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Terminal Server Install

© December 2008 Anthony Lawrence

Yesterday I went back to finish up the Terminal Server install that I started a month ago. Don't ask me what took so long; I have no clue. Possibly the "Tech Whiz" didn't believe that he needed to buy Terminal Server Licenses.. I don't know, but here I was, a month later and they had the license. I installed it, installed Terminal Server, added users (making them Remote Desktop Users) and we were up and running.

Well, sort of. Eventually this server will get moved elsewhere, but right now it's in the same store as the POS machine that will be accessing it. That's where I spent the next few hours.

The first problem was Tech Whiz again. He had installed a Quatech QSCLP-100 card to provide additional serial ports and had gotten confused during the driver install - only some of the extra ports were working. I don't blame him for being confused: this is a five part driver install. First you install the Quatech driver, then Windows detects new hardware for each serial port in turn. He must have cancelled out of a few of them, probably thinking this HAD to be wrong. It wasn't. It really is a five part install.

Because all the various devices (scanner, PIN number reader, pole display, credit card reader) have to be accessed from the server software, you need to set "Local Resource" options in RDP to redirect the serial ports. That worked fine after reinstalling the drivers and running "Change port" at a DOS session on the Terminal Server showed that everything had been transferred. We were ready to go.

Yeah, but the scanner wasn't working.

I noted that it was connected to COM1 and asked the Counterpoint guy to check that Counterpoint agreed with that. He looked confused and said he shouldn't have to tell it. It was my turn to look confused, but Tech Whiz had the answer: there's a little piece of software called Metrologic Softwedge running that takes the input from COM1 and shoves it into the keyboard buffer. That's why Counterpoint didn't have to be told where things were. OK, but it's not working..

Tech Whiz actually made a smart suggestion: maybe Softwedge needs to be on the server? Well, yeah, that makes sense. I installed it for multiuser use (Start->Run change user /install; install it; change user /execute) and the scanner worked.

Unless you quit the session without logging out. Upon resuming, the Softwedge doesn't work until you deselect and reselect COM1. Not so horrible, I guess.

But then all hell broke loose. We tried testing the PIN reader and it hung. Not only did it hang, but it killed all the other ports and nothing but a cold server reboot would bring them back. We tried moving it do a different port, same behavior. Very disturbing because everything else was working perfectly.

I hate that kind of stuff. I have no idea how a malfunctioning serial device can hose everything else; maybe that's a Windows feature. It's very, very annoying to get this far and get stopped so abruptly and rudely.

So that's where we are. There's a spare PIN reader somewhere; they are going to find and try that.

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Tue Dec 9 23:13:46 2008: 4890   BigDumbDinosaur

I have no idea how a malfunctioning serial device can hose everything else; maybe that's a Windows feature.

If Windows were an ocean liner, a plugged up toilet in a first class cabin would result in the ship making a hard right turn and colliding with an iceberg. I have never run into any problems of this type in UNIX or Linux. The few instances where serial hardware misbehaved were relatively easy to resolve and didn't take out half the system in the process. For what earthly reason is it people buy this crap?


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