RC-based client to the physical console session of a Windows Server 2003-based server, you can run the command mstsc.exe /admin.

 

If you try to use the /console switch with the RDC 6.1 client, the behavior is as follows.

 

 

Scenario

Behavior

You type mstsc.exe /console at the command prompt, and then connect to a remote server that does not have Terminal Server installed.

The /console switch is silently ignored. You will be connected to a session to remotely administer the server.

 

(For more information about the Windows Server 2008 behavior, see the “Behavior when you connect to a server that does not have Terminal Server installed” section of this article.)

You type mstsc.exe /console at the command prompt, and then connect to a remote server that has Terminal Server installed.

The /console switch is silently ignored. You will be connected to a standard Remote Desktop session that requires a Terminal Services client access license (TS CAL).

In the RDC client UI, you specify Computer_name /console in the Computer box (where Computer_name represents the name of the remote computer to which you want to connect), and then click Connect.

You receive the following error message:

 

“An unknown parameter was specified in computer name field.”

In the .rdp file, you specify /console in the “full address” property, and then try to start the Remote Desktop connection.

You receive the following error message:

 

“An unknown parameter was specified in computer name field.”

In the .rdp file, you specify the “connect to console” property, and then start the Remote Desktop connection.

The property is silently ignored. You will be connected to a session that requires a TS CAL.

As a developer, you programmatically call the put_ConnectToServerConsole function or the get_ConnectToServerConsole function of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings interface.

The function fails, and returns S_FALSE.

 

 

Why the /console switch is no longer needed

 

In Windows Server 2003, starting a Remote Desktop session by running mstsc.exe with the /console switch is used for the following reasons:

       To connect to session 0. Some applications install and run only in session 0 because they need to communicate with services that run in session 0, or display UI that is displayed in session 0.

       To connect back to an existing session on the physical console. Because the physical console session in Windows Server 2003 is always session 0, the only way that you can reconnect to this session is by using the /console switch.

 

In Windows Server 2008, the /console switch functionality is no longer needed for the following reasons:

       Improved application compatibility ensures that legacy applications that need to communicate with services in session 0 will install and run in sessions other than session 0. Additionally, if the service that is associated with an application tries to display UI in session 0, a built-in capability in Windows Server 2008 and in Windows Vista enables the user to view and to interact with the session 0 UI from the user’s session. Windows Server 2008 session 0 is a non-interactive session that is reserved for services. Therefore, there is no need for a user to have to explicitly connect to this session.

 

Note   For more information about session 0 isolation in Windows Vista, see “Impact of Session 0 Isolation on Services and Drivers in Windows Vista” (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106201).

 

       Because the physical console session is never session 0, you can always reconnect to your existing session on the physical console. Reconnecting to your existing physical console session is controlled by the "Restrict Terminal Services users to a single remote session" Group Policy setting, available in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services\Terminal Server\Connections node of the Local Group Policy Editor. You can also configure this setting in the UI by using Terminal Services Configuration. (The Restrict each user to a single session setting appears under Edit settings, in the General section.)

 

Behavior of the /admin switch

 

You can start the RDC 6.1 client (mstsc.exe) with the /admin switch to remotely administer a Windows Server 2008-based server (with or without Terminal Server installed). However, if you are connecting to remotely administer a Windows Server 2008-based server that does not have the Terminal Server role service installed, you do not have to specify the /admin switch. (In this case, the same connection behavior occurs with or without the /admin switch.) At any point in time, there can be two active remote administration sessions. To start a remote administration session, you must be a member of the Administrators group on the server to which you are connecting.

 

Behavior when you connect to a server that does not have Terminal Server installed

 

If you (as a member of the Administrators group on the destination server) start a Remote Desktop session to a Windows Server 2008-based server that does not have the Terminal Server role service installed, the following behavior is true for the remote administration session:

       Time zone redirection is disabled.

       Terminal Services Session Broker (TS Session Broker) redirection is disabled.

       Plug and Play device redirection is disabled.

       The remote session theme is changed to Windows Classic.

       Terminal Services Easy Print is disabled.

 

Behavior when you connect to a server that has Terminal Server installed

 

If you (as a member of the Administrators group on the destination server) start a Remote Desktop session to a Windows Server 2008-based server that has the Terminal Server role service installed, you must specify the /admin switch to connect to a session to remotely administer the server. The following behavior is true for the session:

       You do not need a TS CAL to connect remotely to administer a terminal server.

       Time zone redirection is disabled.

       Terminal Services Session Broker (TS Session Broker) redirection is disabled.

       Plug and Play device redirection is disabled.

       The remote session theme is changed to Windows Classic.

       Terminal Services Easy Print is disabled.

 

Developer resources – Changes to APIs

If you are using RDC 6.1, you can no longer use the ConnectToServerConsole property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings interface to specify whether the Remote Desktop ActiveX control should attempt to connect to the server for administrative purposes. Instead, you must use the ConnectToAdministerServer property of the IMsRdpClientAdvancedSettings6 interface to connect to the physical console session on a Windows Server 2003-based server, or to the session that is used for administrative purposes on a Windows Server 2008-based server.

For more information about the ConnectToServerConsole property, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106203.

For more information about the ConnectToAdministerServer property, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106204.

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  • Okay... Like many others on this thread I think this is one of the more idiotic thinks that MS has done. I support servers at mutliple datacenters, and there are just some things that need to be done from Session 0. Now I'll have to use third party tools that have security flaws or jump in my car. Wait is MS introducing thier own line of KVM switches? Thanks MS!

  • If you have to change this, how hard would it have been to simply detect the /console switch and pop up a message that says, "/console has been replaced with /admin, please try again"?

    Meanwhile, both the application-specific Help file and the Windows XP Help and Support Center still list the missing /console switch and do not mention the /admin switch. If you're going to "silently" remove functionality, at least update the documentation!

  • WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

    Almost suffered nervous breakdown from this. I couldnt reach my servers anymore!

    Why the heck would you remove support for the old switch and immediately break anybody's shortcuts that were previously set up?

    Of course if you look through the help there's no indication of this change. The only place to find this is by looking at the command line options for mstsc.exe...

    Idiotic to the max!

  • Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.1) e opzione console

  • Remote Desktop /console Switch Removed by XP SP3 Upgrade

  • For us Lotus Notes Domino server users, the Notes console ONLY works on the physical console. This required us go and use VNC.  Really love the brains behind this new featue.

  • This is a TERRIBLE change!!!!! It just cost me 2 WHOLE days of trying to install an application that needs "CONSOLE" access.

    You should have given an error a warning or SOMETHING. I have been installing the app over and over again believing I had console access.

    I use the console all of the time. I rely on it for a number of tasks. I use it SO often that I will have no choice but to remove service pack 3.

    This SUCKS!

  • Eric, you do realize that simply using /admin will get you console access on pre-Vista machines, right?  While I'll grant it's a headache to figure out the change, once you know how to do it, it works just like it did.   In fact, by adding both version of the setting to your .rdp file, you can make one file that enable the setting on any machine.  Just add both of these to any file that needs it:

    connect to console:i:1

    administrative session:i:1

    and it will work with any version of Remote Desktop.

  • Another backward advance. Vista = change to Linux. 2008 = change to Linux. Bye Bye MS?? Will too big holes in their finances cause them to sink?? Dunno, if I were Bill, I'd be selling my shares while the price is up.

  • One issue the I have run into with the /admin command and terminal services 2008 deals with the "initial program" setting.

    In 2003, if you have specified an application to launch when users log into the terminal server, they do not receive the desktop.  In order for an admin to manage the system using the desktop, the /console switch could be used.

    In 2008, when an application is specified to launch on logon, the /admin command no longer provides local administrators with the desktop.

    This is problematic when using the TS RemoteApp feature.  Users have to be a member of the "Remote Desktop Users" group on the system to use app published to RemoteApp.  This also means that they have the ability to create a regular remote desktop connection to that server and receive the full desktop.  To prevent this, I set the initial launch application in TS Config to "logoff.exe" expecting that the /admin (/console) command would provide a user with local admin rights the desktop.  This is not the case, the user with rights to use /admin is also logged off the system.  The only way I have found to resolve this is to physically log in at the console and modify the settings.  I now have to use a script to check the user name and logoff "non allowed" users defined in the script.  This seems like a backwards way of doing things.

    -Kevin

  • as we can reboot/shutdown loacl or remote desktop by run "shuntdown.exe."

    is there any way to disconnect the remote session by a script/exe shortcut?

  • forget it, I find the charmming "tsdiscon"

  • Guys, for some reason connect to console in 5.2 using xp sp2 or /admin in 6.1 xp sp2 or xp sp3 doesn't wan't to connect to console on all my 2003 svr r2 sp2 boxes.

    Any ideas why mstsc.exe is ignorning the paramters ?

  • Как обычно необычные вопросы на форумах TechNet-RU, когда на них нет ответа, оставляют чувство...

  • Explain me, please, why "Start program on connection" cannot work. Terminal session starts without any error but application (I used for example ‘cmd.exe’ and ‘notepad.exe’) does not run. I have this issue only on the Windows 2008. On the Windows 2003 it works well.

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