Category Archives: Tools

XenDesktop Iconizer, a new tool for XenDesktop icons.

Recently I read a post from XD Tipster on how to convert Png files into icons and use them for XenDesktop and Storefront… A very interesting piece, but a bit convoluted and long winded for my liking. I didn’t like the idea of the two website hops to get this information into XenDesktop format… So I decided to write two utilities:

icons

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Update to AppV launcher for Version 5

Just a quick note to say I’ve updated the AppV launcher tool to support Appv 5.

appv5

 

The app-V launcher tool is a self contained executable which lists your installed App-V packages and allows you to launch an executable in that virtual applications environment. This is particularly useful if you or your admins / users are not PowerShell friendly or you would prefer to not publish PowerShell scripts as programs.

You can get a copy of the latest version and/or it’s source code over here.

As an added benefit I’ve included source code for running PowerShell commands in .Net, so if you are interested in trying to do so grab the source code!

Introducing Wake On Lan manager

checklist_2_128x128x32Here’s a little tool I’ve been using in my home lab in anger for a few months and decided somebody else might get some use out of it.

2013-07-30 08_52_00-home.thinscale.net_3389 - Remote Desktop Connection

Wake on Lan manager is the latest tool I’ve written for managing your home lab environment for power saving. With Wake on Lan manager you can add a list of hosts or pc’s sitting at home behind a firewall and wake them up on demand. In my setup I leave one machine running in my lab at home every day and when I need to spin up the hypervisors I can simply right click and wake the computer up on demand:

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Wake on Lan will check the status of the machine via DNS and ping to check when the machine comes up at which time you can choose to RDP or SSH directly to the device.

How it works:

In order for Wake on lan manager to work correctly, you should register the correct DNS name and IP address in your lab for the hypervisors. The target machines must also support Magic Packet aka Wake on Lan.

Putty Support:

In order to get putty working, install wake on lan manager and browse down to the installation folder, find the wolmanager.exe.config and add the putty path as follows:

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Download link:

Download.

Requirements:

.Net Framework 4 client profile.

Another handy little tool, Move On Boot.

red_copyUpon receiving a new dll from a support provider recently, I could not replace the existing file, as the file was in use by the system. A restart to safemode also wielded the same result. Dang!

I wanted to use the PendingFileRenameOperations registry key to instruct windows to copy a file during the boot process.

The issue with this key and behavior is that in order to tell windows to delete a file, the next line to the source file must be blank… if you manually try to add a blank line to regedit you receive the following error!

error

I needed an application to move a file during the boot process of windows before the service or handle held the file I wanted to replace open. I decided to write a new tool called MoveOnBoot.exe.

MoveOnBoot leverages the PendingFileRenameOperations registry key and the MoveFileEx Api to move the file on boot simply and easily.

Move on boot does the following:

  1. Adds the copy jobs to the PendingFileRename key you specify.
  2. Copies the new file into the target directory with an  _newer file extension.
  3. Optional: instructs windows to copy the current file to a _old extension
  4. instructs windows to replace the target file with the _Newer file.

 

How to use it:

Simply select the source and destination files as below:

UI

Optionally choose to backup the target file during the operation with the check box above.

Once you have added all the files you need to replace, you can check the queue by going to file > view pending operations:

results

And that’s it! restart the device and let windows do the hard work.

Optionally, if you chose to backup the file as part of the operation, you will find an _old file in the target directory as below:

after reboot

 

Download:

Stand alone Binary.

Source code.

Support information:

  • Requires Administrator privileges.
  • Requires .net framework 2.0 or greater.

 

Caffeine for Citrix Receiver!

Update: Caffeine 1.2 has been posted to include support for receiver 4.2 and above.

In this post I’m announcing a new little tool from my lab for managing power saving and screen saver settings while using the Citrix Receiver for windows. I’ve been using this tool for months, I love it and miss it when I use a workstation without this tool. I’ve also sent this out for feedback to a select few experts in the VDI market space and the feedback was very positive.

That being said, this tool will be welcomed by some (users) and hated by others (admins). I’m a bit torn about whether to publish it or not so if you want to add to the feedback drop me an email on andrew@andrewmorgan.ie.

A big thanks to Mike Stanley, Kees Baggerman, Simon Pettit & Dan Garcia for the feedback!

Caffeine will also be available in the next release of ThinKiosk.

The Mission statement:



Often when using the XenApp, XenDesktop or even Citrix VDI in a Box, double prompting for passwords from windows devices is both common and a pain in the backside.  When you’re local workstation locks out you need to re input your workstation password, then re input your password again in the remote session… irritating and unnecessary.

From a security perspective its necessary to configure a secure screensaver on their desktop in the datacenter to ensure any connecting device receives a password prompt when the user is idle a certain amount of time, but it can be a management nightmare to exclude users from receiving double password prompts from managed windows devices.

Removing the double password scenario:

This issue extends from desktops, to laptops and to thin clients too and it often bugged me how often I spent entering my password twice each day.





With Caffeine for receiver, you  install a lightweight application that runs in the system tray. This application automatically attaches to Receiver sessions (via the ICA Client Object) and sends a keep alive every minute to ensure the remote screen saver never kicks in. Leaving just the local secure screensaver to lock the users out.

This works really well from Enterprise devices with double screensavers or home devices that are secure by default. This also allows you to keep your secure screensaver policies on the datacenter side and work around them from managed devices.

Sleep settings:



As a father, I struggle to find alot of time to work while my son is awake. Often I’ll start working on something and get dragged away for hours only to return to my pc asleep and my remote session disconnected and logged off due to policies. This infuriates me and I disable sleep on most of my devices for this reason… Which is costing me a fortune in electricity!





Further to just screensaving, Caffeine can also be configured to stop computers from going to sleep while a remote session is active. This will keep your pc awake when you are running a remote session if you need to step away but allow it to sleep when you don’t have a remote session… Best of both worlds!

If you still wish to use power saving while on battery, this is still available as above.

Wasted resource?



Well if I’m sending a keep alive from my enterprise device this means the sessions will never reach enough of an idle timeout to satisfy idle timeout policies. Which from an admin perspective mean’s these sessions will never terminate unless the remote machine is restarted.

With Caffeine you can configure these idle time-outs for managed devices via the settings (above) or via GPO meaning you can mirror your idle time-out settings…and dare I say feel confident they’re work reliably for once!

But.. but.. but.. security!!! We can’t have users turning off their secure screensavers!



Well, yes. This is the conflict of interest here, users want it and the admins wont! In order to make Caffeine as secure as possible I’ve included the following options for enterprises:

Caffeine requires administrative permissions to install:

By default only administrators of their local machines will be able to install Caffeine.

Enterprise Kill Pill:

Caffeine has a “Kill Pill” built in, you can download the enterprise GPO to stop Caffeine from working on your devices.

Secure screensaver requirement:






By default caffeine will only work if a secure screensaver is present locally. If the user attempts to remove the screensaver after login, they will be alerted and Caffeine will no longer keep the sessions alive:







Advanced Access Control.

Using Advanced access control with access gateway you can target machines running caffeine and exclude them from using your citrix environment.

Availability:

The Caffeine for Citrix Receiver beta is now available for download.

Pre-Requisits:

  • .Net Framework 2.0
  • Citrix Receiver 3.2 and upwards.

Tested Platforms:

  • Windows 7 x64
  • Windows 8.1 x64

 

Download:



Caffeine for Citrix Receiver

Group Policy Template