What makes an application terminal server–compatible and easy to install? This is not an easy question to answer. Even “standard” applications need some adjusting before they can run on terminal servers. Hence, installing any application on a terminal server requires detailed planning. The following questions should be answered beforehand to uncover any issues, giving you an opportunity to prevent them right from the start.
Does the installation of this application differ from the standard procedure?
How is the application’s user-specific information managed? In XML files, the registry, .ini files, a database, program-specific files, or only in global system areas? Does the application happen to assume a single user only?
What are the interdependencies between the application and software components (such as DLLs) or other applications (such as Internet Explorer)? Do other applications depend on the one being installed? This determines the installation sequence.
Are certain system requirements mandatory for the application to function, such as system components, peripherals, screen resolution, or runtime environments?
Does the application need special drivers or Windows services installed first?
Do tools exist (besides the normal installation routines) that allow you to adjust the installation in advance?
Is the software installed in the default directory as defined in the %ProgramFiles% environment variable? Can the target directory be changed during the installation?
Are there application-specific templates for adjusting Group Policies?
Does the application use large start screens, sound, animation, or other resource-intensive multimedia effects that are not suitable for terminal servers? Can these effects be disabled in the configuration?
Can you start more than one instance of the application on one computer? Does this work on a terminal server with several users? Does the application use exclusive access to files or registry areas?
Let us go through installing several applications step by step and use that as a basis for a general installation procedure.
The following applications are simply representative of various applications often requested in terminal server environments. No endorsement is implied.
Installing Microsoft Office 2000 is relatively straightforward and requires attention to a few general parameters, in particular the Office 2000 option that allows a user to install some components later. This option is not recommended for terminal servers. Therefore, the “normal” installation of Office 2000 via .msi file does not work, and you need an alternative method. The steps for installation follow:
Switch to installation mode. Always use the Software tool in the Control Panel or the command prompt.
Optional: modify the Office 2000 transform file for terminal servers. The file is named TermSrvr.mst and is located in the Office 2000 Resource Kit (ORK) or on the Internet at http://www.microsoft.com/office/ork. If you do not want to install the entire program package, you can make your choices in the file and mark the Office components as local or not to be advertised. Only these two options ensure that the installation will work as intended and cannot be altered later. Users will not be able to make future changes.
Install Office 2000 with the setup command and the TRANSFORMS=“<Path>\TermSrvr.mst” parameter. In the absence of the transform file, the installation aborts and a corresponding message is displayed.
Switch to execution mode.
Configure default settings using profiles or policies.
Because Termsrvr.mst was created for the English version of Office 2000, minor problems might occur when installing international versions. The individual animated assistants are marked “do not install,” even though the Show Office Assistant setting might be enabled. Because of the transform file, the individual assistant files (*.asc) do not exist. Error messages appear because the names of the assistants differ in the various languages. To solve this problem, check the entire group of assistants as “do not install”—with one exception. The Motionless Office Assistant is an unanimated assistant and uses few system resources on terminal servers. To install it, copy the Stillogo.asc file to %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office 11.
With the help of the Custom Installation Wizard from the Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit, you can modify the Termsrvr.mst file to suit your needs. The following options can be modified:
Installation path and name of the organization
Office components that are to be installed or remain unavailable (for example, text converters or graphics filters)
Microsoft Outlook options (for example, name of the Exchange Server, mailbox-naming conventions, personal folders, name and port of the LDAP directory, or time and size limits)
In addition, several policy template files exist that you can integrate in the Group Policies. You should also use logon scripts and registry changes to ensure that the following settings are valid:
Adjust the CursorBlinkRate to 700 milliseconds to avoid display problems in Microsoft PowerPoint.
Set the Office Assistant to Stillogo.acs as the Help Assistant, which is disabled by default.
Set the %UserName% and %DomainName% default values for Exchange authentication.
Install missing foreign language dictionary programs at a later time.
Do not install the Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit on the terminal server itself. It is much safer to install it on a reference computer (for example, one running Windows XP) and transfer the required data from there to the target platform.
Like Office 2000, Office XP and Project 2002 are installed using an .msi package. However, the standard installation is already terminal server–aware and does not require a transform file. You can control the installation through a modified .mst file. To create the .mst file, you need the Microsoft Office Custom Installation Wizard from the Microsoft Office XP Resource Kit. Security-relevant settings are configured through Group Policies, using corresponding templates that are also contained in the Microsoft Office XP Resource Kit. Installing Office XP is very similar to installing Office 2000.
There are certain differences between the installation CDs in the various languages of which you should be aware. For instance, the English CD contains spelling programs for English, Spanish, and French. In contrast, the German CD provides German, English, French, and Italian. If you need spelling checkers for other languages, you can add them from the CD that contains the Microsoft Office XP Proofing Tools. For international environments, the Multilingual User Interface is certainly of interest.
In Microsoft Office XP, the Microsoft Office Custom Installation Wizard provides new choices for setting security options. These apply in particular to the use of ActiveX control elements and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
Do not install the Microsoft Office XP Resource Kit on the terminal server itself. It is a lot safer to install it on a reference computer (for example, one running Windows XP) and transfer the required data from there to the target platform.
Internet Explorer 6.0 is already part of Windows Server 2003. You configure it using the following Group Policies:
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer
User Configuration\Windows Settings\Internet Explorer Maintenance
User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer
The administrative template for Internet Explorer is located in the Inetres.adm file and can be modified.
One interesting Internet Explorer option is located under Tools\Internet Options...\Advanced\Force offscreen compositing even under Terminal Server. Selecting this setting stops a Web page from flickering as it builds in Internet Explorer, which often happens on a terminal server. However, this option can significantly reduce Internet Explorer’s speed.
In any case, it is best to prohibit loading ActiveX Controls on terminal servers. Otherwise, users would be permitted to install software.
Some companies use Netscape Navigator as an alternative Web browser. User configuration is done via different configuration files for Netscape Navigator. The global configuration files are located in the %ProgramFiles%\Defaults\Prefs directory. The individual user-based configuration file is saved at %AppData%\Mozilla\Profiles\%ProfilName%\pref.js.
pref("network.proxy.autoconfig_url","http://192.168.1.1/"); pref("network.proxy.type", 2); pref("browser.cache.disk.enable", false); pref("application.use_ns_plugin_finder", false); pref("autoupdate.enabled", false); pref("update_notifications.enabled", false); pref("browser.activation.checkedNNFlag", true); pref("browser.bookmarks.added_static_root", true); pref("general.useragent.vendorComment", "Terminal Server"); pref("browser.startup.homepage", "http://www.microsoft.com"); pref("browser.toolbars.showbutton.mynetscape", false); pref("browser.toolbars.showbutton.netscapeshop", false); pref("xpinstall.enabled", false);
You can review the entire configuration by entering about:config in the address line. This also indicates if the individual parameters are user- defined or set in a global configuration file.
Adobe Acrobat Reader allows you to display the widely used documents in PDF format. After the standard installation, some configuration settings can be made. Some of these settings are computer-specific, while others are user-specific. If an administrator defines these settings, the terminal server should still be running in installation mode so that registry mapping enables user-specific settings for all users.
All settings that you can change from the default terminal server settings are as follows:
Preferences\Update\Check for Updates: Manually
Preferences\Options\Display PDF in Browser: Deactivate
Preferences\Options\Check Browser Settings When Starting Acrobat: Deactivate
Preferences\Options\Display Splash Screen: Deactivate
Preferences\Options\Certified Plug-ins Only: Activate
Preferences\Options\Use Page Cache: Activate
Preferences\Options\Allow File Open Actions and Launching File Attachments: Deactivate
Preferences\Options\Open Cross-Document Links In Same Windows: Deactivate
You can create a preconfigured installation package with the Acrobat Enterprise Installation Tool. You will find additional information at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/deployment.html.
WinZip is a program used to compress and extract files. The installation program is named Setup.exe and requires that you answer several questions when it is executed. You should follow these steps when the terminal server is running in installation mode and answer the questions as follows:
Installation path: Type the path.
Welcome screen: Next.
Accept license agreement: Yes.
Quick Start screen: Next.
Select interface: The WinZip Classic interface is recommended.
Setup Type—Express Setup: Next.
The Installation is complete: Finish.
Screen with Tip of the Day: Do not show tip when program starts.
In this way, the application you install will run appropriately in most environments.