Roberto Alves

Scripting and server based computing

Re-enable toolbars in Excel 2003

Sometimes you can be very surprised with the amount of irresponsible people doing some code as vbs scripts, programs or even simple excel macros that can negatively affect production environments.

Last week I got a very simple problem, that can be frustrating for a user. Some external partner of my company created a Excel spreadsheet with a macro that disable all toolbars and hide Excel menus. Basically, the macro cleans all Excel screen, transforming the spreadsheet into something similar to a Visual Basic program.
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Easily running commands in all servers/workstations

Sometimes we are diving into so many tools, products, technologies, etc that we forgot simple and old tools that can save the day or at least save a good time. I will give as example the Sysinternals psexec, that is very useful to run remote commands.

Let’s imagine that you need force a policy update in all servers or workstations. May be, your first thought can be:  “I can create a script that reads a file with a list of servers/workstations, after read the file, the script can run processes using a WScript.Shell object. After ran the process in each server the script can get a result and save a file with the task results.” Of course that this script will take some time to write and probably will have some dozens of code lines.

Or, you can do the same task just with one line of command.
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.vbs script to restrict access only from internet to Citrix XenApp or TS servers

This vbs script consist into two verifications to restrict access of users from internet in Citrix XenApp (Presentation Server/Metaframe) servers or Terminal Services, to be included in the session initialization. The idea of this script allow access from users from Internet just if they are in a specific Active Directory group.

In the first verification, the script checks if the current user belongs to a group called “Remote Workers. If yes, the script jumps to the end. If no, the script goes to the second verification.
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Simple and better solution to redirect local drives in XenApp sessions

ICA or RDP are not the best protocols to copy files between DataCentres and remote workstations. But, some times is very difficult to implement a different solution to provide access to users local files from Citrix XenApp or Terminal Services, and even if the idea was rejected in the design of your environment, one day you will be faced with this problem and may be your easiest and better option will be enable redirection from local drives to remote sessions.

Well, you can select if you want map/redirect floppy disks, cd roms, remote drives or local drives. If you are worried with the impact of this configuration in the logon time of your users, probably you will enable just the redirection for local drives and unfortunatelly you will consider that many users can have more than one local drive and this can affect their logon.
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Is Citrix FastLaunch a good option to improve logon time of Citrix XenApp sessions?

In this month Citrix released a new utility called FastLaunch. This is not a official supported utility or even a tech preview. It is just a very small utility made by IT guys in Citrix to “hold” Citrix sessions, providing to users reconnect their sessions every time, instead to logon again.

This tool was created some time ago and Citrix didn’t made available because they faces a interesting problem caused by the community involvement. Someone shows the utility in a Citrix event, then other one put a video in internet talking about the utility, and a lot of people become to ask for downloads or to Citrix include the utility in XenApp.

But, the “magic” utility is not a dream for almost Citrix administrators pissed off by users complaining about slow logons. In almost cases, this utility can be a major problem, witch means that you need to be very careful before publish to production users.
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XML-based map network drives for login scripts

I found at Forum a very useful script wrote by a user called “ginolard”, that can be used at login scripts or if you need, you can use the basic structure of this script into others scripts with different proposes.

Basically, this script read a XML file and execute mapnetwork commands considering the information gathered. The great advantage of use this model (scripts reading XML or INI files to get information), is that you can keep the same script for a long time without amends.
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Impact of PDF Readers in Citrix/TS environments

Day by day, PDF files are becoming more and more popular and in some cases, more used than .doc files! And I bet that many Citrix administrators never stopped to think how much the PDF Readers are affecting the server performance and scalability in a Citrix farm, considering that memory consumption of PDF readers can be very interesting and frightening for Citrix administrators.

Multi functional printers with scanners that send scanned documents through email in a pdf file are very common, large documents found in internet generally are in PDF, many companies are using pdf format to protect copyright, some companies prefer use pdf against other formats thinking into document sizes, etc. Result: PDF is becoming the most used format at many companies and PDF Reader are affecting directly on Citrix Farm performances.
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Different procedure to rename Citrix XenApp 5 Servers

Rename a Citrix XenApp Server (Presentation Server/Metaframe) Is a very common administrative task, but many administrators ignore that Citrix has recommendations to be followed. And this recommendations are different from XenApp 4.0/4.5 than XenApp 5.

Basically, there is only one item that was included by Citrix on the procedure to rename servers. But is very important, and you can have serious problems if you don’t follow the instructions below to set in Registry to IMA service force a Localhost replication with datastore.
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Building quickly a XenApp 4.5 server for demonstration

Sometimes we need install a simple XenApp environment for some porprouse like training, pre-sales, show some funcionality, test something before put in production, test an application to see if is compatible, etc. and depending of the propourse, you might spend some hours doing this boring task.

But for XenApp 4.5, you can use a freeware called VisionApp Experience 2007 that does all (or almost) work for you. Is quite simple, and you need just inform the path of XenApp 4.5 installation files and Windows 2003 installation files. Also, is recommended to you run a Windows Update before start the installation and run the tool locally.
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White Web Interface for Citrix XenApp 5

Citrix brought some benefits launching XenApp 5, and the majors were support to Windows 2008 and a reformulated Web Interface. The new Web Interface 5 is very cool, using the most new CSS techniques and is more smart, recognizing the browser capabilities that each user is using (including mobiles).

Also, the new Web Interface 5 brings the pass-through built-in functionality from the previous version 4.6. Almost administrators didn’t had enough time to upgrade to WI 4.6, and now they can update direct to 5 and get the most updated version. But (there is always a but), Citrix include a black background on WI 5 and this background is not easy modified by console.

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