Blender through Remote Desktop (RDP) with tscon.exe

I am using Blender 2.77 for the visualization of scientific data and have found that it makes fantastic visuals. My challenge now is that I am working remotely from Ohio on a workstation in Houston. I use Remote Desktop (RDP) to login to my Houston machine. Blender cannot be launched because Blender requires a graphics driver with OpenGL 2.1 support (which I have in my NVIDIA Quadro K5000 graphics card). However, Remote Desktop only supports OpenGL 1.1.

No fear, there is a workaround… Using tscon.exe, you can open the software in console mode using the native graphics card driver. I have scripted the process in a batch file with the commands listed below.

echo Use the “query user” command in cmd.exe to get the tscon session ID
tscon 2 /DEST:console /password:*
cd “C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender”
echo Launching Blender

Some notes on the script…

  1. You need to open cmd and get your session id. The session id can be retrieved using the “query user” command. In the example below, my ID was 2.
  2. The “/password:*” command it optional. It prompts the user for the admin password.
  3. I have found that I needed admin privileges for this to work. When I did not have admin privileges, I received something like “Error [5]: access denied”. After setting up admin privileges, the script below enabled me to run Blender remotely with no real issues (aside from a bit of lag due to the internet connection).
  4. If you run the batch file and it succeeds, it will disconnect your remote session while Blender is launched. Log back in and Blender will be open. Don’t worry about being kicked off because that is supposed to happen.

At this point, life was good. Blender and Paraview (…another OpenGL 2.2 application for pre-processing the Blender data) both functioned correctly and I made several beautiful renderings of my scientific data. Then, after about two weeks of proper functionality, I am once again not able to open Blender and Paraview. Blender at least gives me an error message from which I know the issue once again is OpenGL.

“Your system does not use 3D hardware acceleration. Blender requires a graphics driver with OpenGL 2.1 support. This may be caused by… Accessing Blender through a remote connection.”

So I don’t know what has changed but something has and it isn’t the old error message I received before setting up admin privileges but it does seem associated with OpenGL even though I am still launching in console mode.

Has anyone succeeded in running Blender through Remote Desktop? Does this issue have a workaround?

Please note that there are other users of this machine and I have to go through a number of very onerous steps in order to get software installed. Therefore, I am hoping to use Blender with Windows Remote Desktop rather than installing another third-party package (like TightVNC which I read may be able to support remote work).

Thank you all in advance for your thoughts and insight.

I have been able to travel to Houston this week and found the issue was not with Blender, nor the tscon.exe script. Instead, the graphics card on the Houston workstation went bad. We replaced the graphics card and now everything works as it previously had worked.

Hopefully above post is of use to someone who needs to run Blender on a remote machine in the future.