Streamline your script writing

Over the past several years, systems administrators have watched logon scripts evolve from performing simple tasks to providing advanced functions. Administrators now face the challenge of selecting a powerful and easy-to-use scripting tool. Inteletek's NTscript 2.01 provides a GUI, called NTscript Manager, that lets you easily configure email, desktop, and Internet settings without requiring you to learn KiXtart (the scripting language that NTscript uses to configure Windows NT logon scripts).

Installation is straightforward on the PDC. If you install the software on a domain that includes a BDC, you need to configure an NTscript setting to replicate properly to the Netlogon share so that the Netlogon share can distribute script changes. The final installation step is configuring the users' profiles through User Manager for Domains to run ntscript.bat as a logon script. Ntscript.bat starts the NTscript executable that launches individual *.kix scripts that NTscript Manager builds. The NTscript executable will launch the same *.kix script for all users unless you want users to have different logon scripts. For different scripts, you can configure settings based on NT domain group membership.

After the installation, NTscript Manager opens, and you can select Common Variables to configure, as Screen 1 shows. You can also edit NT-specific variables or create custom scripts. Subwindows offer multiple configuration tabs, such as System Time and Service Pack Delivery. In these subwindows, you can also configure the logging feature, environment settings, and user policy restrictions.

Script execution showed NTscript's power and flexibility and some of its limitations. The initial test script NTscript Manager generated added the proper drive and printer mappings but was unable to add an updated legal notice for users to view at logon. As with any scripting product you execute during system logon, the system changes you perform often depend on user security rights. The user's settings must provide you local administrator privileges to make changes to the local machine's administrators group and to change certain settings of the HKEY_CURRENT_USER Registry hive. NT domain users don't belong to the local machine's administrators group by default, and nonadministrative users can't perform functions such as system time synchronization.

Inteletek's technical support staff told me that I couldn't add an updated legal notice with a nonadministrator logon because of OS security settings. However, I avoided security limitations by adding domain users to the local machine's administrators group.

User security settings are important when configuring NTscript's Policies. The Policies tab in the Common Variables window is handy for configuring user restrictions and similar in design to NT system policies. After I set up the test user in the local administrators group, I made the legal-notice changes and similar machine-level changes without any problems. You should perform a proper security analysis before determining a final configuration, however.

Other features that looked good but need more flexibility are the Browser and Email Profile Configuration. The tabs for both features appear to be Microsoft-specific, with robust settings for Internet Explorer (IE) and Exchange Server only. Netscape users would welcome the addition of Netscape browser settings.

Administrators will love the logging feature. If you're losing track of your assigned IP addresses or want to easily track users' logon times, NTscript logs this information in a neat comma-delimited text file. You can log up to 12 items at once and configure a setting to purge the file after a determined length of time.

If you don't have much experience writing and debugging scripts, NTscript's power and flexibility are valuable. The price for a five-user license (i.e., $395) appears high, but additional licenses cost substantially less (e.g., $60 for five additional licenses, $110 for 10 additional licenses).

NTscript 2.01
Contact: Inteletek * 888-468-3538
Web: http//www.inteletek.com
Price: $395 for a 5-user license
System Requirements:
Server: Windows NT Server 3.51 or later; NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition; or Citrix WinFrame with MetaFrame
Client: NT Workstation 3.51 or later or Windows 9x

Corrections to this Article:

  • "NTscript 2.01" includes an incorrect URL for the product. The correct URL is http://www.ntscript.com.