Remote access for students?

This has been in my thoughts for weeks, ever since we sent everyone home to escape the virus. My department teaches audio and video production, that means the computers required are expensive and so is the software. We can’t expect our students to own this level of technology.

With the recent happenings, I need to find a basically stupidly simple method to remote in and allow them to get some work done. A simple VPN is probably easy enough, but how to get them to a workstation is the hard part. Giving them a list of computers to try and RDP into is just a kluge. I really need a way that they can automatically get the next available workstation in a pool. And again, it needs to be stupid simple.

I was thinking of a Teamviewer subscription, several of our software vendors use this for remote assistance, and it is certainly simple enough that the students can grasp it. But is there a different way?

It also doesn’t solve the issue that most of these students are going to be stuck with internet connections in the 6mbps upload range, and files from our cameras will be (on average) 2GB per project. When no one else is using the campus internet, I get gigabit up and down across my pfsense box, not sure what I can get with numerous VPN running.

Again, this needs to be stupid simple, basically one click to get a log in prompt. We are all windows 10 workstations, and Server 2016 or 2019. Servers are on physical boxes, my switch to XCP-NG keeps getting budget cuts so I’m not sure when I can make that upgrade. Open source solutions or built into windows server rolls/features would be preferred.

The IT aspects of our department are a part time aspect of my job, not the only thing I can concentrate on. The studio and field equipment care and feeding, as well as signing it out to students is all part of my job. The IT aspects far too often take a back seat (or haul in a trailer) to the other duties. So for that I need something simple enough for me to handle too. And with my budget being taken back, and sliced to ribbons, cheap is the only path. Else I’d love to hire someone to help me build this and teach me to keep it running.

This sounds like a job for Remote Dekstop Servces (RDGateway etc)

Or my second but favourite solution could be to use Guacamole (open Source). Then set up users so when they login it directs them to there RDP into there desktop (PC or whatevr). I had it so when StudentA logged in he was presented with his desktop StudenB to his etc. Its easy and plenty of vids on YouTube for it.

RDS requires extra licensing if I remember correctly.

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Thanks a bunch!

I believe you are right about the RDS needing extra licensing and might be why I haven’t looked at it. I’ll have to shoot an email to the guys that handle the college’s licensing and see what they say.

And I’ll look into guacamole, sounds like it might be a better choice anyway, and free is a huge bonus right now.

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Plus you can put it online and secure it… … no cliens needed either the sudents would just visit your Guac site and log right in … click connect into there RDP session…


I actually rolled this out campus wide at a local college for students to access Linux dekstops… But we had a couple of test RDP’s in it and it worked very well.

I might be able to get the college to put this on their site, or maybe I can put this on our department site. The department site is on a shared host through Network Solutions, and they can be difficult to work with on things that are not their “out of the box” applications.

But good ideas that are on my list today to look at. Recommending another department give Jitsi a try for something, Teams blew chunks this morning because it is just overloaded.

Using RDS for remote access to the desktops will require a bunch of licensing, not just RDS user SALs. You need Windows 10 Enterprise via Volume License and Software Assurance.

I run a cloud hosting company and have had many customers think they want this until they see the proposal. All my hosting is done on Server 2019 via RDS, but no VDI. It’s the most affordable way to provide remote hosting.

You could look into hosting everything on Azure which would be a month to month expense, but it won’t be cheap either. The cheapest option will require users to be assigned a system and use a remote access VPN to reach it.

We may have the required licensing, but it sounds like a headache. I bet we don’t have the user SALs needed to do this though. I’ll focus on guacamole right now and see if I can figure this out.

I was under the impression that you only RDP licenses if the Win10 is only being used for RDP access , but these aren’t dedicated for RDP in the school.

The licenses are required if you want to make them available for VDI usage via a remote access gateway. Outside of that use case, you won’t need licensing since RDP would only be used for management purposes.

Just to clarify would you need licencing here? They aren’t virtualised.

Yes, you would still need licensing.

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