MultiPoint has been my favorite Microsoft product since it’s launch in 2010. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a turn key RDS server with added functionality. By turn key, I mean you run the installer and you’re basically done. Install your applications, check the box for disk protection that doesn’t save any changes the user might make and now you’re really done. It’s so simple and quick to deploy. The added functionality is in the form of some excellent management tools that enable near real time monitoring through viewing screen thumbnails, IM and remote control among other things. In addition to supporting normal RDP sessions, it also supports zero clients which is what this post is about. Zero Clients have no OS installed. They are USB over Ethernet devices that launch an RDSH session and the MultiPoint server has to be in Station Mode in order to support them.
It turns out that Station Mode can be finicky. Things that disrupt Station Mode are Video USB Drivers and Bad Cabling.
Video Driver Issues: The only issue with video drivers that we’ve seen is that the driver software comes loaded with junk that you don’t need. So when installing you need to be sure to use a driver package that allows you to custom select which components you want installed. Avoid automatic updaters, USB drivers and “experience” enhancements. You will likely have to visit the video care manufacturers website to download a driver package that will let you do this. We have been using nVidia GForce 640 with success and using Beta driver .26. We’ve found that the beta driver packages have more capability for us to strip out the unnecessary stuff.
Cabling: Contrary to outward appearances, Zero Clients are not Ethernet devices. They are serial devices. Specifically they are USB (Universal Serial Bus) over Ethernet devices. That is, the serial connection is sent over your Ethernet cabling. This is an extension technique, since without the Ethernet cabling USB can only reach 15 feet from the destination. Since serial communication is not Ethernet and there’s no error correcting NIC to assist, if your cabling is bad stations will drop, be slow, hang and/or the server will go out of Station Mode and into Console mode. This happens when the USB handler dies of confusion. (my interpretation of what’s happening) In our case, pairs 3-6 were reversed. Once corrected the server stayed in Station mode.
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