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Tarantella/Propalms Global Desktop 4.0

A while ago Tarantella acquired NewMoon. After acquiring they released Global Desktop for Windows, which actually was still Canaveral iQ renamed to Tarantella. Tarantella now has version 4 available where almost no more referrals to NewMoon or Canaveral and also some improved options.

Installation

Global Desktop needs IIS with Active Server Pages enabled on the Terminal Server for installation. The First servers needs to installed manual. First you need to specify which kind of users you want to allow of your Global Desktop server, local or domain users. At the second question you need to specify if this is a new environment (Tarantella calls a group of servers a team, like a farm in Citrix) or if you want to join an existing environment. If this is the first server installation, you specify new team, followed by the choice between SQL or a MSDE database (which than will be installed on the server you are installation at that moment). After specify the user account for Tarantella, you need to choose a group, which may administrator the Global Desktop team.

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The last question let you specify the installation directory. After installation all administrating will be done web based. Now you can choice to add a server to the team within the administration console. After filling in necessary information (like system name, IP-adres, installation directory) and the installation account (wonderful) the installation will be done silent on the other machine. If this mechanism fails the console offers the options to download a MSI file for installing the server. However still the documentation is marginal about these silent installations.

Configuration

All configuration options are accessed using a Web browser. Although we still like MMC consoles, this is also a good way to make it possible to administrator your environment from almost every computer in your network. When you are logged in you get a summary of all kinds of information about the team you are administrating. All the options are placed on four tabs. For configuration settings the tabs manage and options will be used. First you need to add users, groups, OU's and/or even domains to the Global Desktop environment out of a list. You will need to add these groups to application for granting access.

After adding the groups you can add applications of publish a Windows Desktop. Global Desktop "reads" the Start Menu of the selected server and using this menu you can select the application you want to publish. Wonderful option, because it fills in a lot of fields with the information specified in the shortcut out of the Start Menu. After specify the group and the options how the application will be displayed you add the application to Global Desktop. It is also possible to limit total concurrent sessions or limit per server on that specific application. When finishing the wizard a job is started which adds the application.

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On the connection settings tab you can specify all kind of Terminal Server related settings. In Global Desktop you can also specify for specific Windows settings. A good point, in other programs we need to specify this using the Terminal Server MMC, while Global Desktop offers a Single Point of Administration. Global Desktop adds the following functionality to the standard Terminal Server: Seamless Windows, Client Drive Remapping, Client Printer Sharing (with a Unidriver), compression and reconnection possibilities. You can add several connection settings with different settings, which can be attached to a application or published desktop. Global Desktop also offers delegation of Control, which can be specified on the Admin Role tab.

On the server tab you can add servers (for installation), disable servers and change the role(s) of the server. A wonderful option is diagnose server(s). Choosing this option Global Desktop checks on correct paths of applications, correct paths of printer drivers, current settings and service status. New in version 4 is Printer Driver Management. The tarantella client is necessary to work with the Printer Driver Management Tool. System administrator which are familiar with Citrix  will see that the tool has the same options as Printer Management in the Citrix Management Console Installed Driver, Driver Mapping and Compatibility list. It is also possible to replicate on a driver basis, it's a pity you cannot select more than one driver or one server with drivers.

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On the options Tab you can configure some special options. The most used are Load Balancer, Database Servers and Lockdown Policies. The load balancer can be configured with six (dynamic) metrics. We still miss the user load option, which is used a lot in other SBC products likes Citrix Metaframe and HOBLink. A super option can be found at the database server option, you can specify a back-up database(server). When adding the second server, the specified synchronization interval will be filled in. When the primary server fails Global Desktop automatically run with a read only copy of the database on the second server. Also new in version 4 are the Lockdown Policies. Within Lockdown Policies four standard sets of policies are defined to restrict access to resources on the Global Desktop server. Most settings can also be setup using Group Policies in combination with ADM templates like the True Control Template, but is a nice additional feature concerning Single Point of Administration.

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Management

Global Desktop is exception in comparison with other products. Like Citrix Global Desktop has good monitoring and reporting possibilities. There is real time monitoring for connections, load balancing usage, database connections, (DMZ) relay server activity and more. The real monitoring is displayed in numeric values, it would be nice if Global Desktop could show these values also in a diagrammatic view. 

Within the reporting tab reports can be made on session-, application-, user- or server basis back to 90 days. All the reports are represented in HTML format within you webbased console, but it is possible to download them is CSV format. With Excel you could then make graphical view of the information for management reports.

User experience

Users will connect Global Desktop via a Web Browser. After logging in the applications are presented to the user. Because Global Desktop uses Seamless Windows the user will experience the application is running locally on the system. When starting a application the user is informed in detail what the status of the launch is. Because Global Desktop also support Client Drive mapping, Client Printer mapping and reconnection to disconnected sessions, your users will be fairly happy with Global Desktop.

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Conclusion

Tarantella Global Desktop is a good competitor in the SBC market. Global Desktop offers the most wanted options like Seamless Windows, Client Printer mapping, a universal printer drivers, compression and many others. We really like the way to add application using "a print screen" of the Start Menu and the possibility to add a second database server for fail-over purposes. It is a pity that the load balancing can not use a user load metric and now depends on rather dynamically metrics.  The new features in Global Desktop 4, although mostly cribbed from Citrix, are a good additions to Global Desktop Software. We are also satisfied with the monitoring and reporting tools in Global Desktop

The Tarantella product has got some turbulent moments. After this article Sun bought Tarantella and  sold this Windows part after a while again. The buyer ProPalms is not really known in the SBC community. The current product is exactly the same as the product in the review. ProPalms announced that they will put a new version with lots of new features on the market. No expected date of release is available.

Tarantella Global Desktop