Remote Access to Windows
How to access Maple and MATLAB from home.


The School of Mathematics and Statistics provides a remote login service to one of its Windows Terminal Servers. It is available for all students and can be accessed from anywhere within New Zealand with a broadband internet connection.

What applications and services are available?

There are licenses for users to run various applications, including MATLAB, Maple, R and SAS.

When you login you will find your usual network shares are available such as P: drive, U: drive etc.

What are the limitations of this service?

Microsoft Office is not available on this service.

This service is only available from within New Zealand.

No local devices or resources such as printers, local hard drives, the local clipboard etc. are able to the used on the remote session. If you need to transfer files from your local machine to the remote session you can FTP to your My Documents (P:).

Printing is disabled on this server. This is to prevent people printing to printers within the School when they are in remote locations.

Connections that remain idle for two hours will be automatically logged out. Disconnected sessions will be logged out after five minutes.

How do I connect?

Windows XP, 2003 Server, and Vista

Both of these operating systems come with a utility (mstsc.exe) to connect to Terminal Servers.

Manual settings

  1. Start the Remote Desktop Client by pressing the "Start" button, clicking "Run...", type "mstsc", click "OK".
  2. Enter the remote computer or hostname: mathlab.canterbury.ac.nz
  3. Various other options can be set, however the defaults are usually fine.

Using a configuration file

  1. Download and save this configuration file (right-click and "Save Target As"):
  2. Double-click on the downloaded file to open the Remote Desktop Connection client.
  3. If you are prompted to enter your credentials, just type in your user name as the server is set to request a user name and password upon connection (i.e. it won’t trust what is sent on the initial connection).
  4. You should now be present with the familiar Log On to Windows screen.
    Windows log on screen
  5. Log on as you would normally.

Use the connection bar at the top of your screen to switch between your local machine and the remote session.

Windows 2000 and earlier

Versions of Windows earlier than XP do not have a built-in Terminal Server Client. Microsoft provide a remote desktop client that supports Windows 2000, 98, 95, ME, and NT.

Once installed please use the instructions as outlined for Manual settings in Windows XP, 2003 Server, and Vista.

Apple Mac OS X

OS X Lion (10.7) and above

If you using OS X Lion (10.7) or later you should use CoRD: Remote Desktop for Mac OS X

OS X Tiger (10.4) – Snow Leopard (10.6)

Microsoft provide a remote desktop client. Once installed please use the instructions as outlined for Manual settings in Windows XP, 2003 Server, and Vista.

OS X Panther (10.3) and earlier

Microsoft also provide an older client available that supports earlier versions of OSX (10.3 and older).

Alternatively you could install an open source Remote Desktop Client for any of the OS X versions such as rdesktop or a GUI front–end like CoRD.

Linux / UNIX

You will need to install rdesktop, FreeRDP or one of the GUI front–ends to rdesktop such as tsclient, grdesktop or krdesktop. I'm sure you'll find one that suits you.

Once installed please use the instructions as outlined for Manual settings in Windows XP, 2003 Server, and Vista.

Where can I connect to the server from?

Anywhere! As long as you have a reasonably fast internet connection (dial-up will in most cases be too slow and unresponsive). If the School of Mathematics and Statistics computer labs are full or closed (between 11pm and 7am), you can connect to this server from any PC or Mac on campus, including the machines in the Crypt, Loft and Engineering computer labs. Just follow the instructions outlined above. You can also connect to the Terminal Server (mathlab.canterbury.ac.nz) from a UCwireless connection.

How much does this service cost me?

Nothing! The School pays for the traffic generated by the remote sessions (Note: This doesn't cover any charges you may incur from your ISP). However if you are browsing external web sites from within the remote session your usercode will still be charged for any traffic generated at the normal rates. The My Documents (P: Drive) from home, provided by ICTS is also a free at the time of writing.

Tips for improved performance

RDP is a fairly light-weight protcol. However there are a few things you can do speed up your communication with the Terminal Server.

  • Close or restrict other bandwidth hungry applications on your PC while running a remote session, such as peer-to-peer applications.
  • Optimise the settings in the Remote Desktop Client to reduce bandwidth. The following setting are from the Windows XP Remote Desktop Client (mstsc.exe):
    • Set the desktop display size to a smaller resolution such as 800x600.
    • Reduce the colour depth to 8bit (256 colours).
    • Set the remote computer sound to stay at the remote computer.
    • Turn off the following in the 'Experience' tab; desktop background; font smoothing; desktop composition; show window contents while dragging; menu and window animation; themes
    • Ensure bitmap caching is turned on.

Paul Brouwers, 2012-11-26