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Saturday 5 June 2004

RDC and teh future [slim]

These days it's just not worth using your computer at work for anything personal, especially email. Chances are if you're caught doing something in the name of your employer, you're going to get binned. Even using an external webmail client is a bit iffy, as they can be logged, cached and the content of the text you chuck back and forward can, if not properly encrypted, trigger alerts at your companies firewall. At the very least it'll log stacks of hits for you to the address of your webmail server, or the server will be in the block list and you can't get near it..
So instead I enabled RDC on my computer at home, it's a windows 2000 server so will let you have a local connection as well as a single remote one via rdc. Windows XP allows you to do rdc too, but it's only one user at a time in total. Anyway, that works a treat, I get a single open connection to my home pc, encrypted and low bandwidth, that has everything I need to survive the day. I initially used it mostly for email, but nowadays I have a bunch of apps and shortcuts and whatnot open on it. It's actually dead handy for work too, as I can do tests too and from the work connection from a machine outside, so I've even got some feeble justification for it all.
But what I've found lately is that I'm using the RDC connection more than I'm using the local connection. I leave work, and close my rdc session leaving all the apps running. When I get home I just connect to this session from whichever computer I'm using, and everythings there waiting for me. My laptops fairly stinky, but that doesn't matter, because all its doing is rendering the screen, the works taking place on the server. This even makes the laptop run for longer, as it's not using its hdd at all and I can power the cpu down to fek all. What's more amazing is the features available now on rdc, I can map the printer from work and print stuff to my home printer, I can map the sound card and listen to stuff, I can even map local disks on the host pc, it's pretty amazing stuff really.
Wouldn't it be ace if this developed into a more widely used standard. In teh future we could all have rdc machines at home, they might even not have keyboards and mice or screens attached to em at all, they just sit there waiting for wireless rdc connections from wherever. Telephone booths and libraries and whatever have rdc clients where you just dial this box, do your computing, and disconnect. All your stuff wherever you are, that'd rock right?
One of my first tasks as IT Manager for a company a decade ago was to rip out the nasty green screened wyse terminals that connected to a single Unix computer and replace it with sexy desktop pc's that ran with glorious colour monitors. What a forward thinking company we were...


  1. RDP is indeed great, I've been using it to seperate my work and home activities/resources for a couple of years now. Sound is a bit iffy though. I love the fact that the client is available for Macs as well, and works really well. I normally use the mac client when I'm on a friends powerbook or am stuck in our Creative (mac) department.

  2. I too use RDC from work to my home machine for mail, web-access, irc and whatnot. It's just not everything you want to pass thru the firewall at work.
    While I don't think we're quite as paranoid as the UK about how employees use their work equipment and fire people all over, it happens sometimes, and I don't want to be one of them.
    From a IT manager pov, letting users have RDC connections to a main computer ('mainframe') and just have so-called thin clients would ease maintenance quite a lot. No more need for running around keeping tab of who has enough RAM in their PC, who hasn't got acceptable graphics capabilities and so on. I deffo think this will be used more and more in office environments. It also eliminates the users' ability to download crap (ie pr0n/warez) or get virii infecting files on their local PC, you just need to secure the main computer...

  3. I do the same. Sadly I find RDC a bit slow via my work's congested ADSL line. Often I'm waiting for text to catch up and banner ads that pop up with animated flash are a real bastard. I must get a decent browser on Wench.
    Oh, you know that there's a few firms which have started to make two-user PC systems? Multiple ports for keyboards and video etc, simultaneous use into the same XP. Apparently it's just a registry hack to allow user concurrency. It was always the plan to do this sort of thing, I was told by a chap at Microsoft last year.

  4. Interestingly, I've been doing this through VNC, I'd never heard of RDC. I might have to switch over to that if it's more secure.

  5. It was only LAN based, but remember 'mira' & 'freestyle'? That was the M$ tech that would allow all your family to run around the home with tablet screeens that were thin client connecting into your WinXP box in the study or whereever. Missus could do the accounts while junior surfs etc etc. All very pe0n friendly in the MS way of course.
    Except that this meant that you only needed one XP licence. This made the licencing department in MS very very sad, poor things. So what did they do? You can have ONE freestyle client connecting to your PC. On connection your PC screen will BLANK OUT so one person can only be using the machine at once.
    Upshot...they killed their own tech by being too greedy. Madness.
    So, does the RDC work over port 80?.... /me spots 'Remote Desktop Web Connection'. So it does.

  6. You can change RDC to listen to any port you like, in case your firewall blocks port 3389 or others. And there's ofcourse the web client also.
    You can also get clients for using on *nix operating systems, although keyboard mapping might be a bit off :)

  7. As Meaty rightly says, you need to forward TCP33889 to your webserver. The instructions here are better than the windows help.
    I just tried this on my lan with the client as a P133 running WinME and I'm staggered. While the performance was a bit sluggish it was actually useable. Fantabadosie! The only downer is that if your client has a smaller desktop res then it knackers your icon placement. That said I'm running powerstrip which can restore the icon placement in a couple of clicks. This is officially The Best Thing Ever.

  8. I'm not sure how this is blogworthy news, since a lot of us have been doing this for ages.I used to use RDC on my LAN with an otherwise useless P120/48Mb laptop, and it worked brilliantly.The interesting consequence of this would be if we all ran RDC (or equivalent) connections to a centralised massive computer, provided by Google for example. Thats the future chums.

  9. Ah, I just discovered a big gotcha for me: it's WinXP Professional only, and my machine has XP Home installed.

  10. Then jump back in time and use RAdmin. Very light and works superbly well.

  11. I wish you fuckers would get it right.

  12. I see the IIS ActiveX plug-in thingy encrypts the whole shebang when you are using it. Would that be good for looking at your pr0n archive at home Slim?
    I've used UltraVNC for that sort of action and it's great.
    Is there anyway to run RDC at with Win 2000 Pro or does it have to be XP Pro? I was wondering why you were using Win 2000 Server.Hilfe!
    Here at work we can use ports 3389, so i'm sorted for RDC loveliness. My mate is at some cack place where it's all through a proxy and can basically only use port 80. He wants to rdc to his home pc running XP Pro from work, on port 80.
    Using TSWEB, it only helps you to serve the ActiveX component on port 80 (saving you the trouble of using the proper client), after that it's all back on port 3389.
    Which, of course, he can't use.
    Any help, remember I'm a fuckwit when it comes to interwebbing. Looking at various sites, it seems possible to tunnel rdc using SSH but I'm not sure if he can use the SSH port (33?) or not.
    Is he doomed?

  13. OK, deep breath... RDC itself is encrypted, 's got fuckall to do with using the active x version. You can set the encryption defaults on the client and server too. No, win2k pro doesn't have it. I use win2k server because I have a win2k server to do it too. It has one advantage over xp, in that it doesn't lock the local user out of the machine while you're remoting in. Not a huge big deal, but handy for me cos the windows 2000 machine is always on, and the wife often uses it at home while I'm remoted to it at work.
    The default ports are just that, default ports. You can set rdc to work over whatever port you like, it doesn't give a fuck. Some of the clients don't let you chose port though, the latest one does tho. The port number it runs on is pretty irrelivant then, what matters is how much your firwall gives a shit about what's actually running over that port. Some will just say as long as its tcp, then off you go. Some will look at the data to see they're the correct type, or run application level proxies and all sorts of shit. It really depends on the firewall setup, if that's a http proxy, there is hope in a number of tunnels that'll run over a http proxy, but there's fuckorage involved.

  14. I've actually ended up doing broadly the same as what you describe as teh future at home. There's only one app which I really, really need a PC for any more, and that's The Bat - everything else I'm happier using on the Mac. It seemed daft to be sticking a PC under the desk, with all associated noise and paraphenalia, just for that... And while I can run WinXP on my Mac laptop under VirtualPC, it's quite slow and not really suitable for a high usage app like a mail client.
    So bingo! I copied my Bat install onto a PC downstairs which lives in the spare room and acts as a file server, and now RDC into that to use my mail client - a task for which it's perfectly fast and efficient.
    I'm not convinced by the concept of thin clients for everything, yet - but there's no doubt that they're the dogs bollocks for some uses.