RDC - Remote Desktop Connection for Windows

Windows 7 and 10 include a client for the Remote Desktop Protocol, a proprietary remote access protocol. To run it select Start|Run and enter mstsc in the text box or select Start|Programs|Applications|Communications|Remote Desktop Connection. Mac users can download client.

Fullscreen access to Linux

NBER's general use Linux servers now support Microsoft's "Remote Desktop Connection" software for remote access with full-screen GUI support. Some notes:
  1. You can use the client that comes with all Windows computers however various 3rd party clients did not work in our tests.
  2. First login will take 30 seconds or so but if you leave your session by closing the window your login will be maintained and subsequent startups will be quick.
  3. You can have only on RDC connection per server, and some GUI programs (such as Firefox) won't allow you to run on more than one server at the same time.
  4. If you try to login after having reduced the window to less than full screen, you may have to move the sliders to put the login box in view.
No doubt there are other quirks we should know about.

Remote Access to a Windows desktop

Windows 7 or 10 can act as a server when accessed by a remote desktop client, however to use this with your 1050 computer as the host you must bypass our firewall. Our standard SSH client contains a tool for doing this. It captures the packets from your client PC, forwards them to a Unix computer within our network, which sends them on to your PC at 1050 on the RDC port.

  1. You will need a static IP address for the host computer here at 1050 - ask Dan or Mohan. You can play around with the dynamic address (run ipconfig to find it) but it will change if you leave your computer turned off too long, and computers should be left off overnight unless they are working.

  2. For a host Windows 7 computer:

    Check the "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop" on the Start|Control Panel|System and Security|System-Allow remote access menu and add a username with the "Select Users" button.

    add a username with the "Select Users" button on that screen. Make sure the computer does not go to sleep when unused for a long period. On Windows XP this is set by right clicking anywhere on the desktop and selecting properties|power management. On Windows 7 it is Control Panel|Hardware and Sound|Power Options| Edit Plan Settings.

    Windows Clients

  3. Your remote client machine will need an SSH client such as Ttssh to be able to do port forwarding. You can get this from http://ssh.nber.org/setup.exe. Select "open" or "run from current location" and accept all defaults.

  4. Ttssh will require a one-time setup to enable "port forwarding" to your PC. Select Start|Programs|Secure Shell|Ttssh, then Setup|SSHForwarding|Add when Ttssh opens. On the forwarding menu, leave ForwardLocalPort checked and insert 3391 in the first box (labeled "forward local port"). Then put "yourhostname.nber.org" (where yourhostname is given to you by our IT staff) in the box below (labeled "remote machine"), and 3389 in the next box (labeled "port"). Then select OK twice. Be sure to save the new setup - Setup|SaveSetup|Save.

    Setup is now complete and does not need to be repeated on this client. The following steps executed on the client will connect it to the host desktop for a remote session:

  5. Start|Programs|SecureShell|Ttssh and login to nber8.nber.org (or any other nber.org Unix system) using your NBER login and password. You may use or ignore the shell once it appears.

  6. Select Start|Programs|Applications|Communications|Remote Desktop Connection and specify "localhost:3391" as the connection. "localhost" is a nine character literal - don't substitute your hostname or IP address. Login and compute as usual.

Mac Clients

  1. Download and install the client software from the Microsoft website.

  2. Open a Mac terminal window (in applications/utilities) and run: ssh -l userid -L 3391:<ip of pc>:3389 nber8.nber.org e.g.: ssh -l feenberg -L 3391: nber8.nber.org where is the IP address of the Windows host, as given to you by IT staff. Any of our Unix servers may do in place of nber8. userid is your userid on our Unix cluster. You will be prompted for the password.

  3. Run the RDC client and login as described for Windows. Steps 2-4 must be repeated for each login.

All Clients

Your packets are received by Ttssh from port 3391 on the local computer, which sends them to nber1 on the ssh port (22), where they are sent out port 3389 to port 3391 on your windows pc server host. That bypasses our firewall, while keeping your password encrypted.

We are interested to hear about success or failure.

Daniel Feenberg

Last update 6 May 2014