Quick links Thin Computing:
We dropped a mention of RDS Session Terminator over on the SmartDock feature element page. Session Terminator is a FastTrack script compiled to an EXE which is then included within our handy ‘HelpDesk’ application, which itself is a FastTrack script compiled into an executable.
When the Session Terminator application is executed, the Help Desk user simply sees a list of running RDS sessions in the server farm. They simply pick a logged on user to log out and that’s it. While the user is on the phone, this is a quick operation that can be handle in seconds – much simpler and faster than going through the MS equivalent screens, and without any need to give the helpdesk support staff access to any other part of the server.
You can use FastTrack to query information about the executing Citrix Receiver client from the server-side, such as the client name and IP address.
A simple condition detects if a script is currently executing in an ICA session and can therefore take different actions based on this condition. This functionality is also built into our Logon Script feature, where the client IP address can be used to make correct printer mappings.
From the client side, you can query version information and installation status of Citrix Receiver (formerly ICA Client) and you can start and control a desktop session, a XenApp application session or you can start a custom built .ica file. This enables you to create launch menus, which can be a mix of ICA sessions, RDP sessions and locally installed applications. Such menus can be useful for building application launchers or Thin PCs.
Make sure to also check out our RDS Session Terminator Application, which compiles a script into to an exe file that can logoff disconnected users by a Help Desk without administrative permissions.
A common problem with Remote Desktop Services RemoteApp and Citrix XenApp environments is that the same user may start the same application multiple times, which is a problem when resources are limited. The solution is to create a boot script that starts the application, but only if it is not already started by the executing user.
Virtual Session Remapping
Further enhancing our functionality for Remote Desktop / VDI connection management, is very handy feature called SmartConnect. SmartConect is a companion utility that detects when a users remote session is reconnected and then triggers re-connection, or executes a script of your choice if this occurs.
Take for example VDI printer session management. SmartConnect enables you to detect when a user reconnects to a previously disconnected Remote Desktop or Citrix ICA session. SmartDock will remap the reconnecting users’ printers. The session is resumed even from another location or computer.
SmartConnects sole aim is to detect and manage session re-connections, the choice of what gets done when such an event occurs (printer re-map, drive letter re-map, email to support etc) is entirely up to you, with FastTrack you have over 1,500 commands at your disposal!
Rerun logon scripts
You can use FastTracks SmartConnect feature to force the execution of a logon script at night, which is a very useful feature – unless sessions are automatically terminated on a schedule or inactivity based. The reason this is a useful feature, is that if there is not automatic termination of sessions, users’ sessions may run for weeks at a time. If you change printers for example or you need to move server storage (users’ drive mappings), you would otherwise have to notify everyone to log out and on again. Also, Office 365 has expiration of sessions. If you use the SharePoint and/or OneDrive drive letter mapping, the user needs to logon again after 5 days’ inactivity. With this setting on, the user will be prompted to logon again, when this applies. So when the user makes a reconnection to a session, they will be prompted to logon to Office 365 again, instead of having drive mappings unavailable.
Alternatively, you can click the option to create a desktop icon to rerun the full logon script at the bottom and notify users that they can always click that instead of logging off and on.
SmartDocks Automatic session termination option allows you to force kill sessions on a schedule. This of this feature as being similar to what happens when you logging off a desktop session that takes too long. If any application prompts to save or for other reasons refuse to terminate gracefully, a force option determines if this should be honoured or not. So SmartDock allows you to do exactly this same sort of thing, but for RDP sessions.
FastTrack Automation Studio can query information from RDS clients within Remote Desktop Services (RDS) sessions from the server-side and retrieve information such as the client name and IP address.
This is especially useful for connecting printers and shares. FastTrack will first look to detect either an ICA or RDP session and return the client IP address, and If the session is not a remote session, the IP address of the physical machine is returned instead. The net result of this is that it enables us to run a universal script base which works for both remote and traditional desktop system – a major advantage if you are running mixed / hybrid environments.
From the client side, in addition to simply gathering information about RDP clients, with FastTrack you can also start and control desktop sessions as well. This enables you to create launch menus, which can be a mix of RDP sessions, ICA sessions and locally installed applications. Such menus can be useful for building application launchers or Thin PCs.
RDS sessions can be started either in a window or full-screen and you can query whether the session was successful or not. You can for example use this to build launch menus mixed between local applications and Remote Desktop and XenApp sessions. Have a look at our Thin PC page for an example of using a menu instead of starting Explorer.exe as the shell process.
What if you could just drop a computer into an Organisational Unit (OU) and this computer then turns into a locked down Thin PC (aka ‘Kiosk mode’) that only shows a simple menu or just starts one specific application or web page? This would be a very powerful feature for shared or public computers that should offer only limited availability to applications.
It is actually much simpler than it sounds. With the FastTrack Automation Studio and Group Policies, you have all the building blocks you need. You just need to walk through a simple wizard and set a few group policy settings. There is no replacement of msgina.dll or similar system hacks. And when you take a computer out of the OU, it automatically gets restored to a normal Windows PC!