PowerGUI® Pro 3.0: Mobile Systems Management Using MobileShell

In case you missed the announcement last Friday, PowerGUI Pro 3.0 was released to the web.  With this release we included a new feature that I’m really excited about: Mobile Systems Management Using MobileShell.  We’ve had MobileShell for quite a while, but prior to this release you could only use it to invoke your favorite scripts or commands from modules associated with your user account as well as ad hoc commands you wanted to run.  Here’s a screenshot tour showing you what this interface would look like on a handheld device:

PowerGUI Pro MobileShell - Favorites - 1 of 4   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell - Favorites - 2 of 4   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell - Favorites - 3 of 4   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell - Favorites - 4 of 4

As you can see from this, the capabilities in this version were very cool (what’s not to like about running PowerShell from your smartphone), but they were somewhat limiting as well because you couldn’t really work with a management user interface from your handheld device this way.

PowerGUI Pro 3.0 changes all of that, by including a new management interface for MobileShell that is based on PowerPacks (in case you don’t know already, PowerPacks are extensions for the PowerGUI Administrative Console that provide a management experience much like MMC, but that are driven entirely by Windows PowerShell commands and scripts).  With 3.0 we’ve provided a new mobile interface for MobileShell that allows you to use PowerPacks associated with your AD user account or groups that you are a member of from your mobile device!  Also, we’ve made the management experience even more responsive at the same time, so now you can do more with MobileShell and it will do it more quickly than before!  All you need is a mobile device with a WebKit-enabled web browser (sorry, that means no BlackBerry 5.x or Windows Phone 7 support for now).

Here’s a screenshot tour showing you how this new experience can be used to do something very simple like unlock a user account:

PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 1 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 2 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 3 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 4 of 12

PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 5 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 6 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 7 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 8 of 12

PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 9 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 10 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 11 of 12   PowerGUI Pro MobileShell ScreenShot Tour - 12 of 12

As you can see from this screenshot tour, this user experience is much richer and it gives you a full management console on the go, allowing you to respond to issues you are responsible for no matter where you are or what time it is.  It’s also configurable using role-based access control (RBAC), so you can assign different PowerPacks to different MobileShell users based on their AD user and group membership.  Even better, we make configuration of this functionality even easier by providing you with a MobileShell Administration PowerPack as part of the PowerGUI Pro 3.0 package.

If you’re interested in trying this functionality out, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure you have an IIS server ready where you can install it.
  2. Install MobileShell on the IIS server.  The MobileShell installer is pretty self-explanatory.
  3. If you didn’t add the MobileShell users during the installation, add anyone who you want to be able to access MobileShell to the PowerGUI MobileShell Users group (note: there may be a delay once you add users before they have access, up to 15 minutes).
  4. Install the PowerGUI Pro Admin Console on the IIS Server with the MobileShell Administration PowerPack.
  5. Open the PowerGUI Pro Admin Console.
  6. In the MobileShell Administration PowerPack, select Users and then click on the Add User action to add your user account.  Repeat this for each user account you want to provide access to.
  7. Select the PowerPacks node and then click on the Publish PowerPack action.  Provide the path for the PowerPack you want to expose via MobileShell and then click on OK.  Repeat this for each PowerPack you want to expose via MobileShell.
  8. Go back to the Users node, select the users you want to provide PowerPack access to, and then click on Assign PowerPack to assign one of the PowerPacks you have published to the selected users.

At this point you should be ready to go with your first MobileShell management experience.  Point your WebKit-enabled web browser to https://serverName/MobileShell/Admin, sign-in, and you’re off and running!

Note: PowerPacks don’t support the new MobileShell management experience by default.  We made the decision to make it off by default because we wouldn’t be able to tell which PowerPacks would display UI on the web server (such as a message box) reliably.  Any PowerPack can support this new experience though, they just need to be updated to suppor tit. The core PowerPacks that ship with PowerGUI Pro have been updated to support this new management experience so you’re already enabled with a rich mobile management experience for Active Directory, VMware, Exchange, and Windows management.  I’ll write another post later that describes what is required to turn on mobile management for a PowerPack.

That’s it for this post.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Kirk out.

Configuring RBAC for MobileShell in PowerGUI Pro 3.0

Yesterday we released the public beta of PowerGUI® Pro 3.0, which comes with all sorts of cool new features for PowerGUI users.  My favorite feature is definitely the new management interface for MobileShell.  With this interface, you can perform systems management from your handheld device very easily.  Here’s what that might look like from your webkit-enabled web browser:
MobileShell.Actions
Since this is only a beta release, it doesn’t necessarily have everything fully polished just yet.  One thing that we didn’t get to include in the beta release was a management console allowing you to associate PowerPacks with AD users and groups as well as instructions describing how you set up MobileShell to use this new interface with the beta.  The PowerPack that will be used to do that will come later.  In the meantime, this post will give you the necessary instructions to get started.

Step 1: Install the MobileShell Server

First, you need to find a system with IIS 7 or later installed.  Once you have a system where you will install the MobileShell server, you can run the PowerGUI ProMobileShell installer that was included in the beta package.  During that installation, make sure you indicate you will use https for your web site, because the new MobileShell user experience requires https in order for it to function properly. With the MobileShell server installation complete, you have a few configuration tasks that you need to perform to set up PowerPacks

Step 2: Add MobileShell Users to the PowerGUI MobileShell Users Local Group

Any user who will access MobileShell needs to be a member of the PowerGUI MobileShell Users local group.  The local group is created automatically by the MobileShell Server installer, so all you need to do is make sure you put the appropriate user accounts in to that local group so that they will have access to MobileShell.  Note that it may take several minutes before MobileShell checks the group again to see if there are new users in the group, so you may need to wait before newly added users can log in to MobileShell.

Step 3: Associate PowerPacks with AD Users and Groups

With your MobileShell users configured, you can now associate PowerPacks with different AD users and groups.  When a user logs on to MobileShell, they are presented with any PowerPacks that are associated with their user account or with any groups in which their user account is a member. MobileShell PowerPack configuration is done via a simple xml file.  The file does not exist by default, so you need to create it.  Invoke the following PowerShell script on your MobileShell server to create and open the configuration xml file:

$programDataPath = [Environment]::GetFolderPath('CommonApplicationData')
$powerGUIDataPath = 'Quest Software\PowerGUI Pro'
$folder = Join-Path -Path $programDataPath -ChildPath $powerGUIDataPath
if (-not (Test-Path -LiteralPath $folder)) {
    New-Item -ItemType Directory -Path $folder | Out-Null
}
$configPath = Join-Path -Path $folder -ChildPath 'MobileShellConfig.xml'
$configuration = @"
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Configuration>
  <Users>
    <User SID="S-1-5-21-123456789-0123456789-0123456789-01234">
      <Modules>
        <Module Path="$folder\ActiveDirectory.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\Export Actions.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\HTMLReporting.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\Local.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\Network.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\VMware.VIToolkit.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
      </Modules>
    </User>
  </Users>
  <!-- <Groups>
    <Group SID="S-1-5-21-123456789-0123456789-0123456789-43210">
      <Modules>
        <Module Path="$folder\Network.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
        <Module Path="$folder\VMware.VIToolkit.powerpack" Type="PowerPack" />
      </Modules>
    </Group>
  </Groups> -->
</Configuration>
"@
$configuration | Out-File -FilePath $configPath -Encoding UTF8
notepad $configPath

Once you have the configuration file open, you will see the layout that is used to associate AD user or group SIDs with PowerPacks.  Copy all of the core PowerPacks that you have in the PowerPacks subfolder of your PowerGUI Pro installation folder that you want to use via the MobileShell UI into the same path where this file was created (the value of the $folder variable in the script above contains this path).  Then modify this file to contain only the PowerPacks you copied over, update the first User SID for your user account, and this will finish off the initial configuration of PowerPacks for MobileShell.  If you want to add additional users, you can copy and paste the User node in the XML document and then modify the SID for the users you add.  Retrieving a SID should be an easy task of course: simply use Get-QADUser from the Quest AD cmdlets! Smile

Note: With this beta release there is a bug in the Groups support in this configuration document, so simply associate PowerPacks to users for now.  Thanks!

Step 4: Open the New MobileShell User Interface

The new MobileShell User Interface we have in the beta is accessed by opening your webkit-enabled web browser and pointing it to the following website:

https://MobileWebServerAddress/MobileShell/Admin

This web address allows you to try out the new systems management features that you can get from the PowerPacks you just associated with your user account.  Once you log in you should be all set to start using your PowerPacks!

A Note About MobileShell Support for PowerPacks

Note that if you try to use this new user interface with a PowerPack other than the ones that currently are included in the beta, by default the nodes and actions in those PowerPacks will not be visible in the MobileShell UI.  This must be explicitly turned on in PowerPacks that you want to access this way.  The reason behind this is because there may be some script that displays a Windows Forms or WPF-based UI on the system where they are run.  When you are remotely managing your environment via your MobileShell Server, you don’t want any UI to be displayed on the server because that would freeze your web client interface.  For this reason, nodes and actions must be explicitly configured to work with the new MobileShell UI.  I will write a separate post later about how you can do that really easily.  In the meantime, please try MobileShell with the core PowerPacks and see what you think! Hopefully this will help get you up and running with the new MobileShell UI in your test environment.  If you have any questions about this process, please let me know.

Thanks,

Kirk out.

PowerGUI® Pro and PowerGUI® 2.4 are now available!

I am pleased to announce that PowerGUI Pro 2.4 and PowerGUI 2.4 have been released to the web and are now available for download!

This release includes the following improvements:

Easy Remote Script Execution (PowerGUI Pro only)

The PowerGUI Pro Script Editor now supports easy remote execution of scripts.  You can now run an entire script or a portion of a script on one or more systems using PowerShell 2.0 remoting.  This feature allows you to either provide a static list of computer names or you can select a remoting configuration that you want to use when running your script remotely.

image

See that View Remoting Script button in the screenshot above?  You can use that button to generate a script that will run your script remotely.  Clicking on that button will open the remoting script in a new document in the Script Editor so that you can then save it separately and then use it on other machines, in a scheduled task, a background job, etc.

The remoting configurations support allows you to use a static list of computer names or a script to dynamically determine the list of target computers.  You can also configure any remoting options that should be used when running the script.  This includes options for configuring the URI address, proxy server credentials, certificates, security context, background job support, throttling, and other more advanced items.

image

Remoting configurations support every remoting option that is directly available in PowerShell 2.0, and some options that are not directly available as well.

Improved MobileShell Experience with Collapsible Command Groups (PowerGUI Pro only)

When you are accessing PowerGUI Pro MobileShell from your mobile device, your commands will now appear inside of collapsible groups.  There will be one group for favorite commands and one group for each module associated to your MobileShell user account.  This new user experience makes it easier to work with a large set of commands from small mobile devices such as an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone 7 device.

Add-on Discovery and Installation

In both PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI, the Script Editor now allows you to search for Add-ons and install them with a single button click.  This eliminates the need to manually download, unblock and load Script Editor Add-ons. With this feature you can search for Add-ons using keywords or phrases like “script signing” or “transcription”, or you can see a list of all Add-ons that are available by performing a search with no keywords.  Just open the Tools menu, and then click on Find Add-ons Online… to search for Add-ons in the Add-on category on PowerGUI.org.

image

Once you see the Add-on you want to install, simply click on it and then click on the Install button and the Add-on will download, install and load automatically in your Script Editor.

Remote session Intellisense, Syntax Highlighting and F1 Help

In an earlier release of PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI we added support for the Enter-PSSession and Exit-PSSession cmdlets to the Script Editor to allow you to work with remote systems from within remote sessions.  In this release we’ve taken that support further, providing you with Intellisense, Syntax Highlighting and F1 help support while you are working inside of a remote session.  This makes it much easier to work with servers such as Exchange 2010 or SharePoint 2010, where remoting is required.

Automatic Reload of Modules on Runspace Reset

PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI allow you to automatically reset your runspace every time you start debugging.  This is a feature we have had for a long time, and it allows you to debug from a clean system state.  In 2.4, this support has been enhanced so that modules are automatically reloaded when the runspace is reset in this manner, ensuring that you only have loaded what you want to have loaded.  This also ensures that any module On Remove event handlers are called before modules are reloaded again, and that modules are in a clean state when you start debugging.

Script Editor SDK Enhancements

This release of PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI includes several enhancements to the Script Editor SDK that allow you to create more advanced Add-ons than you could in the past.  New to this version is an Execute method on the root of the SDK that allows you to invoke PowerShell commands as if you had typed them into the embedded console.  This allows more control over how Add-ons send feedback back to the end user.  Also new to this version, you can now directly access the colors used in the embedded PowerShell console via the SDK, allowing you to apply whatever color theme you want for your day-to-day use of the Script Editor.  Menu item and toolbar capabilities have been enhanced as well, so that you can get or set Checkable, Checked and Enabled properties on commands in the Script Editor, and the corresponding menu items and toolbar buttons will automatically show you the appropriate change in state.

How to Install or Upgrade

If you haven’t tried PowerGUI Pro, now’s a great time to do so.  The new remoting feature is just great, and MobileShell keeps getting better and better every time we release.  If you want to try it out, go to www.powerguipro.com and click on the Try button to try it out for a bit.

To upgrade to the new release, you can either manually check for updates by clicking on Check for Updates from the Help menu, or you can wait until the next day that you start up one of the components and it will detect the update for you automatically.  If you have disabled auto-update or if you are working on a system that does not have online access, you can download the bits for offline install by visiting Quest SupportLink if you are using PowerGUI Pro or the PowerGUI downloads page if you are using the free version of PowerGUI.

Share your feedback!

I’d love to hear what you think of these new releases, so please let me know in the comments on this blog post or in our forums on PowerGUI.org.  This is only the first of many exciting releases we have planned for this year.  If you have features you would like to see added or changed in the product, please share your feedback with us.  It directly influences what we include in our releases, and ultimately makes PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI better for everyone!

Thanks,

Kirk out.

PowerGUI® Pro and PowerGUI® 2.3 are now available!

Today I am happy to announce that PowerGUI Pro  and PowerGUI 2.3 are now available.  This is a really exciting release for all PowerGUI users because there are a lot of cool new features in this release.

For PowerGUI Pro customers, we’ve spent quite a bit of time on MobileShell and made the following enhancements:

  • More mobile device support!
    MobileShell now supports iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4G, iPad, BlackBerry OS 5.0 and 6.0, Android OS 2.1 and 2.2, and even Windows Phone 7 OS devices!
  • Improved user experience for MobileShell on smartphones!
    Since smartphones have limited real estate for apps, we have redesigned MobileShell to better fit your smartphone device.  Now when you log in you will see your favourite scripts first, front and center, and optionally you can go to another tab if you want to do some ad hoc scripting.  If you are using an iPhone and prefer the old UI, you can specifically use that UI but the new UI is highly recommended for smartphone devices.  Larger devices such as desktop browsers and the iPad still use the old UI since they have more real estate to work with.
  • Improved favourite script management for MobileShell admins!
    Now admins can preconfigure the default favourites that are assigned to users when they first log on to MobileShell.  This makes it easier for you to set up the default commands you want available for your team once and then when they log in for the first time they will get assigned those commands automatically.
  • Role-based assignment of MobileShell commands!
    Admins can now associate modules with Active Directory users and groups so that when a user logs on to MobileShell, all public commands in any module associated with their user account or with a group they are a member of are automatically made available to them as favourites.  This allows you to manage your MobileShell commands in modules using the PowerGUI Script Editor, and whenever you publish a new version your MobileShell users will automatically have the commands from that version available on their handheld device when they log on!

We didn’t forget the freeware community either!  This release also includes the following features for both PowerGUI Pro and PowerGUI (freeware):

  • Virtualization support in PowerGUI!
    With version 2.3, the VMware PowerPack is now available as a core PowerPack included in the PowerGUI Admin Console.  This PowerPack is a fantastic way to manage your virtualization infrastructure.  If you want an example of how this might make a difference for you, have a quick look at this blog post.
  • HTML Reporting support in PowerGUI!
    We have had an Advanced Reporting PowerPack available for download from PowerGUI.org for a while now.  That PowerPack has recently been renamed the HTML Reporting PowerPack, and it now comes with PowerGUI.  This PowerPack allows you to generate HTML reports with features such as indenting, grouping, collapsible sections, and support for list or tabular format for any data you have in front of you in the PowerGUI Admin Console grid.  Just click on the “Create report…” action, configure the report you want to generate, and it will handle the rest for you!
  • Enter-PSSession and Exit-PSSession support!
    You asked, we answered.  Now you can use Enter-PSSession and Exit-PSSession from within the PowerGUI Script Editor to manage remote machines as if you were working on them locally.
  • Greatly improved snippet support!
    This one is a personal favourite of mine.  Snippets are a great way to create a lot of useful PowerShell functionality really quickly.  You just insert the snippet you want, fill in the input fields, and you’re done!  We have had this for a while, and now we have added more features to this support including:

    a) Support for user defined snippets!  If you have snippets you want to use in PowerGUI, you no longer have to have admin access to put them in the snippets subdirectory under the PowerGUI installation folder.  Instead, you can put them into your Documents\WindowsPowerShell\snippets folder and they will automatically be picked up by the PowerGUI Script Editor.  Even better still, if you have a snippet that comes with PowerGUI that you want to override, you simply use the same relative path in the snippets folder in your profile and your snippet will be used in place of the one that comes with PowerGUI!

    b) Support for snippets in modules!  If you import a module, and if that module has a snippets subfolder, then PowerGUI will recognize those snippets and they will be available in the Script Editor automatically.  This allows module authors to include snippets as part of their offering so that users can learn how to use the module commands much more easily!  If you author a module and share it with others, I strongly encourage that you add snippets to that module.  Your module users will thank you for it!

    c) Support for using snippets from any path on your system!  PowerGUI now uses a PGSnippetPath environment variable to decide where to look for snippets, allowing you to reference snippets from any path you include as part of that environment variable!

    Can you tell I love the snippet features? Smile

Of course we also included some bug fixes as usual.  One worth highlighting is that the PowerGUI Script Editor can now be used to debug files that are in a path containing paired square brackets.  We have had several customers let us know that they use these types of paths and that our new debugger wouldn’t stop on breakpoints for them, and this issue is now fixed.

This is a totally awesome release, and I’m really happy that I can finally share it with you!  If you are already a PowerGUI Pro or PowerGUI user, you’ll probably notice the auto-update notify you of the new release when you start it up very soon.  If you don’t want to wait though, you can always force PowerGUI to check for updates using the “Check for Updates” menu item in the help menu, or you can update it manually by downloading it from Quest SupportLink if you use PowerGUI Pro or from the PowerGUI.org download page if you use the freeware version.

I will be recording screencasts for some of these specific features very soon so that you can see how they work first hand, but don’t hesitate to try them out in the meantime and ask questions if you have any.  Also please share any feedback you have for this release, I’d love to hear what you think of it and what you would like to see in future releases!

As always, thanks for your continued support, PowerGUI would not be what it is if we didn’t have such a great community!

Happy scripting!

Kirk out.