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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 Thursday, November 24, 2011 4:02:22 PM

 

In the last couple of weeks we processed all the great feedback and were able to implement some new stuff and also fix some stuff. We’re right on track for a release soon. Stability and performance is increasing and feedback has been extremely positive so far. A big “Thank you!” to all the beta testers out there for giving the new release a try and more importantly to provide valuable feedback.

During the last couple of releases we fixed and improved Royal TS in many areas. Here are some highlights:

  • Multi-monitor support was greatly improved and Royal TS V2 now also supports the using multiple monitors for remote desktop sessions, similar to the /multimon switch. This requires Win7/Win2008R2 on the client side and Win2008R2 on the server side.
  • A “Connect/Disconnect all in Folder” command was introduced in the folder context menu.
  • Configurable “Mouse Events” allowing you to individually execute the command of your choice when an object is double-clicked.
  • To read more about the above, visit http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/111/Another-week-another-build-11020.aspx
  • A getting started page, especially for new users who want to try Royal TS.
  • Legacy .rts file import and also .csv file import/export improvements
  • Proxy settings for those who wanted to check for updates behind a proxy server
  • A new “Connect with Options” menu allowing you to connect to any of your connections ad hoc
  • Some enhancements around the web page connection
  • Enhanced automatic update checker which now allows you to check for beta versions as well

There are still a couple of known issues we are working on right now:

  • Sometimes it’s hard to find out which tab is active. Especially when tab groups are split. This of course, depends on the theme you are using but we are also working on a better visual representation of the active tab in lower contrast themes.
  • Restoring of closed dock panels in the tab view (like the dashboard) is currently broken.
  • Save merge isn’t working correctly (this feature will be discussed in more detail when those issues are fixed)

Now, let’s talk about some cool new improvements:

Tab Context Menu

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There are a couple of new useful commands in the context menu for you to execute directly from the tab without looking for the command in the ribbon or locating the node in the navigation panel. Reconnect, for those who constantly need this command after the screen saver kicked in, is now available as well as commands to change the window mode from embedded to external and vice versa. As before, closing a tab will disconnect the session automatically.

Proxy Server

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There were a couple of requests to bring back proxy server support for the update check. So here we go, the above picture shows the proxy configuration page.

How to make Royal TS faster (ngen, pre-compilation)

We started to change our deployment from single assembly to individual assembly. The single assembly approach had its advantages, especially for deployment and memory stick usage but in the end, we experienced huge problems with pre-compilation (ngen). User feedback showed us that users prefer faster applications and are willing to sacrifice deployment simplicity. From now on, all the beta releases are deployed in a zip file containing the executable and all required dlls. For the beta version we also included a file called “ngen.cmd” which will pre-compile Royal TS for better startup time and runtime performance. Once we release V2 and provide an .msi, it will be pre-compiled automatically during the setup process.

Interesting Blog Posts

Here’s a list of all previous blog posts about releases, features and general information of Royal TS:


 

Download and Installation

If you want to download and test the most recent release of Royal TS V2 Beta, go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx

Download links will be kept updated on that page. You will also find all the download and installation instructions as well as a short getting started chapter.

Feedback is always welcome. To report issues or discuss Royal TS V2, go to: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Forums/tabid/61/forumid/9/scope/threads/Default.aspx

cheers,
Stefan

By Stefan Koell on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:46:47 AM

There was an interesting discussion about putting all groups for overrides in a sealed MP. At first, you might think it’s a great idea because you can reuse the same groups in different MPs and to be honest, when I started with SCOM 2007 several years ago, I was also tempted to design overrides and groups in such a way.

The Basics

The previously mentioned discussion also links to a blog post about where to put those groups in. This post perfectly describes the behavior of objects in unsealed MPs and the behavior of referencing objects in sealed MPs:

When you create a group, you save it to an unsealed management pack. However, an element in an unsealed management pack, such as a group, cannot reference an element in a different unsealed management pack, such as an override or a view. If you are going to use a group to target an override or scope a view, you must either save the group to the same unsealed management pack as the override or view, or you must seal the management pack that contains the group.
 
If you save the group to the same unsealed management pack as the override or view, you can only use that group for overrides and views that are also contained in that unsealed management pack.
 
If you seal the management pack that contains the group, you can reference that group from other unsealed management packs. However, you cannot easily change any group settings in the sealed management pack or add new groups to the sealed management pack.
 
Before you create any groups in Operations Manager, you should plan what groups you will need, the purpose each group will serve, and how to save the group in a manner that will allow it to be used for its intended purpose.

The above is valid for SCOM 2007, SCOM 2007 SP1, SCOM 2007 R2 and upcoming SCOM 2012 and it just hits the spot. When you read this you might still consider using all your groups for overrides from a sealed MP. I’m not saying that this is wrong. There are situations where you need to do that but in my experience these situations are very rare and very special. Anyway, to find out how to seal an MP, take a look at David Allen’s blog post: http://wmug.co.uk/blogs/aquilaweb/archive/2009/07/21/sealing-a-management-pack-in-r2.aspx

The Danger of having one single sealed MP for Overrides

Let me outline what implications this has, especially when you need to maintain those groups:

  • Once you’ve sealed an MP containing groups, you cannot edit those groups in the operations console. You cannot change explicit membership, dynamic membership rules, etc.
  • You cannot easily remove the sealed MP with your groups from your management group. To remove it you also need to remove all override MPs which are using those groups
  • You need to be careful modifying the sealed group MP. You cannot change a group ID. This will break update compatibility. You also cannot easily remove a group from your MP. Adding new groups is no problem though.
  • When you want to remove a group, you first need to export and edit all your override MPs which are referencing the group and remove all overrides which are using this group. Only after re-import of the modified override MPs, an update of the sealed MP without the group will work.
  • You need to keep your unsealed MP around and when you want to modify your sealed MP you always edit the unsealed MP. Since you cannot have both installed in one management group, you most likely need to modify your MP in the authoring console. Creating and modifying groups in the authoring console is by far not that easy as in the operations console.
  • Always increase the version number before you seal your modified MP and update your MP in the management group. If you do not do that, you might end up with groups not being updated, etc.
  • As stated above, you cannot easily remove the sealed group MP, so you just update your existing one in the management group.

As you can see, sealing group management packs has its challenges.

Best Practice for Overrides

In SCOM you need to plan carefully and think about structuring your MPs, naming conventions and organization. As a best practice you should always create a dedicated override management pack for each sealed custom or 3rd party management pack.

For example, if you use the Active Directory management pack, create a management pack called “Active Directory Overrides” (or “Overrides – Active Directory” depending what naming convention you prefer) to store all the overrides in that management pack. It’s important to keep a consisting naming convention for the MP naming as it will help you later to find your stuff. Create those override MPs for each sealed MP you import – best would be right after the import! Microsoft is even considering to ship their MPs with empty override MPs from the start which may help users to follow this pattern right away.

Most sealed MPs have already their own groups (based on application discovery) which can be used for your overrides. If you need custom groups for Active Directory overrides, you need to create them in the same override MP as the overrides (see “The Basics” above). At first this might let you think that this is counter productive. The group you create in this MP will not be available in other unsealed MPs. And you’re right if you think “what if I need the same group in another override MP because these are the same servers?”. Yes. you need to create the same group again in the other override MP - but this is a good thing! Consider, you want to remove an MP permanently because you do not have the application anymore. Having the application MPs and overrides MPs stringed together allows you to easily remove or update an application MP in your management group – without affecting anything else. It’s a self-containing set of objects, completely independent from the other MPs.

This makes maintenance and lifecycle management of applications and management packs much more easier!

And one more thing: DO NOT EVER USE THE DEFAULT MANAGEMENT PACK! (I think this is already a well known fact…)

cheers,
Stefan
http://www.code4ward.net

By Stefan Koell on Monday, November 14, 2011 5:56:59 PM

 

This forum post http://www.systemcentercentral.com/Default.aspx?tabid=177&IndexId=90237 inspired me to write this blog post. Sometimes, especially when you create script based rules or monitors, you need to ensure the script runs under a specific account. In SCOM there’s something called “Run As” Accounts and “Run As” Profiles. Some management packs require you to setup run as accounts and assign them to run as profiles in order to successfully monitor the application. If you do not set run as accounts, all the workflows (monitors, rules, etc.) run with the default action account.

So you might wonder, if they can do that, can I do that too? Short answer is yes. Longer answer is: yes, but you can’t do it with the Operations Console. You either hack XML or you use the Authoring Console.

You can create so called “Secure References” to run a rule or monitor with a different user.

I’ve created a simple monitor in the Operations Console which will run with the default action account. If you explore the properties of any monitor in the Operations Consolethere’s no way to change the action account. There’s also no way to override the action account. As mentioned before, the Operations Console is quite limited.

We need the Authoring Console!

You can download and install the authoring console here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=18222

Before we continue, we will need to export the management pack where our monitor was created. Use the Administration space, select Management Packs, locate the management pack and click on Export Management Pack:
image

Start the authoring console and open the just exported management pack (where your monitor is located). In case you have troubles locating the System.Center.Library management pack, look at this blog post from Chris Harris on how to deal with that: http://blogs.technet.com/b/momteam/archive/2011/08/05/authoring-console-looking-for-microsoft-systemcenter-library-mp-6-1-7221-61-or-later.aspx

Create a new Secure Reference

After you’ve opened the management pack, go to the Health Model space and click on Secure References. In Secure References you can define “Run As” profiles that can be used to assign credentials to your monitors and rules. Right-click and select New Secure Reference from the context menu. Provide a new identifier for your secure reference (note the ID must be unique, it’s recommended to use the the management pack name as a prefix):
image

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Provide a meaningful name for your secure reference. The name you choose here will appear in the Operations Console in the Administration space under Run As Configuration\Profiles. It’s also recommended to provide a description to ensure that everyone knows what this profile is used for (for example: is needed because the monitor XYZ needs special permissions, etc.).

As Context you could just select “System.Entity” which will allow you to use the secure reference for any target class of your workflows.

The following link provides more information about the secure reference element: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee533832.aspx

Click OK to close the dialog.

Assign the Secure Reference to our Monitor

Change to Monitors (or if you want to assign your secure reference to a rule, go to Rules) and locate your monitor you want to change the Run as profile. Note that objects (such as monitors and rules) created in the Operations Console have an ID like UIGeneratedMonitor_and_some_GUID. If you have multiple monitors in this view, you may to open them all up until you find the one you are looking for.

In the configuration tab, select your Run as profile (the one we just created) and click on Apply:
image

Save and Re-Import

Before you save the management pack, I strongly recommend to increase the version number using File –> Management Pack Properties:
image

I’ve seen all sorts of weird behavior if you import a changed management pack with the same version, so don’t forget to always increase the version number.

Save the management pack using File –> Save and switch back to the Operations Console to import the management pack. After the import finished, ensure that the new version is shown correctly:
image

Assign a User Account to your new Run As Account

Go to the Run As Configuration\Accounts and create a new Run as account for your monitor:
image

Configure the windows account:
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Choose the distribution model, depending on your requirements and your security policy and finish the wizard.

Now go to the Run As Configuration\Profiles node in the Administration space and look for your new Run as Profile:
image

Click on Properties and assign the created Run as account to your new profile as you do it for other management packs:
image

One easy way to verify if your new action account is being used, is to check the task manager processes. Look for a MonitoringHost.exe running with your action account. SCOM creates at least one MonitoringHost.exe for each action account.

cheers,
Stefan
http://www.code4ward.net

By Stefan Koell on Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:03:36 PM

 

In this blog post I will go through the installation process of my “lab” machine with all relevant SCOM roles installed on a single box. I’ve prepared a virtual machine running Windows Server 2008 R2 fully patched and SQL Server 2008 R2 fully patched (incl. SP1). If you know SCOM 2007, you should know that 2012 now requires you to install DW components because some dashboard widgets depend on DW data. You also need to stick with the default collation in order to run SCOM (SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS) and last but not least, you need Full Text Search enabled. Because I’m also going to install the web consoles, I’ve added the IIS role to my Windows Server 2008 R2.

To download SCOM 2012 RC, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=27974

A word of caution though: “Upgrades from RC to RTM in *any* scenario will not be supported by Microsoft support unless you are part of the TAP program for the specific product that they are trying to upgrade.  Only TAP customers are licensed to run pre-RTM software in production.”

Installation

After we took care of all the required stuff, let’s jump in and start the setup:

image

As mentioned before, I will install all components for a typical single-server lab configuration.

image

In my case, the prerequisites checker failed with the following errors:

image

This happens if you install IIS role after you’ve installed the .NET 4 Framework. It’s easy to fix. Just go to the .net 4 framework directory and execute:

C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319>aspnet_regiis.exe -i

After you’ve registered .NET 4 in IIS, go to the ISAPI and CGI Restrictions and enable both, the 32 bit and 64 bit ISAPI extension:

image

Since I’m installing a fresh, new management group for my lab environment, I select to create a new management group and give it a meaningful name Winking smile

image

Oddly enough (maybe this is an RC thing), the next page shows the license terms. Usually it’s one of the first pages in the setup wizard. Anyway, agree to the terms and continue.

image

I think this is pretty much self explanatory. I did increase the initial database size because 1 gig of operational data is reached quickly. Let’s head over to the next page:

image

Here’s an interesting part. In previous versions 2007 and 2007 R2, data warehouse was an optional component. In 2012 it’s mandatory. At least having the DW database is mandatory. Having reporting is still optional (as you could see in the very first setup page).

image

SQL reporting services (SRS) are also used exclusively in 2012 as it was in the 2007 and 2007R2 versions. You need to have a dedicated SRS instance because after setup is done with SRS (mainly putting a custom security model on top of it) it’s “SCOM-ified” and unusable for other stuff!

The next two pages are dedicated to the web console:

image

If you want to publish the web console to the internet, I strongly recommend to enable SSL.

image

Since I’m using this internally in my lab only, I leave the default settings.

image

The new consolidated account configuration page makes it much more easier to configure all the action accounts.

The next page is dedicated to error reporting and customer experience improvement. Enable those settings if you can!

Verify the summary page and click next to start the installation process:

image

That’s it. After the installation finished you can close the installer and start the Operations Console:

image

cheers,
Stefan
http://www.code4ward.net

By Stefan Koell on Thursday, November 10, 2011 2:54:37 PM

Here are some highlights of what changed and what was fixed since out last blog post:

Connect with Options

Since release 11107 we restored the ability to “override” some more settings when you use connect with options. You can now select on which screen the external or full screen window will appear when you connect with options (screen selection is ignored in embedded mode). As you may know from the previous versions, the check states can be cleared by clicking on a checked again:

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Suppress Web Browser Dialogs

A web page connection can now be configured to suppress all web browser dialogs (like JavaScript errors, ActiveX installation prompts, etc.). You can find the option in the Advanced property page of the web page connection properties:

image

Getting Started Page

When Royal TS is started for the first time, a “Getting Started” page will help you with your first steps:

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Other Tweaks and Fixes

  • The Wizard dialog now has keyboard accelerators to for Back, Next, OK and Cancel which makes navigating the wizard using the keyboard only much more easier
  • Fixed some sort order issues
  • Quick search was fixed and improved (Ctrl-F brings you to the search boxes)
  • Bulk-edit issues were fixed
  • .rts File import password issues were fixed
  • and many other minor things

Want to test Royal TS V2?

Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

cheers,
Stefan

By Stefan Koell on Friday, November 04, 2011 4:05:16 PM

 

One often requested feature for Royal TS was allowing to have more documents open at the same time. We not only picked up the feature request, we took the idea even further. In short, you can have multiple files open at the same time, you can move things around, even across documents and you can refer to tasks and credentials from other documents as well. In this blog post I will explain how and when you can handle multiple documents as well as how to protect your passwords.

Why Documents?

 

imageFirst you might wonder why we chose the term document and why we picked a file based configuration management. We also could have chosen database driven storage or a seamless configuration file in the backend which just tracks what you’ve got.

We found that most users are very used to the approach working with files and having documents to store their stuff. So, why change something users are already used to? Another reason for the file based approach is flexibility. It’s easy to share, easy to construct (if you know what you are doing) and easy to handle.

With Royal TS V2 we’ve also streamlined the way you work with different object types. A document can have a folder structure holding connections, tasks and credentials. You add new objects to the folder structure, move around those objects, duplicate, edit or delete them.

What’s the “Application” Document?

image

When you start Royal TS, you will see an “Application” document in the navigation panel. This is a special kind of document which is always present and has some “limitations”.

You can create folders, credentials and tasks in the application document but you cannot create connections and you cannot close the application document. You can also password protect (using the Encryption settings in the Options) the application document. The default templates for connections (one for each connection type) are also stored in the application document. Besides that, the application settings (from the Options dialog) are also stored in there but it is not displayed in the tree. To edit the options you need to open the Options dialog from the backstage view or from the View ribbon tab.

When can I open multiple documents?

Royal TS is available as freeware and as shareware with the same download. There are two restrictions of the freeware versions:

  1. You cannot have more than 10 connections per Royal TS instance
  2. You cannot open more than 1 document per Royal TS instance (in addition to the Application document)

At any time you can obtain and enter a license key and “unlock” Royal TS. Licenses are mostly user based and with a single user license the above restrictions are gone.

Since V2, Royal TS is a single instance application by default. If you want to open multiple instances of Royal TS you need to edit the RTS2App.exe.config file from the installation directory and change the setting: “SingleInstanceMode” from “True” to “False”.

After you’ve entered your license information in Royal TS, you can just open additional documents using the File –> Open command from the Home ribbon tab.

How to open multiple documents at once?

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You can Ctrl-/Shift-Click on multiple documents in a directory and open them in one step using the File –> Open command.

How to automatically open documents when Royal TS starts up?

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Using the Options dialog you can set up one or more documents to open automatically when Royal TS starts up.

How to protect my documents?

A very common scenario where you work with multiple documents is, when you want to use a shared document within a team and your personal document. This scenario will be explained in detail in another blog post but in general we strongly recommend to protect those documents where passwords are stored.

To protect your personal documents from others to be opened, click on the document in the navigation panel and select the Edit –> Properties command from the Home ribbon tab:
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After you’ve set your password, you need to enter the password whenever you open the file or whenever you want to edit the properties of the document:
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How to protect my credentials I’ve stored in the Application document?

image

Once you have set an encryption password for the “Application” document, you need to enter the password when Royal TS starts up:
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What happens if I forgot my password?

If you forgot the passwords you’ve set for your documents, you will not be able to open the file in Royal TS.

If you forgot the password you’ve set in the Options dialog, you can click on Cancel when you are prompted for the password and have a chance to reset all your stored credentials. This way you can still open up Royal TS but all your saved passwords are gone and you must set them again.

Conclusion

The way we designed the document centric approach in V2 allows you to do very powerful and flexible things. You can setup your documents to be encrypted and secure your personal data (passwords). In the next blog post I will illustrate how a team can work with a single shared document and have multiple users access this document with the ability to automatically log on to remote systems using referenced credentials.

 

Want to test Royal TS V2 Beta?

Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

cheers,
Stefan

By Stefan Koell on Thursday, November 03, 2011 3:11:23 PM

Here’s another killer blog post from my colleague: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/123/Royal-TS-V2-How-to-import-CSV-files.aspx

Want to test the V2 Beta?

Want to test drive Royal TS V2 Beta? Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:00:09 AM

 

In my previous blog post I discussed the dashboard feature in general and focused on the “Folder Dashboard” which is shown when you select a document or folder in the navigation panel. In this blog post I will focus on the “Remote Desktop Dashboard”.

The RDP dashboard is shown whenever you click on an inactive remote desktop connection in the navigation panel. When you click on an active remote desktop connection, the connection tab is shown by default but you can switch back to the dashboard tab at any time.

Configuration

There are two dashboard components available for remote desktop connections: the “Hyper-V Instances” pane and the “Terminal Services Sessions” pane. To control what dashboard components are shown, use the “Hyper-V” configuration page in the remote desktop connection properties:
image

Hyper-V Modes:

  • This is a standard RDP connection (Default) 
    When you connection is configured using this option, you will only see the “Terminal Services Sessions” pane allowing you to control and interact to connected and disconnected sessions on that server (very similar to what Terminal Services Manager MMC offers).
  • This is a Hyper-V host, show VM instances in dashboard
    Selecting this option makes sense if the connection you’ve created points to a Hyper-V host. This will show both the “Hyper-V Instances” pane allowing you to control all hosted instances from the dashboard and the “Terminal Services Sessions” pane.
  • This is a Hyper-V host, connect to a specific instance
    If you select this option, you can browse for a specific instance (using the browse button from the Instance textbox) or just enter the VM GUID. This will show only the “Hyper-V Instances” pane filtered to show only the one instance you’ve selected. This way you have quick and easy access to control the configured instance from the dashboard.

Behavior

You can also control the default behavior when a dashboard is shown using the “Dashboard” configuration page in the remote desktop connection properties:
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As the check box “Use the application default setting” suggests, you can configure application wide default setting using the “Options” dialog. The idea here is that you can refer to the application settings in case you work with two different computers – one having direct network access to the remote machine, the other is a maybe mobile computer and doesn’t have direct network access most of the time. In this case you set up to automatically retrieve instances and sessions on your directly connected machine and disable automatic retrieval on your mobile computer. So one configured connection can behave differently on different computers without changing the connection properties individually.

Un-checking the “Use the application default setting” check box also allows you to create exceptions easily. For example, most machines are reachable in your network but some are not. For those not reachable, it just doesn’t make sense to even try to retrieve all the information. In this case you can create exceptions by un-checking the check box and configure the behavior explicitly for the connection.

Remote Desktop Connection Dashboard

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The above screenshot shows a dashboard of a remote desktop connection configured as a Hyper-V host. Also note that there’s currently an active connection to the machine but I manually switched back to the dashboard to see all the Hyper-V instances and the sessions (including the one I’ve opened from within Royal TS).

Hyper-V Instances Pane

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Requirements

To actually see the instances, the “Hyper-V Instances” pane needs to be able to access the remote machine (the Hyper-V host) using WMI across the network (WMI by default needs ports like RPC, NetBIOS, SMB). Also the user account running Royal TS (beware of UAC!) or the credentials of the remote desktop connection needs to have local administrative rights on the remote machine.

Toolbar Commands

The instance list offers a lot of details about the configured Hyper-V guests. You can select an instance and use the toolbar on top of the pane to control instances. There are also some shortcut commands helping you to work with those instances in Royal TS.

Start Sends the start command to the Hyper-V host for the selected instance.
Shut Down Sends the shut down command to the Hyper-V host for the selected instance.
Save State Saves the state of the selected Hyper-V instance.
Pause Causes the selected Hyper-V instance to be paused.
Add Remote Desktop Creates a new Remote Desktop connection within Royal TS based on the selected instance. Since there’s no way to find the real host name of an instance, the host name is “guessed” based on the instance name. So verify and change the name once the connection was created.
Add Hyper-V Instance Creates a new Remote Desktop connection within Royal TS based on the selected instance, configured to connect to the selected instance.
Connect (Ad Hoc) Creates an Ad Hoc connection to the console of the selected instance.
Refresh Refresh the list.

Terminal Services Sessions Pane

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Requirements

To get sessions listed in the pane, you need to be able to reach your remote machine using RPC, NetBIOS and SMB. The user running Royal TS (again, beware of UAC!) also needs to have local administrative rights on the remote machine. Royal TS can also try to impersonate as the user configured in the connection to retrieve the session information but depending on your environment this may not work.

Toolbar Commands

The session list shows many details about the connected or disconnected sessions. You can select one or more sessions and control/interact with them using the toolbar commands of the sessions pane.

Send Message Allows you to send a message text to the selected sessions. A dialog box with your message appears in the user session you’ve selected.
Reset Session Allows you to log off a remote session.
Restart Server This command can be used to quickly restart a server right from the dashboard without the need to log on.
Refresh Refresh the list.

Conclusion

The remote desktop connection dashboard offers a great set of tools and shortcuts in your daily operational business. Hopefully your network infrastructure, your security policy and your environment allows you to utilize these tools. I know from personal experience with big enterprise environments that it’s not always possible to have direct network access to remote servers but larger environments mostly provide alternatives (like deploying your tools like Royal TS to a dedicated management workstation/terminal server with appropriate network access or VPN infrastructure).

Want to test Royal TS V2 Beta?

Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

cheers,
Stefan

By Stefan Koell on Monday, October 31, 2011 5:28:40 PM

Here’s a brand new blog post from my colleague: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/120/Royal-TS-V2-How-to-import-my-previous-Royal-TS-1-x-file.aspx

Want to test the V2 Beta?

Want to test drive Royal TS V2 Beta? Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Monday, October 31, 2011 10:50:50 AM

Before we begin

Want to test drive Royal TS V2 Beta? Go to http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/EntryId/106/Royal-TS-2-0-First-Preview.aspx for download and installation instructions.

I also strongly recommend to consume our blog as you will find tons of Royal TS V2 related posts and feature spotlights (like this one): http://www.code4ward.net/main/Blog/tabid/70/BlogID/6/ParentBlogID/3/Default.aspx

Why Dashboards?

In Royal TS V1 we introduced dashboards for terminal services sessions and since 1.7.x we also extended that dashboard to view Hyper-V instances. When you clicked on a folder we were just hiding the remote desktop dashboard and showed a list view with the contents of the folder.

A big challenge in Royal TS V2 was to combine the long requested tabbed view for the connections and the already known and loved dashboards from Royal TS V1.x. In Royal TS 1.x switching between folder views, dashboards and connection was easy because there was no tab and by simply switching between these views, navigation felt very natural. Now with tabs, it’s not that easy anymore. A lot of hard thinking, testing prototypes and user feedback led to a solution with a “special” tab called “Dashboard”.

The Dashboard Tab

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By default, the dashboard tab appears in the tab bar and shows its content according to the selection in the navigation panel. So every time you change a selection in the navigation panel, the dashboard is updated and even selected if you change you selection from a connected item to a folder or disconnected item.

There are different dashboards showing up in the dashboard tab. Which one is shown depends on the type of object you select in the navigation panel. The following dashboards are available:

Dashboard Selection Type Description
Folder Dashboard Document or Folder This dashboard is shown when you select a folder or document and shows the folder content. Used to sort, find, select for edit and connect/disconnect.
Remote Desktop Dashboard Remote Desktop Connection This dashboard is shown when you select a remote desktop connection. The dashboard displays Hyper-V instances (if Hyper-V mode is enabled) and the terminal services session list. You can also interact with Hyper-V instances and terminal services sessions.
Web Page Dashboard Web Page Connection This dashboard is shown when you select a web page connection. It allows you to display and browse the web page without opening a tab.
Task Dashboard Task This dashboard shows a list of all objects which are referring to the task.
Credential Dashboard Credential This dashboard shows a list of all objects which are referring to the credential.
Template Dashboards Template This dashboard provides access to: editing the template, creating new connections based on the template and creating an ad hoc connection.

Docking

The dashboard tab can be closed, docked to the edges, or tabbed on the tab bar (default). When it’s closed, you can bring it back by clicking on the Dashboard button (located on the Home ribbon tab). If the dashboard is docked you can also click the pin glyph to auto-hide it.

As the title suggests, this blog post is about the

Folder Dashboard

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As mentioned before, the folder dashboard shows the contents of a selected document and folder. It provides many features helping you to organize and find stuff therefore it is the number one tool for managing a large number of objects. Let’s explore the features and elements of the folder dashboard:

Columns

The dashboard view shows a couple of columns by default. Right-clicking on the column headers lets you open the “Column Chooser” and add additional column to the view. One notable column is the URI column. You may wonder why we named it URI and the reason is, that the folder dashboard shows different connection types and while RDP connections for example have a “host name” or “IP address”, web page connections have a “URL”. So we chose the common denominator URI.

Quick Filter

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All column headers display a little filter glyph when you hover your mouse over the column header. Clicking on the glyph allows you to quickly filter the list based on selection of that column filter.

Search

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The search box allows you to search for a string fragment (case insensitive) across all visible columns. As you can see in the screenshot, it also marks the found fragments in the list.

Filter

The filter toggle buttons work the same way as in the navigation tree. Clicking on the bright light bulb shows you all connections which are currently connected, clicking on the other one shows you only connections currently not connected. Clicking on a button again, clears the filter.

Options

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The options drop down menu offers the following features:

Reset Resets all filters
Reset when selection has changed Resets filters when you select another filter (default). When you uncheck this item, the configured filter will always be applied while navigating different folders/documents.
Show items from subfolders When this item is checked, the list will show all items from the folder and all items in all subfolders.
Automatically fit all columns When checked, the column headers will adapt to best fit its content.
Best-fit all column This will best fit the columns just this one time.
Toggle Group-By-Box Shows/hides the “Group-By-Box” above the column headers allowing you to drag one or more columns on it in order to group the list.
Toggle Column-Filter Shows a quick-filter pane below the column headers allowing you to filter each column individually.
Show Column-Chooser Shows the column chooser window allowing you to drag additional columns to the column header.
Show Filter-Editor Shows the filter editor window allowing you to create very complex filter expressions.

Conclusion

As you can see, the folder dashboard is a very powerful component. You may ask yourself, why do I need that? And the answer to that is, you most likely do not need that most of the time. I think most users are happy with the default behavior of the folder dashboard and may use the occasional filter, set up their columns they are interested in and leave it at that. But users who need to manage several hundred connections will be very pleased with the more advanced stuff. Those users can filter, sort, prepare their list of connections and use bulk-edit to update their connections quickly and comfortably.

I hope with this blog post I could successfully demonstrate the beauty, power and purpose of the folder dashboard. If you have any feedback, suggestions or issue reports, do not hesitate to contact me directly (stefan.koell (-at-) code4ward.net) or post a new thread in our beta forums.

cheers,
Stefan