The Joel on Software Discussion Group (CLOSED)

A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.

This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.

Other Groups:
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
TechInterview.org
CityDesk
FogBugz
Fog Creek Copilot


The Old Forum


Your hosts:
Albert D. Kallal
Li-Fan Chen
Stephen Jones

Free alternative to Windows Terminal Services (TSE)?

Hi

As more and more of our customers would like to use Terminal Services so that remote users can connect to their main office, I'd like to make sure there aren't cheaper/free alternatives to Windows Terminal Services.

I know about Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP, http://www.ltsp.org/), but Linux is out of the question in this context, and besides, our apps are Windows-only anyway.

Thank you for any tip
Fred
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
As a user of terminal services (I work from home) - there is one major downside (for me) There is no good file transfer mechanism. The 'standard' windows file copy is terrible over a WAN. I have to resort to PC Anywhere with its file transfer compression to get large files up/down (or config up a 'tame' web server that enables you to browse your network - and downloda files using http) - sorry it doesn't answer your original question but its sorta relevent.

Apart from the file transfer issue Terminal Services is v.good.
Scotty
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Well, there's copilot.com, but it's not free.

Copilot is based on VNC, of which numerous implementations exist, free and not-so-free. I use realVNC; the basic version is free and works fine, althought not quite as fast as TSE.
Lance
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
TightVNC
Sassy Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Terminal Services allows multiple users to open Windows sessions on the same server.

From a cursory look at the TightVNC web site it looks as though TightVNC is more like pcANYWHERE or Remote Desktop Connection: you gain control of the entire PC.

So ... it looks like TightVNC would NOT be a free replacement for Terminal Services.

I don't know of any products available for free that replace TS' functionality.
Karl Perry Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Terminal Services only allows multiple people to connect if you're using a "server" OS such as 2000 or 2003 Server Edition. If you're using XP Pro, not that you should be for a server, only one user can connect at a time.

Further, if you just use a standard install, without specifying it as a Terminal Server and adding appropriate licensing, it only accepts 3 simultenous connections. At least with 2k3.
Shane Harter Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Maybe have a look at using X with cygwin on Windows. I wonder if there is any combination of these three that would solve your problem. There is also a project called rdesktop:

http://www.rdesktop.org/

It is a linux client for TS. But if they did the client they might have some information on the server.
JSD Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
>using XP Pro, not that you should be for a server, only one user can connect at a time.

Actually, the above is only true due to configuration, and all kinds of things like group policies etc. Windows server, and windows XP share the same core. In fact, during the beta testing phase of windows XP, a particular version DID allow multiple users to login with separate sessions at the same time.

So, yes, it should be a server…but the hooks, and design of allowing multiple desktops remotely on a windows XP box is possible…but just disabled…

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@ msn.com
http://www.members.shaw.ca/AlbertKallal
Albert D. Kallal Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Shane, Terminal Services is not available except with server OSs.  You can use remote desktop connection to control your computer from somewhere else with XP, and yes - that uses terminal services technology, but it's not Terminal Services in respect to the OP's request.

Without licensing you can only use TS in App Server mode for something like 120 days - then it shuts down and you must license.
Karl Perry Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
>Without licensing you can only use TS in App Server mode

Yes, but in remote admin mode…you  do get two free users, and for a number of clients of mine..that was the perfect free solution (they never needed more then two users).
Albert D. Kallal Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
Karl,

If you want to call XP Remote Desktop something else, then so be it. But the truth is, it's nothing more then Terminal Services. If you want any proof of this, look at the registry settings.

Go to: HKLM > SYSTEM > CURR CONTROL SET > CONTROL > TERMINAL SERVER > WINSTATIONS

It's in these settings that you can change things like color depth, listening ports, etc. It just so happens to be the same registry key in the so-called Server OS's.

Second, as Albert said, if you run your 2K or 2K3 server in Application mode you are allowed 2 (I thought 3) Terminal Server connections.
Shane Harter Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
> If you want to call XP Remote Desktop
> something else, then so be it.

RTFP.  I specifically said that RD uses TS technology.  What's your point?

> Second, as Albert said, if you run your
> 2K or 2K3 server in Application mode
> you are allowed 2 (I thought 3)
> Terminal Server connections.

RTFP.  Actually he said if you run ... in
ADMIN mode, not app server mode, you get two connections.  He said this satisfies very light users with needs of no more than two remote users.

I'm pissed off tonight.  Sorry - you got the brunt.  But next time, read a little more carefully before you attack.
Karl Perry Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
VNC, but watch for bugs.  On Win2003, it always locks out the ability to re-login (yea, seriously).
Bot Berlin Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 
If VNC is good for you, than UltraVNC is the one I recommend from experience -- it puts minimum CPU requirements on the controlled machine compared to other VNCs.

But VNC won't let you log multiple users in at the same time. If you want _that_, you either
a. pay through the nose to Microsoft for a server version, and all the associated "terminal services" licensing costs.
b. pay through the nose to both Microsoft and VMware, and run a virtual "XP Pro" machine for each connecting client.
c. Connect to some display technology directly; Check "libvnc" or "xrdp" for details; This is a major undertaking.
d. Switch to Linux/FreeBSD, porting your software; major undertaking.
e. Switch to Linux/FreeBSD, using Wine. It probably works as is without _any_ modification, but if something doesn't, you'll have to fix it -- consider Wine just another Windows version in your QA process. Minor undertaking.

Both 'd' and 'e' below allow you to expose your displays in many ways -- VNC, Remote Desktop, Plain X, NoMachine NX. Each of these require a freely available client installed on the end user's machine.
Ori Berger Send private email
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
 
Karl Perry > Terminal Services allows multiple users to open Windows sessions on the same server.

Right. Remote control products like *VNC aren't a good replacement for TSE at least because of this. Besides, I've had issues with UltraVNC (slow performance or even lock-ups for several seconds, even over ADSL).

JSD > http://www.rdesktop.org/ It is a linux client for TS. But if they did the client they might have some information on the server.

I knew of Rdesktop but didn't think of asking them if they have any intention of writing an open-source alternative to TSE.

Thanks everyone.
Fred
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
 
The problem with Terminal Services is licensing, and the license that will allow you to legally connect to a Windows server via Linux basically costs the same as Windows XP.
Duff Send private email
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
 
I wonder how many TS sessions can be opened on a WinXP Pro?

Interesting... We use TS in Admin mode all the time and I find that this satisfies most of my user's requirements.  If they want more than 2 sessions, we move them to Citrix.

So, that said, you might want to consider Citrix.  The cost model has changed and the Citrix server is now free *I think*.  I can ask my Citrix guy but as I heard last, it's substantially cheaper than the Microsoft solution.

And, by the way, TS or parts of it is actually a Citrix product licensed by Citrix to Microsoft.
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
 
>> So, that said, you might want to consider Citrix.  The cost model has changed and the Citrix server is now free *I think*.  I can ask my Citrix guy but as I heard last, it's substantially cheaper than the Microsoft solution.<<

LOL

Citrix is MUCH MUCH more expensive than Terminal Services.  It's also much better, but only one "much" better, and it's two "much"s more expensive.  Citrix management would be wise to take a lesson from Microsoft (and now VMware), and recognize that gaining market share now increases profits down the road (Oh yeah, most CEOs are incapable of thinking more than two quarters ahead).

Citrix is beautiful for large farms of servers hosting multiple applications. It's not cost-effective at all for small implementations.
RR
Thursday, February 09, 2006
 
 

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
 
Powered by FogBugz