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The best Freeware Tools for your Terminal Server Infrastructure. Part 1

Introduction

Almost everyone is using freeware tools, just to make the configuration, administration or management of his infrastructure easier.

First let me mention that Microsoft and Citrix supply you with lot of tools in their product to help you troubleshoot your environment.




Some examples of by Microsoft provided tools are:
- LSReport & LSView for enumerating list of MS License Servers
- TSECMD for managing Terminals Service via the command line

Citrix also delivers a lot of tools within their Access Suite. Some examples are:
- DSCheck for validation checks on the Citrix Data Store
- QueryDC for queering the Data Collector of the farm
- QueryDS for determining the DC in a specified zone
- DSView for viewing specific record in the Data Store
- Qprinter for monitoring the progress of printer driver replication

Beside these standard tools provided in the product there are also many wonderful tools available for the Terminal Server field. In this article I will describe the most used and favorites tools and software, which are available for free.

Microsoft

Let’s start with Microsoft. Besides the tools they are providing within the Operating System released they also provide some additional nice freeware tools, which are very useful for Terminal Server Infrastructures. The best tools of Microsoft are:

Orca
If you do not use repackaging and the application does not have his own setup parameters Orca is good tool to added the MSI parameters and create your own MST file without purchasing expensive repackaging tools. Orca is created by Microsoft and can be downloaded from Microsoft MSDN.

Software Restriction Policies
Microsoft introduced Software Restriction Policies in SP1 of Windows 2003.  With Software Restriction Policies you can control which software can and cannot be started on your Terminal Servers. Read all about it Microsoft Technet.

Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration
The Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration is a free utility from Microsoft that allows the administrator to configure whether or not a network shares would be visible only those files or folders that the user has the rights to access.  If the Unix/Linux community this is “normal” behaviour and finally Microsoft also offers this functionality. The utility comes both with a GUI and Command Line option. Download it at Microsoft.

Citrix

Actually Web Interface and Secure Gateway are also freeware software, but you can not call that a utility or tool anymore. The last months Citrix has released some nice free tools.

Automatic Farm Tuner
Citrix created this tool to tune the data collectors in your farm for optimal performance. It is primarily intended for use in large (over 800 servers) farms, as the standard setting for data collectors is usually fine for smaller farms

MedEvac
Another free tool developed by Citrix. With this tool you can check the health of your Presentation Servers by checking XML Service and Data Collectors. Check CTX107935 for more information and the source.

SysInternals

SysInternals is developing a lot of wonderful freeware utilities. So a praise for these guys is more than logical. Out of the bunch of tools below mentioned tools are the useful tools for your Terminal Server Infrastructure.
- Filemon; shows all file system activity on the machine.
- Regmon; shows all registry activity real-time.
- PSTools; collection of tools which makes it possible to execute commands on remote systems.
- Process Explorer; shows all processes, registry and object are used and which files they are using.
- AccessEnum; shows all security settings on directories, files and registry objects
- BGInfo; automatically generates background which all kind of system information active while starting-up the machine.

CPU and Memory Management

During the years CPU and Memory Management has become one of the big challenges in Terminal Server Infrastructures. Besides some wonderful commercial products also some nice freeware tools are available to help you solving this challenge.

Threadmaster
Threadmaster monitors threads and clamps the CPU if an thread uses excessive processor resources Threadmaster clamps CPU resources for that thread so no performance degree is noticeable on that server.  Configuring is just done via two registry settings. Threadmaster can be downloaded from his website
.

DADE Power Tools
The DADE Power Tools are developed to prevent the Black Hole Effect. The Black Hole Effect happen when during busy logon moments (during the morning) a fresh server will become available in the farm (because of maintenance, new installation or an unexpected reboot). Because these server has the lowest load of all the servers Citrix will send all the new users to the same server. All these users are overwhelming this server so it become unresponsive. DADE Power Tools counts the logons during a specified time. If the number of logons is higher than configured DADE Power Tools disables logons to this server. DADE Powertools can be downloaded from Dnc-it.com.

RTO Optimization Console
In Presentation Server 4 Citrix included CPU and Memory management delivered by RTO. Within the Management Consoles of Citrix there are no options available to configure and manage those options. These features were sold by Citrix from RTO. RTO created a management console afterwards to tune the CPU and Memory options. The console can be downloaded from RTO's Website.

Published Applications

Lot of environments are using Published Applications from Citrix to provide the applications to their users. Although the administration of Published Applications is pretty easy it can be even be better. The following tools are providing this extra functionality.

Icon Extract
Sometimes the manufacturer does not deliver an icon file within the software. When Publishing Applications you would like to present the application with the right icon. Icon Extractor makes this possible by extracting icons out of all kind of executables. Icon Extractor is created by Alexey Novosselov and can be downloaded from this website.

AppEdit
AppEdit is developed by Rich Pulver for adding or removing Citrix Published applications. With AppEdit, you can remove all published applications from servers or manage individual published applications on a single server. Download it here.

TSPassChg
TSPassChg is a standalone Windows GUI tool for Terminal Servers and Citrix Servers to allow the end user to change their domain password. TSPassChg is developed by Ctrl-Alt-Del IT Consultancy. Download it from their website.

Published Application Importer/Exporter
Just to be sure as back-up or if you are migrating your Farm it can be useful to export (and import) your Published Applications including all settings. Two good tools can be found at Thomaskoetzing.de and  Dabcc.com.

Web Interface

Web Interface Modifications
Citrix continues to improve their Web Interface. Still lots of additional options are desirable within this product. The SBC community is adding and changing functionality from the Web Interface to get it even better. Thomas Kötzing develops a lot of these functionality changes and publish his and others features on his website. Some nice additions are for example:
- 1 Click solution: the icon disappears out of WI is the user clicked it to start;
- Rebrand WI: guide to create your “own” Web Interface;
- Hiding Icons in Web Interface;
- Autolaunch Applications;
- Important Messages; easy way to add important message to WI.
- And much much more. Check out for all modifications ThomasKoetzing.de.
Web Interface Languages
Within Web Interface 4 it has become very easy to use more than one language in the same Web Interface. One thing is that Citrix just released the major languages (English, German, Spanish and Japanese) so you need to translate in the desired language you want to publish to your users. Happily the community have already made translations of several languages. At this moment the languages Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Belgian Dutch and Belgian French. Download them from Brianmadden.com

Conclusion

Especially in the Terminal Server community lots of wonderful and useful freeware tools are available. In this first part of this article I described a lot of tools for making  your life a little bit easier with tools for Published Applications, Web Interface and CPU and Memory Management. Also tools Provided by Citrix and Microsoft themselves are mentioned. In Part 2  of this article I will continue with the best tools for Security, Troubleshooting, Policies, Profiles and more.

Article previous published at MSTerminalServices.org.




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