The musings of an IT Consultant


June 25, 2008  1:52 PM

Terminal Services and Citrix printing issues

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal
Windows Server 2003

One of the most common issues in a Terminal Services or Citrix environment tend to be printing. If I were to survey people that use either of these technologies I can almost guarantee you that’s what they’d say. The reason that printing has been such a problem is because not all printers were made to work over Terminal Services/Citrix.

IMO Citrix does a much better job with printing than just using Terminal Services, however you still won’t be error free if you aren’t careful with what you buy. Luckily their is a regularly published list of HP printers that are supported with Citrix. If you stick to the supported printers list you will be happy to see your printer woes go away. When deploying Terminal Services/Citrix in an environment one of the policies you should have is an approved list of printers that people are allowed to buy so you aren’t stuck supporting a printer that isn’t up to the task.

You can find the supported list of printers here: http://support.citrix.com/article/ctx110571

June 24, 2008  2:12 PM

FSMO Roles in Active Directory

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

It is important to note that when removing an old domain controller from the environment that holds the FSMO roles and bringing in a new DC, that you transfer the FSMO roles. Unfortunately I have run into many a person who haven’t even heard of them before. The FSMO roles are the 5 major roles in Active Directory that need to be hosted by an Active Directory domain controller. It is very important that you transfer these roles during this process otherwise Active Directory functionality will cease to function.

I have seen many a network administrator think they have somehow botched their Active Directory installation of a new DC and then started fresh because they didn’t know they had to transfer the FSMO roles.

If a domain controller dies on you (for example the hardware fails), and you don’t have a way to transfer the roles, than you can “seize” the roles using the same utility. This utility is called “NTDSUTIL” and is used to either transfer or seize roles in Active Directory. It is a command line utility you can use on a domain controller.

The five roles in question are:

  1. Domain naming master
  2. Infrastructure master
  3. Relative ID (RID) Master
  4. PDC Emulator
  5. Schema Master

You can read more about these roles here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/197132

You can transfer them using the instructions here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/255504

 Finally, understanding FSMO roles and how they affect Active Directory can help you to solve many an Active Directory related problem.

-RP


June 23, 2008  3:12 PM

Tuning VMWare

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal
Windows Server 2003

One of the most common mistakes I see when out in the field with VMWare, is incorrectly configured VMWare ESX servers. It is very common to see people configure virtual machines as if they are physical machines. If you are going to implement VMWare in your environment I highly suggest going through the VCP training. The knowledge a VMWare instructor can share with you during your course can be invaluable. They can tell you about all those little things you just can’t find in a book.

In the mean time you can follow this simple guide from VMWare on performance tuning. It is quite helpful in guiding you along the path on how to get the most out of it. Check out this link:http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi_performance_tuning.pdf

 -RP


June 22, 2008  3:26 PM

Citrix Published Apps woes

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

So the other day we ran into an interesting problem for a client. One of the published apps in Citrix Presentation Server 4 wasn’t launching properly. Everytime we clicked on it the users were getting an “Invalid Working Directory” error.

I checked the settings on the published application and the working directory was set correctly. Even if I deleted it out of the field and then retyped it. We eventually figured out that by deleting the published application completely and then recreating it in Citrix we were able to solve the problem.

 It’s possible that their might have been some sort of bug or corruption where the settings for the published application is stored. If I ever find out more about this error I will post it here on my blog.

 -RP


June 21, 2008  6:24 PM

RSS Reader for BlackBerries

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

I’ve had a few clients asking me about how to get RSS feeds on their BlackBerries. I have tried out a few and I seem to really like the Viigo reader. It’s completely free and easy to use. The best part about it? I can add all of the blogs here at IT Knowledge Exchange to the reader so I can read them on the go. :)

You can get a copy of Viigo for your BlackBerry device by opening up your BlackBerry web browser and going to the link: http://getviigo.com


June 21, 2008  4:26 PM

Save time setting up printers

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal
Windows Server 2003

During new network implementations, one of the most tedious tasks that comes up is setting up printers on my client’s workstations. With Windows 2003 R2, Microsoft has made it extremely easy to do this.

 Using the new print management capabilities of R2, you can deploy printers via group policy to Vista client computers. You can also do this with XP client computers if you use an executable file called pushprinterconnections.exe which you can find on the server you installed the print management component on.

 Once you’ve used this component you’ll never go back. It’s quite easy to setup and deploy. You can find more information regarding the print management component at the following links.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc160946(TechNet.10).aspx

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=83066ddc-bc96-4418-a629-48c8abd2c7a0&displaylang=en

-RP


June 20, 2008  10:59 PM

What’s the time?

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, a lot of the time when I’m out on consulting engagements I get questions regarding how to setup network time in Windows Server 2003. By default the servers are setup to sync without using NTP. You can change the servers you need to use NTP easily enough by using the directions at this link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816042.

Then you can specify NTP servers from whichever source you desire. If you’re not sure which source to use, you can use the servers at the NTP Pool Project. They have been around for a few years and are the source for time for millions of users. You can find information about them at: http://www.pool.ntp.org

You can specify multiple servers in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Parameters registry key. Just make sure that you append 0×1 to the end of DNS names if you’re using DNS names instead of IP addresses otherwise it won’t work.

After you’ve followed the instructions, make sure you’ve configured the neccessary rules in your firewall for NTP traffic to flow between your server and the time servers. You will know you are successfull if you see successful events in your event viewer after you’ve stopped and started the w32time service.

-Cheers, RP


June 20, 2008  10:50 AM

Migrating files to a new server

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal
Windows Server 2003

During server migrations, it often comes up on what is a good way to migrate files from point A to point B. I often see very experienced network administrators using drag and drop file copy and sitting there monitoring the file copy of gigabytes of data. This usually isn’t a good way to do things because it’s slow and prone to failure when copying large amounts of data. There are many utilities out there you can use but my personal favourite is Microsoft’s own Robocopy. Robocopy is a single executable file available to you from the Windows Resource kit but is now also available through Windows Vista and Windows 2008.

Using robocopy you can easily script a copy of a source folder to a target folder and then log the results to a file. Then you can also tell it to copy all changes made at the source location to the target location every “n” amount of changes. Effectively mirroring the source to the target. The thing to keep in mind here is to always ensure your target is not a root drive letter if it’s on an existing volume because this will erase the files at the target location and then mirror the source. Instead it is better to create a target folder and mirror your files into there, that way there is no risk to you deleting files accidently.

After the robocopy is run you can look through the log and see which files have been copied and which ones weren’t and then tend to those files/folders individually on a case by case basis. This usually happens if a file is locked by another user or process or if the user you are running robocopy as does not have permission to the files or folders.

Robocopy is great because it does not crash during copy and it copies extremely fast as compared to the normal drag and drop method. You can script the copy and then just run it and walk away and come back the next day.

-RP


June 19, 2008  10:21 PM

BES and Synchronizing folders other than your inbox and sent items on your Blackberry

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal
Windows Server 2003

Now this seems like a simple enough thing to do, but I get this question asked of me numerous times during BES implementations. How do you tell your BlackBerry to synchronize other folders than your inbox or sent items? The reason the question is asked so much is because the setting is buried in the myriad of options available to you on a BlackBerry device.

Here’s how you do it:
-Select the messages icon on your BlackBerry, and then click on the BlackBerry button and select options.
-Then select Email settings
-Then click on the BlackBerry button and select Folder Redirection
-Expand and select the folders you want to synchronize
-Click on the BlackBerry button again and click Save
-You’re done!

-Cheers, RP


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