A better RDP client: Royal TS

Microsoft currently has two official RDP clients:  Remote Desktop Client (built-in to Windows XP Pro, and downloadable for nearly anything else), and the Remote Desktops MMC snapin (from the Windows 2003 Administration Tools Pack).

They have all the right features between them, but neither has all of them in one place.  The Remote Desktop Client has the most options, but can’t connect to console session (aka “session 0″) and is meant for one remote connection at a time.  The Remote Desktops Snap-in can do these two things, but is missing tons of other options, plus one especially dumb limitation:  It can’t connect to a port other than standard 3389.  (It gives an error “The server name cannot contain the following characters: spaces, tabs , ;  :  ” < > * + = \ | ? ,”  — Another over-zealous coder under-thinking his validation logic!)

Update:

Microsoft says the Remote Desktop Client can connect to the console session, via a command-line switch.  Not sure why it’s not a checkbox on the options dialog , but it doesn’t work for me anyway.  It removes the %sessionname% environment variable, but Terminal Services Manager still shows the session is a “RDP-TCP#” name.  Oh well. (turns out the console session has to already be logged in). 

Something else I found: you can’t connect to the console remotely with a non-admin account — it gives you an error that “To log on to this remote console session, you must have administrative permissions on this computer.”

The standalone Client is best when you’re working in-depth on one remote machine.  The Snap-in is better for when you’re working lightly on several machines, and don’t need the extra options.  In daily use, I usually find myself switching between the Snap-in and the Client.  It’s a small but constant pain.

This is all to say that I just found Royal TS from code4ward, which is a free, open-source (C#) app, which attempts to combine the best of both programs.  (It’s like the Snap-in interface, but on steroids.) 


I’ve been using it for a few days, and it’s very good.  I only wish it could do a better full-screen, or use less screen real-estate with the embedded view.  I may try my hand at C# just to hack it up.


Hm, the author’s site is down now.  Hopefully it’s temporary.  Meanwhile, here is is on Snapfiles: http://www.snapfiles.com/get/royalts.html


 

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14 Responses to A better RDP client: Royal TS

  1. Jeff Atwood says:

    If all you need is a console session I recommend rclient:
    <br>
    <br><a target="_new" href="http://www.netadmintools.com/art14.html">http://www.netadmintools.com/art14.html</a&gt;
    <br>
    <br>I know it sounds really ancient (the original version came with the NT 4.0 reskit) but it really works. And, really, how hard can this console stuff be? 😉
    <br>
    <br>If you can’t locate a copy (look in the win2k resource kit), email me and I’ll send it to you. It can be installed remotely as long as you have an admin account on the target machine.

  2. Rob Eberhardt says:

    Thanks Jeff, I hadn’t seen this before. This Console looks like the command-prompt aka DOS-prompt, which is unrelated to Remote Desktop’s &quot;Console Session&quot;. It’s confusing that Microsoft reused that name.
    <br>
    <br>Remote Desktop’s Console Session is also known as &quot;Session 0&quot;, and is normally only given to local users (using the physical keyboard and mouse). It normally shouldn’t matter which session you get, but it’s a handy option if you start working locally and need to later reconnect remotely to the same session to finish a task.
    <br>
    <br>According to <a target="_new" href="http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;278845">http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;278845</a&gt;, this actually is possible with the standard Remote Desktop Client, using a command-line-only switch &quot;/console&quot;. So far I can’t get it to work, and it’s a bit inconvenient anyway.
    <br>

  3. Mike Butler says:

    &quot;According to <a target="_new" href="http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;278845">http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;278845</a&gt;, this actually is possible with the standard Remote Desktop Client, using a command-line-only switch &quot;/console&quot;. So far I can’t get it to work, and it’s a bit inconvenient anyway.&quot;
    <br>
    <br>This does work when you are connecting to a Windows Server 2003 system. I tested it with a couple of mine. It does not work when you are connecting to a Win2K server. Thanks for that tip, I never knew you could take control of the server session. Nice.
    <br>
    <br>-Mike

  4. ALEX says:

    Hi, there is another client you can try – &quot;iShadow Desktop&quot;:
    <br><a target="_new" href="http://www.ishadow.com/Downloads/Betas/tabid/88/Default.aspx">http://www.ishadow.com/Downloads/Betas/tabid/88/Default.aspx</a&gt;
    <br>
    <br>This client supports both Microsoft <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> and Citrix ICA protocols along with multi-monitor feature and a few other things.
    <br>
    <br>I like to know how it compares to RoyalTS since I created this one myself 😉
    <br>
    <br><a target="_new" href="http://www.ishadow.com/Forums/tabid/56/view/topics/forumid/13/Default.aspx">http://www.ishadow.com/Forums/tabid/56/view/topics/forumid/13/Default.aspx</a&gt;
    <br>
    <br>Best regards,
    <br>
    <br>ALEX

  5. Rob says:

    Thanks Alex! I tried it out. It looks like it could be pretty cool app, except that crashes at the slightest breeze. Because of that I couldn’t get very far with testing it.
    <br>
    <br>One thing I wished it did (which RoyalTS does) was size the remote desktop to match the current window size. I don’t mean scaling (which happens after the connection has been established), but actually setting the dimensions on the remote system’s virtual video driver.
    <br>
    <br>I’d suggest a couple improvements for the website too:
    <br> Differentiate between iShadow Desktop -vs- iShadow suite enough — the difference (if any) is currently unclear.
    <br> Make registration (during download) optional — requiring it is inconvenient and invasive.
    <br>
    <br>It looks extremely promising, especially the side-by-side protocols. I’ll keep an eye on it.
    <br>
    <br>How about VNC while you’re at it?

  6. John says:

    Hey, any tests with the new iShadow Desktop (<a target="_new" href="http://www.ishadow.com">http://www.ishadow.com</a&gt;)? There is a new RoyalTS out too – 1.3.2 (<a target="_new" href="http://www.code4ward.net/CS2/">http://www.code4ward.net/CS2/</a&gt;)?

  7. Tom says:

    if I connect to an XP box outside the firewall, can the person sitting at the console see my movements?
    <br>
    <br>I use <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> on my local network, but have been using Remote Helpdesk (similar to VNC) to assist my customers remotely.
    <br>
    <br>I’m curious if either RoyalTS or iShadow can do this by connecting to the console.
    <br>

  8. Rob says:

    iShadow and RoyalTS are just <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> clients. What you’re talking about is more a facility of the <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> server (either Remote Desktop in WinXP or Terminal Services with Windows Server).
    <br>
    <br>And yes, it’s possible, if you want it to be. If you remotely connect, then choose to Remote Control another session like the console session, you and that session’s user can both see and (optionally) control that session. By default, that user will be asked to accept the connection first.
    <br>
    <br>Also, WinXP’s Remote Desktop doesn’t allow multiple connections, UNLESS you’ve patched it to do so ( <a target="_new" href="http://blog.throbs.net/archive/2005/04/29/173.aspx">http://blog.throbs.net/archive/2005/04/29/173.aspx</a&gt; ). This can be done manually, or I now prefer Sala’s Terminal Server Patch ( <a target="_new" href="http://sala.pri.ee/?page_id=11">http://sala.pri.ee/?page_id=11</a&gt; ).
    <br>
    <br>Alternatively, if you JUST want to share control of a WinXP session, use its Remote Assistance feature — that’s what it was meant for.
    <br>
    <br>
    <br>

  9. ALEX says:

    Ok, iShadow version prior to 3.0.0.29(?) was based on MSRDP.OCX – the same <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> engine as RoyalTS. All new versions of iShadow Desktop use native <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> engine with preference for MSTSCAX.DLL that comes with MSTSC.EXE. MSRDP.OCX was unregistered when a new version of iShadow Desktop was installed due to uninstall of the previous version.
    <br>
    <br>MSRDP.OCX is not installed on Windows XP, Windows 2003 or Windows Vista Beta, however it is installed on Windows 2000. If MSTSCAX.DLL is not found iShadow desktop attempts using MSRDP.OCX.
    <br>
    <br>All iShadow desktop components go to %ProgramFiles%\iShadow\System32 folder. Original MSRDP.OCX client is not removed after iShadow Desktop uninstall. You can reregister MSRDP.OCX that came with RoyalTS through Regsvr32. Uninstall/install of the new iShadow Desktop version from this point should not affect RoyalTS.
    <br>
    <br>Note: MSRDP.OCX is not supported with current Vista Betas and thus third-party clients that use MSRDP.OCX do not work on Vista 😉

  10. Tom says:

    Rob,
    <br>Thanks for your input. I’ve avoided using the Remote Assistance feature of XP because users can’t seem to figure out how it works – too confusing.
    <br>
    <br>I haven’t really heard of anyone actually using it either – better alternatives out there. But all this leads me away from using <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> at all, which is of course the reason I am here.
    <br>
    <br>If Remote Assistance can do this, why can’t I do it on my own using <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> without all the ‘invite’ crap they make you go through (sorry – kinda ticked by this limitation).
    <br>
    <br>Am I not understanding the differences between Remote Assistance and <a title="" href="" ><acronym title="Remote Desktop Protocol">RDP</acronym></a> access?
    <br>
    <br>
    <br>

  11. Rob says:

    Tom,
    <br>
    <br>I agree Remote Assistance is confusing. Unfortunately, I also think it’s the best thing Windows has for the task at hand.
    <br>
    <br>…best thing built-in, actually. What you’re describing sounds a lot like VNC. It’s not built in, and so you’d have to get it setup first, but after that it should be very easy (no user interaction).
    <br>
    <br>I think I even recently saw a version of VNC targeted at remote support, which lets the user initiate your connection to their desktop. Sorry, I can’t remember the name right now — I’ll post it if I do.
    <br>
    <br>Good luck!

  12. paco ariza says:

    is possible work in real full screen with this software? i not found the resource, but i need the full screen on complete desktop.
    <br>please help
    <br>thanks
    <br>Best regards
    <br>

  13. Rob says:

    Found the VNC remote support app again. It’s UltraVNC SC (SingleClick), and it’s here:
    http://www.uvnc.com/addons/singleclick.html

  14. Rainer says:

    do you know our Tool visionapp Remote Desktop? http://www.visionapp.com/1276.0.html?#c7992
    As Freeware Version 1.5 and coming as commercial Version vRD 2008
    Best regards
    Rainer

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