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[school-discuss] Re: Linux in Government: Linux Desktops in the Enterprise with Microsoft Terminal Services | Linux Journal

on Tue, May 03, 2005 at 10:54:49AM -0500, Tom Adelstein (tadelste@xxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> If anyone has missed the advances in how Linux desktops can run
> Windows applications from MS Terminal Services native in Windows XP
> Pro and 2003 Server, here's a recap. 
> Rdesktop and TSClient have gone up several gradients in capability and
> do not require server extensions like the Citrix ICA client which is
> still available for Linux.

Tom:  I found rdesktop was a pretty slick way to access legacy MS
Windows systems when I was admining a network of 'em.

It's got a couple of advantages over VNC, among them that you're not
bound to the remote host's physical screen geometry (VNC is), and if
you're doing repetitive tasks on a slew of systems, it's possible to
access the lot of them in a shell script or one-liner (with
appropriately named hosts, or a target hosts file), since rdesktop takes
password on the command line.   

This is markedly faster than VNC, which
requires inputting user/pass to log on to each system.  Say you've
managed to sequentially name your hosts:

   for i in $( seq 20 )
       rdesktop -u Administrator -p s00p3rs3k17 winhost-${i} &

...would launch 20 rdesktop sessions (useful for slogging through
updates, virus / malware filtering, software installs, and the like).

Of course, that's also a security issue:  process listings (ps, top, or
traipsing through /proc) would then reveal your passwords.  What
rdesktop lacks AFAICT is any way of using some sort of key agent (e.g.:
ssh-agent) to handle authentication tokens.  Know of any tricks here?

The other limitation of rdesktop is that it allows  _only_ local _or_
remote access to a given workstation host.  This differs from both VNC
and a true MS Windows Terminal Services Client:

  - VNC:  legacy MS Windows allows only one active desktop session per
    workstation, however this session can be accessed both locally and
    remotely at the same time.  Unlike other options, VNC is
    cross-platform, with both server and client available for legacy MS
    Windows, GNU/Linux, MacOS, and other platforms.

  - rdesktop:  allows only one active desktop session per workstation.
    Remote use locks the local console until remote user logs out.

  - MS Windows Terminal Server:  multiple remote sessions are allowed,
    which are independent of the local console session (more like a
    GNU/Linux X Terminal Server or VNC session server).  My
    understanding is that this requires specific licensing from
    Microsoft, specific products (vendors include MSFT, Citrix, and
    Tarantella (a/k/a "Old SCO").  To the best of my knowledge, rdesktop
    does _not_ work with WTS, though I've limited experience here --
    care to disabuse me?

There's a number of useful compatibility environment options, rdesktop
definitely deserves more plugging, good article.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Microsoft has never intended to compete on a level playing field.
    Instead they have tipped the field to favor themselves, sacrificing
    product quality and user benefit over and over again. This strategy
    is coming to the end of its useful life.
    - Mitch Kapor

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