Wilco van Bragt - LinkeIn Wilco van Bragt - Twitter rssa 

Farm Commander

Update: Farm Monitor is not available as freeware anymore.

Introduction

Gourami is still evolving their FASE product suite. New additions are normally for a while available as a beta and most times for a specific period available as freeware utility.  Currently Farm Commander is available as a freeware product (after registration). Farm Commander can be used for copying multiple files from one location to another, compare server with each other, test connectivity, search eventlogs, reboot servers and much more.  

Let's take a look at this utility in this glance at free article.




Installation

The tool is delivered as a single executable. The installation steps are straight forwarded. There are options to specify the destination location and the name of the Start Menu folder. After the installation you can directly start the application and you need to register the application, so you will receive the license key via e-mail.

Image

Using the utility

Every time you start the application you need to acknowledge that you understand the power of the utility. A bit annoying that there is no option to disable this warning message.

Image

The interface of Farm Commander looks a lot like the famous Total Commander, in those times that we are still using DOS and there was no graphical interface to browse folder and files. So it feels like a bit back to the old days, some people will like it and others (which never worked with Total Commander) will find it Spartan.

Image

There are different ways to select the server(s) for the actions you would like to perform:

  • Citrix Servers: the tool will query the farm (if you run the tool on a Citrix server with enough rights) and will show the available Citrix servers.
  •  Published Applications:the tool will show the available Published Applications. When choosing a Published Application the server hosting that application will be selected.
  • Active Directory: the tool will query Active Directory and will show the computer objects, where you can select the servers
  • VMware: When using VMware/vSphere the tools can query vCenter to determine which guests on VMware are available so you select again the systems

After selecting the server you can perform several actions. Just like Total Commander you can copy files from the source to the selected destination, view files, edit file and similar steps: the origin of the utility. But nowadays much more features are available. As shown in the above figure you can select a server and carry out the following tasks:

- F3: Show server details (only for Citrix servers)
- F4: Open the computer management  for the selected server
- F6: Execute a command on the server (remote execution)
- F7: Start a RDP session
- F8: Send ping command to the server

Beside those shortcut keys there are also several options available in the upper menu - Remote Panel. Some examples are nslookup, show uptime, search evenlog and show/adjust services for the selected server(s).

Three specific options in this menu I would like to mention separately because I love that options the most.

- Compare Files and Folder

This option is a real good one. As described in one of my first article Basic Principles of Terminal Servers is guarantee that the servers are 100% identical. To check if this is still the case you can compare two servers file system if there are any mismatches. You can specify which disks should be compared. After a while the results are shown, based on file size or file data. With specific colors the differences and matches are displayed.  Beside for the daily administrations tasks this feature is also wonderful which carry out a (quick)scan on the customer's environment.

Image

- Compare Installed Programs

In the same category as compare file and folder is the option compare installed software, which checks if the same applications are installed on two systems. Basically the registry is read out to determine which applications are installed (displayed within add/remove programs).

Image

However both features are just comparing two servers, so in big farms it's a heavy job to test all servers every day, but it can give a clue why one server is responding different than the other servers.

- Reboot Manager

I expected a bit more of this feature, mainly based on the title of the feature. I expected a possibility to build a reboot schedule, going further than the default Citrix reboot feature. But actually this is a Graphical User Interface to directly reboot servers.  You can select one or more servers and reboot them with an interval.

 

Conclusion

The usage of utilities already starts with the first steps. With farm commander you will two have kind of people, you will like it or hate it (because of the total commander look). Because of the GUI lots of commands can be carried out pretty easy. I really like the compare installed programs and files/folders options, however it would be nice if more servers could be compared with each other. The current implementation is mainly based on troubleshooting a specific server.  However the tool offers nice features, which can be used in several infrastructures.

Gourami Farm Commander