Cure those RDSH printing blues with TSPrint

Anybody out there fed up to the back teeth with firefighting printing problems on your remote desktops? Bet it’s most of you. I have found that a good deal of my management time in an RDSH farm is taking calls from users that can’t print from their remote session. There are such a huge range of printers and client desktops out there that installing printer drivers of the right sort on the server (or worse in a farm, many servers) becomes a management nightmare and can even lead to instability of the platform and availability issues for other users. I needed another solution, and after discounting some really quite eye-wateringly expensive options that may have worked, but would have seriously impacted my deployment budget, I came across TSPrint from TerminalWorks. This application is simplicity itself, you just install the server application on each server of your RDSH farm, and then each user installs a (free) client application on their workstation. Then when a client connects to the farm it forms a secure tunnel in which all print operations are sent to the client and processed locally with their drivers. On the farm you just select the generic “TSPrint” printer and there is nothing more to do. The print channel is also compressed to make the best of WAN connections, and there are advanced options that allow you to select different printers if required, as well as a simple print to default printer option. Since installing this product issues with printing have almost dropped to zero. I recently had an issue where at setup a user was printing fine for a...

Beware Windows Disk Caching

This is a problem that is probably as old as Windows but still catches a surprising amount of people out, and can be incredibly troublesome – especially to any system that uses constant logging, such as databases or journalling file systems. The default option in every version of Windows to date is to switch disk caching on, which means a performance boost when disk writes are acknowledged to an application before committing to disk, but can also put your data at risk if an outage occurs before that data is secured on disk. This outage may even be a simple as high latency, as the cache is relatively small so in a busy system may be overrun when faced with large storage system latency, potentially leading to corruption of data – particularly in things like SQL Server logs. The corruption is unlikely to be severe in this case, but can lead to situations where the log needs to be reset (by flipping to simple mode, back again, and running a differential backup), and this then leads to loss of point in time recovery options. In my opinion where data integrity is crucial, as in database systems, it should be standard practice to switch windows caching off – thereby ensuring that data is always committed to the storage system before acknowledging to the application. The performance change is today’s systems is unlikely to be that noticeable, but the increase in data integrity is more than worth it in any case. This procedure is performed on the Windows server in Computer Management, and by going to Disk Management, right-clicking the disks...

DISM Windows Server 2008 R2 Change Edition

This is useful to know when you hit that 32GB limit and don’t want to go to trouble of migrating to a new server. Of course this isn’t an issue now in 2012. Originally posted on Rick’s Tech Gab: Hit a little issue in my lab today, It happens that I went ahead and installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard for a bunch of my Lab VM’s. Now the issue is that I need Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition to support the Windows Failover Clustering feature. So long story short, I didn’t want to have to fully rebuild my Lab VM’s. So I went looking around and found a very nice way to in place upgrade to Enterprise Edition. The command that we are going to use is the DISM.exe command (Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool), that is available in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. You can find out more about the Tool HERE First of all go ahead and on the server you want to run this command open up PowerShell as an administrator. Click on the “Start Button” Type Power, PowerShell will then… View original 438 more...
Windows crumbles under own update system

Windows crumbles under own update system

Once upon a time when you updated Windows you would test an update and leave it for a couple of weeks in case there were any reported problems, and then install to your production environment. This usually went well, and with the advent of virtualisation you always had the snapshot to doubly make sure that if anything went wrong you could roll back and guarantee the system was recovered to the point before you made the change. However it seems with Windows 2008, and particularly R2, rather more subtle issues can arise and while not actually causing you major problems the fix involved is pretty arduous – especially if you don’t notice the problem straight away. The problem I first noticed this when an update was applied to a Windows 2008 R2 server and appeared to go through fine, it certainly reported as being installed successfully and tests of this patch had showed no issues. However I noticed on the console after rebooting the server that the Updating screen never went away to give a CTRL+ALT+DEL screen, even though I could access the server remotely. Logging on via Remote Desktop seemed OK and the server was working, except I then noticed the Roles and Features section on Server Manager was reporting an error and wouldn’t allow me to modify these features. I firstly rebooted the server (as you do) and sure enough the problem with the update screen cleared and a CTRL+ALT+DEL appeared on the server console. However Server Manager was still showing a problem, which meant it was investigation time. Checking the following log (Event Viewer -> Applications...

Windows 7 patches kill VMware view client

It appears a number of people relying on the VMware View 4.5 client have found that after a weekend of patching their client PCs they can no longer use the client. It would appear that two of the latest Microsoft patches are responsible. If you are just after the quick fix then uninstall Microsoft patches: KB 2482017 KB 2467023 otherwise…. There is a big discussion about it on:...

Making a leaner fitter Windows 7 Virtual Desktop

In our last blog post (http://blog.millennia.it/a-closer-look-at-storage-and-virtual-desktops), we touched on the IOPS issues that can mean the difference between a VDI project succeeding or failing. We have seen how VDI can produce a lot of very random I/O spikes that can cause slow or, worse for the end user, unpredictable performance throughout the working day. It is therefore important that scale testing is done as part of any VDI implementation, because what might look great with 20 VMs running could be exhibiting problems by the time you pass 100 and completely unusable before you reach 150 VMs – a problem if your wish was for 400 concurrent users! This time we look at making the best Windows 7 image so you can make sure you get the most out of your VDI implementation. This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide, but covers the main areas that can be addressed to be able to cut down the footprint of the master Win7 image, which when scaled to hundreds or thousands of user VMs can make a huge difference to resource consumption and therefore likely performance. Configure the virtual machine settings   Windows 7 compatibility – make sure that you can support running Windows 7 as a guest OS. With VMware you need a minimum of ESX 4 Update 1 on the host servers plus VMView 4.5 for official Windows 7 support. The VM should also be a version 7 VM ideally – which is easy to configure. vCPU count – Use as few vCPUs as possible while providing the required amount of CPU resource to your client VMs. Counter-intuitively...