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Author: Created: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 1:58:59 PM RssIcon
News and updates about code4ward.net
By Stefan Koell on Monday, July 04, 2011 2:41:32 PM

iconAs of today, Royal TS 1.7.3 – purely a maintenance release, is available for download. Just download and install the .msi file. It will update your existing Royal TS 1.7.x installation and replace Royal TS on your machine.

The main reason for this release is a very rare bug in the tree view. The tree view vendor could identify the issue after some investigation and he was able to fix the bug. Royal TS would hang/eventually crash when the tree needs to draw scrollbars. This could happen when you expand a folder with lots of connections in it or if you start Royal TS with a file which has many connections causing the tree to draw the scrollbars immediately. As I mentioned, this hang/crash is affecting only a small number of users. If you are one of these, I recommend to upgrade immediately.

We registered 60 000 downloads for Royal TS 1.7.x since it was released 5 months ago and there were only 5 users reporting this issue.

By Stefan Koell on Friday, July 01, 2011 3:26:20 PM

MVP_FullColor_ForScreen

“Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2011 Microsoft® MVP Award! …”

Thanks to Microsoft and especially to my MVP lead for the great support and for recognizing my work in the SCOM community. I’m happy and proud to be a member of this extraordinary group of people.

This year will be very exciting because Microsoft will release major new versions of the System Center products – including Operations Manager. I’m looking forward to get my hands dirty with SCOM 2012 and SCSM 2012. Stay tuned…

By Stefan Koell on Saturday, June 04, 2011 9:46:31 AM

Download: Link

The System Center Operation Manager 2007 Administration Resource Kit provides the following features to aid in management group administration:

Scheduled Maintenance Mode – Ability to schedule and manage maintenance mode in the management group.
Clean Mom – Helps remove all installed R2 components.
MP Event Analyzer – MP Event Analyzer tool is designed to help a user with functional and exploratory testing and debugging of event based management pack workflows like rules and monitors.

Feature Summary:

Ability to schedule Maintenance mode for “run once”, daily, weekly, and monthly schedules
Ability to removal all OpsMgr 2007 R2 files from a system
Ability to debug event based management pack workflows

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:28:49 AM

There are a lot installer products and frameworks out there. We decided to use Advanced Installer after some evaluation. Let me share some thoughts and findings of what we’ve tested and how we came to this decision:

Free Products/Framework:

  • Visual Studio MSI Project
    We used the built-in MSI project of Visual Studio for a long time with Royal TS and LogSmith. Since it’s shipped with Visual Studio it’s natural, that this is your first stop when you are looking for a packaging solution of your Visual Studio project. To be clear here, Visual Studio MSI projects are very limited and it’s almost a shame for MS to not ship a better solution out-of-the-box. We reached our limits and needed to create complicated workarounds to achieve our goals so we needed to look for a better solution.
  • InstallShield Limited Edition for Visual Studio
    Obviously MS decided to stop investments in Visual Studio MSI project features so they decided to partner with Flexera and offer a limited edition which also integrates with Visual Studio but that’s all positive to say about the product. It’s also very limited in terms of features.
  • WiX Framework
    The most commonly known free solution is the WiX framework which is essentially an XML based framework to declare and compile MSI packages. It’s Microsoft first open source framework ever released and it’s very mature. It’s driven by some MS employees and they did an awesome job here. WiX was our favorite for a long time during the evaluation but we realized soon that there were three problems for us with WiX:
    1. While the roadmap looked promising, at the time of the evaluation the really cool features with all the VS 2010 support took quite some time to make it into the framework.
    2. It has a really steep learning curve.
    3. There is no UI and you have to write all the XML yourself. This is time consuming and error prone…
    We decided to look further but always kept an eye on that solution.
  • Advanced Installer (Free Edition)
    Yes, there’s also a free edition of AdvancedInstaller but that’s not the reason why we use it. The free edition offers a lot considering the non-existing price tag. In fact it’s offering much more than the Visual Studio MSI project. Most freeware authors might be satisfied with the feature set of the free edition.

Commercial Products:

  • InstallShield 2011
    Evaluation of InstallShield was very quick. It’s surely the most commonly known MSI packager out there but the price/performance ration is just ridiculous. Besides that, it has also a steep learning curve. The website is just boring, you are beaten to death with countless texts to read, no real screenshots, to get a feeling what the product looks like you have to download endlessly long PDF files. Those files were also very helpful with the decision to NOT further look into that product as it seemed way to complicated…
  • Advanced Installer
    In short: Great price/performance ratio, very easy to use and a great support.

    The free edition offers almost everything you need for standard software deployment. The professional edition (currently USD 299) can handle much more (like IIS, COM, ODBC, mixed 32/64 bit packages and much more). Even when you go for the enterprise edition it will not break the bank! So, the price/performance ratio was attractive and kept us looking into it.

    The next thing which struck us right away was the amazingly ease of use. We literally didn’t even open the help file or documentation once and got a working MSI package within 20 minutes. This was just awesome! The UI is very intuitive and you immediately get the right results.

    I’ve never had any technical issues with AdvancedInstaller (which is good), so I didn’t contact their technical support yet but I had some product and licensing questions which were answered promptly and friendly. Caphyon also offers an online forum for users to report bugs and asks questions. For me it’s very important to that software companies offers a platform like this. It helps me to get a feeling what issues users have, how the company is responding to those issues and how the company reacts to criticism. You can learn a lot about the product and the company by just studying their forums.

What about other products?

I’m well aware that there are many other products out there which can do the same. We were lucky to hit the nail quickly and weren’t really forced to continue to evaluate. As soon as we got Advanced Installer we knew that this can do what we need in a quick and uncomplicated way with a reasonable price tag.

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, April 24, 2011 4:28:56 PM
Screencasts

Our screencasts section features two new videos explaining how to create and use tasks and how to use the “Connect with Options” feature.

Visit http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Screencasts.aspx to see all our screencasts.

By Stefan Koell on Saturday, April 23, 2011 11:19:00 AM

Yesterday we released an update for Royal TS which brings 2 small new features and a couple of fixes. From the release notes:

  • NEW: Ability to type the clipboard text in the remote session (similar to the Hyper-V client)
    Finally we managed to implement the “type clipboard text” functionality you may already know from the hyper-v client.
  • NEW: Advanced tab has a new setting allowing you to enable/disable Compression
    You might wonder, why after more than 10 years of Royal TS we care about the compression setting of RDP? In previous versions we always enabled compression for RDP connections because it seemed obvious to save bandwidth without putting too much CPU load on the client and server. We’ve learned that there are some network devices out there which are built to further optimize RDP streams but this works only if uncompressed RDP streams are used. A user asked us to implement this because he was using such a device and realized that the compression prevented the device from optimizing the stream. So this is now tested and implemented for those who need to use such a device. Everyone else is advised to keep the compression on (which is still the default value).
  • FIXED: Screenshots are now saved as PNG files
    1.7.1 introduced the “take screenshot” functionality. We fixed the output format from the rather large BMP to much smaller PNG files.
  • FIXED: Modifying items didn’t always mark document as dirty
    Sometimes Royal TS didn’t prompt to save changes, even when the document was modified. This should be fixed now. Royal TS will still not consider a document changed when a folder is collapsed or expanded. Although this is still persisted in the file and needs you to trigger the save command manually.
  • FIXED: Checking for updates through a proxy server

You can download 1.7.2 from http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Download.aspx

If you run into an issue or want to provide feedback, feel free to use our forums: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Forums.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Monday, April 18, 2011 5:06:50 PM

Royal TS supports automatic logon, meaning you can provide user name, domain and password and you will be logged on automatically upon connect. As a side note, I recommend to encrypt the document with a master password to prevent others to read your passwords if they get a hold on your file. See a demonstration on how to do that in our screencasts section: http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Screencasts.aspx

Connecting to Windows 2000:

Windows 2000 (Workstation and Server) doesn't allow you to automatically log on through a terminal session. This is an OS limitation. Automatic logon only works with Windows 2003/XP or later.

RDP Settings:

On the remote server you want to connect to, open up the Terminal Services Configuration MMC (Windows 2003/2008) or Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration MMC (Windows 2008R2) from the Administrative Tools. Right-click on the RDP-Tcp connection and select Properties. Switch to the Log on Settings tab and ensure that the checkbox Always prompt for password is not checked.

RDP Settings using Group Policies:

The setting above can also be set and enforced by group policies.
Windows 2003: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc786890(WS.10).aspx
Windows 2008: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753697(WS.10).aspx
Windows 2008R2: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee791928(WS.10).aspx

DontDisplayLastUserName is configured:

A very nice Royal TS user brought this to my attention. If your server is configured to not show the last user name, automatic logon may not work. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/260711

To remove this setting on the Terminal Server:
1.Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe).
2.Locate and click the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
3.Click the DontDisplayLastUserName value, and then click String on the Edit menu.
4.Type 0 in the String Editor dialog box, and then click OK.
5.Quit Registry Editor, and then restart the Terminal Server.

If you need a workaround and want the last user to not show up but still want to use automatic logon you can try the following:
The same key at:
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
clears up the login username's field with a normal user, but not RDP's fields. So RDP Auto-Logon should work.

 

Since I often get asked why automatic logon is not working, I decided to create an FAQ-Item of the above. You can find it in the FAQ Forums: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Forums/tabid/61/forumid/11/scope/threads/Default.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Tuesday, April 05, 2011 9:35:32 AM

A good way to filter out all the noise in SCOM is to use the priority field of generated alerts. Creating views only showing high-priority alerts and configuring/overriding certain rules and monitors to raise alerts with high priority can help you in your daily operations to handle only alerts of interest for you without really losing any of the other alerts.

Most management packs are written to raise almost any alert with priority 1 (meaning medium). Still, some of them are raised with low (0) priority or high (2) priority. To find those rules and monitors in your or any 3rd party management pack, I’ve created a small PowerShell script to identify them and print them to the console.

Here’s the script to find all the rules:

## find all rules with a certain priority (0 = Low, 1 = Medium, 2 = High) $RMS = "rms-server-name" $Priority = 2 $ManagementPacks = Get-ManagementPack ## iterate through the management packs foreach ($ManagementPack in $ManagementPacks) { ## get all the rules in the current management pack and iterate through them $Rules = $ManagementPack.GetRules() foreach ($Rule in $Rules) { ## get through all writeaction of the current rule and look for a write action "GenerateAlert" and the configured priority foreach ($WriteAction in $Rule.WriteActionCollection) { if (($WriteAction.TypeID.GetElement().Name -eq "System.Health.GenerateAlert") -and ($WriteAction.Configuration -like "*<Priority>$Priority</Priority>*")) { Write-Host "Rule : "$ManagementPack.Name" : "$Rule.DisplayName } } } }

You can also look for different write action configurations, such as Severity, AlertName or AlertDescription. Unfortunately the only way to do this for rules is to look for string matches in the configuration property – which is a string property containing the configuration XML fragment.

The alert configuration for monitors is easier and “cleaner” implemented. Properties like AlertPriority are exposed directly and can be accessed much more easier.

Here’s the script to find all the monitors:

## find all monitors with a certain priority (0 = Low, 1 = Medium, 2 = High) $RMS = "rms-server-name" $Priority = 2 $ManagementPacks = Get-ManagementPack ## iterate through the management packs foreach ($ManagementPack in $ManagementPacks) { ## get all the rules in the current management pack and iterate through them $Monitors = $ManagementPack.GetMonitors() foreach ($Monitor in $Monitors) { ## get the alert settings of the current monitor and look for the configured priority $AlertSetting = $Monitor.AlertSettings if (!($AlertSetting -eq $null)) { if ($AlertSetting.AlertPriority -eq $Priority) { write-Host "Monitor : "$ManagementPack.Name" : "$Monitor.DisplayName } } } }
By Stefan Koell on Monday, April 04, 2011 4:27:56 PM

Log Smith Icon

I’m happy to announce Log Smith 2.0 is now released, still freeware (donations are welcome and very much appreciated!) and ready for download:
http://www.code4ward.net/main/LogSmith.aspx

Log Smith allows you to connect to SCOM management groups AND windows machines to examine events. You can add several views with different queries and filters and save them all in a file. If you need to use different credentials, you can use the credential manager to manage all your accounts and save them encrypted in your file as well.

One very convenient feature – especially for SCOM management pack authors – is the display of event parameters (replacement strings) of each SCOM and Windows event. This will make authoring of event based rules and monitors much easier.

I will soon post some blog posts showing the features of Royal TS but in the meantime you can check out the review of Log Smith @ addictivetips.com: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/filter-and-view-windows-and-scom-event-logs-with-log-smith/

By Stefan Koell on Monday, March 28, 2011 4:20:40 PM

SNAGHTML95f6889

I’ve just uploaded a new release to code4ward.net with several bug fixes and one new, little feature. Here’s the snippet of the version history:

NEW: Ability to save a screenshot of a remote session using the Actions -> Take Screenshot command

FIXED: Folder credentials are now handled in tasks

FIXED: Fullscreen window couldn’t be minimized when Grab Keyboard Input was switched off

FIXED: Leading and trailing blanks are now removed during bulk-add operations

FIXED: Other minor bugs and performance improvements

Fixed:

Since the release of Royal TS 1.7, an automated error reporting function was implemented. In case of a crash (basically an unhandled exception) you see something like this:

image

Clicking on “Send Error Report” will send us an email with the exception details. This was a huge help so far and we could smash lots of bugs which we’ve never realized we have. Of course, if you see an annoying bug in Royal TS you can and should still use our forums to report them.

We’ve also tweaked Royal TS (RTSApp.exe) to start faster and run smoother. 1.7.0 was sometimes sluggish and I think we were able to significantly improve overall performance.

New:

There were two major feature request since we’ve released the hyper-v dashboard and the ability to connect to hyper-v instances:

1.) Taking screenshots from the remote session

image

Screenshots will be saved in the user’s pictures folder in a sub directory called Royal TS.

2.) Typing the clipboard text into the remote session

This one is still on our roadmap. The remote desktop control doesn’t really allow to interact with the remote session from “outside”. Once we figured out a way to reliably type the clipboard text into the remote session, we will implement it.