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Installing Remote Desktop Services on Windows Server 2012 R2 EC2 fails every time

Posted on 2016-09-05
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Last Modified: 2016-09-06
Hi All, we have recently moved all of our servers from a private cloud provider to AWS. As part of the move, there was a task to consolidate around 7 - 13 windows boxes, with a separate service running on each, into 1 APP and 1 DB server. We have now completed this process finishing with Sage 200 which was moved by a third party professional service. Sage is set up to be used as a remote application, at the moment only 2 people can access the application at one time as Remote Desktop Services is not installed on the APP server.

Whenever I try to install RDS it breaks the server. After looking like a successful install, the server will reboot to complete the process and then not be accessible again. I can see that it is on in AWS, it has only passed 1 of the 2 AWS status checks, non of the services running on it are accessible (e.g. we have LanSweeper running on it), I cant ping it and I cant RDP to it. If I view the instance screen shot, I can see the 'Ctrl Alt Delete' screen which hasn't frozen as the time changes. As AWS doesn't offer any kind of console to hard link into the server (Like a v sphere client for VMWare) the only way to get the server back to any working order is to restore from an image. I have now restored 2 images so that one can be used by staff but only 2 at a time and I can use the other to try and figure out what's going wrong.

Some things I've tried (all result in a non-responsive server which needs to be terminated and a new one restored)
- Turn Windows firewall on during the installation. I saw this in a Microsoft online solution.
- Get Windows up to date. Windows hadn't seen an update in a while and in fact the first update attempt failed. I ran WinUpdateDiag tool to get it working and up to date.
- Install RDS using Powershell. Again, a suggestion I saw online.

The last time I tried was after getting windows up to date, I installed the RDS features and then whilst the machine was booting back up I sat refreshing the instance screenshot in AWS watching the 'Working on features' progress up to 100% and then say 'we couldn't complete the features. undoing changes'. It then went into the unresponsive state that I've previously mentioned.

I'm now in a position the suggest Citrix to my boss or spin up a new server and migrate Sage again but I'd like to throw it out to the community first. Any suggestions greatly appreciated and let me know if you need more info.
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Question by:Michael McDowell
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by:Mdlinnett
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Are the sage sql instance and iis application pools installed on the rds?

How are you installing the rds roles when doing it via the gui?
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by:Philip Elder
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The RDS Roles are intensive installs with multiple reboots required.

Suggestion: Download the ISO for the latest revision of the 2012 R2 ISO.

Mount the ISO in the VM.

When running the PowerShell to install the necessary roles set the -Source switch:

Install-WindowsFeature Net-Framework-Core,Net-Framework-Features,Remote-Desktop-Services,Desktop-Experience,RDS-Connection-Broker,RDS-Gateway,RDS-Licensing,RDS-RD-Server,RDS-Web-Access,RSAT-RDS-Tools,RSAT-RDS-Gateway,RSAT-RDS-Licensing-Diagnosis-UI,RDS-Licensing-UI,Print-Services,Print-Server,Search-Service -IncludeManagementTools -Source X:\sources\sxs\ -Restart

Where X: is the drive the ISO takes when mounted.

That should give the necessary source files during the initial setup process.
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by:Michael McDowell
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@mdlinnett SQL is not installed on the APP server, it is installed on a separate DB server but IIS is installed on the APP server. I'm using role based or feature based install (I've also tried RDS Services installation) and installing everything but the Virtualisation Host

@Philip Elder I'll give that a try and let you know how I get on.
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by:Mdlinnett
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As the Sage DB is installed elsewhere, can you just start from scratch?

Install Flat 2012 R2 > Install the RDS Roles using the RDS Services Installation method via Server Manager > Install Sage client software?
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by:Michael McDowell
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@mdlinnett Yes that is an option. The powers at be would like all internal services as consolidated as possible so it's unfortunately a last resort.
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by:Mdlinnett
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How will reinstalling go against what the powers that be are after? You have a second instance for figuring out the problem, can you try it there, get that sorted, then your users can use that?
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by:Michael McDowell
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Because they want everything on one server, it makes things cheaper etc. etc.

@Philip Elder that didn't work unfortunately. After trying to install using the ISO as the source everything went fine. The server rebooted, I could ping it and I could see the log on screen from the 'instance screenshot' in AWS. When I tried to RDP to it, it would configure the session and then cut out just before it opened the RDP window could open. I tried to reboot the server from AWS and it is now back in to the unresponsive state.
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by:Mdlinnett
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But you already have the second instance? That's what's confusing.
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by:Michael McDowell
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Yes the secondary instance is a copy of the first. I can use this to try and get RDS working without disrupting anyone working off the APP server. Then I can replicate the process I made on to the production APP server out of hours.

After discussing with the boss, it looks like we're going with a secondary server anyway. Thanks for your responses.
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by:Philip Elder
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We set up VMs on all sorts of platforms, though we've not worked with Amazon, and I find it puzzling that something would be breaking down post-install of the roles.

Are you able to RDP from a functioning VM on that "network"?
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by:Michael McDowell
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I'm RDPing form my computer internally as there is a site to site VPN connection set up from our office to AWS.
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Mdlinnett earned 500 total points
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Michael, I'm sorry if my responses may seem curt, I was just trying to understand the situation :)

My advice would be to get 2012 reinstalled, install the RDS Roles in Server Manager using the RDS Services Installation method via Server Manager.  This will get your RDS collection up and running in the simplest way.

Once you've reached that position, THEN introduce the 3rd party items that can cause problems like Sage.

I recently had to have a Sage 200 reinstallation (Including the SQL Instance) following demotion of a Domain Controller, so I'd treat Sage as cherry on top of the cake!
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by:Michael McDowell
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"treat Sage as cherry on top of the cake" I completely agree! Never have I dealt with a more problematic piece of software... Thanks for the support, we're going with a fresh install.
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