Remote Desktop Access to Windows Programs

In this section of the chapter, we switch gears and look at Linux as a thin client for a Microsoft Windows terminal server. Under this scenario, a site’s system administrator runs the applications desired by the users on a central Windows system (making sure there are enough licenses to support all the users), and the users access the application transparently through Linux systems. Performance is often better than when users run the same programs locally on Windows PCs!

If you did not know Microsoft offered Terminal Services, the material in this section may come as a pleasant surprise. These services are offered through a feature called Remote Desktop Protocol or Remote Display Protocol (RDP), which can interact with an open source project called rdesktop . Thus, rdesktop provides the tools Linux needs to run Microsoft Windows software applications natively from NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Server, XP Pro, and Windows Server 2003.

Few people think of a Microsoft Windows server as an application host. When Microsoft released its first viable Network Operating System (NOS ) , Windows NT Version 3.51 and later 4.0, they did not have such facilities. Windows NOS servers traditionally ran back-office applications such as email, various databases, and web servers. A third-party provider, Citrix , offered Terminal Services through its WinFrame product, a multiuser technology originally used in NT 3.51 that opened up the NT kernel for multiple sessions ...

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