Remote Desktop and Terminal Services

Remote Desktop Connection allows you to connect to a windows system and display a full graphical desktop just like sitting in front of the actual machine. The desktop is shown in a window on the local machine, although all the applications run on the remote system. In some respects it is similar to the X-Windows system on Unix but uses a different network protocol known as RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol).

The department provides a number of multi-user servers (terminal servers) which anyone can use to run windows applications. It is also possible to connect to ordinary windows desktops if they are suitably configured although in this case access from the internet must be through a gateway system to ensure that the desktops are protected from attack from the internet. Please see the notes on how to connect via the Physics Remote Desktop Gateway in the Connect to your Physics Windows Desktop From Outside The Department section below.

List of Windows Terminal Servers available in Physics

TERMSERV and TERMSERV2 - General Use Terminal Servers

Termserv and Termserv2 are identical virtual machine copies of the old Termservqc (which was retired in December 2012) and which have also been upgraded to Windows 2008 R2. The Virtual machines are running on Solid State Drives ( SSD ) and so you should experience a faster remote Windows desktop experience.

If one terminal server is heavily loaded or unavailable for some reason simply use the other.

Please see below for a list of application software that has been installed and updated.

Application Software Installed and Updated ( TERMSERV and TERMSERV2 )

7-Zip - Version 9.20
Adobe CS6 Design and Web Premium
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended
Adobe Illustrator CS6
Adobe InDesign CS6
Adobe Dreamweaver CS6
Adobe Flash Professional CS6
Adobe Fireworks CS6
Adobe Acrobat X Pro
Adobe Bridge CS6
Adobe Media Encoder CS6
Autodesk DWF Viewer
Autodesk DWG TrueView 2013
FITS Liberator 3.01
GPL Ghostscript 9.02
GSView - Version 5.0
Java(TM) 7 Update 4
Mathematica Extras 8.0
Matlab R2007B
Matlab R2012a
Microsoft Expression Web
Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 SP1
Microsoft Office Proofing Tools Kit Compilation 2010
Microsoft Project Premium 2010 SP1
Microsoft Visio Premium 2010 SP1
Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1
Mozilla FireFox 39.0
Mozilla Thunderbird 38.1
National Instruments Software ( Labview 2011 SP1 )
Open Text Exceed 14 x64
Opera 12.16
Origin Pro 9.1
Oxygen XML Editior 13.2
Safari 5.1.7
SSH Secure Shell Tightvnc-2.5.1 ( Viewer Only )
TreeSize Free V2.7 ( for Users )
TreeSize Professional 5.1.2 ( for Administrators )
VMWare vSphere Client 4.0/4.1/5.0/5.5
WinSCSP 4.3.8
Wolfram Mathematica 7
Wolfram Mathematica 8

Please email ( Subject-Terminal Server - Software Request ) if you require any additional software (Central Budget funds permitting ) to be installed.

Please note that CorelDraw does not work on a Windows Terminal Server. Software has to be specifically written to work on a Windows Terminal Server so not all software is compatible.

Remote Apps

Remote Apps is a feature of Windows 2008 R2 Remote Desktop services that allows you to run applciations as though they are installed locally on your desktop. Instead of presenting you with a full remote desktop the application that you wish to run is displayed as a local application with it's own entry on the taskbar and a resizable window. Users are able to run locally installed programs side by side with the remote applications on the terminal server. Please note that this feature is only supported with Windows 7 and Windows XP SP3 clients.

There are two ways to access the remote apps on and

Remote Apps - Web Browser

To access Remote Apps via a web broswer then please click on the following URL. This is how users who are connecting from un-managed desktops / laptops or home desktops should connect if they wish to use the remote app feature. Please click on the URL below to access the Remote Apps web page.

Remote Apps Web Page

Remote Apps - Centrally Managed Windows Desktop

Centrally Managed windows desktop users will find that Remote Apps will be available in the following location in their start menu.

Please note that this policy still needs to be deployed. This is scheduled to be configured by the 06/07/2012.

Start Menu\Programs\RemoteApp and Desktop Connections\Remote Desktop Services Default Connection

TERMSERVCS - Short Compute Intensive Application Use is a Virtual Machine which is running on the Departments VMWARE vSphere cluster. This system is for users who need to run short CPU intensive code which has been written using the following applications:

  • Mathematica
  • Matlab
  • Origin
  • Labview

If you do need to run short CPU & Memory intensive code then please use TERMSERVCS.

If you need to run long CPU intensive jobs please use one of the clusters or even the Grid.

TERMSERVLA - Legacy Application Server is for users who need to use applications that are not supported on Windows 2008 R2 x64. This system is running on a Virtual Machine so will continue to be in service until Microsoft stop issuing security patches for Windows 2003 SP2.

Physics Practical Course Terminal Server is the Windows 2008R2 Terminal Server for Physics Undergraduates. The server in the teaching labs has an allocation of 2 processor cores and 8GB of RAM. It is only available for use by undergraduates. Please contact if you would like further information about this service.

Linux Terminal servers (accessible internally or through gateway methods below)


Connecting to "linuxts" is the recommended way to get a Linux environment. When a new version of Ubuntu passes all of our criteria, linuxts will be updated to that new version.

Windows clients please right click and save the following file to your desktop here. When downloaded, double click this to launch microsoft remote desktop.

The username for the gateway server is physics\
The username for linuxts is


This is a Linux terminal server for "Office" tasks. It is running Ubuntu version 18.04. You may log onto it and we welcome comments and suggestions. Windows clients please right click and save the following file to your desktop here. When downloaded, double click this to launch Microsoft remote desktop.

The username for the gateway server is physics\
The username for ubuntu-precise-ts is

What it is for

Is to be used when a Linux Application is needed on timescales of a few minutes to a few hours. Has secure access to shared and backed-up storage. More information can be found here. You should find it a reasonable replacement for a native Linux desktop for office work. It is not for "Scientific computing", i.e. long running or CPU/network intensive use. We are happy to consider any additional software for installation that fits within the remit of this server. Most sub-departments already have cluster compute resources for "Scientific computing" use.

More information can be found here.

Linux in Particle Physics

Currently the Scientific Linux machines "pplxint8" and "pplxint9" are configured for remote access. To connect, please see the section "Connect to your Physics Windows Desktop or Other Protected Machine From Outside The Department".

The particle physics machines require you to have a particle physics login account in addition to your normal PHYSICS account.

Please see the PPUnix pages for more information

Linux in Theoretical Physics

The machines called "", where N = 1 to 5, are available for intensive compute use. They are running Ubuntu versions 14.04, 16.04, 16.04, 18.04 and 16.04 respectively. When using Windows clients, please right click and save the following file to your desktop here. When downloaded, double click this to launch Microsoft remote desktop.

The username for the gateway server is physics\
The username for tplxintN is

It is also recommended that you read the following page to troubleshoot any issues here.

Apple OS X Terminal Servers (Screen Sharing)

It is now possible to connect to any OS X system, instructions on how to connect to them can be found here

How to connect

Quick Connect to TERMSERV

If you know how to connect to the Windows Terminal Servers then just use these shortened DNS Names to save on typing.

Connecting from Windows

Connecting from Windows is made possible with Microsoft's Remote Desktop Client which is installed by default with all recent versions of windows. Clients for older versions are still available from Microsoft. This client provides the most functionality, allowing disk drives and printers to be mapped from your client into the remote desktop server so it's much easier to transfer files and to print from your remote applications to your local printers.

To use the Remote Desktop Connection from a Windows system you may do the following:

Windows 7

Start -> All Programs
      -> Accessories
      -> Remote Desktop Connection 

A Window will pop up into which you may type the address of the terminal server (e.g.

Windows XP

Start -> Programs
      -> Accessories
      -> Communications
      -> Remote Desktop Connection

A Window will pop up into which you may type the address of the terminal server (e.g.

Windows Vista

Start -> Programs
      -> Accessories
      -> Remote Desktop Connection 

A Window will pop up into which you may type the address of the terminal server (e.g.

Common Connection Problems from Windows Clients

Can't find computer

Error Message Displayed:

Remote Desktop can't find the computer "termserv". This might mean that "termserv" does not belong to the
specified network. Verify the computer name and domain that you are trying to connect to.

This is due to the full name of the terminal server not being entered if outside of the Department.

Users only type the following:


Resolution : Type the name of the full terminal server system computer address.

Unknown user

Error Message Displayed:

The credentials that were used to connect to termserv did not work. Please enter new credentials.

Users enter their username without specifying a domain.

e.g. - Username : harrisexample

Resolution : Enter the following in the username field:



Connect to your Physics Windows Desktop or Other Protected Machine From Outside The Department

From a Windows Client

To improve security and allow connections to all desktops on our local network, clients should be configured to connect via the Remote Desktop Gateway system. When using the windows Remote Desktop Client, it is easy to configure this so that the connection through the gateway is transparent. You'll find the Remote desktop client under the 'start/all programs' folders or below that in accessories (depending on the version that's installed). Start the client and and click on the Options button and the following should appear

Here, this has been set to connect to a desktop system using a physics network account. You should replace "mydesktop" with the name of your computer, which is written on a sticker on the front. "mydesktop" is just an example.

Now click on the advanced tab. You should see a section entitled Connect from Anywhere. Click on the settings button and fill in the fields as follows

The configuration is for the case where you will log into the remote server using your physics network credentials. If you need to use a different account on the remote server you must untick the box at the bottom with text similar to "Use my TS/RD gateway credentials for the remote computer". Click OK etc to return to the General page and save your configuration so that you don't need to do this setup for each session.

From a Linux client using Remmina

The rdp gateway functionality is not well supported in Linux. To connect to your Windows desktop you will need to run an ssh-tunnel.

This comes as part of the "Remmina" client available in Ubuntu 12.04 and above and many other distributions. The screenshots below guide you through the set-up. Things that catch people out are remembering to set the colour depth and the security to RDP and not "negotiate". In order to keep it simple and work for everybody the instructions say to use "" as the ssh tunnel. You can use your PHYSICS user name and password to connect to For these instructions, I will assume that MyDesktop is called

Launching Remmina: Finding the Remmina client in Ubuntu 12.04

Add a connection: Click the "+" button to add a new connection

Basic Remmina: Select the RDP Protocol and you MUST use 24 bit color or less. Do NOT select remote-fx. You can optionally store your user name, password and a preferred resolution. When connecting to your Windows desktop, complete the Domain as "PHYSICS".

Remmina Advanced settings: You MUST set the security to RDP when connecting to a windows desktop. It is also a good idea to adjust the quality. Choosing "Good" works well over standard home broadband.

Tunnel over SSH: This section needs to be completed if connecting from outside the department (except via VPN). To connect to a Windows desktop inside the department you should connect via "" using your PHYSICS user name and password or an rsa key.

When you are ready, save the settings and click "Connect".

From a Unix client using rdesktop

Note, it is recommended that you use 'remmina' above.

ssh -L -l

Where is ,e.g. PPWS75 or CMXP123.nat.

The correct command can be generated with the help of this form (restricted to inside physics).

You can then connect to your windows desktop from another terminal window on your local machine with the one-liner:

rdesktop -g workarea localhost:13388 -d PHYSICS -u .

You will now be able to connect to any windows desktop.

To access the linuxts(s), you will need to run two ssh tunnels, one for the transporting RDP protocol and one for the xrdp-sesman that actually does the business.

ssh -L -l
ssh -L -l

You can then connect to the target machine (in this case linuxts) with:

rdesktop -g workarea localhost:13389 -d PHYSICS -u .

Currently there is an issue in that the first connection attempt to linuxts seems to fail, but wait a couple of minutes and it sorts itself out.

Connecting from Mac

Microsoft produces a free version of Microsoft Remote Desktop which is available from the App Store or via the Self Service application. This can be used to connect to any of the mutli-user terminal servers. Follow the following instructions to set it up in the Physics department:

  1. Download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop
  2. Open Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Applications folder and click on the New button.
  3. Enter a Connection Name and a PC name, The Connection Name is what you wish to call the connection (e.g. Physics Terminal Server). The PC name is the name of the PC you wish to connect to (e.g.
  4. Click the Gateway drop down menu and click "Add Gateway", click the + button to add a new gateway and enter the following:
    • Gateway Name: Physics RDP Gateway
    • Server:
    • Username: Physics\username
    • Password: password
  5. Click the red + icon in the top left of the window to close the screen
  6. Select "Physics RDP Gateway" in the Gateway field
  7. Enter your Physics username and password in the Credentials section
  8. Select any other preferences you may have for the remote desktop session (e.g. select Full Screen)
  9. Click the red + icon in the top left of the window to close the Edit Remote Desktops screen
  10. Click on the name of the remote desktop session that you have just created to start the Remote Desktop session

Enable your desktop for remote access

Enable your Linux Desktop for remote access

These instructions are written for Ubuntu Precise. There are three/four distinct steps to getting this working initially.

  • Contacting IT support to configure the machine for xrdp (but normally this is installed as standard).
  • Configuring your client software to use a gateway from outside the department
  • Starting a new session.
  • Optionally configuring the remote machine for desktop sharing to reconnect to an existing session.

There are two security considerations.

  1. You must configure a password when sharing out your desktop. The instructions are below.
  2. We prevent anybody outside the physics department from connecting by forcing all connections to go through the RDP gateway or over an ssh tunnel. Instructions are in the section "Connect to your Physics Windows Desktop or Other Protected Machine From Outside The Department"

Starting a new graphical session remotely

You may need to ask IT support to enable remote (xrdp) access to the Linux machine.

When you have xrdp installed on the machine you want to connect to, configure the machine you want to connect from using the "Connect to your Physics Windows Desktop or Other Protected Machine From Outside The Department" section above. Set your client application so that it uses 16 bit colours (also called "High colour"), and set the security to RDP if the option exists. You may also need to turn off sound. You will now be able to connect to your Linux machine.

When presented with a screen that looks like the below, you should select sesman-Xrdp from the list (the default) and enter the user name and password that you use to log in to the machine. By default, this will start a new connection, so you wont be able to see your existing windows if you are already logged on.

sesman-Xrdp session: This is the simplest to get running (works out of the box). With this option, you wont be able to see and control the programs started in front of the machine in the office, but will have normal access to the machine otherwise.

In order to connect to the local session and control programs you started in the office, you will need to set up desktop sharing.

Set up desktop sharing

You may need to ask IT support to enable remote (xrdp) access to the Linux machine. Note that desktop sharing will only work well for single-user machines.

  1. open the desktop sharing application by pressing the windows/super key and starting to type "desktop sharing". Open desktop sharing: Open desktop sharing on Ubuntu precise
  2. Click "allow other users to view", "allow other users to control" and Tick the "require the user to enter this password". Select a strong password to protect your desktop. Configure desktop sharing
  3. Click "close"

When you leave the office, leave your machine switched on and your desktop logged in with the screen locked. When you connect from home, select "console" from the xrdp menu (shown below).

Select console to control the same session that you were running in front of the machine the department: Desktop sharing must be configured first, and you must be logged in already while being sat in front of the PC. With this option, you will be able to see and control the programs started in front of the machine in the office.

Connection Problems From Linux Clients

rdesktop certificate error

If you receive the following error when trying to connect with rdesktop:

disconnect: Internal licensing error.

Then use the following command instead to connect to the terminal server:

rm -f .rdesktop/ ; rdesktop -u user -d PHYSICS -g workarea -T "Termserv rdesktop" -a 24

Connection Problems to Linux desktops or servers

I cannot connect at all

With a windows client, check you have the RDP gateway setting correctly configured. Try connecting to the Physics VPN first (

With a Linux client, check you have the ssh gateway setting correctly configured. Try connecting to the Physics VPN first (

When I connect, all I see is a black screen

Set your remote desktop client to use 16 bit colours (High color) and reconnect.
You may also be seeing lock screen, so click in the window and wiggle the mouse to prompt for the unlock password.

When I connect, all I see is a blank "Ubuntu purple" or solid grey screen

It is probably trying to use Ubuntu in 3D, which doesn't work over this software emulated desktop environment (Xvnc). Delete any existing xsession files.

rm -fr ~/.vnc rm ~/.Xsession ~/.xsession

Then fix, open or create $HOME/.xsession on the remote Linux machine and fill it with the following content for a Ubuntu machine set up by IT in the physics department:

exec xrdp-xsession

or on Ubuntu Precise (12.04):

exec gnome-session --session=ubuntu-2d

Next type killall Xvnc, or reboot the machine.

Desktop sharing is not working

Note that desktop sharing will only work for single-user machines. Check your configuration it as in the "desktop sharing" section above. You can open a temporary graphical session and run "vino-preferences" to get the desktop sharing GUI up.

If it is still not working, vino-server may have crashed. Open up a terminal session to the remote machine and run /usr/lib/vino/vino-server --sm-disable

I did not log on to the machine before I left the office

The only option is to start a new session. Save and close your work when you exit.
You can re-connect to a remotely started session, but only if you make a note of both the resolution and colour settings. These can be displayed if you type "ps aux | grep Xvnc" on the remote machine and picking out the geometry and depth settings, e.g:

Xvnc :12 -geometry [b]1600x900[/b] -depth [b]16[/b] -rfbauth ....

Physics Terminal Server General Usage Notes

  • Please remember that you are sharing a system with a number of users. CPU intensive tasks should not be run on the Physics Terminal Server. Please use
  • When you log into Termservqc you will not receive the same settings ( desktop \ printer setup ) as you do when you log into your Centrally Managed Windows desktop. The server has been configured in this way as many users of Termservqc weren't able to log in as they saved too much data into their windows profile. Please see profile quota for further details.
  • Do not try and install software on the terminal severs. You do not have the necessary rights to do this and you may cause the server to be taken offline to be repaired.
  • If you require software to be installed on the Terminal Servers then please email
  • Acrobat Professional still doesn't create PDF documents reliably on the TERMINAL SERVERS so if you need to generate a PDF document from a Microsoft application then please use the save as PDF option in Office 2010 (on Termserv).

Printing to a Local Printer when using Remote Desktop Connection

You may print on to your local home printer when using remote desktop connection to other systems.

To make a local printer available in a Remote Desktop session:

  • Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to Communications, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.
  • Click Options in the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box.
  • Click the Local Resources tab.
  • Click Printers in the Local Devices box.
  • Click Connect.

After you establish the remote connection and log on to the remote computer, the local printer that is connected to the client becomes the default printer for any programs that are running on the remote desktop. If the client has more than one printer attached to it, the default printer for the computer becomes the default printer on the remote desktop; however, all local printers are available.

Categories: Printing | Remote Access | terminal server