Here you will find links to various third party web sites that have nothing to do with me directly or compensate me in any way for pointing to them. I simply wanted to share a collection of useful web pages and possibly even their products that became handy throughout the years.
MeshCentral – Remote support solution
Who is not in need of a remote support solution, often cost is a factor and security as well. There is a solution out there – MeshCentral. You need to host it yourself and it is free as well as OpenSource, meaning the source code is visible to anyone, what often has a very positive effect on security. Not saying there aren’t any bugs or negatives, but if you are concerned just host it inhouse without outside access – you will only be able to remote control inhouse clients or client that are connect to VPN, but that likely is already enough.
The solution offers most important features like User-Consent and notification as well as various security levels like 2FA and grouping as well as kind of detailed access levels within the software. If installed on a domain joined Windows system it can use SSO, and don’t worry – you can just run it on a Raspberry Pi – did that with great success.
Full client setup on Windows is a 2 MB file that installs a simple service. It all runs via TCP/IP port 443/https. For the support team, they only need a web-browser to fully remote control the target systems. This is a great solutions and should definitive be investigated and further looked in to.
iPerf network band with testing
iPerf is a great tool to test the band width. It works with a server/client combination, meaning you start a server app that listens on a specific port and you have a client that communicates on this port with the server to transfer data packets and measure the speed. There are even Internet-Servers available. Of course, always keep in mind, this can only measure the available band width at that point in time, depending on any other load that might be on the same connection.
Came across this originally while doing band width testing in VMware on a storage network. iPerf is actually preinstalled on your VMware hosts. Storage provides like Dell Unity (aka. EMC Unity) might charge a license for this or have it preinstalled for free. Backup providers like Cohesity have this also integrated on their units, so you can test the band width. This is so important here cause we talk about high speed networks, often fiber based but sometimes mixed with copper, that can have hidden issues that are really hard to test otherwise. This is a great tool for this and often already preinstalled.
Royal TS is a software that allows you to configure various remote desktop connections via RDP, VNC, and other as well as telnet and SSH connections. It has a huge amount of possible connection types and is in my opinion really worth every cent. It makes the daily administration of your systems way easier and quicker and has some nice features. My go to remote connection management software.
Yes – there is freeware that can do screenshots and recordings of your screen – but Snagit is not very expensive and very feature rich. I highly recommend this software as screenshots and evidence collection (for validation as well as for incidences) are so important, besides the usual documentation and visual explanation reasons. It has quick drawing features as well and a nice timeline.
PDQ Inventory and PDQ Deploy
Any small and midsize level environment can benefit from those tools, even in enterprise environments – though here I would divide it possibly in e.g. per location or so. The free versions are great, really incredible useful are the paid versions. Have them installed on a central server and access them remotely. Synchronize with your Active Directory and use filters in PDQ Inventory – more or less SQL like filters – to create buckets of e.g. where a software is installed and where not or a specific version etc.. you can really dive in deep. This can be used in PDQ Deploy for automatic updating or other roll outs. PDQ Deploy is more then just a simple software rollout tool. You can automate huge processes, did a huge domain migration this way, but also daily tasks. You also can combine packages or create more complex processes. It does not need to be new software that you install, you can automate scripts and other tasks as well. I only wished they would provide APIs to access the PDQ Inventory database and possibly PDQ Deploy package execution, may be one day. And yes, I am aware that there are bigger enterprise solutions out there, but they also cost a lot more and need a lot more expert knowledge and maintenance.
FornseiT Domain Migration
Those tools in combination with PDQ Inventory and especially PDQ Deploy as well as some testing and fine tuning and you can create a fully automated domain migration that will be almost seamless for your user base. I highly recommend ForensiT tools as they saved me days and weeks of manual labor and work really well.
JAM Software SpaceObServer
A Server file share volume is full and there once again the Sys Admins use tools like TreeView and similar to determine where the biggest files are and try to make sense of it – but all they see is the current status. You can throw more space, if you are lucky and have the storage available in the background. Better would be to know how and where space needs increased over time and being able to deep dive and understand what happened and is going on. This is why you want SpaceObServer – a software you won’t use every day but will be your best friend when it matters. It will constantly collect information about file volumes and report how they progressed with nice statistics and more. Take a look at it, you might be surprised.
Looking for an Wiki-/Documentation-solution? Confluence from Atlassian might just be what you are looking for. They have a free version for a limited user amount – anything above might cost you a little but it still is affordable and a rather powerful web based Wiki that knows versioning as well as modern WYSIWYG editing. It works as a Windows service as well.
Often neglected and forgotten – only remembered after a reboot – the switch and router backup. Pretty much any configurable Layer-3 switch these days has a SSH CLI that needs you to make use of commands like “copy run start” (copy running-configuration startup-configuration). If you forget to do so, your changes will only work till the next reboot. And pulling a backup is often even more forgotten and outdated. That’s why you need CatTools. This software can pull the current running-configuration per schedule and even compare to the last known state and report if it changed, while creating automatic backups. Most switch and router models are pre-configured, but you also can modify the connection settings and adjust to the needs of your devices. Hurry up and install and configure it, before you face a huge outage due to taking proper backups of your infrastructure.
Need USB support for your VDI? Here you go. When ever I needed to use a USB dongle, USB to serial connector or any other possible USB device, I had an issue if the system was to be virtualized. There is no physical connection to your VM – or is there? Digi AnywhereUSB devices are my go to fort this. You can extend your VDI down to the end user and have actual physical devices directly connected to your virtual guest system.
There is always a need to have a local SMTP server / on premise. Office 365 is great, but I prefer to have a local SMTP relay that is the sole outgoing mail server for any on premise emails, even if it just relays up to Office 365. This way you can also restrict the firewall better. Personally I do not like the IIS SMTP functionality, hybrid Exchange has a to big overhead – you don’t want to set up and manage a whole on-premise Exchange server and provide the computing resources to it, so you look for yet another solution. That’s where hMailServer comes in, this is a small footprint open source solution that will provide you the SMTP relay you want (with even more functions) while not needing a lot of resources or maintenance.
Recommendation: Use a monitoring solution like PRTG and keep an eye on the directory that holds the outgoing emails, you want to look for files older then e.g. 2 hours as well as more then e.g. 25 files – so you know your relay is forwarding correct and is not experiencing any issues.
Linux Cheat Sheets
The following links are some usefull cheat sheets for most Linux distributions. Other good tricks are the & symbol at the end of a command to put it in the background, be aware that any output would still appear on the console unless you redirect it to a file.