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Server 2008R2 and Dumb Terminals

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January 5, 2012 11:20:20 AM

Greetings. Management wants me to look into Dumb Terminals for portions of our Network, which is a Server 2008R2 Domain.

I am at a loss as to how to tie these terminals into this network and any assistance, advice, etc., would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
January 5, 2012 12:15:30 PM

Set up Terminal Servers, now known as Remote Desktop Services. From there the 'dumb' terminals which I'm going to guess are hopefully thing clients will have RDP access to the server.
January 5, 2012 12:49:15 PM

Riser has it basically pointed out.

So your windows 2008R2 server comes with a default of 5 licenses (unless you purchased a specific version with 10 or 25 etc) But then they also have separate licensing for Remote Desktop Services (previously Terminal Services with Server2003). That being said, Microsoft works with its servers on the honor system and short of a Microsoft Audit of your company, everything should work without those licenses just fine.

But you will basically need to setup Remote Desktop Services which is in the Features/Roles of your server. You may be able to do the installation without Remote Desktop Licensing installed (i've never tried, as i've configured it on networks with 25 RDC clients and they wanted everything to be 110% legit)
Then you can essentially start up your dumb terminal (assuming you actually purchased thin client machines) and open Remote Desktop Services and type in your Server's name/IP to connect to.

You will need to have user accounts created on the server as the server will build a new profile for each user account the first time they are signed into. All of the processing, all of the applications are installed on the RDC server and all your dumb terminals need is an operating system and the RDC client. You can also connect your fully featured desktops to this RDC service. I like to keep all of the company related data on the RDC server instead of all of the desktops so i set my clients machines to do nothing but connect to this server.

Also if you are running a domain, It is highly recommended that you do not install your terminal services on a domain controller, so this should be a separate server, it will have to be a member server of the domain though. Actually if you try to do this RDC services on a domain controller, i know it spits a slew of warnings at you but i cannot remember if you can OK your way through it.

If you are looking at connecting just 1 or 2 "Thin Clients" or "dumb terminals" then you technically do not have to install RDC services as your server will by default allow a couple of windows sessions concurrently.
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January 5, 2012 1:03:17 PM


Even though I go back in IT longer than dirt is old, I have had over all these years absolutely zero experience deploying Dumb Terminals, hence my questions and appreciation of the help from you both.

So it's just a matter of enabling RDP on the Server and using RDP to access the resources on the server? You mentioned Terminal Services (now Remote Desktop Services) which I would therefore assume must be enabled.

Which brings me to another question. It was my understanding that Dumb Terminals could not make use of Shares, etc., from the server for purposes of file transfer and the such like. Essentially the Dumb Terminal is used for access to data such as Spreadsheet and other databases.

What is the advantage of using a Thin Client machine, and what constitutes same? This is a Workgroup environment, no Domain as of yet and consequently no DC. Next year I will be changing this environment to an AD Domain. So there will be no Dumb Terminal access to a DC but rather to one of several File Servers.

Lastly, can you recommend a good Terminal (I.e., perhaps WYSE?) that supports a thin client?

Again, thank you very much.
January 5, 2012 2:23:37 PM

Ok so the thing with dumb terminals or thin clients, is that they can run on VERY limited hardware. Windows can run on Via 1ghz CPU systems, the thing with windows 7 Thin PC (or previous versions) is that they are usually installed on systems with a grand total of 1 or 2GB of storage (though you can find some with more but theres no point). These are locked down Operating systems that can essentially be frozen so that users cannot make any permanent changes unless authorized to do so. I cant say i've ever used file shares but i have used IE on these systems and i've also installed corporate version of Trend Micro on these.

Basically you, an admin, can sign in to this system with it unlocked. You can then create a RDP link and put it on the desktop or organize anything/shortcuts to the desktop or wherever and then you log off the admin account and when the user account is active, they are unable to modify anything, If they do manage to delete the shortcut or go in and change any settings that arent locked out (screen saver?), once the computer is restarted, any of those changes are undone and it goes back automatically to the profile configured by the admin.

When you power on the system, it automatically logs you into the user account and users usually dont ever see a login screen so they cannot even try to log in as administrator. So when the admin wants to sign in, you know that you have to go to log off from the start menu but while you click this log off button, you are holding the shift key which will bring you to the login prompt where you can type in administrator. Without pressing and holding the shift key you can hit log off, restart till you are blue in the face and it will continue to load directly into the "user" profile.

So basically is seen as an inexpensive way to get computers on your network, it makes management easier and cheaper as when you have a program, you only have to install it on the Remote Desktop Server and then all of the thin clients, once they RDC to the server, can access this recently installed application or network share, network printer etc. Also there is less network traffic because instead of a database being transferred over the network to all of the clients computers, it never has to leave the computer or data is only transferred between a couple of servers (which could utilize some high speed fibre if needed) and the only network traffic is the RDC commands as you type on your keyboard and move your mouse. This also makes troubleshooting easier because if one person is experiencing a problem, all of them are. So aside from making your life easier from an IT viewpoint, it also secures the network as some stranger cannot just walk up to a thin client computer and access Intellectual Property/Secured information as they are presented with a stripped down windows installation.

Then you configure your inactivity timeouts on the server which are pushed out to all of the clients, so if they sit idle for 5 minutes, you can boot that machine offline and require them to re-sign in and literally you can control anything the user can see or do all from one location.

So yes you should install this service on one of the current file servers. I would make sure this is a capable system as you will essentially have multiple concurrent windows sessions active (Depending on how many thin clients you use). But i've typically used HP Proliant Servers and i like the HP Thin Clients more than i any of the others, But if you have a Dell server, you dont have to use Dell thin clients, you can mix and match anything.

HP T5740 is the Thin client of choice for me. There are various configurations, Atom N280 CPU with 1GB or 2GB flash memory but just check out the link below as there are many out there.
Newegg HP thin Client List: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Keep in mind that these systems are from 200-500 on average, if you have Active Directory, all your machines need to have Windows Professional/Ultimate to join this domain. Now if you currently have Home Edition computers, you can still use those to connect to the RDC server with the remote desktop application.

That was long winded, hope it helps
January 5, 2012 4:06:04 PM

You put in more effort than I would have.. but at least the OP responded which justifies the true attempt at helping. :) 
January 6, 2012 1:52:54 AM

it also secures the network as some stranger cannot just walk up to a thin client computer and access Intellectual Property/Secured information as they are presented with a stripped down windows installation.
!