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A Monthly Newsletter – April 2011

The beta cycle for all VanDyke Software products is in full swing, with beta 3 releases available before this reaches your inbox.  The issue begins with overviews of high-productivity areas of SecureCRT®: button bars, keyword highlighting, and the script recorder.  For network admins who want to cut time spent pushing out and installing VShell® software updates, we offer a solution using VShell itself.


1. Essential Skills: Using the Button Bar
2. Customize It: SecureCRT Keyword Highlighting
3. The SecureCRT Script Recorder and Python
4. Tip: How to Install VShell Using VShell
5. New and Current Releases

Online Resources

1. Essential Skills: Using the Button Bar

With the SecureCRT 6.7 beta release, the button bar has become still more capable and flexible, so now is a good time to cover the range of button bar capabilities.  In addition to supporting eight varied functions from shell commands to launching applications, the latest version of the button bar makes it easy to move buttons around a button bar or between button bars, and allows creating more than ten buttons on a single button bar.

Buttons on the button bar give you one-click access to frequently used SecureCRT menu commands and save thousands of keystrokes by avoiding manual command entry. A button command can be as simple as launching an external application like a text editor, or invoking a VBScript, or as complex as an easily mistyped shell command such as this example:

  chown -R `ls -dl . | awk -F\  '{print $3}'`:users .?* *\n

The following is a quick overview of button bar operations:

    • Enable the button bar from the View menu
    • To add or delete a new button or a button bar, right-click  on the button bar
    • With the 6.7 release, buttons can also be moved, copied, and pasted
    • Use the drop-down box to switch between button bars
    • Set the button bar location from the Global Options
    • To associate a button bar with one or more sessions (including the default session), edit the Terminal/Appearance/Window category of Session Options

You can find the complete updated button bar tip on the VanDyke Software website.

See also "The Button Bar" in the SecureCRT Help, in the section "Using the Software \ Getting to Know the Window".

2. Customize It: SecureCRT Keyword Highlighting

SecureCRT 6.5 and later releases support real-time highlighting of user-specified keywords in the terminal window.  This is probably not the first application feature you would want to master, but it is invaluable for technical users who have to monitor host output for important alerts or events, often across many sessions.  Keyword highlighting might be used to call attention to errors in output from a script or program, or to flag specific text or IP addresses in a log file.

To set up highlighting, find the Highlight keywords group in the Terminal / Appearance category of the Session Options dialog.  You first select or create a list of keywords, with a choice to highlight them in reverse video or bold text.

Note that because keyword highlighting processes the remote session data stream in real time, it can affect display performance.  Thus, if the remote host supports keyword highlighting, we recommend you use that facility.

SecureCRT provides limited scripting access to keyword highlighting through the SessionConfiguration object.  Visit the VanDyke Software forums for a discussion of this, including example scripts.

The SecureCRT Script Recorder and Python

The script recorder has been a part of SecureCRT for Windows since version 5.5.  Until recently the recorder was limited to generating VBScript code.  With the arrival of SecureCRT 6.7 in March, the recorder adds Python support, and is now available for Mac and Linux as well as Windows.

The script recorder can be used to automate issuing a series of commands that need to be performed regularly on one or more remote hosts.  The SecureCRT script recorder saves terminal keystrokes, so the entire set of commands can be captured and written to a script, making it easy to start writing scripts for SecureCRT even if you're not a Python or VBScript guru.

Use the Script menu to turn on recording, key in your commands and keystrokes, stop recording from the Script menu, and save the script as VBScript or Python code.  You can also use it as a foundation to build on to create more powerful scripts.

To start using scripting and the script recorder, look at the Scripting Essentials guide in the Support section at  Chapter 1, Creating Scripts, covers using the script recorder to create a VBScript (Windows only).

Tip:  How to Install VShell Using VShell

The VShell server now has the capability to launch remote exec commands in the background.  One of the benefits of this is that you can now upgrade the VShell installation without having to physically go to every machine that VShell is installed on.  In fact, many software packages can be distributed and installed in the same way; stay tuned for more on this in upcoming newsletters.

VShell 3.6.0 or later must be installed to use the ::bg remote exec flag that allows the remote execution process to run in the background.  This is required when upgrading the VShell installation because otherwise the remote exec connection will terminate during the upgrade and cause an incomplete installation.

With the right version of VShell in place, you first use vcp to upload the installer to the remote system, as in this example:

   C:\>vcp vshell-ftps-x86. username@hostname:.

The next step is to remotely execute the installer, specifying the flags that allow the installation to run without interaction (/s /v"/qn"), and the ::bg flag.  The following example shows
the syntax:

  C:\>vsh username@hostname bg::"vshell-ftps-x86. /s /v"/qn""

The installer defaults are used when the installation is run silently.  If you require a different installation directory, or other non-default parameters, an answer file is needed. To learn more about silent installation and answer files, visit this tip.

5. New and Current Releases

Beta 3 releases were made available April 12 of the VShell 3.8 server, the SecureCRT 6.7 and SecureFX(R) 6.7 applications, and the ClientPack 6.7 utilities.

VShell 3.8 server (beta) increases administrator control with a real-time connection monitoring tool, the ability to set virtual root file and folder access permissions, and auto-creation of virtual root paths.

SecureCRT 6.7 (beta) delivers a Linux version for Ubuntu and Red Hat, a "Connect bar," Python support in the script recorder, and improvements to the button bar.

SecureFX 6.7 (beta) helps you save time by adding directory bookmarks, a "Connect bar," and logical sorting in the "Connect" dialog.

VanDyke ClientPack 6.7 (beta) features VRALib enhancements with new time-out flags, a shell function, and remote execute properties.

Here is a list of the latest official product releases:

  SecureCRT 6.6.2
  SecureFX 6.6.2
  VanDyke ClientPack 6.6.2
  VShell 3.6.5 Server for Windows
  VShell 3.6.5 Server for UNIX
     Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0
     Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0
     Solaris 10 (SPARC)
     Solaris 8 (SPARC)
     FreeBSD 7.0 (Intel x86)
     FreeBSD 6.1 (Intel x86)
     HP-UX 11
     Mac OS X 10.5 (Intel x86)
     Mac OS X 10.2
     AIX 5.3

All VanDyke Software products may be downloaded and evaluated free for 30 days. Licenses include one year of free upgrades and access to our expert technical support. Licenses for three years of upgrades and support are also available.

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