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Alternatives to Citrix Remote Computing?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the other-software-options dept.

93

Dysfnctnl85 asks: "The company I work for relies heavily on remote computing through a Citrix MetaFrame server. The reliance on this stems from the structure of our accounting software and the fact that we have 2 remote sites that need to access this data all day, everyday. We are investigating alternatives to the Citrix system we currently operate. How do companies of similar structures deal with this type of problem? Is it feasible (or practical) to use Windows Terminal Services to achieve everything Citrix is capable of doing? This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to print from the Citrix session to a user's printer, the ability to access network drives from the Citrix session, access the user's local drives through the session, and the ability to use published apps. The main concern with this type of setup is the ability to print. What alternatives are there to Citrix?"

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Lots of stuff (4, Interesting)

Daath (225404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136172)

Lots of stuff, some might not have what you are looking for... But hey, sift through these, and see if there is anything of interest :-)

Genuit's ThinWorx [thinworx.com]
Tarantella [tarantella.com]
Provision Networks [provisionnetworks.com]
HOB [hobsoft.com]
Prospero [propero.net]
Win4Lin [win4lin.com]
Konect [desktopsites.com]
GraphOn's GO-Global [graphon.com]

HTH :)

Re:Lots of stuff (1)

Tontoman (737489) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136482)

For completness of discussion, a product that deserves mention is PC Anywhere [symantec.com] . It has some additional features not found in TermServ, like X11 compatibility

Re:Lots of stuff (2, Informative)

Holi (250190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137265)

Pcanywhere, isn't really a multiuser environment, It it really just shares the console so it really doesn't work as a multiuser system.

Re:Lots of stuff (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136612)

GO Global is nice. We don't use the Windows version though.

We haven't found anything better for remote X sessions.

Re:Lots of stuff (3, Informative)

rafelbev (194458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137486)

There is also a product by 2X Software called Application Server [2x.com] which handles the Published Applications side of things as well as the Load Balancing [2x.com] of Terminal Servers.

However they are still working on integrating the two, this should be added in the near future. The products target directly Citrix customer's base and are slowly implementing almost all if not totally all Citrix features and more at 1/10th of the cost.

MSTS (3, Informative)

TheTrueELf (557812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136183)

Seeing as I use MS Terminal Services to do everything you mentioned, I'd say you could fairly easily kiss Citrix (and it's relatively large licensing fees) goodbye. I've migrated 99% of my company to Thin Clients RDPing to MSTS2003 servers, and could not be happier. Four branches nationwide, and (excepting servers, of course) less than 5 non-thin-client systems, 2 of which are mine. It is salient that MS and Citrix have cross-licensing and other business-partnership-type agreements, which I believe include code sharing. MetaFrame is built on top of TS.

-ELf

Re: Um... no (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136885)

RDP stems FROM Citrix and the ICA protocol. Citrix was suckered into sharing technology with Microsoft so they could get direct access to the underlying API's a few years back. Citrix was smart in that they didn't share the ICA protocol with MS. MS then developed RDP as their thin protocol. Problem with that is that RDP has a 25k footprint where ICA can cruze just fine on 14k or even less. I guess if you have fewer users and don't care about bandwidth and server costs, then MS Terminal Services are for you... /rolls eyes....

For your Total Cost of ownership... Citrix is the way to go... I can't tell you how nice it is to publish an Application and not the entire desktop. That saves you from dealing with users who delete things or generally like to tinker. Add automatic printer creation and it's a no brainer.

MS did what they always do... they stole the technology and branded it as their own. Remeber in the beginning of Citrix (on NT 3.51 and Winframe 1.6), you didn't need MS terminal services at all... in fact it didn't exist!!!

Re: Um... no (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137412)

You can publish a single app, but be very carefull what apps you publish...
If you publish any of the msoffice apps, or anything which can bring up help pages using IE, then your pretty much wasting your time and may as well give them a full desktop anyway.

You really need to publish custom-designed kiosk style apps, and if your having to write the apps from scratch anyway there are much better ways you could provide them than letting a native binary execute on one of your servers... Java springs to mind, the client will handle the load and the bulk of the code won't be running on your system so you've a much smaller footprint to keep secure.

Anyway, setup a citrix environment and get a half decent pentest company in, whatever you do to citrix it will always get broken, this isn't a fault of citrix but a direct result of the fact windows was always designed to be single-user.
Having conducted or watched over 50 penetration tests on citrix environments at all kinds of different companies, i can hand on heart say not one of them managed to keep it secure.

Re: Um... no (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137653)

In all fairness if the users are on the level that they manage to create havoc with the desktop, their skills probably wouldn't extend to adding two and two and figure out that the "open"-dialog is pretty much the same as explorer, etc.

This isn't securing, it's simplifying. If your secretary only needs Word, why give her a full desktop so she can get stuck on a ton of stuff instead of just giving her exactly what she needs.

Your little Java thoughtexperiment however completly breaks with the whole idea behind thin clients and centralised servers. The whole point is releaving the client of everything so you can use dirt cheap commodity stuff on the client and put all your eggs in the server basket.

Re: Um... no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139135)

You can buy full dual core computers for under $500 from brand-name sellers, such as Dell, today. Why would we worry about having the client run a little JAVA then? It certainly seems better than giving Citrix your money (serves them right for charging so damn much).

Re: Um... no (1)

cyb97 (520582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140067)

Or you could get a thinclient (e.g. Compaq Evo Txx) that doesn't have any moving parts at all (ie. no harddrive that fails, no fans that make noise, etc.), nobody wants to steal it, it takes less than 10 minutes to get working on your network with your company setup.

This also means no floppy, cd, etc. which reduces the possibilities for industrial espionage as it's harder to move data "unseen", not to mention it makes it easier to keep a homogenous client environment as upgrades and end of lifes are pretty predictable and so forth.

MS RDP (2, Informative)

b0lt (729408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136198)

Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, also known as Terminal Services, is basically a Microsoft licensed version of Citrix ICA. Microsoft basically built RDP on top of ICA. IIRC, Citrix sued Microsoft for the feature, which is why Windows XP Pro is only supposed to allow one user logged on at any time. Anyway, Terminal Services should work for you needs, since it supports all of the noted features.

-b0lt

Re:MS RDP (2, Informative)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137158)

No, not quite.

RDP is old and busted, ICA is the new hotness. RDP is basically like pcAnywhere or VNC...it relies heavily on sending bitmaps back and forth of screen changes (not always, but with the foofy windowing effects of even certain business applications, it's increasingly become the standard case). It must also operate in a separate session window that floats above the user's actual desktop. Cut and paste is sloppy, file transfer is kludgy, and data shuffles back and forth on the RDP connection in a manner than it horribly inefficient. For example, a document on the server being printed on the client must go from the server to the client, be rendered in the client's application, tranferred to the spooler on the server, then transmitted back to the port on the client. That's four trips for essentially the same data.

ICA operates at a much lower level, compressing bitmaps and sending windowing commands, which allows most of the heavy lifting to be done on the client. You can run an ICA application on their own right from the user's desktop (IE, no sessions...ICA looks just like a local application, including OLE, drag-n-drop, etc). Drives and even COM or USB devices are automatically mapped. Bandwidth use is much, much lower and much, much more efficient.

Citrix essentially invented the technology behind RDP and ICA. It was really a pretty simple hack. Microsoft, fearing that they would be left behind if enterprise users started jumping into thin client technology, licensed RDP from Citrix back in Windows NT 4.0 days (Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition was a separate, stand-alone product that had so many licensing hurdles imposed by Citrix it was almost unusable). Citrix knew that Microsoft could essentially recreate what they had done (and probably do it better) so they happily agreed to take it up the butt and give Microsoft favorable licensing terms...which you can see only continue to lean more in Microsoft's favor as they progressed to 2000 Server and 2003 Server. Besides, Citrix had already moved on to using ICA so as far as they were concerned Microsoft could have RDP. Citrix did, however, negotiate several conditions, like the 256-color limitation, no COM port mapping, etc, and they earn royalties for each Terminal Service license (which is why you need to pay additionally to use TS even if you have enough client licenses). On the other hand, Microsoft has gotten more and more features shoehorned for free into Terminal Services, which makes Citrix less and less attractive for the money.

Windows XP only allows one RDP connection (really two since remote assitance can work simultaneously with the user currently logged in) not because of something Citrix said, but because Microsoft doesn't want to undercut sales of their own server product. If you could run five RDP sessions of Office from a $299 copy of XP, why the hell would you pay $899 for a five-user edition of Windows 2003 server?

-JoeShmoe
.

Re:MS RDP (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137468)

Actually, RDP is much like ICA, in that it sends over the window commands rather than screen scraping. That's why a TermServ is usable over a dial-up line, while VNC is painful over a T1. The only real difference is the protocol used to send the data. As a matter of fact, if you run Vista on a computer that doesn't have the power to run Aero, you can RDP into it from a computer that does have the horsepower, and get Aero in your RDP window.

As for the reason that it was integrated into the kernel, it wasn't because they were going to be left behind -- Citrix was quite a niche product 10 years ago. The real issue is the same reason that disk defragmentation was added to the kernel: implementing it requires significant changes to the kernel that can't be achieved by drivers. Since Citrix (and Executive, DiskKeeper's author) had source licenses, they basically had their own distro of Windows. This meant that every time MS issued a service pack, they would have to apply the patches to their own code and issue their own service pack. Heaven forbid you should want to defrag your Citrix machine!

Ultimately this is infeasible because the forked versions would never be able to keep up with security updates. Since the technology is really something that should ship with Windows (to enable scenarios like remote assistance), MS licensed the technology (the basic kernel changes, not the communication protocol) from Citrix.

As far as I know, the initial restrictions (color depth, device mapping, etc.) were due to the fact that they hadn't been added to RDP yet. And the licensing fees for TS? I'm pretty sure that's just so that the product doesn't cannibalize upgrade sales. In other words, MS still gets the money for the user, even if their client is just a dumb terminal or a 486 running Win95.

dom

Re:MS RDP (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137970)

RDP is basically like pcAnywhere or VNC...it relies heavily on sending bitmaps back and forth

Uh, no. Have you ever actually used RDP as more than a "oh gee, nice of them to finally include that"? Doing VNC on a machine on the local network crawls. RDP even over a dialup feels almost as responsive as sitting at the remote machine (except you quickly gain a full appreciation of just how often networks "hiccup").


Citrix essentially invented the technology behind RDP and ICA.

If by "invented" you mean "First thought to apply the idea of a remote X desktop to Windows", I would agree. But the core idea existed LONG before even Windows ever appeared on the scene. Microsoft simply made it very, very difficult to implement on Windows (and even Citrix needed to add kernel code), so it took quite a few generations of Windows to make the idea viable.

Re:MS RDP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141031)

Here's he real ICA/RDP - Citrix/MS history:

Citrix originally developed and marketed an OS/2-based multiuser system.

They moved on to a multi-user Windows-based system that was a modified Windows NT 3.x. Citrix licensed the Windows NT source from Microsoft, modified it to support multiple users concurrently (this required some major kernel-level changes) and made a successful business out of this.

When NT 4.0 was in beta, Citrix moved their technology to that platform. If you recall, around that same time, Sun was making a lot of noise about the 'Network Computer' - a device that would load its OS and applications from a server, making deployment and upgrades a snap compared to managing a rat's nest of desktop PCs. Microsoft was concerned about this - desktops were their bread and butter (even more so than now). MS wanted a 'server-based' computing solution, and Citrix's looked pretty good.

MS tried to develop their own in house, but were not particularly successful. So when NT 4 was released, MS refused to license it to Citrix. As you can imagine, that put Citrix into a bind (and their stock dropped like a rock); they could keep selling an NT 3.x solution, but not an NT 4 solution. With this leverage, MS was able to get Citrix to agree to license MS the base kernel changes that made NT into a usable multi-user system. Citrix got a license to use the NT 4 code-base, and $75 million (I think) over a period of a few years. Citrix also had some exclusivity rights in the license and had to run on top of MS's Terminal Services licensing scheme (which required Client Access licenses for each connecting device).

Thus Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Services Edition was born - a separate build of the NT kernel and a separate server SKU for NT 4.0.

When Windows 2000 was released, Terminal Services was made to be an installation option to any Windows 2000 Server SKU, instead of a completely separate product.

The ICA and RDP protocols are independant of each other - they use the same kernel services, but otherwise have nothing to do with each other. RDP is not based on ICA - it's actually based on T.share (or T.128) from the ITU. ICA is entirely an invention of Citrix.

Oh, and Windows XP is limited to a single remote session simply due to the fact that Microsoft doen't want multiple users to use a single desktop license - they want each and every user running a Windows desktop to pay a license (that's the idea behind the Terminal Server Client Access Licenses, too).

It's all about the printing....and multi-platform. (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136201)

You use Citrix for a couple of reasons. The biggest is printing. Citrix has a pretty solid print system that can handle about any printer. You don't have to worry about specific drivers in most cases as you can use the Universal Print Driver (UPD). This also applies to other platforms. So, I can jump on my Citrix farms from my MacBook and still print without ever doing anything unique. You can also attach to Citrix from almost anything.

Citrix also allows more in depth clustering and load balancing than Terminal Server. The down side is that Citrix is very expensive. You have to license the Terminal Server clients and then add citrix on top of it. Is it worth it to you? That's up to you. It is to us but we offer published applications to outside customers and I have no way of knowing what type of printer(s) they have.

Oh yeah, Citrix also allows seamless applications, which Terminal Server can't do. This lets you just publish the app and not a complete desktop.

Re:It's all about the printing....and multi-platfo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137491)

You use Citrix for a couple of reasons. The biggest is printing. Citrix has a pretty solid print system that can handle about any printer. You don't have to worry about specific drivers in most cases as you can use the Universal Print Driver (UPD). This also applies to other platforms. So, I can jump on my Citrix farms from my MacBook and still print without ever doing anything unique. You can also attach to Citrix from almost anything.

But MS's remote desktop/terminal services does exactly the same thing: the session gets a new 'Remote LaserJet 1234 on CLIENT_PC' as the default printer. Or you can still print from the session host's configured printers.

Now I know this works from Windows PCs at least. I'd expect their Mac client would do the same too since MS wrote that but I haven't used it much. The Windows printing mechanism is simply GDI to a printer device context, just the same as writing to the display.

Re:It's all about the printing....and multi-platfo (1)

CoolHnd30 (89871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141603)

Oh yeah, Citrix also allows seamless applications, which Terminal Server can't do. This lets you just publish the app and not a complete desktop.

I hate to break it to you (especially since I'm no MS Fanboy), but I've had a single app published through MS Terminal services on a Win2k server for a couple years now. If you RDP to that box, and log in, all you get is the one application that I published...

Re:It's all about the printing....and multi-platfo (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141804)

Yes, TS can do that but it takes more work. Is it worth it to you? That depends. With Citrix it's a simple check box on publishing a single app or publishing a whole desktop. I don't even use seamless apps on our deployment.

To: Cliff (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136217)

Dear Cliff,

Thanks a lot for posting my Ask Slashdot article during an hours-long period where all posting was down for maintinance -
I got a lot of useful replies and information.

Burn in Hell,
Dysfnctnl85

ProPalms TSE (2, Informative)

scarpa (105251) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136236)

ProPalms TSE server is definitely a viable alternative to Citrix. I have been using it for about three years and even though the product has changed owners a few times - NewMoon to Tarantella who got bought by Sun who sold the product to ProPalms - the product has been performing great all along, with every feature you listed.

It functions using a client that extends Microsoft's RDP protocol, allowing for seamless publishing of apps from multiple load balanced app servers. The backend servers compromise various roles and support load balancing and a gateway server in addition to the app server functionality.

Terminal Services / Remote Desktop (2, Informative)

quan74 (451034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136242)

Windows Terminal Services (now known as Remote Desktop) will let you map your local printer AND drives to the remote machine, so you can copy files & print from the remote system to the local system.

The downside is mainly in licensing, you'll need to purchase a CAL from MS for each user you want to "remote connect" (Not sure how you had citrix licensed). I'd also reccomend locking down access, either through a roubst firewall system or preferably a VPN.

I'm a loner, Dotty. A rebel. (-1, Offtopic)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136243)

It's not what you do as root... it's what malware running without your knowledge does with root. Obviously. That said, I'm running XP, so in the end it's "not root is safer, but I like to live dangerously."

Weird... (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136301)

I clicked the reply link before 'database repairs,' submitted after, and my comment posted in here instead of the 'root/sudo' discussion.

Re:Weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137593)

Try having a look at Ericom Powerterm Webconnect RemoteView, Doug Brown had high recommendations on them www.dabcc.com, I saw them last week at bri-forum looks like an interesting product. For one I'm going to be getting a pilot. Another is Provision Networks

Re ProPalms have tested that and took ProPalms engineer 4 weeks to get it installated.

more information at www.ericom.com or www.geekswithblogs.net/eknowlogy or www.dabcc.com

Citrix features (1)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136248)

Terminal Services doesn't have published applications like Citrix does, so if you have multiple applications running on the server you'll have to figure out a way to handle that. Load balancing and server management are also easier in Citrix. You'll also lose the "seamless window" thing. You can set up a session to automatically run an application at login, but it'll always appear as though you're remoted into a separate Windows desktop. I don't think there are any other options out there for you.. You can either pay the extra $$$ for the features that Citrix gives you, or run it on Terminal Services.

Windows terminal server can do everything you need (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136258)

Based on what you listed, Windows Terminal Server can do everything you need. Citrix is just a more robust option with better administrative tools.

But your administrators should already know this since you have to have Windows Terminal Server in order to have Citirx MetaFrame.

Terminal Server (3, Interesting)

sid crimson (46823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136261)

We use Terminal Server 2003 and have had no difficulties. Server 2003 made a very nice improvement compared to 2000 since the color depth is now greater -- it's really as good as having a local desktop so long as the connection is fast and reliable.

Local printing from a Terminal connection is handled nicely, and most printers are supported via printer driver redirection... for example you will map the user's HP Photosmart xxxx printer to the Windows Driver for the "HP 950c" printer.

This package makes printer redirection easier: http://download.microsoft.com/download/9/f/2/9f237 742-e057-4e00-a0d5-62de2ebf9fbd/TSPDRW_Package.exe / [microsoft.com]

My understanding is Citrix reigns supreme WRT USB and availability. You simply cannot sync your USB Palm pilot via Remote Desktop. And clustering for Terminal Services is limited relative to Citrix.

As for other options... you might check out Linux Terminal Server Project. Without know the specific software packages you use Windows might be your only real option at the moment.

-sid

Re:Terminal Server (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137381)

The trouble with the inbuilt windows remote desktop support, is that although it encrypts the data stream, it doesn't verify the authenticity of the host your connecting to...
This makes it trivial to man in the middle, and there will be no warning (unlike ssh for instance, which will tell you the host key has changed). There are point and click tools available (google for cain + abel, available from oxid.it i believe) for doing this too.
Aside from that, remote desktop is a lot more bandwidth hungry than citrix, and will be unuseable over slower links.

A better alternative would be NX (www.nomachine.com), it's protocol independant tunnelling/compression, so you can use it with remote desktop, citrix, vnc and X11. and it tunnels everything over SSH, so therefore benefits from the authentication capabilities of ssh.

One other thing, remote desktop happily gives away the OS version and potentially your internal domain name it's using before you authenticate... NX doesn't show you anything until authentication has succeeded

WTS is good enough (3, Informative)

potHead42 (188922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136267)

I work in a company which does mainly Application Server Providing, and we switched about 2 years ago from Citrix MetaFrame (1.8) to Windows 2003.

Printing works well enough, you just have to install all the necessary drivers on the server and make sure the clients use the same drivers (though universal printing engines like ThinPrint and others will work too).

Local drives work like a charm (although only since 2003), you can even copy files with Ctrl+C and then paste it in your local explorer with Ctrl+V (I don't know if the newest Citrix also supports this). Network drives work as expected.

We don't use published applications, and as far as I know Windows doesn't support this. You *can* specify an application to run in the client, but I never used it.

Our customers all connect over the internet, and the performance is pretty much the same as with Citrix. We did some tests with Presentation Server 4.0, and it performs a little better with images because it has a better caching mechanism, but the difference wasn't enough to warrant the (much) bigger licensing costs.

I also tested the NX server from NoMachine [nomachine.com] , which supports proxying RDP sessions. The site claimed speedups from 2-10 times, although in my experience it was between 1 to 2 times, and because printer and drive redirection needed additional setup, we didn't continue with this. But for X11 sessions NX is currently the best thing (IMHO better than UNIX Citrix).

So, if you only need to provide Windows applications, WTS is a good enough replacement for Citrix. There's also an official client for OS X and an Open Source client [rdesktop.org] for UNIX (which supports RDP 5.1 as well as printer and drive redirection).

Re:WTS is good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137474)

I hope you realize that Citrix has already dropped support for Metframe XP(a/e/etc) 1.0. Metaframe 1.8 has long since been depracated.

And just FYI, we could fit about another 10-20% more users on the same hardware when we switched from XPe to Presentation Server 4.0

But, if all you need is client drives and printing (don't need published apps, or printer auto-creation, or the management tools), then yeah, go with Terminal Services.

Everyone keeps asking about licensing, well here's how it works. You buy a Microsoft TS license (about $60-$80 I believe). Then, you purchase Citrix licenses, based on concurrency. Those will run you about $350 a piece.

I'd also recommend the thin clients from neoware (http://www.neoware.com/ [neoware.com] ) which run Linux and you can pickup the Capio Ones for under $200 (with mouse and keyboard).

Remote Access (2, Interesting)

brendan0powers (939524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136268)

Have a look at NoMachine www.nomachine.com. Its a linux based remote acces client/server, that allows access to windows terminal servers over ssh. It even has a java based web applet, witch allows access to applications from a web browser. Also have a look at Netilla SSL VPN.

SunRay (2, Informative)

green pizza (159161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136303)

SunRay terminals consume less real-world bandwidth on average than Citrix-based devices. The servers currently need to be either Sun Solaris or PC Linux, but there's talk of Windows support later this year.

http://www.sun.com/sunray/sunray2/ [sun.com]

Pretty slick stuff and Sun's been doing it for about 5 years or so.

Re:SunRay (1)

kjs3 (601225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141284)

Pretty slick stuff and Sun's been doing it for about 5 years or so.

You mean smallish form factor diskless machines booting off of and running applications from a central server? Suns been doing that for more than 25 years. Try googling for "Sun 2/50".

I tell 'ya...kids these days...

It's an Application Problem (2, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136309)

We had a fairly extensive Citrix farm at my last job. There were several reasons for an application to be made available on Citrix:
  1. The application required WinNT 4 and would not run on Win2k or WinXP.
  2. The application conflicted with other, more critical applications that were required to exist on the same network.
  3. Liscensing. Some applications were cheaper to run from a Citrix server.
  4. Access to the application was required off-site, and Citrix works over the web.
  5. Configuration of the application was so difficult and fragile that it was easier to admin the Citrix server rather than the clients. This was typically web applications that required you to set your IE security settings to "rape me".

The one thing I noticed again and again: the applications that we wanted most onm Citrix were those that did not do the job we wanted them to do. They were old, poorly coded, intended for different environments, or simply did not do what we required them to do. It was common knowledge that analysts would go out and buy software and then hand it to use and tell use to make it work, even when it was clear to us that the software was never designed to do what we wanted it to even before we put the CD in the tray.

This accounting software you have seems exactly like the same kind of situation. You're being asked to wedge an application into a role it was neither designed nor intended to perform. Consequently, you might wish to consider looking at a different accounting app instead of a different remote app server.

Re:It's an Application Problem (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137443)

Strictly speaking, windows was never designed to run remote terminals... By using it in this way you are wedging an application into a role it was neither designed nor intended to perform. Windows NT was intended to be a single user workstation OS - one user sitting at the console.

Re:It's an Application Problem (1)

Allador (537449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140687)

Can you support this assertion with any tangible evidence?

Windows has had Terminal Services support in the kernel since NT4 Terminal Services, and the ability to do a unix style command line shell for an arbitrary number of simultaneous remote users since 3.5.

NT has always, since day one, had process isolation, proper file system ACLs (something many Unix based systems still dont have). NT doesnt distinguish between local and remote consoles, allows both at the same time. And NT can be run fully headless, without even having a screen, mouse & keyboard attached.

Now Microsoft _does_ place some non-technical restrictions on the number of simultaneous users. But thats not a technical limitation of the system, thats just a business decision about how to tier their products.

Can you give a specific example or argument to support your assertion?

protocol-level acceleration (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136322)

Riverbed [riverbed.com] makes an appliance that may be suitable.

Basically, it's an appliance that sits between your WAN connection and the rest of your network. It understands most protocols that send bulk data over the network, and does transparent caching such that the clients on your network don't notice anything (except improved speed), and the server on the other end still thinks it's sending the data.

I saw a demo at a CUUG [cuug.ab.ca] meeting, it was quite impressive.

are you on drugs? (1)

Homestar Breadmaker (962113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136921)

First of all, that has absolutely nothing to do with the question. Second, riverbeds suck ass.

citrix is crap (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136360)

Citrix basically is just crappy software that simplifies management of terminal services. Printing with their "universal driver" is basically just using a generic pcl driver for every printer. It's more of a hack than anything. It is VERY simple to set up remote desktop to do this exact same thing. Also mapping network drives, getting the local machine's drive available on the server... Short answer is yes, it's quite doable without citrix. Save some money and hire me to do the transition for you (;

Terminal Services (1)

TwilightSentry (956837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136374)

I used terminal services a bit on XP pro before I switched to Linux. Multi-user was disabled, so I don't know if that would cause any problems...

I don't remember if you could easily access local drives, but, unless you have some special requirements, you probably don't want users storing their data locally, but instead on a central server.

As for printing, the user could choose to allow their local printer to be connected to the server within their session; it worked pretty well.

Of course, seeing as I am a Linux fanboy, I would reccommend that you set up a central X client farm and run servers on the local computers (And a few clients, for programs that want to access local stuff) and set all clients to use a CUPS server running on the system they connect to for their printing needs...

Re:Terminal Services (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136667)

Incidentally, rdesktop, a Linux RDP client, offers the ability to attach to the root console of a 2003 server, which is very handy if 3 of your colleagues have inconsiderately left RDP sessions running, locking you out of the box. With rdesktop -0 foo.bar.com, you can attach to the root console, log them out, and then get a "normal" RDP session. I've searched high and low for a similar feature in the MS client, but I can't find it. So, I take my Linux laptop to work for the sole purpose of being able to log in to my Windows servers. Go figure.

Re:Terminal Services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136691)

Using the Windows XP, running:

mstsc /console /v:hostname

will connect you to the root console. It's also good for braindead applications that require console access before they will install ...

Re:Terminal Services (1)

ID10T5 (797857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137050)

Been there... done that. Turns out it's a client protocol issue (RDP 5.1 vs. RDP 5.2 I believe).

The standard client download on the MS website only supports the old RDP protocol. Although I don't have my notes anymore, I found this blog [blogs.com] that has a solution that sounds vaguely familiar.

Sunray (0, Troll)

mrawl (124150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136385)

Sunray dude - far superior, morally and technically.

Software...other than Citrix or Remote Desktop (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136423)

Other Software Options at a fraction of a cost:

WinConnect Server XP enables a Windows® Small Business Server 2003 or Windows® XP computer (Host PC) to allow up to 21 remote desktop sessions. It allows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) 4.0, 5.0 5.1 and 5.2-enabled Thin Client devices (such as Terminals, Internet/Information Appliances, Tablet PCs and PDAs) to connect to a Host PC to run Windows® applications simultaneously and independently. Price: WinConnect Server XP can be purchased for US $299.95 for a three user license.

Actual User Comment (taken from Slashdot):

Another remote solution (Score:3, Informative)
by pyrrhonist (701154) Alter Relationship on Friday June 03, @09:17PM (#12719869)

If you're unwilling to purchase a Windows 2003 Server and a Microsoft Terminal Services license set, but still would like to run the troublesome application remotely, here is another solution.

All you need is a Windows XP Professional machine with your software on it, and then you can run WinConnect Server XP [thinsoftinc.com]. It is inexpensive, uses regular Windows RDP, includes a fairly decent admin tool, and you can try it out for free. ThinSoft also makes a Linux client, but you can use rdesktop [rdesktop.org]. The bad news is that it only allows 21 clients concurrently.

No, I don't work for them, but I have used their software quite a bit. Their site leads you to believe that they only sell licenses in groups of three, but in fact, they are more than willing to sell you individual licenses. All in all, their system works rather well.

Usurper_ii

Re:Software...other than Citrix or Remote Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15136521)

FYI: It violates the XP license agreement to use it as a multiuser terminal server.

Re:Software...other than Citrix or Remote Desktop (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136575)

This software has been out for quite some time.

From the company's FAQ:

http://www.thinsoftinc.com/products_wcs_faq.html#f aq8 [thinsoftinc.com]

Do I need to buy additional software licenses?

The WinConnect Server XP allows multiple users to simultaneously and independently share the same hardware and software installed on the Host computer. Some software is licensed for use on a single computer while other software may be licensed for single or multiple users. It is the responsibility of the WinConnect Server XP purchaser/user to read and comply with the licensing agreements of any software that may be used on the RDP devices.

A separate Windows XP license is required for each RDP device connected to the Host computer running Windows XP. It is the responsibility of the WinConnect Server XP purchaser/user to read and comply with the Windows XP licensing agreement or contact Microsoft for clarification regarding this licensing requirement. back.

See Also:

Where can I download the Remote Desktop Client software for Linux System?

You may download or purchase the WinConnect Remote Desktop Client software from our web site at http://www.thinsoftinc.com/ [thinsoftinc.com]

Usurper_ii

Re:Software...other than Citrix or Remote Desktop (1)

Wiseleo (15092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139127)

For the record.

TS CALs are less than $100/user if without software assurance, and about $141/user with software assurance.

Win XP Pro licenses you'd need would have to e purchased as a retail package, at $299/user. Neither OEM nor any volume license would work.

On the other hand, Windows Server can be licensed through volume channel for significant savings.

As an example:
Open Value - (1) Win 2003 Std Server, (5) CALs, (5) TS CALs, (3) year software assurance: $2238
Same scenario but with Open Business, no software assurance: $1264
Same scenario but with Open Business, no extra CALs (already covered with other servers?), no SA: $1119

So with (5) users you would pay $299*5+cost of software ($100/user, hence $500) from Thinsoft = $2000 vs. $1119 to 1264 for the terminal services solution.

Make your own conclusion, but if the user is compliant with the Microsoft EULA for Windows XP Professional, which stipulates that new fully licensed copies of Windows can only be retail packages, the thinsoft solution does not make sense to me financially.

I sell a lot of volume licenses for Microsoft, and the prices I quoted are the ERP prices. My reseller price is actually lower.

Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote Des (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136455)

The deal with printing from Citirx and Remote desktop is that you must have the same pritner drivers installed on the server that the client is trying to use. Some printers work and some don't. For instance, unless they have some update I don't know about, MS Remote Desktop will not print to a printer working from a TCP/IP port. Also, some cheap USB printers have drivers that won't install on the server's OS, so there goes the requirement to have the driver on the server.

While there are some solutions that cost a fortune, this program, ePrintAnywhere, solved our problems and did it at a fair price:

http://www.blackice.com/ePrintAnywhere.htm [blackice.com]

It fixed every printer I couldn't get going with Remote Desktop, including TCP/IP port printers and cheap USB printers. Only one person has reported a problem -- and unfortunately, it is at a remote office, so I don't know if it is user error or a legit problem yet.

And the standard disclaimer: I do not make any money off of this product. It solved a problem, worked well, and was fairly priced compared to similar products that cost a fortune!

Usurper_ii

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

potHead42 (188922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136529)

For instance, unless they have some update I don't know about, MS Remote Desktop will not print to a printer working from a TCP/IP port.

Actually, it does, you just have to set a registry key first. See http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb; en-us;q302361 [microsoft.com] for details.

And for most USB printers, you can use driver redirection, already mentioned above.

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136640)

Yeah, that is all fine and well, but I work at one of those places where IT is a part time job...and the busier we get the less time I have for pure IT work like that. I knew about the redirection, but finding the time to jack with every cheap printer under the sun and/or attempting to do registry hacks, while I could do that if given the time, wasn't a great solution for me.

ePrinterAnywhere, on the other hand, I posted the client on our intranet for everyone to download and could *easily* explain to them over the phone how to install it. It is incredibly simple and I had it going in 30 minutes and about five minutes or less per employee. And the plus is, I had reasonable expectations that it would work with future printers, rather than having to fight with each weird, cheap printer one of our employees managed to come up with.

If time is money, the software more than paid for itself. If time isn't money, then there are cheaper work arounds, I 100% agree.

The only crappy thing is, the only person that had problems with it, is the person who owns my company. I know that looks bad, but I can't honestly say it is the software's fault, and not the users. Black Ice took it really personal that he had problems, but since he is at one of our remote offices, I haven't been able to personally see if it was actually the software or the user.

Usurper_ii

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137509)

Looking back over the link, I do remember looking at this. For computers around the office, this wouldn't have been too difficult, but for distant employees who are not computer literate, I wasn't really interested in trying to walk them through modifying their system registry over the phone. And what is to say I drive 150 miles to fix their registry and then a month later they get a new computer, or didn't tell me they wanted to print from their laptop, too?

And what I don't understand, and MS does not explain, is if there is not some down side to forcing all ports on the client to redirect to the server? There must be some reasoning for MS not just making this standard right from the start (hey, all printers work with Remote Desktop!)?

I looked on google but didn't find much information at all, but what I imagine happening is that computers set to force all ports to redirect, have the capability to eat up more bandwidth sending stuff to the server that doesn't need to be sent.

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137457)

I like the way CUPS handles itself...
The drivers are on the server, the client doesn't need to know or care about the specifics of the printer... It just needs to know the paper size, porttrait/landscape and wether or not to print in color.
The client sends the print job to the server in a standard form (postscript i believe) and the server converts it to whatever the printer requires.
The server has the drivers, the clients don't need any drivers... I use this method to print from linux and other unixes, to a printer which has no native linux drivers...
I run CUPS on MacOSX (which does have supported drivers) and have the printer physically connected to the mac. Also if you turn broadcasting on, any cups clients on your local network will automatically detect and configure the printer on the server, absoloutely no configuration needed on the clients.

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137517)

Forgive my ignorance, but what is CUPS? I'm open to anything that works and doesn't cost a fortune.

Usurper_ii

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (1)

CableModemSniper (556285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137944)

http://www.cups.org/ [cups.org]

CUPS is Common Unix Printing System. Essentially its a modern replacment for lpd (but it can do a lot more than lpd, including being lpd :-p ).

Re:Fix problems printing from Citrix & Remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15195077)

printing is a big problem with Citrix and Terminal Services and we solved it with Advanced Print Manager from www.dabcc.com. It was really cheap too. I think we paid $695 for everything. We have 18 servers and in a few minutes we have problems addressed. I'm a big fan of it.

Citrix Runs on TS (2, Informative)

JustASlashDotGuy (905444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136497)

Citrix pretty much runs on top of Terminal Services nowadays. So yes, all the stuff you mentioned is possible with TS. The fancy bells and whistles are not possible yet tho (IE: Application sharing instead of desktop sharing, Failover/Clustering of apps, etc). At our office, we run Citrix for stuff hosted for external clients, but run TS for internal stuff (primarily for failover). It works well as long as you accespt the shortcommings a pure TS environment. We'd all kill for Citrix all over, but it's just not cost effective right now. I think I heard something at one time about the next version of TS having some time of App level publishing built it, but I can't truly recall.

Re:Citrix Runs on TS (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138424)

I think I heard something at one time about the next version of TS having some time of App level publishing built it, but I can't truly recall.

It's a really popular rumour actually, one that probably has some truth to it.. [brianmadden.com]

Essentially the rumour is that Microsoft pushed the working demo of published apps (Or Bear Paw) from Windows 2003 R2 to Longhorn Server (essentially 2007) because Citrix agreed that they wouldn't make Metaframe for Linux.

Nomachine NX (1)

labratuk (204918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136499)

You've just described Nomachine NX.

http://www.nomachine.com/ [nomachine.com]

Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services (2, Informative)

djwoodard (944832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136501)

I've used Win 2k3 TS to print to local printers & access shared and local drives. You cannot use published apps in Microsoft's TS. The remote user gets an entire desktop/profile.

sun secure global desktop (tarantella) (1)

Iaughter (723964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136509)

About a year ago Sun bought [infoworld.com] Tarantella [tarantella.com] which provides remote desktop software. I've set up a testing install of Tarantella with MS Windows Server 2003, Solaris 10 and Red Hat. You need at least one server for each offered OS and Global Desktop handles the connecting and much of the glue (of course, MS makes it more difficult than necessary, but ...).

This product of Sun's is definitely an enterprise-level competitor (and really hits the sweet spot when used with their thin-client products).

Use Linux! (1)

mushroom couch (655532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136564)

You can compile the ppp_mppe module into your linux kernel. It's free and supported!

Details for gentoo linux are here:
http://pptpclient.sourceforge.net/howto-gentoo.pht ml [sourceforge.net]

While the config is the same, the package management depends on which distro you use. If you get stuck, you can google "ppp_mppe howto your-favourite-distro", I'm sure you'll find more details. :-)

Mushy

...why switch if Citrix is getting the job done? (1)

7grain (583823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136609)

Forgive the obvious question, but why switch? You haven't given any reason for your desire to move away from Citrix. (No... I'm not a Citrix rep, but I am a satisfied customer.) Citrix's licensing doesn't require renewal. If you have a good system in place, why abandon it? Having said that, Microsoft's remote desktop in Server 2003 (the framework which Citrix rides on top of) has made great strides towards the functionality that Citrix's Metaframe/Presentation Server provide. MS and Citrix are tight business partners. All of those listed capabilities are easily achieved in a pure-MS option... although it's easier to configure if you're using Citrix. (IMHO.) If you're talking about a handful of users logging in from remote site, Microsoft RDP is fine. If you need a farm of several server hosts, with dozens or hundreds of users coming and going, and the associated challenges of load balancing, categories of published apps, etc., Citrix makes all of this easier. It's worth pointing out that passthru printing to a local machine when logged in remotely is WAY easier in Citrix that just using MS Terminal Services. The Citrix Universal Print Driver ("UDP") is not 100% foolproof (tip: it's the PCL5 driver for HP Color Laserjet 4500), but it works 95% of the time for 95% of printers. My last job had over 100 users logging in from a) home and b) other offices branches, and I only had to load a small handful of drivers for screwball home computers from Brother, samsung, canon, whatever... there is no standardization at home and that's what kills, and makes the UDP shine. Like I said, it's my estimation that 95% of printers work 95% of the time with the UDP. If everyone logging in to your farm has an HP Laserjet locally, then you won't have any problem with a non-Citrix solution. Otherwise, you'll be glad to have the UDP. Another nice feature in Citrix that MS doesn't offer - virtual IP. Big frustration of Terminal Services (in general) is that all users logged in to a pacticular server share that server's IP address. When you have older software that expects each user to have an different IP address (for machine-to-machine messaging, for instance), 20 users all having the same IP addy throws a wrench in the works. The newsest Citrix Presentation Server (4.0?) handles this situation. I can't speak about the other TS software mentioned in other people's responses, but MS doesn't handle this at all. I'd suggest setting up an RDP server (like a citrix server w/o the actual citrix software), since you already have all the licensing and software that you require: MS Server CALs, and MS Terminal Server CAL's. Play, test, evaluate. Good luck!

Re:...why switch if Citrix is getting the job done (1)

7grain (583823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136626)

darnit, sorry for not putting in my line breaks between my paragraphs. I typed it up when Slashdot wasn't accepting posts this afternoon, and lost the breaks when I saved my reply to Notepad, waiting to finally post now. Didn't preview before trying to post the 2nd time. I hope my ugly reply still helps you. :-)

NotePad == WTF? (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136705)

NotePad seems to be more-or-less reliable, but as you've found, "less" can be unexpected and big-time.

I have a multi-score-element client LAN set up with Linux workstations using the simple and effective but not superfancy rdesktop(1) [rdesktop.org] app to hit the few remaining MakeBux4BillO$ machines left, and some Win16+ apps runnng well on the workstations under WINE. Although the client is a reasonably large (for any WestAus) publisher, OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org] has worked out well in practice for much of their work. They also have a few Macintoshes.

The decrease in viruses, spyware and mysterious vanishments of useful stuff has been quite striking, but I don't know if this would suit the original poster's requirements.

Why? (2, Interesting)

NoInfo (247461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136693)

We are investigating alternatives to the Citrix system we currently operate.

You said this, but didn't state why you're searching for alternatives. Is it because it's too expensive, because you need more features, or because you think there's a better alternative out there?

I think about the only argument you can really have is that it's expensive. There really are no other alternatives out there with more features (other than perhaps value-add things on top of Citrix Presentation Server, the new name for MetaFrame) or more stability/usefulness.

Some shops are able to make-do with the lower costing alternatives, but they have to live with far fewer features (e.g. only allow full desktops, don't do printing very well, have no way to load balance, have no way to isolate bad apps from one another, etc). If your needs for it are lighter then you can try piloting a Terminal Services-only solution which is (necessarily) less expensive than a Citrix one.

It's hard, though, for people to offer something better than Citrix. They've spent their entire lifetime focusing on the whole remoting applications gig. TS and RDP was built on top of code licensed from Citrix, so even MS takes a backseat.

More Info on the Topic at Hand (5, Interesting)

Dysfnctnl85 (690109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136915)

I apologize for not mentioning more about the subject, but I kinda didn't expect it to get posted in the first place.

To address the accounting software...there is no way we will be changing, so that is not a viable solution at all.

As far as investigating alternatives, we are currently running 3 Citrix MetaFrame servers. Right now, they are barely holding us user-wise, so we're replacing the existing hardware with more servers and adequate hardware. In the process, we will be moving away from Windows 2000 for a number of reasons.

So, do we continue to run Citrix and purchase the licenses for additional users as well as a version upgrade, or do we attempt to put a Windows Server 2003 solution into place utilizing Remote Desktop? Or what else?

Our current Citrix setup is not adequate, and not simply because of hardware, but printing is a total nightmare. There are so many levels involved with printing a report from our Solomon accounting software, it adds complexity to the very act of printing, so much that Citrix routinely breaks. Whoever is running helpdesk on a given day fields a significant number of Citrix calls, and generally speaking it is not the user's fault. It is extremely frustrating to say the least.

Hence this investigation. So I hope I shed some more light on the situation and please keep the suggestions coming.

We rely heavily on Microsoft Exchange, so keep that in mind when suggesting other OS-based solutions. I'm instituting a few BSD solutions for other tasks, but making the switch completely is very far down the road.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (2, Interesting)

neurovish (315867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137213)

I can't comment on how well terminal services can handle the thin client thing since I've never used it for that in the first place, but I do administer some Citrix servers, and it really sounds like you're stuck with it. What version of Citrix are you running? Since you're on win2k, I'm guessing it is not the newest release. From what I've seen, the printing system is vastly improved (I know your pains concerning Citrix printing breaking). They went back and redid everything from scratch in that department.

You also mention that you have several servers running Citrix...what is the reasoning behind this? It looks like terminal services will not cluster in this manner as Citrix does, so if it's a high availability kind of deal, then that could be another reason to stick with Citrix.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137403)

Citrix Presentation Server 4. As my Citrix peers and I say 'Just do it.'
Printing problems that plagued a good application server are a thing of the past.
Stability of PS4 on 2003 server is rock like. No more mystery crashes without even a memory dump to point a stick at.

What version of Citrix are you running.. I didn't see it stated anywhere!

To tired to create an account.. I'm here just for the pictures.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

Mendy (468439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137758)

We have the same problems at work with the random Citrix printing problems and I'm hoping an upgrade to PS4 etc. soon will fix it.

If it doesn't I've been thinking about just installing a PDF printer driver onto the Citrix servers, configured to either e-mail the files to the user or put it onto a share. For the kind of reports that the users do from Citrix this would be fine, with the added bonus that they have an electronic copy they can send to people if needed.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

jpostel (114922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138009)

We did use the PDF printing/emailing option for one of the main user applications at a company I used to work for. We actually installed Acrobat on each server. It was our backup method for anyone with issues. We came out with a recommended printer list for remote users, and worked around most of the issues with funky legacy printers, but we were told that we had to support everything anyway, because IT is just there to fix the f*ing computers and not actually contribute to the business.

Citrix printing was flaky on several levels, such as USB printers, printer driver versions, etc. I was told be several people (other admins) that printing was much improved with the newer Citrix versions.

In defense of Citrix, their printing model was based on the MS standard printer driver. How many printer manufacturers actually adhere to the standards for printer drivers in Windows? I know that HP does not. And most of the multi-function printer/scanner/fax devices don't either.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

cyber_spaz (302607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137781)

Dysfnctnl85--

I have the unfortunate experience of supporting a rather large application in a rather large bank. This application is on a pair of load-shared Windows Terminal Servers 2003. We've been fighting problems with trying to get SIMPLE PRINTING to work for the entire time. If printing is your big issue, I don't see how moving to WTS is going to help you at all.

If anyone can prove me wrong and that it's just some sort of configuration issue, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! If you can make it work for us, I'll be overjoyed and send you something nice. (I mean it--if you can solve my biggest pain in the tookas, I'll find something nice and send it to you!)

Our specific printing problems are (1) The application and/or WTS gets confused and spits out partial printouts (yep, we're using WTS-approved printer drivers!) (2) The print spooler(s) periodically hang for no good reason (3) There's a "ring of pain" where OPS points to the network, the networking support points to the application team, the application team doesn't have permissions to look at anything to find any answers...

Uh, sorry, I didn't mean to start off on a rant. Let me just say: If I could remove any one application from our site. It would be THAT one.

I think the problem is mostly that it's frequent enough to be EXTREMELY frustrating, yet rare enough to be impossible to reproduce on demand, and there are enough parties involved that you can never get enough brains focused on the problem long enough to get the damn thing fixed!

I wish you better luck than I have had so far...

--cyber_spaz

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138448)

try dropping me an email with a few more details, I will tell you what I can.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138087)

Honestly, I don't think there are any practical alternatives to Citrix right now. Remote desktop might work - technically, but you lose seamless integration, and you'll need to set up printers on the remote profile. It might be more likely to work, actually, if you just treat the local workstation like a thin client and just have people set up the remote desktop as if it were their workstation.

Printing in citrix is less than perfect, but in recent versions it seems to work reasonably well. I'm not aware of anything else out there which will share your local printers/drives/COM-ports/etc.

You can also run citrix clients on linux (I've tinkered a little with the new HP linux thin clients - they generally work pretty well).

Don't get me wrong - I'd love there to be a FOSS alternative. I use NX at home, and that is almost as good as Citrix for WAN performance (emphasis on almost - it isn't always spectacular). However, at best this is a replacement for remote desktop - not for Citrix.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

sybarite (566454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138192)

Client printer redirection is fussy and a pain. I manage several Citrix based networks. I always attempt to eliminate client printer redirection by insisting on network based printers instead. Much easier and more reliable.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

Absoluttt (618527) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139902)

I'm in a similar situation but have done a bit of research looking into other solutions. The reality is that if you're at that level, ie 3 or even more than 1 server +, you're going to need the support of a large corporation to do this. We run about 12 locations USA - wide, and all use Citrix for our main apps to our local Corp location here in Texas. Yes, we had printing and major accounting issues early on, but there are ways around them and really, they can be solved in quirky ways but solved nonetheless. Yes, it's a bit buggy and has its certain 'ways of doing things', but really there's no _better_ option. As far as RDP, Citrix pretty much purchased the code on RDP from MS, and developed forward from there, so that route would be a backstep. What version and SP are you at? The benefit of dealing with such a popular option is that your problem(s) are likely already documented and reported/fixed. Printing has been a real bear in the past, thank goodness I've finally got it under control. It went from about 90% of my problems to about 0%, all with tweaks and a SP upgrade. Most of the fixes for any printing problem were restarting the printing service on that particular Citrix server. We use Exchange as well, if that helps. To recap, everything USA wide is either Exchange-email, F-Drive= file use, 6 apps = Citrix.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

sid crimson (46823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140937)

We use Exchange lots too. My users are well versed with it, and love the integration with Project and Sharepoint. Ugh. Therefore Windows is our option.

I never used Citrix... but I know of two other operations very similar to my own that switched away from their Citrix installs and went with Terminal Server 2003 instead. Their reasons? Server 2003 was "good enough," printing "just worked," and Citrix "was complicated."

They found TS2003 easier to deal with for their needs.

While I cannot give you have insight regarding your Solomon installation, I can say that I found solutions to TS2003's biggest (IMHO) shortcoming: USB for Palm Sync. My solution? OMA -- and my users seemed to like the excuse to pickup a new phone just to keep their phone in sync... so it was an acceptable answer for everyone.

-sid

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15143725)

It sounds like your using a bit of an overkill solution for what you have to be sure. Citrix Metaframe (aka Presentation Server) is intended for large enterprises, with hundreds of apps, users and servers to manage. This is where the management features like the Resource Manager, Load Balancing, Seamless etc come into their own.

It sounds like printing is one of your biggest problems (as with most remote working deployments I've seen). If anything reverting to TS is likely to make this problem worse rather than better (unless your using an ancient version of Metaframe).

One possibility would be to use the Citrix "Access Essentials" suite. I haven't used it myself, but it's a cut down version of presentation server for small companies with 5 - 75 users, and is probably cheaper than the full blown product. I would assume they've used the latest UPD in this version, as it was released after 4.0.

Re:More Info on the Topic at Hand (1)

winmonster (515415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147725)

I just replaced a Windows 2000/Metaframe XP Feature Release 1 farm with a Server 2003/Presentation Server 4.0 farm. We initially looked at dumping Citrix, due to experience with the previous farm. After seeing the newest version, it was apparent that Citrix has made many improvements and continues to offer features that RDP cannot touch. In addition to what some others have said, you get one more huge advantage. The Web Interface/Secure Gateway combination allows us enable remote access using nothing but https. This makes it easier for our users, negates firewall issues and provides a buffer between the Citrix servers and the Internet.

Look at a Caymas Box (1)

DirkBalognapantz (609779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137014)

We just dropped an appliance from Caymas Systems [caymas.com] in place at our firm and it has changed the way we think about remote access to applications. Not all applications really require access to a full remote desktop, especially when many systems have web based front-ends. The money we were considering spending on a Citrix server has been used to provide a solution that is more flexible for our environment, fairly easy to set up, and plays well with users of non-windows operating systems. One plus is that for web based apps, home users become responsible for their own printers. No struggling to get them working with our windows terminal server. I'm not really sure about your exact needs, but this is worth looking at.

Citrix versus others (1)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137187)

Lots of people have mentioned that Windows Terminal Services can provide a lot of the features you need. What people don't seem to have said is that Windows Terminal Services also uses a lot more bandwidth than Citrix, so you may pay more in the long run if you use it due to the expense associated with more bandwidth, if you need to upgrade your bandwidth.

On the other hand, you may wish to give NXServer a try, as it can proxy your Windows Terminal Services servers, and you only need one NXServer per given location to proxy all of your Windows Terminal Services servers.

NXServer compresses the TS data connections, although I'm not sure exactly how much compression you get (I haven't measured). If savings is your main interest, you may want to give NXServer a try. It's from http://www.nomachine.com/ [nomachine.com]

Run a test. Its easy (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138838)

Have you run a simple terminal services test between two machines?

Printing to a local printer is easy and reliable. Havent tried much else. I've never been compelled to use citrix for anything.

My solution for remote printing issues (1)

Wiseleo (15092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138941)

It's really very simple provided this nightmare is managed by us.

1. Users log on through VPN
2. Users' machines are domain members configured with local print queues
3. VPN Machines auto-register in DNS
4. We provide the remote printers and refuse to support anything else - an HP mono or color laser device
5. We create server-based print queues pointing to those remote printers as \\Machine\PrinterX with appropriate security settings to restrict access
6. Users choose to print to their assigned printers from their remote applications

I have this implemented for 7 companies.

X11 (1)

syylk (538519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139615)

'Nuff said.

Online resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139721)

The are several alternatives that provide 80% of Citrix functionality at 30% the cost. It will up to you to verify that the 80% will include everything you need. Interesting options include Ericom Software [ericom.com] , Jetro [jp-inc.com] and others. There are also some online resources for this type of information such as Brian Madden [brianmadden.com] , and DABCC [dabcc.com] .

web, vpn (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141235)

Your alternative is to migrate more and more applications to (ActiveX-free) web-based interfaces. You can then use whatever clients you like. Many business applications do well with web interfaces; their web interfaces are often actually more consistent than their desktop interfaces. You can then run whatever clients you like.

No matter what you do, whether people can print on local printers and access local drives is largely a networking and management issue. Yes, Citrix makes it work in one way, but there are many other ways in which that can be set up that don't involve Citrix at all. If you want to prepare for a move to any other system, fixing that might be the first step. Some possible solutions are to set up a VPN, to get separate user level bridging for those services, or to set something up with ssh.

SSL VPNs for Citrix Remote Access (1)

eheller (968922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141692)

You can go a few ways here - one is to leave Citrix on the LAN and use an SSL VPN for the WAN. AEP (which used to be Netilla) makes a good box for this. It'll either forward the ICA clients down in Java to the end user or you can skip Citrix and use AEP thin technology to serve apps remotely. Cool stuff. There's a white paper for this on their site aepnetworks.com. I think also it's the only SSL VPN to do Linux. Forgive the ad but it's a good box.

Eric

FreeNX! (1)

nowen (175844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15142235)

What about FreeNX? http://freenx.berlios.de/ [berlios.de] .

Open source, free, supports remote X, RDP * VNC and you can run authentication through PAM for 2-factor authentication support.

Linux Alternative to Citrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15144889)

For those of you interested in Citrix-like functionality, but running on top of Linux servers, look at Win4Lin Terminal Server Pro. It runs XP and 2000 sessions on Linux servers and remote displays them via their enhanced VNC or can be used together with the Linux version of NoMachine, Graphon, LTSP, Sun Ray, etc... It has great performance and the operating systems is solid ;-)

Printing is a plus as is the discreet user sessions. One other nice feature is that they have "renewable" windows sessions - if an environment gets corrupted with malware, etc... all that is needed is to shut down the process and start a new one and the master copy of Windows loads into memory and overlays user docs, settings, etc... Nice.

Citrix vs. Windows 2003 (1)

DigitalDeviation (857048) | more than 8 years ago | (#15150744)

Honestly, if its a small business, Windows 2003 Server will work just fine. Couple that with Group Policy and you've got a nice, out of the box solution.
I use Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 at my day job. I will tell you that Citrix can handle much larger user loads than Terminal Server. In addition, it has very bandwidth friendly connections (roughly 8 times 'thinner' than RDP). The printing in the newer version has been greatly improved as well (it used to be a nightmare in 1.8).

I support roughly 500 remote users at over 50 branches over 768k lines at each location. We publish Office (Access & Outlook incl), MS IE, and a wholoe host of other critical apps (61 at last count). I can tell you that with this type of load, Citrix is the way to go.

Sure there are some open source apps and some others like Tarantella, but what kind of support do they offer? Yeah I know the open source community is around to help, but for critical applications (like ours), I'm not going to rely on the community solely to help.

Do some Googling for Network World's review of remote application suites. They had some nice info in there.

Good luck in your choice.

What about video? (1)

ponchielli (969219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15151374)

If I understand the Citrix product info correctly if you use XP as the client they will run a local media player when you launch playback of video. This avoids having uncompressed video/audio data go out on to the network from the Terminal Server to the client. And the media can directly be streamed from the media server to the client. As far as I know Microsoft has no such thing for Remote Desktop.
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