Using the LanSchool Tech Console

Using the LanSchool Tech Console

Installing the LanSchool Tech Console

  1. Go to the LanSchool product download location, select the TechConsole folder and double-click TechConsole.msi for Windows or lanschool_tech_console.dmg for Mac.
  2. Click Next.
  3. Read the license agreement that appears, the click I Accept, the Next.
  4. Select a Security Mode option if desired. Selecting either mode is not required. Checking the box to Enable a security mode allows you to then select one or both security modes. If Password Secure Mode is selected, then both Teacher and Student installs require that password to subscribe to a channel. If Active Directory Secure Mode is selected, then the tech must belong to an Active Directory group called "LanSchool Tech Console Admins" that must be created by your IT staff.
    Active Directory Secure Mode is not available for Mac Tech Consoles or Students.
  5. If desired, select Allow problem reports to be sent to Stoneware to send anonymous and confidential problem reports. Click Next.
  6. Click Install.
  7. Click Finish to complete the installation. 

    The Tech Console and Teacher Console can be installed on the same computer. They cannot be ran at the same time however.



Student Thumbnail View

With the release of 8.0.2.82, the LanSchool Tech Console is defaulted to only view 40 student thumbnails at one time on Channel 0. If there are more than 40 students connected on Channel 0 it will automatically switch to Details View and disable the thumbnail view option. This is to provide a better user experience when viewing large amounts of students. If you wish to view more than 40 students you can override the setting.

Windows: Key: HKLM\Software\Wow6432Node\LanSchool (for 64 bit OS
                  Key: HKLM\Software\LanSchool (for 32 bit OS)
                  Value: MaxThumbnailStudents (DWORD32. Default = 40)
Mac: sudo ./lstconfig MaxThumbnailStudents 40 (the lstconfig file is located in the installer zip/Mac/Utilities folder)


Tech Console Main Features Overview

The use model for Tech Console is quite similar to LanSchool Teacher consoles. The Tech Console can be launched from the LanSchool icon  in the system tray for Windows or from the dock icon on Mac.

The Tech Console includes a number of features designed to provide IT and Tech Coordinators with tools to help them accomplish their daily tasks. All of the features are grouped under one of four menu items: Manage, Monitor, Communicate, and View. The most commonly used features are also accessible by selecting one of the toolbar buttons.

This article will highlight some of the main features of the LanSchool Tech Console.

Manage

      Inventory

When first launching the Tech Console, a background scan gathers software and hardware data into a file that is stored on the Tech Console. Once the scan is completed, select Inventory from the Manage menu or toolbar button and a pop-up window will display the hardware components and installed software of the discovered user machines. 

If a Report Server has also been installed, Tech Console will post that data to the Report Server for each machine in the User List. After the initial scan is completed, the Tech Console checks the machine once a day for new information and re-posts that data to the Report Server. 
For information about installing the Report Server please see, Installing the LanSchool Report Server

      Security

Compare a machine to the “Healthy computer” definition, and remotely modify those settings for the security categories determined. 
Tech Console provides a default definition of a Healthy computer based on recommendations by Microsoft and Apple for their respective operating systems. This definition “checklist” is available in the Security tab of the Preference item in the Manage menu. 

The Security tab lets you configure the settings that define a “Healthy computer” in your environment. Each user machine is compared to these settings and if the setting on the user machine matches this definition, then the machine is determined to be “healthy” and a green shield will be displayed in the User List. If even one category doesn’t match this definition, then the shield will turn red.

The Security definition is global and applies to all machines, or in other words they can’t be configured on a per device basis.

For more information on each of the Security Preferences please see Configuring Tech Console Preferences in this guide.

      Install

In order to install or uninstall applications or software updates to remote machines, the devices must be on and logged in. Browse to the package that you wish to deploy, and add any pertinent command line options that the package understands. The supported package types include:
      • .msi
      • .exe
      • .pkg      

After selecting the package and entering any command line options necessary, select Start to begin the process. You will be prompted for user credentials on the remote machine. If you selected multiple machines to install the package to, the credentials must be valid for all machines in the list.

The Install feature will provide status messages at three distinct points in the distribution. The status message include the points where the package is:
      • Downloading the file
      • Beginning the install
      • Install exits

      Power

Monitors the battery state on a notebook. If the charge drops below 50%, a yellow warning battery icon is displayed. If the charge drops below 20%, a red critical battery icon is displayed. The percentage of power remaining and the current A/C status is also available.

The current power scheme in use is also displayed, in addition to the alternate schemes that are already available. The scheme can be modified from the console by selecting an alternate choice and providing the credentials for that machine.

      Deep Freeze

Centrally manage Deep Freeze settings on supported computers.

Deep Freeze gives administrators enhanced options for configuring shared computers, such as desired state protection. Once Deep Freeze is installed and enabled, you can modify the Deep Freeze state. Tech Console provides the ability to view which of two settings are in force, and allows you to change that setting remotely.

The two options possible are: 
Frozen: This option will have the machine reboot and enter a Frozen state, any changes made to a machine in a frozen state are reversed each time the machine is rebooted. Deep Freeze must be in a Frozen state for the machine to be protected.

Thawed: This option will have the machine reboot and enter a Thawed state. Changes made to the machine, such as installing a new program or system updates, are retained even after a reboot. 
The Deep Freeze Control feature in the LanSchool Tech Console relies on the Deep Freeze Command Line Control utility on the Student device. On the PC side of Deep Freeze, this utility (DFC.EXE) is NOT included in the Standard Edition of Deep Freeze, only in the Enterprise Edition. Therefore, Deep Freeze needs to be the Enterprise Edition and not the Standard Edition for LanSchool to manage Deep Freeze settings. 
This is only an issue on the PC editions of Deep Freeze and does not impact Deep Freeze for Mac.

      SteadyState

Centrally manage Microsoft SteadyState settings on supported computers.
Microsoft provided a tool for Windows Vista PCs called SteadyState.msi that gave administrators enhanced options for configuring shared computers, such as hard drive protection. Once the tool is installed, and Disk Protection is turned on, you can modify the behavior. Tech Console provides the ability to view which of three settings is in force, and allows you to change that setting remotely.

The three options possible are: 
Remove all changes at restart: This option will eliminate any change made to the machine from the point Disk Protection was turned on until you reboot the machine. Use this setting to setup a machine to a clean state and then can get it back to that clean state by simply rebooting it.

Retain changes temporarily: This option will allow to set a time for any changes made to survive a reboot. After that point, changes will no longer be retained.

Retain changes permanently: This allows you to make changes and they will survive a reboot. This is basically like the machine would normally behave and the state you should use when software updates or new applications need to be installed to the base system.

      Power on or Wake-On-LAN

If your user computers are configured to take advantage of Wake-On-LAN technology, Tech Console can “power-on” all PC's.
For more information about Powering On and Wake-On-LAN, please see Powering On or Off Devices

      Remote Login

From the Tech Console you can remotely login into Windows machines if the user has a password and the Welcome screen (Display last Username) is not displayed.
Remote login is not supported on Mac Students or Teachers.

      Change Machine Display Name 

This option does not alter the computer's actual machine name. However, it will allow an alternative name to be displayed in the Tech Console's Machine Name field. On Windows, if your computers do not have meaningful Machine Names, you can use this menu option to better name the computers (i.e. “Row 1 Column 5”).

On Mac, there is a Setname utility that can modify names that is available from Technical Support. The name that shows up for a Mac user is controlled by a file called /Library/Preferences/com.lanschool.student.config.plist. This script will write that file using whatever name is passed in, or if nothing is passed in it will set the display name to be the current Computer Name as displayed in the Sharing preference pane. The script must be run as root to have any effect.

For example, to change a Mac machine display name to “Library1”:
sudo setname “Library1l”
Another example—set the display name to the current Computer Name:
sudo setname
You will have to refresh your console to see a name change.

      Update LanSchool on Selected Users

Once a LanSchool client has been installed on a computer, you can remotely update those users from the Tech Console
For more information on updating users from the Tech Console please see, Updating LanSchool Remotely.

Monitor

      Remote Control

Take remote control of a single selected user or select multiple users. This feature allows you to remotely use the mouse and keyboard on the selected user's computer.

Teacher machines are not controllable by default. Selecting a Teacher machine to control will send a permission request to that user with a 15 second response time. Teacher’s may allow or deny the request.
For more information about remote controlling please see Remote Controlling Student Devices

      Screen Snapshot

Save a user's screen to a standard graphic file. (.jpg or .bmp) The date, time and login name are displayed in the saved file. Teacher screens may not be captured. 
For more information about about Screen Snapshot, please see Using Screen Snapshot.

Configuring Tech Console Preferences

All preferences are controlled by one dialog with four tabs. Most preferences are controlled by making a change to these settings on the Tech computer.

Tech Preferences

The Tech tab lets you configure the following preferences:

Blank Screens Message

This option allows tech administrators to specify the text to display on the user’s screens when they are blanked. Enter the text message into the drop down list and select Apply. The last 10 messages are saved so they can be quickly selected when blanking screens, and quickly cycle through any previously created messages. You may view, select or delete message from that button.

System Tray Notification

This option allows teachers to show or hide the LanSchool icon in the system tray when the console is minimized

User Preferences

The Student tab lets you configure the following preferences:

Remote Control

      Disable Keyboard and Mouse 
This option allows the teacher to “lock-out” the user’s inputs while the Tech is Remotely Controlling a their computer. 
      Color Reduction
Limits the number of colors and suppresses the background image used by the Tech during Remote Control. This both improves performance and lowers network bandwidth requirement.

User Thumbnails

      Show Current Application Icon On Thumbnails 
When enabled, this feature shows the current application that is running on the user device as an icon in the upper left hand corner of the thumbnail. The current running application is not shown for Teacher machines.
      Show Last Visited Website Icon On Thumbnails
When enabled, this feature shows the website that was last visited by the user as an icon in the upper right hand corner of the thumbnail. Last visited website information is not shown for Teacher machines
       Show Student Name (from Directory) when available
            Shows the student directory name below the thumbnail if it is available.

       Student Folder
This option lets you specify the path of the LanSchool folder on student computers. This can be on the local hard drive or on a network drive.

Network

The Network Tab lets you configure the following preferences:

Data Transmission

In order for the Tech Console to quickly discover available Student machines and add them to the list in the console, one of the network broadcast methods described below is used. 
IP-Broadcast: An IP packet sent from the source (the Tech Console) that is only delivered to clients (Student machines) on the same local area network as the source.

IP-Multicast: An IP packet delivered to a group of destination computers simultaneously in a single transmission from the source (a Tech Console machine) creating copies automatically in other network elements, such as routers or switches. Multicast uses network infrastructure efficiently by requiring the source to send a packet only once, even if it needs to be delivered to a large number of receivers (Student machines). The nodes in the network take care of replicating the packet to reach multiple receivers only when necessary.

IP-Directed Broadcast: An IP packet whose destination address is a valid broadcast address for some IP subnet, but which originates from a node (the Tech Console) that is not itself part of that destination subnet (other Student machines). If the “no ip directed-broadcast” command has been configured for your router, directed broadcasts destined for the subnet to which that interface is attached will be dropped, rather than being broadcast.
Some additional configuration of the Routers/Switches may be needed to enable Multicast and/or Directed Broadcasts on your network. Consult your hardware guide for your switches/routers.

Multiple Network Adapters

Specify Network Interface Card
If your Tech Console computer has multiple real or virtual network adapters, specify the adapter that should be used from the drop-down box.

Tech Channel

Administrator Channel
Channel “0” (zero) is the administrator channel and has the ability to monitor all assigned channels and see all Student machines that have been installed. 
Starting v8.0.2.54, if there are more than 40 students being viewed at one time on Channel 0 or any other channel, the Tech Console will only display the Details View (no thumbnails) and the thumbnail view option will be disabled.
Use Multiple Channels
This feature allows the tech to “group” any of the 16,000 channels. Each channel must be separated by a comma.

Security

      Windows/Personal Firewall

      Possible settings are: On or Off
You may select either or both options based on your environment. Setting this to On means that Tech Console will check to determine whether the firewall provided by the Operating System is present and turned on. If so, this setting will pass the “healthy” checklist. 

This check does not include the ability to understand third-party firewall applications. If you use a product outside of the one provided by the Windows or Mac operating systems, then you may want to check both On and Off so that this category is fundamentally always healthy because you are managing that aspect of security independently.

Operation System Updates

Possible settings are:
  1. Automatic (Download and Install)
  2. Download (Don’t Install)
  3. Notify Only or Disabled 
You may select any individual setting, a combination of two or more, or all four settings if this is not a setting you care to have impact your definition of a Healthy computer.  

Virus Protection

Possible settings are: On or Off

You may select either or both options based on your environment. Setting this to On means that Tech Console will check to determine whether the Operating System reports that Anti-Virus protection is available and running on the machine. 

Malware/Spyware

Possible settings are: On or Off

You may select either or both options based on your environment. Setting this to On means that Tech Console will check to determine whether the Operating System reports that Malware/Spyware protection is available and running on the machine. 

Internet Security Settings

Possible settings are:
  1. Phishing Filter On
  2. Phishing Filter Off 
You may select either or both options based on your environment. Setting this to On means that Tech Console will check to determine whether the Operating System reports that Phishing Filter protection is available and running on the default browser installed on that machine.

User Account Control

Possible settings are:
  1. Always notify when I make changes, or programs make changes
  2. Notify when programs make changes (Default)
  3. Notify when programs make changes (don’t dim screen)
  4. Never notify when I make changes, or programs make changes 
User Account Control (UAC) is a uniquely Windows concept that is not present on Macs or Operating System versions before Vista. As such, those platforms do not consider this setting in the determination of health. For Vista and Windows 7 user machines, select the appropriate combination of options based on your environment. Tech Console will compare the setting here to the choice made on the local user’s machine, and if they match exactly, then this setting will contribute positively to the “healthy” definition.
 

Security Monitor

Security Monitor is also available in the Utilities folder from the LanSchool download folder. This application runs on any PC and will capture a log of LanSchool activity, including the installation or uninstall of the LanSchool program.

With this utility, many schools have quickly been able to pinpoint students who are abusing the “appropriate use policy” of their classroom. There is a LanSchool Utilities.pdf file in the same folder which describes this utility in detail.



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