We are pleased to release Lights-Out 2.5 today. Many of our users’ suggestions have been implemented here. Due to the many new features, we will split the presentation into 2 contributions. In this blog post we present the changes to the user interface, the new automatic software updates and a better handling of away mode. Tomorrow we will introduce new client deployment methods of Lights-Out 2.5.
Automatic login (Console)
Users who manage only one server can now bypass the login dialog by selecting the new option “Automatically log in” (1). Clicking Sign out (2) (bottom left) displays the dialog again if necessary.
If the console detects a newer version on the server (1), a semi-automatic update is offered. Semi-automatic means that after clicking on OK (2) the download runs automatically in the background and then the installation is started interactively. The user then has to perform the installation manually.
Details pane for computers and devices (Console)
For computers and devices, details about the selected item appear in the lower half. You can resize the pane or fade it in / out by clicking on the top border.
Blog posts (Dashboard and Console)
The status pane displays the last 4-8 posts (depending on size). Clicking on the blue title bar opens the browser with the selected entry.
Confirmations (Dashboard and Console)
You must now confirm all delete operations in calendar, computers or devices. The same is true for saving energy, shutting down, or restarting client computers.
Display of the action to be executed (Dashboard and Console)
Previously, there was no feedback when a client action such as “save energy” was triggered. Pending actions of server and clients are now visualized. In the example, the client computer w10pro performs a “save energy” action in 50s:
Default action after backup (Dashboard and Console)
In the computer properties, there is a new setting for the default action after backup. Execution can now be limited to the local network and a running server. This may be useful for mobile devices (notebooks) e.g. on vacation. An unsuccessful backup then no longer triggers the end action unexpectedly.
Automatic Software Updates
Previously, new software versions appeared in the console or dashboard on the status page and appeared as notification in the client software. For some users who only occasionally launch the console or dashboard, that was not enough information. Others found the client notifications annoying. Therefore, Lights-Out 2.5 allows finer control over the handling of new software versions.
Settings for Updates
Open the settings in the console or in the dashboard and if necessary, scroll to the right using the two small arrows in the upper right corner. There is the new tab Updates.
Here you select which software version you want to use. For most users the selection “Stable (production)” is the right one. These are officially released software versions.
Users, who participates in a beta test or run a beta version, should choose “Beta” as the update channel to get a newer test version.
Alpha versions should only be used on a test computer, as problems can be expected here.
Here you determine how you want to handle software updates in the future.
(1) Install updates automatically
This setting (recommended) ensures that you are always up-to-date. New software versions are automatically installed if they are covered by your license or maintenance period. For this purpose, a calendar entry is automatically created, which checks by default every Friday at 6 pm for updates and installs them if necessary. This calendar entry can be changed according to your wishes. For more details have a look at automatic updates.
(2) Offer updates for installation
This setting sends notifications to all client computers and displays update information and a dialog in console or dashboard to execute the installation. For more details have a look at local or remote server update.
(3) Display only information, do not send notifications
This setting suppresses notification of client computers and displays new software versions only in the console or dashboard. A message dialog is not displayed. The installation can be initiated via the console link or manually.
Better handling of Away Mode
What is Away Mode?
Away mode was introduced by Microsoft for media center applications. Media center software can run TV recordings when the computer seems to be off. Technically, away mode does two things:
- It turns off the screen (as in real energy saving)
- It then blocks energy saving by the user or any other program
Backup programs or down-loader software also uses away mode to prevent energy savings. Unfortunately, as a result, even with Lights-Out, energy-saving fails and then degenerates into a series of failed attempts.
Monitoring of power requests is enabled in Lights-Out
If you have used this setting, you are not affected by the above problem. Lights-Out recognizes that other software blocks energy saving and considers it as activity. The problem however is: Lights-Out does not even start to save energy and thus prohibits the possibility of ending such software (e.g. by stopping a service from inside of Lights-Out).
Monitoring of power requests is disabled in Lights-Out
If you don’t use monitoring of power requests and use a down-loader or backup software (which activates away mode), you could run into the problem described above with a continuously failing standby because standby does no longer work.
What’s changing in Lights-Out 2.5?
With Lights-Out 2.5, initiating energy saving has changed a little bit:
- First all configured services are stopped as before. This allows you to stop software which enables way mode.
- Then away mode is checked immediately before triggering energy saving. If monitoring of power requests is off, it will now be enabled and away mode is detected and displayed as an error condition (in orange). Monitoring power requests remains then active as long as Lights-Out detects away mode.
In the first (left) screenshot you can see the initial situation, Lights-Out starts energy saving in a few minutes, as none of the 9 sources report any activity (1). This fails because a program has activated away mode and thus the situation in the second (right) screen shot arises. There are now 10 monitored sources and “power requests of other software” is reported as problem (2).
If this other program is terminated or away mode is canceled, Lights-Out automatically returns to the initial situation in the first (left) screenshot.
To cut a log story short: This change alerts you to the problem and allows you to regain control over energy saving.
To install it, please download the new version and run the setup manually on the server. You don’t need to uninstall a previous version. The installer takes care of it.