|Executive Summary: mRemote is an open-source remote connections manager that lets you manage your remote server connections from a central GUI. mRemote supports many connections protocols, including Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Secure Shell Handler (SSH), and HTTPS. You can use mRemote to organize your server connections, create new server connections, and find server connections easily.|
This month’s free tool isn’t necessarily a SQL Server tool, but it’s such a good Windows tool that I thought you should know about it. mRemote is a free, open-source remote connections management tool that was written using the Microsoft .NET Framework. Let’s look at how you can use mRemote to manage all your remote server connections from a central GUI.
This tool supports a wide range of connection protocols, including
• Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
• Virtual Network Computing (VNC)
• Citrix XenApp
• Secure Shell Handler (SSH)
• TELecommunication NETwork (TELNET)
You can store mRemote connection information in SQL Server. Storing connection details in SQL Server, instead of in native XML flat files, lets you see new or changed connections in real time in all mRemote sessions that are connected to the database.
You can import connections directly from Active Directory and then use mRemote’s folders to organize your connections into groups or subgroups, as shown in the Connection pane in Web Figure 1. mRemote lets you use inheritance on folders to store properties that underlying connections can then inherit. You can also store “global credentials” (i.e., logon credentials that are used when no other credentials are supplied) that can be used when no other credentials have been assigned to a connection. This functionality can be useful for implementing domain-wide credentials. For example, you might have three servers that you connect to in one domain and three servers that you connect to in another domain. You can simply create two folders, one for each domain, with global credentials that will then be applied to any servers in those folders that you want to connect to.
mRemote also includes several nice usability features. For example, mRemote will ping your registered servers and show whether the server responded to the ping by providing a Host Up or Host Down status. In addition, it will automatically reconnect when a connection to a server is dropped and maintains information in logs for your RDP connections. If you have a lot of connections to manage, you’ll like mRemote’s Quick Connect and Quick Search features, which let you open a connection without creating an entry and quickly find a connection without searching through all of your folders, respectively. You can also assign icons to your connections so that you can easily identify them.
The tool includes several features that are typically found only in professional software, such as tooltips, which appear when you hover over connections; a useful system tray icon and “auto update” feature, which automatically downloads the latest version of mRemote; and a screenshot manager. Note that mRemote was tested on 32-bit environments and is unsupported on 64-bit environments.
It’s important to know that you’ll have to download additional software to support certain connection protocols. For example, you’ll need to download Microsoft Terminal Services Client 6.0 (www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=26F11F0C-0D18-4306-ABCF-D4F18C8F5DF9&displaylang=en) if you plan to use mRemote to manage RDP connections. (The Terminal Services ActiveX Controls mstscax.dll and msrdp.ocx must be registered before you can manage RDP connections.) You’ll also need to install the Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop client (www.citrix.com/English/SS/downloads/index.asp) to manage XenApp connections using mRemote. (The Citrix Presentation Client, wfica.ocx, must be registered before you can manage Citrix XenApp connections.)