Data Centers

Windows Server 2008 drops RDP console option

Although remote desktop is one of the Windows administrator's most essential tools, some functionality is removed in Windows Server 2008. Rick Vanover dives into what this means and explains why this is not exactly bad news.

Starting with Windows Server 2003, administrators have been able to redirect the server's console to a remote desktop session. This is referred to as session zero, and it is invoked like this:

mstsc /v:servername /console

Now that we're accustomed to this connection opportunity, Windows Server 2008 has removed the session zero connection option.

While the console redirection was a nice way to connect to a server when the existing two sessions were in use, it had its limitations. The number one problem with session zero is interactive device driver installations that occur via a plug and play enumeration of multiple devices. This most frequently occurs when adding multi-port serial adapters, a USB hub with multiple ports, or any other device that has a controller and subsequent individual devices. The root device would install correctly, but whenever the individual ports were enumerated, this functionality would not work correctly via a console redirected remote desktop session.

True console access is still best served by device extension mechanisms (such as a keyboard/video/mouse device), hardware controller (such as the Dell DRAC, HP iLO, VNC, pcAnywhere, DameWare), or other products that do a true console redirection.

If you attempt to connect to a Windows Server 2008 system with the /console parameter, it will ignore that option and pass the session on for a connection.

For the newest version of the remote desktop client software (6.1), the /admin parameter is a new feature, but it doesn't really change much based on how administrators have used remote desktop over the years. These changes are outlined in the Microsoft KB article 947723.

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About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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