Add Remote Control to Active Directory Users and Computers

If you’re an administrator of a network running Active Directory, then you probably spend a great deal of your time working within the Active Directory Users and Computers MMC. While there’s no question that this and other management tools can be extended in cool ways to perform additional tasks (similar to what Alan outlined in his recent Windows Scripting article Extending the Capabilities of Active Directory Users and Computers Using VBScript), scripting isn’t the only option. In fact, you can add “remote control” capabilities to Active Directory Users and Computers by installing a simple (and free) Resource Kit utility available for download from the Microsoft web site.

The Remote Control Add-on for Active Directory Users and Computers (rControlAD.exe) is a tool that adds the ability to connect to any computer running Remote Desktop or Terminal Services directly from the popular MMC tool. Once installed on one server in your Active Directory forest, you can simply right-click on any computer object and select Remote Control. Doing so launches a Remote Desktop-style connection to that system, without the need to specify a computer name or IP address manually.

The rControlAD tool can be downloaded here. Just extract the downloaded file, and then install it. You be presented with a message similar to one shown below.

Once the installation is complete, just fire up Active Directory Users and Computers, browse to a computer object, right-click, and select Remote Control. That’s all there is to it!

Whether you’re looking for an easy way to access your Windows XP Professional desktops or a way to seamlessly connect to Terminal Services on Windows servers, this tip makes it a snap.

Managing Windows Servers with Terminal Services

Administering multiple Windows 2000 Servers in a multi-site environment can sometimes become a tedious task to say the least. Picture this scenario: your company has four offices, two within a kilometer of each other, another approximately 100 km away, and the fourth resides in a totally different country. You are responsible for all the Win2K servers in each office. How much travel time do you have to account for in your daily administrative workload, just to perform minor updates, troubleshooting, or configurations of these servers? Fortunately, Microsoft has bundled a very useful component into the Win2K OS called Terminal Services, which can be used to remotely administer Windows 2000 Servers on your network. The Microsoft Terminal Services Client software used to make connections to Terminal Serves communicates over a TCP/IP network connection using the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). When configured in Remote Administration Mode, Terminal Services provides a free and powerful tool that can save you time and your company money, by allowing you to remotely administer your servers right from your desk, using a variety of client connection options.

Terminal Services can be installed in one of two modes: Remote Administration mode or Application Server mode. Remote Admin mode provides you with up to two connections, and does not require any additional licensing or cost. By default, Users in the Administrators group will have permissions to make a connection to your server configured for Remote Admin. Application Server mode provides connections based on purchased client licenses and is used in a thin client server-based computing environment. To install Terminal Services on your server, select the Add/Remove Windows Components icon located in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel.

Terminal Services

Windows 2000 Server includes terminal services for the purpose of remote administration of servers as well as the ability to provide centralized access to software and the Windows 2000 desktop. Not installed by default, terminal services provides an environment that is often referred to as‘thin client’. In this environment (also provided by third-party products such as Citrix Metaframe), only screen-shots, keyboard strokes,and mouse movements are passed between the server and the client. All processing actually takes place on the server, which greatly reduces the computing requirements on the client side. Assuch, even Intel 386 running Windows 3.11 can provide users with access to the Windows 2000environment and associated applications. Terminal services uses the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to pass data between the terminal service client and server.

Terminal services is installed via the Windows Components Wizard. After choosing to install terminal services, you will be prompted to choose between the two possible install modes.

Remote administration mode allows 2 simultaneous terminal services connections for the purpose of remote administration and requires no additional licensing. Application server mode is provided for the purpose of allowing regular users to run applications in Windows 2000. In this mode, a terminal services licensing server much also exist(a 90-day grace period is provided), since every terminal client connection will require a terminal service CAL. Note that Windows 2000 Professional systems do not require an additional CAL to access the terminal server, but other operating systems do.