Performing an MS Terminal Services Network Connectivity Test
Network Connectivity Test How-to
ESXLab servers provided for VMware vSphere [v5.5, v6.0, v6.5, v6.7...] training can be accessed remotely using Microsoft Terminal Services to complete students lab exercises. It is important that you verify that your PCs and network can connect to our remote servers, before running your class.
Our network requirements are very basic; most training center networks pass with no issues. If your class is being held at a customer location, their network settings may prevent access to our servers.
This document provides guidance and suggestions for performing a pre-class server connectivity test and also for resolving server connectivity problems.
Student Desktop PC/Notebook Requirements
You access our remote servers from desktop PCs or notebooks running either Windows, Mac OS/X or Linux. You will need:
One PC per attendee and an additional PC for the instructor. PCs must be capable of running a Microsoft Terminal Services client (Remote Desktop Connection). Desktop should have a wired Internet connection and at least one 1080p display. If you are using our digital course books (most are), we recommend a second 1080p monitor per PC to allow students to work on labs in one monitor while viewing their course / lab material on the second monitor.
Linux will work if you have rdesktop installed
Student and instructor PCs must support 1280x1024 or higher native resolution video. Note that desktops, notebooks, netbooks and/or tablets with 1024x768 or lower resolution may not be suitable.
Administrative rights to the Instructor PC
The ability to browse the Internet including outbound RDP connections.
Testing Overview: It doesn't matter where you are in the world; our servers were designed to give good service from any location that has a reasonable Internet connection. Internet network connectivity is crucial to our class. For smooth access to our remote servers, you must have:
- A quality Internet connection running at 10Mb/s or higher. Larger classes (8+ attendees) will benefit from faster links (e.g.: 15+Mb/s)
- Wireless routers can work but signal strength must be Good or Very Good
- Also be aware that many consumer wireless routers limit concurrent connections to just 5 devices. If you have more students or if they use their tablets / cell phones along with their PC / notebook, the router will not support all of these concurrent connections and some students will not be able to access our labs
- Running classes using a Cell Data Wireless router may work but is likely to provide inconsistent speed and reliability along with the risk of exceeding data caps. For these reasons, we strongly recommend against using Cell Data routers
Microsoft Remote Desktop Access
We will be using the phrase "server pod" below. The phrase "server pod" is used to refer to a collection of servers, usually 12 or 16, that reside on the same class C network. Each student will have their own server within the "server pod" to complete their labs.
To test connectivity to our remote access server pods using Microsoft Remote Desktop, you will receive 2 pieces of information:
- The Pod Number you will be connecting to (e.g.: pod11.esxlab.com): ________
- The Port Number of the machine you will connect to (e.g.: 2001): ________
Depending on which version of Windows you are using, Microsoft Terminal Services is also known as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). To access our remote server pods, it is critical that your network firewall systems allow outbound MS Terminal Services connections. To simplify student access to our server pods, we have set up custom firewall rules to provide direct student desktop/lab server terminal services connections via a single IP address using non-standard ports. Each student gets a dedicated Virtual Machine (VM) running Windows 2008/2003 server (inside a server pod) to complete labs.
We make these VMs available for MS Terminal Services access on non-standard ports. For example, if you are assigned to Pod 11 and port 2001, you would perform an RDP connectivity test to that VM using the following RDP connection string:
To perform an RDP connectivity test, complete the following steps on Windows: Log in to your local Windows desktop Launch the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection application.
Note: The Remote Desktop Application may be reached using one or more of the following sequences:
- Start > Programs > Accessories > Communications > Remote Desktop Connection
- Start > Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection
- Start > All Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection
- Start > Run > mstsc.exe > OK
Next, type in the server pod Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) and port number of the server pod you are testing. The format should always be Pod-FQDN:port_number (as provided by ESXLab.com):
You should be presented with an RDP security warning screen:
Click Yes to dismiss the warning.
Finally, you should be presented with a Windows logon screen. If you see the screen below – the test worked!
Note that the pod FQDN:Port in the upper left hand corner of the window includes the non-standard port through which the connection was initiated (e.g.: Port 2001).
You do not need to log in to successfully complete this test. Reaching the login screen is sufficient to pass the test.
Below are the two most likely causes for Terminal Services connectivity issues...
- Your firewall won't allow outbound Terminal Services connections
- MS Terminal Services may encounter a licensing error
You are most likely to encounter firewall issues when you test connectivity from a site with strong network security. Security sensitive customers (financial institutions, health care, law enforcement, military, etc.) often institute strict Internet access policies that prevent direct outbound MS Terminal Services connections.
If you experience problems, please let us know as soon as possible so we can arrange for alternative remote server pod access via our Web Access Portal.
MS Terminal Services Licensing Errors
It is not uncommon for your local desktop PC to produce a Terminal Services licensing errors. If you run into this problem, please reset desktop Terminal Services license values as follows:
Note: The following steps are believed to work and should be benign, but you perform them at yoru own risk.
- Click Start > Run > regedit > OK
- Expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
- Expand SOFTWARE
- Expand Microsoft
- Expand MSLicensing
- Remove all sub-keys under MSLicensing key but do not remove the MSLicensing key
Try re-connecting (as per the above steps) via Terminal Services. It should work.
If you are still having problems. Please try the following:
- Find the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection client program from your Windows Start Menu, but don't launch it
- Right-click the Remote Desktop Connection client program and select Run As... (or Run as administrator for Windows 7)
- Retry connecting to our server pod as above
We encourage customers to run the above tests at the earliest possible opportunity and to correct any deficiencies discovered. A failure to complete these tests could result in an inability to connect to our remote access labs at the start of your class. We will not be held responsible for such problems.
Please report your results back to your partner at the earliest opportunity. They, in turn, will inform us that you are ready to go.