Host RemoteApps from Windows PCs (Part 2)

by [Published on 4 July 2013 / Last Updated on 4 July 2013]

In this article we’ll see how to create an RDP file you can use to open RemoteApps and how to set up a web interface offering shortcuts to RemoteApps, similar to TS Web Access. Plus we’ll discuss how to address an issue you might run into; ensuring Remote Desktop connections are ended after exiting a RemoteApp.

If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to Host RemoteApps from Windows PCs (Part 1).

Introduction

In Part 1, we discovered how Windows client PCs can host RemoteApps via RDP, similar to what Windows Servers offer. We discussed how to enable remote connections and configure the firewall and router. Then how to enable RemoteApps and host individual programs by using the RemoteApp Tool or making Registry modifications.

Now in Part 2 we’ll see how to create an RDP file you can use to open RemoteApps and how to set up a web interface offering shortcuts to RemoteApps, similar to TS Web Access. Plus we’ll discuss how to address an issue you might run into; ensuring Remote Desktop connections are ended after exiting a RemoteApp.

Creating an RDP File for Connecting

If you use the RemoteApp Tool to configure RemoteApps you can also use it to create the RDP file you can run to open a RemoteApp, like we discussed in Part 1. But if you manually made Registry changes instead of using the tool you can also manually create the RDP file as well.

Simply open Notepad, insert the following settings, specify the SERVER_ADDRESS and REMOTEAPP_NAME in the first four lines, and then save as an .rdp file.

full address:s:SERVER_ADDRESS

alternate full address:s:SERVER_ADDRESS

remoteapplicationprogram:s:||REMOTEAPP_NAME

remoteapplicationname:s: REMOTEAPP_NAME

remoteapplicationcmdline:s:

redirectclipboard:i:1

redirectposdevices:i:0

redirectprinters:i:1

redirectcomports:i:1

redirectsmartcards:i:1

devicestoredirect:s:*

drivestoredirect:s:*

redirectdrives:i:1

session bpp:i:32

prompt for credentials on client:i:1

span monitors:i:1

use multimon:i:1

remoteapplicationmode:i:1

server port:i:3389

allow font smoothing:i:1

promptcredentialonce:i:0

authentication level:i:2

disableremoteappcapscheck:i:1

alternate shell:s:rdpinit.exe

screen mode id:i:2

winposstr:s:0,3,0,0,800,600

compression:i:1

keyboardhook:i:2

audiocapturemode:i:0

videoplaybackmode:i:1

connection type:i:2

disable wallpaper:i:1

allow desktop composition:i:1

disable full window drag:i:1

disable menu anims:i:1

disable themes:i:0

disable cursor setting:i:0

bitmapcachepersistenable:i:1

audiomode:i:0

redirectdirectx:i:1

autoreconnection enabled:i:1

prompt for credentials:i:0

negotiate security layer:i:1

remoteapplicationicon:s:

shell working directory:s:

gatewayhostname:s:

gatewayusagemethod:i:4

gatewaycredentialssource:i:4

gatewayprofileusagemethod:i:0

use redirection server name:i:0

Setup Web Shortcuts Using RAWeb

Similar to TS Web Access, you can configure a web-based menu of shortcuts to RemoteApps using the Internet Information Services (IIS) web server and a third-party tool called RAWeb on the host PC. Once configured, a user can go to the web page, click the icon for the desired program, and it would open an RDP file to launch the RemoteApp.

RAWeb also includes a feature to allow users to add the RemoteApp shortcuts to the Start Menu of Windows Vista or 7, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

To get started, turn on IIS. Go to Control Panel > Programs and Features. Click Turn Windows features on or off. Then check Internet Information Services and ASP under World Wide Web Services > Application Development Features, and click OK.

Next download the RAWeb zip file from the bottom of the RAWeb site and extract the files to c:\inetpub\wwwroot.

Then for each RemoteApp you want shown, save it's RDP file into c:\inetpub\wwwroot\rdp. And if you want a custom icon image (shown at 64x64 pixels) for the RemoteApps, put a PNG file into c:\inetpub\wwwroot\png with the same name as the RDP file.

Test it out by visiting http://localhost on the host PC or http://hostcomputer_name (or http://hostcomputer_IP on another PC in the local network.

If you’d like to access the web page when away via the Internet IP (or host name) address you need to configure your router to forward port 80 to the IP address of the host PC. And for Windows Firewall you need to allow the World Wide Web Services (HTTP) and open port 80 up on any separate network firewall.

Setup Start Menu Shortcuts Using RAWeb

If you’d like to allow users to add the RemoteApp shortcuts to their Start Menu of Windows Vista or 7, first configure IIS and RAWeb as discussed in the previous section. Next, configure IIS with SSL certificates and enable HTTPS encrypted access, which we won’t discuss here.

Once you’ve configured HTTPS access on the IIS server of the host, here’s how you can set up the Start Menu shortcuts on the client PCs:

  1. Go to Control Panel > RemoteApp and Desktop Connections.
  2. Click Set up a new connection with RemoteApp and Desktop Connections.
  3. Enter the URL to the webfeed.asp file that was included with the RAWeb package (for instance: http://hostcomputer_IP/webfeed.asp)
  4. Click Next and finish the wizard.

Now you should see the RemoteApp shortcuts on the Start Menu. And if you want a custom icon for the RemoteApps, place an ICO file into c:\inetpub\wwwroot\icon directory of the host PCwith the same name as the RDP file. 

Set Remote Desktop Timeout on Clients

When exiting a RemoteApp it doesn’t close the Remote Desktop session. This can be a problem as the client machine will be logged into the host, giving others a warning message when logging in locally or remotely to the host. So you might consider configuring clients that connect to the host with a short Remote Desktop session timeout. That way they’ll be automatically logged off shortly after exiting a RemoteApp.

Here’s how to set the timeout using Group Policy:

  1. Hit the Windows key, type Edit Group Policy (in Windows 8 click Settings), and then hit Enter.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Remote Desktop Services -> Remote Desktop Session Host -> Session Time Limits
  3. Open Set time limit for disconnected sessions, change to Enabled, and set to 1 Minute.

Summary

In this two part tutorial we discovered how to host RemoteApps from Windows client PCs, similar to what Terminal Services offers on Windows Servers. We discussed using the RemoteApp Tool or making manual Registry modifications to enable RemoteApps and creating RDP files for connecting. We also discussed how to setup a web interface offering shortcuts to RemoteApps, similar to TS Web Access, and how to add the shortcuts in the Start Menu of clients.

If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to Host RemoteApps from Windows PCs (Part 1).

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