Applies to: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2
In a previous article, we went through the steps of deploying a 2012 / 2012R2 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) farm. Now with the farm built, let’s take a look at the changes and the process of publishing RemoteApp programs and session-based desktops in Server 2012 / 2012 R2.
Let’s open Server Manager and look at our farm. On the left column you will see a new node called Collections. Collections give you the ability to group a set of RD Session Host servers with a common set of applications and publish them to users. These can be RemoteApp programs or Session Host and VDI desktops. So think of collections as something similar to an application silo. For instance, let’s say we had a group of 5 RD session host servers which all have Office 2013 installed and are configured the same way. If we wanted to publish the Office applications across the 5 RD session host servers, we would first create a collection that included all 5 servers and publish the Office apps accordingly. This is the same if you wanted to provide users with a session host desktop. You would simply create a new collection, add the servers which will be providing the session desktop and publish them to the proper user group(s). One thing to note is you cannot publish a desktop to an existing collection which has already been configured for RemoteApps. The published desktop will require its own collection.
In the following steps, we will go through the process of creating a new collection and publishing some RemoteApp programs.
Highlight “Collections”, then on the right hand side, click on the “tasks” drop down and select the option “Create Session collection”.
On the Before you Begin screen, click next.
On the next screen, we will name the new collection. Here we named it DemoLab Office Apps. Click next.
On the Specify RD Session Host servers screen, we can add RD session host servers which will be part of our collection. For this example, we will be adding RDSH01. Hit next.
We will now need to add the user group(s) which will have access to the collection. To make things easy, it defaults to Domain users. As a good practice, a specific security group should be created and assigned for each of the collections. For this example, you can leave domain users. Since I’ve already created a specific security group for this collection, we will go ahead and add the group. The group is called demolab\RemoteApp Office Apps. Click next.
On the User Profile Disks screen, we can enable and configure Profile Disks for the collection. For this example we will disable Profile Disks. Uncheck the Enable user Profile Disks checkbox and hit next.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article on Profile Disks.
On the confirmation screen, confirm your settings and click create.
Once completed, click close.
Back in Server Manager, we now see our collection. Go ahead and highlight the new collection and let’s take a look at our options. In the Properties section we can view and edit the properties of the collections. Since we just created this collection, it defaults to Remote Desktop for the resource type. This means it is servicing a desktop for users should they log into the RD Web Access site. So if you were publishing a session-host desktop, your job is done.
In the RemoteApp Programs section, we can publish RemoteApp programs for users. Once we start publishing RemoteApps, the servers in the collection will no longer serve a desktop connection to users.
In the Host Servers section, we can see the list of session host servers which are part of the collection. This is where we can also add new RD Session Host servers as well as remove them. A session host server can only be a member of single collection.
In the Connections section, we can see a list of users connected to the servers in the collection. Here we can complete common tasks such as resetting or logging off user sessions.
Now that we are familiar with Collections, lets publish some RempoteApp programs. In the RemoteApp Programs section, click the Tasks dropdown and select Publish RemoteApp Programs or just click the text in blue that says “Publish RemoteApp Programs”
A wizard will appear and begin examining the registered applications on the session host servers in the collection. Once completed, it will list the registered applications. Here we can simply select the applications we wish to publish by checking the box next to the application. I will select a few Office and non-Office applications and hit next. In the event your application does not appear in the list you can hit the ADD button to browse for the application manually.
On the Confirmation screen check your settings and hit publish.
Once it is completed, click on close.
We now have RemoteApps available for users and can log into our RD Web Access page to see the published applications.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the properties of the individual RemoteApps programs. Back in Server Manager within our collection, we now see the list of apps we published.
Right-click on Excel 2013 and select the option “Edit Properties”.
Here we can edit properties for an individual RemoteApp program. On the General section, we can edit a few things for our application such as changing the name of the app, modifying the icon, removing it from RD Web Access or we can organize it in a folder for users when they log into the RD Web Access site. For this example, I’ve set a RemoteApp program folder called DemoLab MISC Apps.
On the parameters screen we can modify any command line parameters should the application require it.
By default, any RemoteApp program in a collection will be available to the security group which was assigned to the collection. On the User Assignment screen, we can change that. Here, we can specify a single user or a different user group other than the group assigned to the collection who will have access to the individual application. In order for this to work, the user must also be a member of the security group which is assigned to the collection.
For the File Type Association section, we can assign certain file types which can be associated to the RemoteApp program. When this option is used, should a user launch a file with one of the associated file types on their client device, it will open the file with the designated RemoteApp program.
Now that we have modified the RemoteApp program folder for Excel 2013, when the user logs back into the RD Web Access site, it will look like the following:
As you can see, Microsoft has really made vast improvements to the publishing of RemoteApps and session based desktops. Not only are we able manage and configure everything from a single console, we now have the ability to organize the published resources appropriately using Collections.