Preventing new Remote Desktop sessions in Server 2003

This post was originally published here.

I have both a laptop and a desktop, and it’s fairly often that I remote into my desktop to do development.  Although my laptop is no slouch, you really can’t beat a desktop dev experience.  However, my dev machine is running Server 2003, which allows multiple remote desktop sessions at once.  Windows XP only allows one user session at a time, whether it’s a console (I’m physically at the machine) or remote session.  That was nice, because I could have a bunch of applications open at once, lock the machine, then remote into it and have all of my applications up and running.

When I try and remote into my Server 2003 dev box, by default remote desktop starts a new session.  Poof, all of my applications are gone (in a another session at least).  I’d like to mimic the behavior of Windows XP, and continue the console session I already had going for me.  Luckily for me, it’s pretty easy to accomplish this.  I actually have two options:

  • Using /console command-line switch to mstsc.exe (not very user-friendly)
  • Edit a saved remote desktop connection file (.RDP file)

I like the second option, since I often save connections to known machines.  I can never remember any of the machine names anyway.  Just edit a saved remote desktop connection (RDP file) in Notepad or another text editor and add the following line at the end of the file:

connect to console:i:1

Save the file, and close Notepad.  When you run the RDP file, you will connect to the console session, and you’ll have all of the programs you had when you were logged in to the console session.

About Jimmy Bogard

I'm a technical architect with Headspring in Austin, TX. I focus on DDD, distributed systems, and any other acronym-centric design/architecture/methodology. I created AutoMapper and am a co-author of the ASP.NET MVC in Action books.
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