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How can multiple users connect to an XP machine at the same time?

Posted on 2004-04-22
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I have a PC running XP home and we have three users who need to connect to the machine at the same time and do different things. Like User A needs to check files in C:\Folder1, user B needs to work on a word document, user C needs to work on an excel file. Is it possible to do something like this in XP? In a linux box, multiple people can "login" to the machine with Putty or telnet, is something similar possible in XP. Currently we use VNC to connect to the machine remotely, but only one person is able to do anything on the machine at any given time.

Would having a terminal server on this machine help? Where would I get the "terminal server" software? Is there any other solution for this - any pointers would be welcome. I have tried searching on the web, but havent got any clear answers.

I hope my question is clear. Thanks.
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Question by:kn125
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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10891740
In order to do what your talking about you would need to run Windows 2000/2003 Server in Application Server mode. That would require license packs.

IF you leave a server in Remote Administration Mode, you can upto 2 connections at the same time, without having to buy a licenses.

The only software you would be able to install on the XP home machine would be the terminal services CLIENT, but that only lets you connect to a terminal server, and you really dont need that software since XP has Remote Desktop built in.

Hope that helps
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by:sirbounty
ID: 10891760
So, they're not on the same network?
I don't think your limitation is XP...it should support up to 10 incoming connections.
Sounds like VPN is the better route for you.

Available with XP Pro...http://iis.swcp.com/vpn/htm/vpn_xp_pro.htm
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by:sirbounty
ID: 10891782
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by:Gearbone
ID: 10891862
Sir bounty, he wants multiple people to connect to the machine and use its "desktop" like features.

Right now, I have a client who uses our 2003 Server which is in application mode. THey basically remote desktop over the machine and see their "Remote Desktop". On that desktop I have loaded Quickbooks and the excel program. This basically lets multiple users use the same program, all from different locations.

With the server software you can even have it launch a particular program upon connection, and if they close that program, it automatically logs them off, so they really never even see a "desktop"

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Author Comment

by:kn125
ID: 10891951
sirbounty - they are on the same network, each of us connects from our laptops to the the XP desktop by VNC currently.

gearbone - your description of the problem we are trying to solve is correct. All three users want to connect to the XP machine and use its "desktop" like features. Can you explain what "basically remote desktop over" means, and what software we need to install for this feature and how? We would like all three users to have access to any program in the XP box (i.e. we dont want to be restricted to using just one or 2 applications )

Thanks
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Author Comment

by:kn125
ID: 10891991
gearbone - sorry, didnt read your first response before I added my comment. Let me read that and will respond in a bit
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by:kn125
ID: 10892034

> In order to do what your talking about you would need to run Windows 2000/2003 Server in Application Server mode. That would require > license packs.
> IF you leave a server in Remote Administration Mode, you can upto 2 connections at the same time, without having to buy a licenses.

So we would need to install the 200/2003 server software in App Server mode? Where can I buy this? Can I install this on a machine running XP home? And I would have to buy additional licenses for having more than 2 users correct?

>The only software you would be able to install on the XP home machine would be the terminal services CLIENT, but that only lets you >connect to a terminal server, and you really dont need that software since XP has Remote Desktop built in.

I would also need this as I would need to install the client on the laptops from which I would connect to the server. Where can I get this? Does this also need a license? Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10892050
You need windows 2000/2003 server

http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/server/evaluation/features/terminal.asp

This will allow users to connect to the server via terminal server, and look at their own "session" while not interfering with others.

By default, when you install the terminal services application when you load the server, it will ask you, what mode you want terminal services to be in Remote, or Application. Remote mode, allows 2 sessions at a time, but doesnt require any addiontal licenses. Application mode, lets you have as many sessions as you want, but requires a LICENSE for each connection. Last time I checked, they were around $79.00 each for 2000 and $99 for 2003. You will get 90 or 120 days free when you use XP Pro, to a 2003. Dont quote me on that, but its the last thing I read.

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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10892102
If you buy windows 2000/2003 server, you will have the ability to make "client Diskettes" from the software on the server. You will then take the diskettes and install the client version of Terminal server on the remote laptops.

You wont be loading anything on the XP home machine. Infact if your going to use that as your server, you will need to wipe out XP HOME, or create a dual booting machine.

Not sure what kind of budget you are on, but an OEM version of 2003 with a 5 user CAL ( NOT TO BE MISTAKEN WITH REMOTE LICENSES) can be picked up for around $700.00 to $1000.00 depending on where you go. I know newegg has OEM software. I would suggest 2003 because it supports 16BIT color, where 2000 only supports 256 colors through TS (Terminal service)

You will still need to purchase the Remote Licenses though for the clients.
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Author Comment

by:kn125
ID: 10892447
I searched for a while on the links you pointed out for costs, and what software I needed to download without much success. Your second comment cleared that up. So, if I want to use my desktop that currently has XP HOME loaded on it as the server, I would have to either
a) wipe out the machine, reinstall XP server (this means all the data. apps I have on this machine would have to saved and reloaded)
or
b) create a dual boot and install XP server on the second boot, and boot the machine in XP server mode for allowing different users to connect. When the machine is booted in the XP server mode, would I still be able to access the apps that I had installed in XP home mode (like quickbooks etc).

Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10892640
Here is just one place that you could buy the software

http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=32-102-225&depa=6

Remeber, the 5 user CAL only applies to users that connect via Locally.

You will need to go here

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/howtobuy/licensing/ts2003.mspx

and read up on Terminal Services Licenses.

And finally to install.
A) You will need to install a new hard drive, and load the New server OS on the drive. You can then slave your other drive and still have access to it.
B) Back up your current Data, format and load windows 2003 server, load your applications again, and plug the data back in.
C) create a Dual Boot machine. You will still need to reload your applications after you get 2003 server up and going in this scenerio.

And once you have the 2003 up and running, you would then configure your server for application mode. I would suggest leaving it in Remote Admin mode at first, that way you can test the connections, programs etc, then promote it to app mode.

This is not the only solution, but probably the easiest if you are only familair with Windows. Citrix has a similair server/client type of software but the only Citrix one I am familair with is the one that is loaded onto windows and for your needs, it doesnt make any sense, and infact would probably cost more.

The above things I mentioned are exactly what I am currently running for one of my clients. The server is in Location A, I have 3 clients in locations B, C & D. They "Remote" into location X, each having their own username and password, and after they log in, they each have their own "Virtual" desktop. You mentioned quickbooks. Just make sure you have a Multiuser type of license, otherwise it wont work because even though they have their own desktop and Icon, the software is smart enough to know thats its currently in use. My client indeed is running 2004 quickbooks edtition now, and they have a 5 user license. This lets them ALL be in the program at the same time, with the information being updated in realtime. They also each have access to EXCEL which is ON the server.

Also, with the terminal server, the clients printers carry over to the session. SO even though they are working on a server and desktop that is NOT physically located on site, when they send a print job, it will print to thier local printer.

Hope the above info helps you out
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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10892668
** Correction During my Scenerio, I typed they remote into location X. I mean Location A, where the server is located.**

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Expert Comment

by:carlosdurango
ID: 10892836
There is a free utility called dameware mini remote control that you can find here http://www.dameware.com/download/default.asp#dntu. This will allow you to do just what you want
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Expert Comment

by:Gearbone
ID: 10893102
I really wish people would pay attention to what the question is.

While this utility would allow you to connect to the machine remotely, the TARGET machine is still only capable of handling ONE SESSION at a time. There for user 1 is connected, and user 2 remotes in. They are staring at the SAME desktop as user 1, and basically has to wait until user 1 is done. This is just like PCAnywhere basically. And although you can have multiple users, its still ONE desktop.

kn125 wants 3 users to have 3 seperate desktops.

And I quote

"The Mini Remote Control program was designed to help Administrators quickly connect to remote machines to resolve problems, without requiring external dependencies or machine reboots.
It was not designed to function like Terminal Services."

Terminal services is what is needed kn
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Author Comment

by:kn125
ID: 10893543
gearbone - thanks for the great answers; I think I will try option A you had given above. That seems the like the least disruptive. One last question on the issue - any pointers to where I could set up a master hard disk running XP server connected to a slave hard disk running XP home? Or would that be a new thread :-)

Thanks once again for the answers.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Gearbone earned 100 total points
ID: 10893648
If you want to do what I suggested in scenerio A, you would unhook your current drive, install the new drive, load 2003 server. Get the new OS all setup and going, then set your "OLD" drive to be a slave on the IDE channel. Then boot your 2003 OS, and it will detect the new drive. You will then be able to "Browse" to it, just like another drive. You will still need to install your programs on the 2003 install, but then you can just copy/paste your data from the "Old Drive" to the new one.

Then when you want to boot to the XP HOME, if you ever needed to, you can change the boot order of the drives in the Motherboard BIOS. Most BIOS's will give you the ability to change what drive you want to boot first, and thats what you will be doing.

Example old drive is Maxtor New drive is a WesternDigital

In the bios, you would just change what drive you wanted the system to boot. NOW, you can set it up so you would get a graphical display prompt when the machine posted, as to what OS you wanted to boot, and thats probably the easiest way, but thats another thread :)

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Expert Comment

by:Tomilius
ID: 11023271
Actually, there's a much simpler way, though I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't appreciate it... it's quite coincidental that using this method you can get a maximum of 3 users (1 local [or they can use VNC], 2 remote) to use the computer at the same time. Install a beta version of Windows XP SP2 - I'd go for RC1 - and obtain a copy of termsrv.dll from an older build of SP2. For now, at least, one is available here: http://members.lycos.nl/nessyh/files/termsrv.dll. So, install RC1, disable the Terminal Services service with services.msc, find a method to disable Windows File Protection, copy over the termsrv.dll, do it, and then go to the registry editor and open add a DWORD called EnableConcurrentSessions with a value of 1 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\LicensingCore. Then, using the group policy editor, navigate through to Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Terminal Services. Double-click "Limit number of connections," enable it, and set the count to 3. There you go. Not the most descriptive method - but you may be able to figure it out, even though you've probably given up by now.

This is the method I use and have been using for a while now. It suits me very well. I don't ask for unlimited sessions, but 3 works great. I just wish Microsoft would put it in the final version of SP2, but as the builds have increased, they've taken it out more and more. It seems there's only one build that supports unlimited terminal services sessions, and that's the one you'll need the termsrv.dll from. I can't remember what it was, but there's a link to the termsrv.dll you'll need anyway.

You probably won't use this method so I'm not so sure why I bothered; you already accepted Gearbone's idea. My idea, though, is much more economical, while not necessarily honorable (at least according to Microsoft.)
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Expert Comment

by:khilang
ID: 11172762
Hi,
There is a cheaper solution to Windows 2003 Server. Checkout Winconnect Server XP from http://www.thinsoftinc.com . It provides a terminal server style functionality on XP allowing up to 21 simultaneous sessions. Licenses can be bought in packs of 3 and prices start at $299 for 3 licenses, which is much cheaper than Windows 2003 server.

Hope that helps.
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Expert Comment

by:Hardwarez
ID: 13077392
This software will let 21 users loginto a single xp machine at the same time with a remote desktop ect..

http://www.thinsoftinc.com/products_winconserver_info.html

I downloaded the demo and it works great, problem is they want three hundred bucks for it :-/
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