Over the past several years, running a Windows machine as a terminal server has become increasingly popular. Proponents cite better security, lower support costs, and lower client hardware costs as some benefits of terminal services. If you want to provide terminal services with Windows NT Server 4.0, you have to install a special version of the OS—NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition (TSE). However, Terminal Services is part of the Windows 2000 Server family, and you can enable it using the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet. Win2K Server Terminal Services lets you set up a server-centric computing environment where applications run entirely on the server. (In contrast, in the typical Windows networking environment, applications reside on the local machine and use local resources.) The server-centric model lets you deploy applications (e.g., Office 2000) to clients who might not have the local hardware resources they need to run them locally. Client computers connect to the server with Terminal Services client software and run the application in a terminal window, as if the application were running locally. With third-party software, you can even run these applications from non-Microsoft clients. Because you can enable and disable Terminal Services as needed, you can provide functionality to a much larger audience and enjoy many new uses, in particular remote administration.
Configuring the Server
To install Terminal Services on the server, go to the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet, choose the Windows Components page, and choose Terminal Services from the list of available options. Click Next, and you can choose between two different modes: Application Sharing and Remote Administration. When you choose Remote Administration, Microsoft gives you two terminal client licenses that let you run two concurrent terminal connections to the server.
Installing the Client
To establish a terminal session, you need to install the Terminal Services client software on the machine that you want to connect from. On the terminal server, launch the Terminal Services Client Creator from Start, Administrative Tools. With the Client Creator, you can copy the necessary files to a set of disks that you can use to install the client software. You can also share the WINNT\system32\clients\tsclient\net directory and run the appropriate setup program from that location.
Performing remote administration using Terminal Services has several advantages, but the most significant is that you can perform administrative tasks—including installing new software and rebooting the server—as if you were logged on locally. And you don't have to be running a Win2K client to perform such tasks because you can install the Terminal Services client on NT, Win9x, Windows 3.1, and Windows CE devices as well. Performance is acceptable over slow network links because the client transmits only keystrokes and mouse movements and the terminal server sends only screen updates, keeping bandwidth utilization down.
Performing administration through a terminal connection is extremely convenient and powerful, which is why you need to be concerned about who has access to remote administration on your network. You can grant this access to specific administrators instead of the entire Administrators group, and you can create an account that you use only for remote administration. To configure Terminal Services, use the Terminal Services Configuration program from the terminal server's Start, Administrative Tools folder. You can also use this application to configure encryption for all data transfers between the client and the server.
The ease with which you can use Terminal Services is sure to win you over. After trying it out for remote administration, you might start thinking about how much easier your life would be if you were using Terminal Services for application sharing instead of supporting all those local application installations. For more information about using Terminal Services, especially in application sharing mode, check out the Terminal Server and Services page at the Windows 2000 Magazine Web site.