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Virtual Server RDP Administration Annoyance
Quoting from MCPmag.com:

Chris Wolf responds to the problem of accessing the Virtual Server Administration Web site from within a Remote Desktop connection.

Q: I'm having a strange problem with the Virtual Server 2005 Administration Web site. I'm accessing the server remotely using remote desktop and can connect fine. However, when I try and open the virtual server administration web site from within the RDP session, I get a "Page Cannot be Found" error. Other users on the local LAN don't have any problem accessing the site using IE. Is this one of those strange Terminal Services problems?

A: Remote Desktop and Terminal Services can do some strange things. Many of us at one time or another have found ourselves scratching our heads over a particular program or installation sequence that would not work when launched from within a Remote Desktop connection.

With your particular problem, connecting to the Virtual Server host using IE directly or through a VPN connection would be your best bet. If this isn't possible, you can get the Virtual Server Administration Web site to run inside an RDP session by running the RDP session as a remote IE console. In other words, you'll need to configure Remote Desktop to launch IE at the time the RDP connection is made. While this will prevent you from accessing the actual desktop of the remote Virtual Server host, it will allow you to access the Administration website through the RDP connection. You can always set up a second RDP connection for complete access to the Virtual Server host's desktop.

To set up Remote Desktop to start IE once a connection is made, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start | All Programs | Accessories | Communications | Remote Desktop.
  2. In the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, click the Options button.
  3. Now click the Programs tab in the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box.
  4. Click the "Start the following program on connection" checkbox and enter the following information:
    Program Path and File Name: iexplore.exe https://localhost/virtualserver/vswebapp.exe

    Start in the Following Folder:
    C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer

  5. Now click the General tab and enter the name or IP address of your virtual server in the Computer Name field.
  6. Enter a user name and password (check the Save My Password box if desired), and then click the Save As button. In the Save As dialog box, browse to your desired save location such as the Desktop, enter a name for the connection such as RDPIE.rdp, and click Save.

At this point, you can double-click on the saved RDP connection to initiate an RDP connection to your virtual server host. I like to save RDP connection settings so that I don't have to retype them over and over again, which could interfere with any personal tasks I'm trying to do while at work.

Note that I'm assuming an HTTPS connection here (shown in Step 4). The default method for connecting would be via HTTP; however, my Virtual Server Web site is configured to only allow SSL. If you're looking for a simple way to set up SSL support for Virtual Server, take a look at the article, "Configure SSL for Virtual Server 2005 Using SelfSSL," at http://tinyurl.com/zbnb5 .

With Remote Desktop configured to launch IE and connect to the Virtual Server Administration Web site once you log on, you'll see IE open up inside the Remote Desktop window once your login is authenticated. If you close IE, you'll automatically be logged off from the RDP session.

With this approach, you'll be able to access and work with the Virtual Server Administration Web site through a Remote Desktop connection. For some, seeing an application work correctly when run as a stand-alone program via RDP when it does not work in a normal RDP session, is considered nearly magical. Who knows? Maybe even David Blaine can show off a little RDP trickery as part of his street magic.

Published Tuesday, March 21, 2006 6:44 PM by David Marshall
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