Server 2012 – RDesktop: Fix Disappearing Mouse Cursor with Group Policy

Boy do I sure feel like a dumbass sometimes. I researched and wrestled with this damn issue for a week or more only to find out that I had come across the answer to this problem about a dozen times but was looking in the wrong freaking spot. For whatever reason, when people were referring to disabling the mouse pointer shadow, I immediately thought of the place in windows System Properties > Advanced Tab > Performance > Settings > Visual Effects Tab > “Show shadows under mouse pointer” but that wasn’t fixing my problem and now I know why. Here’s the whole story.

I’ve got a mix of around 100 Neoware CA19, CA21, and HP T5145 thin clients, all with 128MB of flash running HP ThinPro build T3X31012 and rdesktop version 1.6.0 that I’ve been testing with on Server 2012 and this was a major problem. I was just about finished locking down this 7 server RDS deployment I’ve been working on and when I had my first few users start to log in to test everything, they had no mouse cursor, fucking awesome!

At first, I thought this may have been a VMware tools problem, so I had reinstalled it and had scoured all the forums there, trying various different little tweaks, registry keys, and what have you, but that was only the beginning. Then I tried adjusting the various RDP settings on the thin client with no luck. I tried all the different things on the various Windows forums and still no luck. I got to know all the ins and outs of HP’s thin client architecture, their use of the Manticore registry, config files and everything that goes along with it and how it all works.

Since the thin clients have barely any usable flash space left on them after the initial operating system install and all of HP’s tools, I even got to the point of where I tracked down a Debian Lenny ISO running the 2.6.26-2-686 kernel and went through all the hoopla of installing it in VMware Player and building the latest version of rdestkop 1.8.3. Then I copied it over to my thin client for testing, only to find out that HP’s damn Connection Manager app wouldn’t detect that the RDP session was in a connected state any more when running in full screen mode. It has been a trying battle to say the least and I have been losing my patience with all this. I wasn’t able to find any way to modify the Connection Manager app and their weren’t any config files, xml files, or anything else worthwhile in the registry to fix my new issue. I even built every major version of rdesktop since the one already on the thin client and they all had the same problem with the Connection Manager, I could call the app from the terminal and it would connect just fine but when calling in from the Control Center it would only show the “starting” status in the registry. I did everything I could to try and hack it to make it work but eventually I had to give up.

Running out of options, I looked up the parts needed to be able to upgrade the flash and memory on these thin clients and ordered them on Ebay to test with. After everything is said and done, I may end up actually going this route because I think we may want to use the newer versions of ThinPro that have FreeRDP, RemoteFX, and USB redirection support instead.

As a tech guy, broken and beaten by his adversary, pissed off and distraught, I gave one last ditch effort to try and find some answers and then it dawned on me, maybe I’m overlooking something here, maybe it’s something stupid. I decided to poke around in the mouse pointer section of the Control Panel and there it was plain as day, “Enable pointer shadow”. Fuck. After that, it has been smooth sailing, I tracked down the registry key with Process Monitor, tried it out, and for now everything appears to be in working order.

Basically, you will probably need to look this value up on your own system to verify it’s how you want everything to appear, but for the stock registry keys (9E3E038012000000) on my RDS server, I needed to change the third and forth digits of the binary from “3E” to “1E” as noted below.

FixMouseCursor

User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry
Right-click Registry > New > Registry-Item

Action: Update
Hive: HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Key Path: Control Panel\Desktop
Value name: UserPreferencesMask
Value type: REG_BINARY
Value data: 9E1E038012000000
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