Adventures with setting up RDS RemoteApp and Web Access in Windows Server 2012 R2

RDS Overview in Server ManagerSo I was recently setting up a demo environment in Azure with two servers.  Our goal was to have Remote Web Access and then publish RemoteApps through that so we could give live demos.  The process to setup Remote Desktop Services is much easier in Server 2012 / 2012 R2 thanks to the Add Remove Features Wizard, but there are still some gotcha’s that I encountered and will cover in this blog post.

The first thing was getting the FQDN of the RD Gateway / Web Access server set to our external domain (since it is different). For example we’ll use adatum.internal and  For web access it is simply a matter of having a public DNS record and pointing to your web server but getting it working for the RD Gateway requires some PowerShell.  A script from the TechNet Gallery called Change published FQDN for Server 2012 or 2012 R2 RDS Deployment works a treat for Server 2012 and 2012 R2.  Simply go to the directory you have the script in with a PowerShell admin prompt and enter the following;

Set-RDPublishedName ""

This should now allow clients to see a connecting to a proper server FQDN instead of something like rds-01.demo.adatum.local.

My next issue was when my demo client when to connect it errored out with 0x607 – An authentication error has occurred.  After having a talk with someone in the office I had found out the Session Host server was hosting some demo web apps that ran using HTTPS.  Now I had imported a proper certificate (that hadn’t expired) but still found this issue.  So I opened up mmc.exe added the Certificates snap-in, browsed the computer certificate store and under personal I could see an EXPIRED certificate.  I deleted this but was still getting the error.  So my other trick was to force Terminal Services to no longer try to use that certificate.  To do this I opened up REGEDIT and went to the following key;

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp

In this key I would scroll down until I found SSLCertificateSHA1Hash and deleted the entry (you could also replace the hash with our good certificate).  Once I had done this, I restarted the server for good measure and was then able to connect up to my Remote Apps using Web Access without an issue.


Default printer changes after Terminal Server (or print spooler service) restart

Just a quick post today.  I was troubleshooting an issue where a user would set a default network printer (say Printer01) in their user profile, upon a server restart (which happens nightly) their printer would be set back to the Adobe PDF local printer.  After going through event logs and some basic troubleshooting through Group Policy I quickly came to the conclusion that this was more of a user profile issue than a deployment one.

After a bit of Google-foo, I found that Windows stored user based printer connection details in the registry under HKEY_USERS\<user SID here>\Printers\Connections.  It also stored local settings for each printer under HKEY_USERS\<user SID here>\Printers\Settings.  I went through the printer keys under each registry key and found printers that no longer existed.

Simply deleting printers that were no longer available let the user set a default printer and the setting stayed after a server or print spooler service reboot.

Remotely enable Remote Desktop to connect to a remote PC

Occasionally you need to get something done on a remote computer (or a clients computer) but the computer doesn’t have an easy way for you to connect to it. Luckily, if you have admin rights to the remote computer, you can still connect without needing to turn on remote desktop before hand. To do that you will just need to download a little tool called PsExec (Available here). PsExec is a Microsoft tool part of their PsTools, the beauty of it is that it is portable and can be run from anywhere.

Once you have PsExec download you just need to open a command prompt and browse to the folder with psexec.exe. Once the command prompt is open, type in this command and it will enable remote desktop on the machine you specify.

psexec \\machinename reg add “hklm\system\currentcontrolset\control\terminal server” /f /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0

Make sure you replace “machinename” with the computer you are trying to control remotely. Once this command has run you should now be able to connect with the Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe) to the remote computer.