Remote Assistance Troubleshooting

With any VDI technology that leverages Microsoft’s RDP (Quest’s vWorkspace and VMware’s View) deploying Microsoft’s Remote Assistance (RA) is a requirement for support as the typical remote console solutions do not work as originally intended. RES integrated the Remote Assistance technologies with the release of RES PowerFuse 2010 (Service Release 1?) and as a result we’re seeing more people attempting to integrate Remote Assistance with their VDI deployments. There are few things that can, and do go wrong.

RES Workspace Manager will configure the Remote Assistance registry settings on the local computer via the RES Workspace Manager agent without requiring Group Policy Objects or manual configuration of the registry. This includes ensuring that RA is enabled, the firewall ports are open and the RA Helper Active Directory accounts are populated with the specified groups. Once a Remote Assistance session is offered by the administrator via the RES Workspace Management console, this is handed off to the underlying infrastructure and RES Workspace Manager has nothing more to do with the remote session. If you’re having problems with Remote Assistance you might want to double check the following.

Local Helper Account

Ensure that the local HelpAssistant account is not disabled (on Windows XP). This account needs to be enabled on both the machine offering the Remote Assistance session and the target machine. If this is not enabled on the source computer, you may receive the “There is a problem with the invitation and it cannot be opened. To use Remote Assistance, the sender of this invitation will have to send you a new invitation.”

Remote Assistance HelpAssistant Error

Windows XP Help and Support Service

Double check that the “Help and Support” Service is enabled on Windows XP machines. There may be an old Group Policy Object somewhere that has disabled this and without this running, Remote Assistance is not going to be going anywhere! This service has been deprecated with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

DNS

The standard name resolution process is used to contact the destination computer when a Remote Assistance session is initialised. We have seen issues in VDI environments where the DNS records for desktops become stale. Here is a particular example:

  • VMware View is deployed with linked clone technology.
  • As VDI is booted it registers in DNS for the first time.
  • When the VM is recomposed it ends up with a new computer SID/MAC address but the same hostname.
  • The VDI attempts to update the DNS record but can’t because the SID associated with the DNS entry is incorrect.
  • If the RES PowerFuse console is located on a different subnet to the destination computer, Remote Assistance fails.

To ensure this isn’t a problem, make sure the computers are shutdown cleanly (and double-check their DNS entries are removed) before recomposing!

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