Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1)

by [Published on 8 June 2006 / Last Updated on 8 June 2006]

Beside the 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 favorite tools and software, which are available for free.

If you would like to be notified when Wilco van Bragt releases Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1) please sign up to our Real-time article update newsletter.

Introduction

Almost everyone uses freeware tools, just to make the configuration, administration or management of their infrastructure easier.

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

Some examples of the 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 querying 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

Besides the standard tools provided within the product there are also many wonderful tools available for the Terminal Server field. In this article, I will describe the most frequently used favorite tools and software, which are available for free.

Microsoft

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

Orca

If you do not use repackaging and the application does not have its own setup parameters, Orca is a good tool to add 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 Windows 2003 SP1. With Software Restriction Policies you can control which software can and cannot be started on your Terminal Servers. Read all about it on Microsoft Technet.

Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Access-based Enumeration is a free utility from Microsoft that allows the administrator to configure whether or not within a network share, only those files or folders that the user has the rights to access would be visible. Within 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 them a utility or tool anymore. During the last few months Citrix has released some nice free tools.

Automatic Farm Tuner

Citrix created this tool to tune the data collectors in a 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 the XML Service and Data Collectors. Check CTX107935 for more information and the source.

SysInternals

SysInternals is developing a lot of wonderful freeware utilities. So some praise for these guys is more than logical. Out of the bunch of tools I will mention below the tools that are the most useful 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 make it possible to execute commands on remote systems.
  • Process Explorer; shows all processes, registry and object which are used and which files they are using.
  • AccessEnum; shows all security settings on directories, files and registry objects.
  • BGInfo; automatically generates background which system information is active while starting-up the machine.

CPU and Memory Management

Throughout the years CPU and Memory Management has become one of the big challenges in Terminal Server Infrastructures. Besides some wonderful commercial products there are also some nice freeware tools available to help you solve 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 decrease is noticeable on that server. Configuring is done via just two registry settings. Threadmaster can be downloaded from Threadmaster.com.

DADE Power Tools

DADE Power Tools are developed to prevent the Black Hole Effect. The Black Hole Effect happens during busy logon moments (during the morning) and a fresh server becomes available in the farm (because of maintenance, new installation, or an unexpected reboot). Because this server has the lowest load of all the servers, Citrix will send all the new users to the same server. All these users overwhelm 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

Numerous environments use Published Applications from Citrix to provide applications to their users. Although the administration of Published Applications is pretty easy it can be even be better. The following tools provide 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 is 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; but lots of additional options are still desirable within this product. The SBC community is continually adding and changing functionality from the Web Interface to get it even better. Thomas Kötzing has developed a lot of functionality changes and published his and others' features on his website. Some nice additions are, for example:

  • 1 Click solution: the icon disappears out of WI and 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 all modifications on 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. Citrix has just released the major languages (English, German, Spanish and Japanese) so you need to translate to the desired language you want to publish to your users. Fortunately, the community has already made translations into several languages. At this moment the languages are: Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Belgian Dutch and Belgian French. Download them from Brianmadden.com

Conclusion

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

If you would like to be notified when Wilco van Bragt releases Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1) please sign up to our Real-time article update newsletter.

The Author — Wilco van Bragt

Wilco van Bragt avatar

After working for a couple of consulting firms as a senior technical consultant and technical project leader Wilco started his own freelance company VanBragt.Net Consultancy in April 2008. Wilco is certified n Citrix (CCIA, CCEE/CCEA, CCA), Microsoft (MCITP, MCTS, MSCE, MSCA) and Prince2 (Foundation). Wilco is also a RSVP (RES Software Valued Professional), Citrix CTP (Citrix Technology Professional) and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) on RDS.

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