Using Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDC Man) with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
UPDATE: I've posted a follow-up with a PowerShell script to automate this :-)
UPDATE2: See here for an updated version for RDC Man 2.7 that adds support for PaaS instances.
If you find yourself using Remote Desktop to a number of machines then it is well worth checking out Remote Desktop Connection Manager. We’ve been using this in our load testing labs for a long time as it greatly simplifies working with a set of machines via Remote Desktop. I’ve also been using it for a while to manage connections to virtual machines in Windows Azure. In this post I’ll walk through the steps needed to add virtual machines in Windows Azure into Remote Desktop Connection Manager.
Step 0 – Install Remote Desktop Connection Manager
If you haven’t already, go grab Remote Desktop Connection Manager and install it!
Step 1 – Create a new connection settings file
From the File menu, click New, and select a location to save your new connection settings file.
Step 2 – Add a server group
You should now have an empty settings file. At this point, you can right click on the node in the tree and Add Server. However, if you do this then you can’t add further groups later. Groups can be a powerful way to help navigate a large number of connections, as well as managing their settings (you can specify that certain settings should be inherited from the parent). I tend to create an initial group to hold my connections:
Step 3 – Add a server
Now that you have created a group, right-click on it to add a server
This will bring up the Add Server dialog where we need to enter a couple of details:
Step 4 – Find the connection details
The details we are going to need are
- Server Name (i.e. the address to connect to). This is the DNS name for the service
- Port - the port to connect to for RDP
There are a number of ways to get this information, but a couple of quick ways are:
- the RDP file downloaded
- directly from the Azure portal itself
Sign in to the Azure portal and find your virtual machine. At the bottom of the screen, click Connect
This will prompt you to download a .rdp file. Save this locally and locate it in Windows Explorer. From there, right-click and choose Edit. This will bring up the Remote Desktop Connection dialog:
The Computer textbox has the information you need. In the screenshot above it contains rdcmandemo.cloudapp.net:62670, which gives rdcmandemo.cloudapp.net for the server name and 62670 for the port.
You can also get this information directly from the portal without downloading the .rdp file. Again, sign in to the Azure portal and find your virtual machine. On the dashboard page you can find the DNS Name in the “quick glance” panel on the right. This is the server name.
Switch to the endpoints tab and you will find the Remote Desktop endpoint with the public port listed – this is the port number we need.
Step 5 – Enter the connection details
Back in the Add Server dialog, enter the server name value from Step 4. This server value is the name of your Azure cloud service. Since you will likely have multiple virtual machines in a single cloud service it is worth putting a descriptive name in to help identify the virtual machine (the machine name is a good candidate, but you can put any description that you find useful!).
Next, click on the Connection Settings tab and enter the port number from Step 4 (you will need to uncheck “Inherit from parent”):
Click Add and you have added the server:
To connect to a machine you can simply double click it.
This quick walkthrough shows how to add virtual machines from Windows Azure into Remote Desktop Connection Manager.
Once you’ve done this then you can configure Remote Desktop Connection Manager as normal. You can switch into Full Screen mode from the Session menu. Settings can be configured individually, or at the server group level. For example, you can configure settings around capturing of local Windows Keys at any level (group or server).