Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 2)

by [Published on 23 June 2006 / Last Updated on 23 June 2006]

In Part 2 of this article series I continue the discussion on the best freeware tools, focusing on Security, Troubleshooting, Policies, Profiles, and more.

If you missed the previous article in this series please go read Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1).

Introduction

This article is the second part of the already published article Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1).

In part 1, we discussed a variety of freeware tools for Published Applications, Web Interface and CPU and Memory Management. Tools provided by Citrix and Microsoft were also mentioned. In this article I continue with a discussion on freeware tools for Security, Troubleshooting, Policies, Profiles, Softgrid and more.

Security

Securing your Terminal Server is one of the most basic concepts. Security on Terminal Server means securing access to the servers, access rights on the server, access to applications, preventing viruses and much more. These tools can help you make your infrastructure more secure.

2X SecureRDP

With 2X SecureRDP you can control access to your Terminal Server by accepting or denying connection via IP, Mac address, computer name, client version or based on time of day. Clients which do not meet the restrictions won’t even see the logon screen. It is an easy way to secure your environment a bit more. 2X SecureRDP can be found at the 2X Website.

TsConSec

With TsConSec 1.3 you can script and automate connection settings, which cannot be configured in another automated way (like policies).  With TsConSec you can set allow and deny permissions on RDP and ICA connections and other connections using a special switch. TsConSec is developed by Bas Blauw, the latest version can be downloaded at Thincomputing.net.

AppScape Lockdown Utility

AppScape Lockdown Utility lets you turn off the X in the top right hand corner of an application. This forces your users to log out of application and desktops instead of disconnecting by clicking the X button. Download can be found at Dabcc.com.

Policies

HideDrive Calculating

When you are a consultant, and set up several farms, for every implementation you should disable the drives which can be viewed and accessed by the users. This can be done easily via several ADM templates. But if you specify which drives are viewable you should count a value which should be included in your ADM template. There are several tools available to help you get that value. You can get some good assistance from Msterminalservices.org HideDrive.XLS.

True Control Template

For years SBC specialists have been sharing their knowledge about configuring and tuning the Terminal and Citrix servers with tweaks to files and registry settings. Lots of the tweaks are combined by Jeroen van de Kamp in True Control Template. This template consists of ADM files which can be loaded into the GPO editor, so you can assign the tweaks to your server via GPO’s. Download the True Control Template at the Login Consultants Portal.

Softgrid

Softgrid Policy Template

Your Softgrid environment can be tuned by configuring several registry settings. Rodney Medina found all these settings and combined them in a policy template to add to your GPO policies. Download the template at Rodney's Website.

Sofgrid Command-Line Import

If you are using Softricity you know that adding a sequence to the environment is a pretty time consuming action. Daniel Nikolic developed the Softgrid Command-Line Import utility to make life a little bit easier. With this tool you can import Softgrid applications with all options you normally have within the Management Console. Download it at DNC-IT.com.

Softgrid System Tray Utility

Rodney also developed a utility at the System Tray to get a quick launch of several Softgrid options like Refresh Softgrid Application List, Remove all Application from the Cache, Preload Application to the Cache and launch applications from the system tray. Nice utility to use when you are testing and developing your Softgrid sequences. Download the utility at Rodney's Website.

Profiles

Still Profiles are one of the main challenges on a Terminal Server. These products can help you solve issues with profiles.

Flex Profile Kit

The Flex Profile Kit (FPK) is the well-known freeware profile solution. With the FPK you work with the best of two worlds. The <robustheid> of mandatory profiles and the possibility to save user settings. The FPK can, besides saving and restoring registry settings, also save and restore mouse settings, keyboard settings, windows appearance, certificates, support for MUI and more. Version 5 has just been released and now also has a GUI for configuring most of the settings. Download the FPK from the Login Consultants Portal. If you need more information about Profiles read my profile article published earlier. 

UPH Clean

This is a utility developed by Micrsoft and stands for “User Profile Hive” Clean. UPH Clean fixes issues with “stuck” user profiles. It kills any processes that have hooks open to the user’s profile after the user initiates the logoff process. Download it here.

Troubleshooting

EnvokeIT

EnvokeIT releases some very handy tools to troubleshoot your environment.

  • Applauncher: with this you can select the desired server you would like to connect to when starting the published application.
  • Launch checker: With Launch Checker you can specify which groups, for example administrators, should get a warning when they start an application.
  • Server Manager: With this tool you can easily remove all Published Applications from one server or save you current configuration.
  • WinService Manager. With WinService Manager you can administer services on a remote machine. It is possible to lock down the tool so the user can only manage a single service on a single machine.

Download these tools from the EnvokeIT website.

Regshot

Another tool which is used a lot. With regshot you can see the difference between two registry snapshots. Make the first snapshot, make the change within the application or operating system and take the second snapshot. Let Regshot compare the two snapshots and show you the differences between them. Download regshot from this website.

Latency Checker

Run this tool within an ICA session and you can monitor the real time the latency of your ICA session as well as CPU and memory usage on the server. Download the Latency Checker at the Fcconsult website.

Management and Administration

ReconnAct!

When a user connects to a Terminal or Citrix server the client IP-address is created as a variable in the user session. When the user disconnects the session and reconnects to it again using another client this variable is not changed. That’s a pity because the user might be in another location where he needs, for example, different printers. Therefore Dennis Damen developed ReconnAct! ReconnectAct checks the IP-address of the client machine when the user disconnects and reconnects and makes it possible to run other scripts at that moment. This is great, because in this way you can connect, for example, new printers (corresponding to the IP subnet) to the user when he reconnects to a disconnected session. Download ReconnAct at the Login Consultants Portal.

BRS Suite

The BRS Suite is developed to lock down and control the user Desktop experience like printer, network mappings, access to applications and much more. Download the BRS Suite at the Fcconsult website.

Stamp Terminal Server Shadow Key Utility

In the article Terminal Server Environment Basic Concepts I already explained the Microsoft Shadow Key. Although I prefer to delete all keys out of the Shadow Key you could also use the option “Write to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software in Install mode with the system clock set in the past”. With this utility you need to set the system clock back in the past but stamp a define date and time to the keys in the Shadow Key. Download it here.

Clusteresis RDP LoadBalancer

Although there are better Load Balancer tools available, this is the only one which is available for free. Clusteresis RDP Load Balancer also includes a Web Interface and a type of Published Applications. You can download it at Clusteresis.

Others

There are more nice tools out there where I could not think of a suitable category for, or there is just a single application. But I do not want to keep these wonderful tools away from you. So within this section you will find the remaining freeware tools which I can recommend.

VisonApp Remote Desktop (vRD)

If you have many RDP sessions you probably tried the MMC snap-in Remote Desktops from Microsoft and know the limitations of that console. VisionApp developed a much better version of this management console. A must have if you connect to a lot of servers. Download it at VisionApp Free Downloads.

DNC Service Wrapper

Daniel Nikolic, already well known for superior tools like SFTImport and DADE Power Tools, realised another wonderful piece of freeware. With the DNC Service Wrapper you can create application services (which are not services) with some good options to control the applications. Download this software from his website under the Tools section.

Set Default Printer Tool

This utility can set the default printer for users with no access to the printer folder and require to change the default printer. Publish this tool or add it to a login script. Download it at Dabcc.com.

Conclusion

In this article and Part 1, the most used and best Freeware Tools were described. All these tools are very useful for making your Terminal Server environment better, easier to maintain and/or easier to troubleshoot. Although most tools are used a lot without any trouble do not forget that you will never get official support on these tools and that they are provided with no manufacturer warranty.

If you missed the previous article in this series please go read Freeware Tools for the Terminal Server Infrastructure (Part 1).

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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