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Alternatives to Citrix Remote Computing? 93

Posted by Cliff
from the other-software-options dept.
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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Alternatives to Citrix Remote Computing?

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  • Lots of stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daath (225404) <lp&coder,dk> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:15PM (#15136172) Homepage Journal
    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 :)
    • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Holi (250190)
        Pcanywhere, isn't really a multiuser environment, It it really just shares the console so it really doesn't work as a multiuser system.
    • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

      by rafelbev (194458)
      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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheTrueELf (557812) <thetrueelf AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:16PM (#15136183) Homepage
    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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @12:04AM (#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 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bert64 (520050)
        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
        • 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 behin
  • MS RDP (Score:3, Informative)

    by b0lt (729408) <b0lt@ls.qc.to> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:17PM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoeShmoe (90109)
      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
      • Re:MS RDP (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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
      • Re:MS RDP (Score:3, Informative)

        by pla (258480)
        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
  • 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 tha
    • 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...

  • ProPalms TSE (Score:2, Informative)

    by scarpa (105251)
    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 vari
  • 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.
  • 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
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sid crimson (46823) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:23PM (#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
    • 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 cit
  • WTS is good enough (Score:3, Informative)

    by potHead42 (188922) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:24PM (#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).

  • Remote Access (Score:2, Interesting)

    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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by green pizza (159161) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:29PM (#15136303) Homepage
    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.
    • 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...

  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @09:29PM (#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.

    • 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.
      • 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,
  • 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.
  • 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
    • 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

      • 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.

  • 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
  • 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
    • 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.

      • 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 o
      • 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 expl
    • 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
  • 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
    • 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.
  • You've just described Nomachine NX.

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

  • 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 busin
    • 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 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 h
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoInfo (247461) * on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:58PM (#15136693) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by Dysfnctnl85 (690109) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @12:13AM (#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.
    • 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 depart
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • 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.
      • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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 noneth
    • 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 ins
    • 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 ht
  • 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
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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 the
  • by syylk (538519)
    'Nuff said.
  • 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 th
  • 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

  • by nowen (175844)
    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.
  • 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
  • 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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