Hardware

Step-By-Step: Learn how to use Terminal Services License Server Viewer

Manage Terminal Services Licensing with the GUI-based Terminal Services License Server Viewer (Lsviewer.exe).


Managing Windows 2000 Terminal Services licensing requires some savvy and resourcefulness from a Windows administrator. My previous article looked at a command-line utility that examines the Terminal Services license information, Terminal Services Licensing Reporter (Lsreport.exe). Microsoft also offers another Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit utility for administrators managing Terminal Services Licensing, the GUI-based Terminal Services License Server Viewer (Lsviewer.exe).

Terminal Services License Server Viewer
Terminal Services License Server Viewer functions at a higher level than the actual licenses. It is designed to determine the current availability of Windows 2000 Terminal Services license servers. Running in a window, it lists the license servers it can find by machine name, the time they were last known to be available, and the type of license server (domain or enterprise). Figure A shows an example with two license servers. The utility does not show the FQDN of the machines (which would be useful if using multiple domains in enterprise mode), does not distinguish between activated and nonactivated license servers, and overwrites rather than accumulates status statistics.

Figure A
Terminal Services License Server Viewer window


Running minimized, the tool appears as a traffic light on the system tray. If it's polling for available servers and everything appears well, the light is green. When it's writing to a log file or querying for servers, it changes to amber. When a license server becomes unavailable, it is supposed to turn red (according to the Resource Kit help). But in my experience, I’ve never seen this. Instead, the unavailable server simply disappears from the list.

The tooltip for this icon, also according to the help information, is supposed to list the available servers. This hasn't been true in my experience, either. The tooltip said Preparing To Poll For Servers when green and Preparing To Logfile or Querying License Servers when amber.

In fact, the badly documented and inaccurate help is the Achilles' heel of this utility, which might deter you from using it. Only through trial and error did I discover how it really works. For example, the help says it displays license servers for the user’s current domain, but that's true only if you’re running Active Directory without enterprise licensing servers. In fact, it displays servers found through Terminal Services license discovery, which means it can find license servers in its workgroup or NT4 domain (by broadcast), or its Windows 2000 domain (by querying domain controllers), or enterprise servers in any domain (by querying Active Directory).

Servers found through broadcast or domain controllers display as Domain in the Type column (as in Figure A), and servers found through Active Directory display as Enterprise. The utility can display both types (domain and enterprise) simultaneously. My next article will take a more in-depth look at the discovery process Windows 2000 Terminal Services uses and the different licensing types.

The help for this utility says it checks to see whether license servers are down, but fortunately it’s more specific than that and monitors the actual Terminal Services Licensing service. If the server remains up, but the Terminal Services Licensing service is stopped or even paused, the server disappears from the list.

The help also implies that the five-minute polling interval can't be changed, and that it will continuously log the statistics to a file. In fact, when you choose Create Log File from the File menu, you’ll see that the interval can be changed with the Search For License Server Interval (In Minutes) option, shown at the bottom of Figure B.

Figure B
Create Log File dialog box


If you want a one-time log file created for the server status reports, you must specify a filename here (change the path if required) and then choose Save before a log file will be created. However, if you select the Use This File For Automatic Log, the file will automatically update on each interval. But don’t expect an elaborate log. You’ll simply get a text file with exactly the same information shown in the GUI (Figure C). There’s no accumulation of status information, which would be nice. For example, if a router went down for 20 minutes during the morning, the log at the end of the day wouldn’t show that the license server was unavailable for that time because the information would be overwritten.

Figure C
Terminal Services License Server Viewer log file


Pros and cons
So is this a useful tool? It’s easy to criticize its limitations. For example, I would like to see the FQDN of the server, especially if using enterprise licensing with multiple domains. I would like to have another field that indicated whether the server was activated. I would like it to be able to distinguish between servers found through broadcast and servers found through domain controllers. But more important, I would like a clearer indication if one of those services became unavailable (visible flag and historical record), and I would like a historical log of each interval rather than a snapshot of the last interval.

Does this utility, with its traffic light that refuses to ever go red, offer anything that the Terminal Services Licensing MMC doesn’t? I have to admit I didn’t think it did—until I started to configure Terminal Services Licensing in a more complex network. For example, this utility offers the only method I’m aware of for determining whether a license server has been installed in domain mode or enterprise mode. And the Terminal Services Licensing MMC doesn’t seem to be very successful at connecting to enterprise servers in another domain, so they're either not displayed or they're displayed with “unknown” information.

I also found Terminal Services License Server Viewer useful in identifying which servers were running in enterprise mode, especially since a down enterprise license server seemed to prevent other enterprise license servers from working. A single enterprise license server will display its name and domain in the Active Directory site configuration container. However, multiple enterprise license servers in the same site will be unhelpfully listed as Multiple Values in both the server field and the domain field (even if the servers are in the same domain). That makes it nearly impossible to identify, and therefore verify, individual enterprise license servers. In these types of environments, I was grateful to have Terminal Services License Server Viewer at hand.

Summary
Both the Terminal Services License Server Viewer and the Terminal Services Licensing Reporter (described in my previous article) can help administrators in the battle of keeping Windows 2000 Terminal Services Licensing running smoothly and ensuring connectivity for terminal server users.

Both utilities work a bit differently, depending on how Terminal Services Licensing is installed in your network and what mode it was installed in, as well as whether your network is running Active Directory. To give you a better understanding of these issues, my next article will take a look under the hood of Windows 2000 Terminal Services Licensing. It will cover the four ways a Windows 2000 Terminal Server can find license servers and the different installation modes. Armed with this knowledge and these two Resource Kit tools, you’ll be better informed about how to design and troubleshoot this important service.

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