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How to enable remote desktop for console login on a Terminal Server?
Jonathan Sprinkle, 19 Mar 2007
Last updated: 7 Oct 2007

Windows terminal servers allow arbitrarily many logins to remote terminals, but there is only one console login. In order to connect to the console, a few things must happen:
  1. The user must be in an administrators group of some kind
  2. The console remote desktop must be enabled.
Enabling console remote desktop on the server-side is essentially the same as enabling it for a generic Windows XP machine: Control Panel->System->Remote->Enable Remote Desktop

Connecting to the console, however, is another matter. Once terminal services is enabled, the default connection to remote desktop for the machine will enable a terminal service, not console connection. In order to get a console connection, you must create an *.RDP setting for the machine, and edit it to connect to the console.

For example, for newton.eecs, call up a mstsc (Microsoft Terminal Services Client) or remote desktop connection, add all connectivity info to it, and (after enabling more options), save that remote desktop profile to the desktop as an RDP file, say newton.RDP

Now, edit that file using notepad, and add the following line to the end: connect to console:i:1

Using that connection will connect you to the terminal, if your username allows it. This should only be done with Administrative accounts. Jonathan writes:

... one thing we can try before enabling remote login is to login remotely via the console version of remote desktop.

This is documented via microsoft, but I have not documented it anywhere else, I've attached the console RDP file which I used for ransom and changed the name to newton. When it comes online, you can just use this, and it's like sitting at the console (i.e., no need to be in the machine room). FYI, you can be attached via the console, and via remote desktop, at the same time (w/ two logins).

See this forum article for the RDP file. Microsoft Support notes about using the RDP file.

Microsoft Support: How to enable and to configure Remote Desktop for Administration in Windows Server 2003

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