Collections – Publishing RemoteApp programs and Session Desktops on RDS 2012 / 2012 R2

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.

1

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”.

2

On the Before you Begin screen, click next.

3

On the next screen, we will name the new collection. Here we named it DemoLab Office Apps. Click next.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

On the confirmation screen, confirm your settings and click create.

8

Once completed, click close.

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.

12

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.

13

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

14

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.

15 

On the Confirmation screen check your settings and hit publish.

16

Once it is completed, click on close.

17

We now have RemoteApps available for users and can log into our RD Web Access page to see the published applications.

18

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.

19

Right-click on Excel 2013 and select the option “Edit Properties”.

20

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.

21

On the parameters screen we can modify any command line parameters should the application require it.

22

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.

23

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.

24

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:

25 26

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.

About these ads

, , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Nick on March 31, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Thanks
    Best walkthrough I’ve found so far.

  2. #2 by Jo on June 1, 2014 - 5:59 pm

    Hi Eddie

    Another great step by step guide. Thank you
    I have been following your guide “Deploying a 2012 / 2012R2 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) farm” awesome by the way. I am currently looking at replacing our 2008R2 production RD farm.
    Current users connect to the 2008R2 RDHS servers via RDP connection.
    I have built a test lab by following your instruction so far so good. I have created a collection called “RDFARM” and added my 3 x 2012R2 RD Session Host servers to the collection. In my lab I only have 1 connection broker. We do not require Remote App. With 2012 how users connection the collection? 1.I’ve read on other threads that I should be pointing my RDP client at the Broker, not at a Round Robin DNS containing the Session hosts? I am confused :(
    If I RDP to the broker server I get the session of the broker server
    Would you be able to show me how client RDP to the connection broker then redirect to the collection

    Thank you

    JO

    • #3 by Eddie Kwasnik on June 2, 2014 - 9:15 am

      Since you have a collection created for the RDSH server(s) desktop, you can use the RD Web Access site to access the collection. This is easier since users can go directly to the RD Web Access URL, log-in and launch their desktop. You can install the RD Web Access role on the RD Connection Broker.

    • #4 by Rei on June 18, 2014 - 9:40 am

      Hi Eddie,
      I am stuck exactly in the same point you are. As you, I have the same kind of lab and need the clients to access three session host servers in the farm using RDP but I have not been able to do that using the Broker. Have you been able to make any progress on that? Thank you

      • #5 by Eddie Kwasnik on June 18, 2014 - 10:40 am

        Did you install the RD Web Access role? This can be added to the Connection Broker server since it is a lab. Then you can access the farm using the RD Web Access url to see the remoteapps and desktops in the collection.

  3. #6 by Jo on June 3, 2014 - 4:32 am

    Thank you

  4. #7 by Eugene on July 22, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Eddie,

    Not sure if this post answered the question. I built the farm exactly like you, RDWeb works perfectly and i can access everything. But, my firm does not want to use the web to access the desktop. How do I get the client to connect to the farm? Thank you.

    • #8 by Eddie Kwasnik on July 22, 2014 - 1:29 pm

      The RD Web Access is not required but does make life a bit easier. At the end of the day, it is simply generating an RDP file for users to access their remoteapps and/or desktops. You can manually create the rdp files or find a third party utility that can do it for you. You can then deliver the rdp files as a shortcut to the users. It does create a bit more administrative work though.

  5. #9 by will on August 7, 2014 - 7:27 am

    Great set of documentation! It was my sole source for upgrading skills from 2008r2 RDS. Thank you. The one question I keep going in circles with, I have a customer with a 2008r2 deployment on a single server, remote apps are published, as well as an RDP session, works great. It appears 2012r2 does not let you do the same. In other words, I have a single server running all my roles, I can do a desktop deployment, but as soon as I publish apps, I lose my RDP file. Am i missing something? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

    • #10 by Eddie Kwasnik on August 7, 2014 - 9:00 am

      Thanks!!! That is by design. If a RDSH server is in a collection with published remoteapps, you will not be able to publish its desktop. So you can either publish the desktop or publish remoteapps to the server, but not both.

      Eddie

  6. #11 by Itay on August 19, 2014 - 3:52 am

    Hi Eddie,

    Great work. I’m implementing for the first time in my organization RDS farm.

    Do you know if it’s possible to somehow publish an app, and the user will have shortcut to the published app on his desktop (instead of web access)?

    If it’s possible, can you explain me how to do it or refer me to an article that says how to do it?

    Thank you
    Itay

    • #12 by Eddie Kwasnik on August 19, 2014 - 9:51 am

      Thanks for great comments. You can integrate the shortcuts to the user’s start menu instead of having the users access the applications through a browser. This applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8. From the user’s machine, open up the control panel and in there, go to RemoteApp and Desktop connections. Within there, click on the shortcut Access RemoteApp and desktops (Its on the left side of the screen). You will now need to type the URL for the rdweb access server but also append the following: /RDWEB/Feed/Webfeed.aspx. So it will look something like: https://rdwebaccessserverFQDN/RDWEB/Feed/Webfeed.aspx.

      Once it connects, it will prompt you for your credentials. Once authentication is completed, you will see the shortcuts in your start menu. You can find more information here:

      Eddie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: