Installing Terminal Services on the Server

By Brien M. Posey | Nov 23, 2000 | Print this Page
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In Part 1 of this series ( Terminal Services Basics ), I explained the basic architecture involved in setting up a remote management session through Windows 2000's terminal services. In this article, I'll go into more depth as I discuss the system requirements and configuration process on the server end.

Memory Requirements

As I mentioned in Part 1, using the terminal services for anything other than administrative purposes can place an overwhelming burden on your server. This is the case because applications that run during a terminal session are running on the server. The server is also sending real-time screen updates to each terminal client as they use those applications. Because of the way the terminal services work, it's easy for just a few users to overwhelm the server, especially if the users are using resource-intensive applications such as large databases or CAD software.

Because of the exceptionally heavy workload that the terminal services place on the server, Microsoft makes some fairly hefty hardware recommendations for your server. The general recommendation for servers running terminal services is a minimum of 128 MB of RAM, plus an extra 10 to 21 MB of memory per client. The range in recommended memory per client is based on the idea that not all applications are created equal. A generic word processor, for example, may require only 10 MB per user, whereas a higher-end application like a CAD program may require 21 MB per user. If you're considering allowing end users to use terminal sessions, I recommend putting as much memory in the server as the server will accommodate. Even if the memory you put in the server turns out to be more than the terminal services require to handle the current workload, Windows 2000 probably will be able to use the memory in other areas.

Although memory is by far the most precious resource involved in running the terminal services, it's certainly not the only resource used. The terminal services also use the processor, hard disks, and network connections very heavily. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that if you're going to use the terminal services for more than just occasional administrative purposes, you should use a server equipped with multiple processors, RAID arrays, and a fast network connection.

If you plan on using the terminal services only for administrative purposes, don't worry if not all your servers live up to the stringent requirements I've outlined. Although I have several servers running the terminal services, none of them have RAID arrays or multiple processors. In fact, even my lowest-end server works very well when it comes to using the terminal services for remote administration. This server is a mere 500 MHz Pentium III with 128 MB of RAM, running Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

Hardware Requirements

As far as this low-end server's network connection goes, it's running 100 megabit Ethernet. Although the server is using a high-speed network connection, I've tested the server with a variety of terminal server clients across the network. Some of these clients have been running slower connection speeds such as 10 megabit Ethernet and 11 megabit wireless Ethernet. These clients have performed very well in spite of their slow connection speeds. The only time I've run into a situation in which the terminal server client was painfully slow was during a dial-up session. Even though the dial-up session was slow (to say the least), if you get a phone call at 3:00 AM from someone who claims that something is wrong with the server, it's still much better to use a slow dial-in connection than to drive 20 miles to the office.

Network Connections

Now that you know a little bit about what's required of the server, it's time to install the terminal services. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the server's Control Panel and double-click on the Add/Remove Programs icon. When the Add/Remove Programs window opens, click the Add/Remove Windows Components button. Doing so opens the Windows Components Wizard. (When I performed this operation on my servers, several of the machines appeared to ignore the click of the button. In actuality, however, the wizard had opened in the background. I was able to access the wizard by simply closing the Add/Remove Programs window.)

  2. When the wizard opens, you'll see a long list of optional Windows 2000 components. Select the Terminal Services check box and the Terminal Services Licensing check box.

  3. Click Next to begin installing the necessary terminal service components.

  4. The wizard will ask if you want to install the terminal services in Remote Administration Mode or in Application Server Mode. Because this article's primary focus is remote access, select the option for Remote Administration and click Next.

  5. The wizard will ask you some questions about the location and role of the license server. Unless you have a compelling reason to change these values, I recommend using the defaults. When you've completed this section, click Next.

  6. Windows 2000 will ask you to insert your Windows 2000 installation media. After copying a few files, the wizard will inform you that the terminal services have been installed and will ask you to reboot your server.

Installing Terminal Services

CrossLinks

Conclusion

Now that you know how to install the terminal services, you're ready to configure your terminal server client. I'll discuss the process for doing so in Part 3 of this series ( Preparing the Network Card and Terminal Server Client ). To help you prepare for Part 3, I should mention that the terminal server clients require TCP/IP to be installed on both the client and on the server. Therefore, in the unlikely event that your server isn't already running TCP/IP, you should install it before continuing. //

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.