Windows Home Server 2011 and RDP direct to desktop of the server

So I have gone back to WHS on my "EX485 HP Mediasmart Server" file server from Ubuntu, decided to try out WHS2011 for a while.

The install went smoothly, files have all been copied back over, and I am particularly impressed by the remote desktop gateway that tunnels the RDP connections over HTTPS.

One little problem is that when you rdp to the server it only takes you into the dashboard, and not directly to the servers desktop. This was 'worked around' in WHSv1 by editing an aspx file, but that approach doesn't work in 2011.

After using dotpeek to dig around in the rdp assemblies, I noticed that it is checking a reg value when it builds the rdp file, and if the value is not set (or is 0) it adds an app alias to the dashboard. The name of this value is "EnableServerRemoteDesktop". So, I opened reg edit and added a DWORD value at "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Server\RDP" with the aforementioned name, and set it's value to 1, and reconnected to the WHS machine from the remote web page.

This promptly connected me to the windows home server desktop, rather than the dashboard.

Thought I'd post this here, because it seems that most people that are asking this are being told that it's not supported and that they should open port 3389 through the firewall and rdp directly to the server... (or alternatively, rdp via the remote web site to a machine on the network, then rdp from there to the server).

I prefer this method because it means less ports open through the router, and also if you are behind a proxy/firewall you can still access the server desktop over https.

Comments (6) -

  • Hi,

    Just registered on here so that I could say "well done" in figuring this out Smile

    RDP from the portal / TS gateway to the server desktop is (I seem to remember) a configurable option in SBS2011 and it's been bugging me that it can't be set in WHS2011 - until now.

    What's particularly irritating is that the standard MVP answer to this question is the usual "you shouldn't be wanting to do that anyway ..." nonsense.

    Great work Matt.
  • Cheers Dave! It was bugging me for ages, and the "you shouldn't be wanting to do this" comments are annoying, of course I want to do it Smile And rdp hopping, while works is just as annoying!

    Glad you found it useful!
  • I tried this and it did not work. I think its an intrinsically importaant aspect of WHS to have remote desktop via internet, and would like to collaborate to make it more known. Having trawled the internet you're the only contact I have found on this subject with anywhere near an answer.
  • Hi Paul, what do you mean by it doesn't work? I've successfully used this reg key on 4 installs of WHS2011 recently and all have allowed RDP access to the machine, rather than just opening the dashboard.

    I'd like to help you so please get back in touch! Smile
  • Umm, I would like to give this a go as I generally spend a lot of time away from home and would prefer to maintain my server this way.... However I dont really understand how to set this up. Is any body able to advise me how to do this in laymen’s terms. Any help would be greatly appreciated :0)
  • Anyway to get to the registry from the Dashboard or do I have to go hook up a keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc to my server to set this stupid registry setting?
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