RemoteDesktop Page History


Remote Desktop

Windows has the useful capability of supporting a single remote desktop session via a Remote Desktop Connection. The client application for Windows is pre-installed in centrally managed machines and is downloadable for other platforms. It is also available for Linux/Unix systems under the names rdesktop and tsclient or remmina (the latter being a GUI interface to the former), and for MacOS X as Remote Desktop Connection Client.

A user can only log in to your PC remotely if the following conditions apply:

  1. Allow users to connect remotely to this computer is set in the Remote tab of System Properties. This is turned on by group policy so you shouldn't have to set this.
  2. The Windows Firewall has the Remote Desktop exception enabled with a scope which includes the client's IP address. This is also turned on by group policy with a scope of campus access only. There is no longer any need to open up the firewall for off-campus access as the Remote Desktop Gateway service (see Off-Campus Access below) does not require this.
  3. The account used for remote access is in the Remote Desktop Users group on your machine or has local administrator rights i.e. is a member of the Administrators group on your PC.. To find out or change who has remote access: click on Remote Settings in the System control panel (Remote tab when running with local administrator rights in XP). From the Windows "start" key, the search phrase "allow remote" can also be used.
  4. At least one of the following conditions hold for the REMOTE PC:
    • There is no current console session on your PC.
    • The current console session is for the same id as that used for remote user access.
    • The account used for remote access has local administration rights on your PC.

If there is currently an active console session on your PC when a successful remote login takes place then either:

  • if the console session is for the same id as the remote desktop session then the session "moves" to the remote system and the console session is locked. The session may subsequently return to the console if you enter your password at the console.

or

  • if the console session is for a different id then the remote user is asked whether they wish to contine with the remote session and suspend the console one, or to abandon the remote session and leave the console session undisturbed.

Off-Campus Access

You cannot directly connect to your PC when off campus if (as is usual) it has a private address. To overcome this either (see also the following section describing an alternative mechanism which may be more reliable at times of high load):

  • Use the central NUIT RD Gateway service: in Remote Desktop Connection select Options-> Advanced. Click on Settings and set the RD Gateway Server name to tsgateway.ncl.ac.uk. You can then fill in the Computer field and connect to it as as usual. You must authenticate on tsgateway with a normal CAMPUS account and are given the option to use the same login credentials for the target computer but this is not mandatory. You need Remote Desktop Connection 6 (or higher) on your home PC for this - you can download an update if your system has an earlier version.

or

Off-campus access using a personal tunnel (Windows)

Given the high load being placed on the RDP/RDS gateways (writing in March 2020), it may be preferable to define your own tunnel to a personal desktop machine. This has no central support.

  1. Launch putty and connect to either cs-linux.ncl.ac.uk or to unix.ncl.ac.uk with your standard n-account. cs-linux.ncl.ac.uk is only available to computing staff and students. Other members of the university should use unix.ncl.ac.uk instead.

    • If putty is not available on your desktop PC, an installer is available at https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html and a portable copy (which does not require admin rights to install) is available from https://portableapps.com/apps/internet/putty_portable
  2. Right-click on the window title and select Change Settings.

  3. Expand the bottom of the list to select Connection / SSH / Tunnels.

  4. Set up a new tunnel as follows:

    • Source:Port: 127.0.0.2:3388
    • Destination: PC-name.ncl.ac.uk:3389
    • Local and Auto should be selected.
    • Click Add.
    • (The image below is a composite screenshot showing the details to be entered to set up the tunnel in the lower half and the result of doing this in the upper half of the same window. This is shown only after adding the tunnel.)

    Tunnel

  5. From the Session item at the top of the settings tree, enter a name in the Saved Sessions box and click Save and Apply.

  6. Close and re-open the connection to cs-linux.ncl.ac.uk but this time load the saved session.

    Reopen

  7. Open a remote desktop connection to 127.0.0.2:3388

    RDP-Connect

  8. Future remote sessions can use the saved session specification defined previously.

Off-campus access using a personal tunnel (Linux)

The Linux package remmina provides remote desktop access and tunnel configuration in a single step. The details needed to set up a new session are show below.

  • Basic

  • Tunnel

Notes

:sun: In 2018 there was a change to the RDP client in Windows 10 now uses HTTP transport by default, whereas the old client used both RPC and HTTP. If you repetedly get the message: Your computer can't connect to the Remote Desktop Gateway server. Contact your network administrator for assistance. you may need the registry fix detailed in: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/8d7a95eb-9508-4725-8f13-5992c19cfb9f/cant-connect-to-rd-gateway-server-from-windows-10-1709?forum=winserverTS

:sun: Please try the Wake on LAN facility to wake up your PC before initiating a remote Desktop session, rather than leaving it running all the time wasting energy. (Neither the RD Gateway nor Remote Desktop Connection client will make an attempt to wake up a machine that has gone to sleep, hibernated or has been turned off. )

:sun: Before trying to connect to your machine when off-campus, make sure you can make a remote desktop connection to it from another on-campus machine.

Remote Desktop Keyboard Shortcuts

shortcut details
Remote Desktop keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+END Display the Task Manager or Windows Security dialog box. (CTRL+ALT+DEL is always interpreted by the client computer.)
Remote Desktop keyboard shortcut: ALT+F4 When the desktop has focus display the Shutdown menu else close the current window
Remote Desktop keyboard shortcut: ALT+HOME Display the Start menu.
Remote Desktop keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+MINUS (–) symbol on the numeric keypad Place a snapshot of the active window in the Remote Desktop session on the clipboard.
Remote Desktop keyboard shortcut:CTRL+ALT+PLUS (+) symbol on the numeric keypad Place a snapshot of the entire Remote Desktop session window on the clipboard.

Last edited by Chris Ritson