Category: 2010

Zen and the Art of Usage Tracking

From the revamed slidedeck division. If you are new to this blog, you may have missed a posting that I did almost two years ago, called Zen and the Art of PowerTrace. This article was about how to get the most out of the advanced tracking module (known back then as PowerTrace), built into the Enterprise version of the RES Workspace Manager.

With the help of my good friend Sascha Maier, I was back then able to create a slide-deck using real-world screenshots of a live customer environment with thousands of users, showing you the true power of Usage Tracking unleashed. Not an easy feat to replicate in a lab environment, I’m sure you’ll agree. As RES recently changed product names, logos etc. I thougth this would be a great time to re-introduce the revamped slide-deck with updated terminology and graphics.

If you are new to RES products: This slidedeck will teach you how to get the most out of Usage Tracking, which is an extensive logging apparatus, essentially linking all the user does in a session, what apps are being used for how long, on what devices, online/offline status, resource consumption, and much much more. Usage Tracking will answer the following and many other questions:

  • What’s going on right now?
  • What did a certain user do at a certain time?
  • Who’s been doing things they’re not supposed to do?
  • Who’s been editing a certain [type of] docment in a given department?
  • Web activity of a user or department
  • What’s the Top-10 usage of applications and websites?
  • What’s the daily maximum users on my terminal servers?

If you are a Veteran Workspacer, throw out the old PowerTrace slide deck and click below to download the updated presentation. Note: The screenshots still say PowerTrace here and there. Eventually I’ll get around to grabbing new screenshots when the viewer changes someday.

In either case, be sure to read the speakernotes section of the Powerpoint presentation as it contains the entire talk track and a lot of useful information about the capabilities of this system. In addition to this presentation, be sure to read article RG007 on the sizing of the Usage Tracking Database and RG02D about splitting the Usage tracking log data away from the Workspace Manager 2011 configuration datastore.

 

Click on the slidedeck on the right to download:

 

 

 

New SR2 adds features to MyWorkspace Edition

You may recall the review of the SR2 release that I did a while back. A new update of the SR2 was released today. The difference between the original SR2 version 9.0.2.0,  and now is that about 5 important fixpacks have been rolled into the current SR2 release 9.0.2.6. Besides that some functionality regarding the Myworkspace Edtion has changed. This is crucial to know as it may affect what version of product is relevant for you. The main change in MyWorkspace edition is that we’ve added more of the functionality, which until now were only available in the Enterprise version. In other words – more bang for the buck! Here are the additions to MyWorkspace edition:

  • Folder Syncronization: Allows you to sync files any set of locations, event triggered or timed. Perfect alternative to Windows offline folders. It’s based on MS Sync Framework, so think of it as a centrally managed equivalent of SyncToy.
  • Datasources: Create needed ODBC datasource for applications. The datasource is created as a User DSN when the  application attached to the datasource is created, and cleaned up nicely when you log off.
  • Web Portal: Allows you to create a web-based interface to the users instead of using the explorer desktop/start menu. Note this is not a Citrix Web-Interface replacement. We simply just render a dynamic web-based launch platform for users within a Workspace Manager session.
  • Instant Reports: Document anything inside the workspace manger with a single click

For further information on the differences between the product editions, see this older article on PowerFuse 2008 here.

Besides the MyWorkspace edition changes, the 9.0.2.6 SR2 update includes the support of Automation Manager 2011, which has just been released recently as RC (Release Candidate).

The 9.0.2.6 release includes a rollup of all the fixes found in UpdatePacks 9.0.2.1 through 9.0.2.5. In order to make better sense of the differences/changes, here on the right are the releasenotes for fixpack 9.02.5 which is cummulative, i.e it contains all the fixes from 9.0.2.1.

You can also download the complete all-inclusive releasenotes for the SR2 9.0.2.6 release right here:

More cool RES community content

From the community hero dept. While the posting frequency currently is dialled down a bit here at the ‘Guru (I’m relocating to the states this weekend, remember?), it’s great to see that  my pal Iain Brighton over at Virtual Engine has been posting some serious in-depth technical articles. I can definatly recommend you to go have a closer look at these. Specifically I would like to highlight the following articles:

  • Staging RES PowerFuse 2010 Agent Deployment. This one covers how to roll out a PowerFuse installation, including a copy of the PowerFuse cache, so you won’t have every agent pulling this data (around 20meg) over the network uppon first startup.
  • Decoding the PWRMENU.INI Colours. This article describes how you can preconfigure the background color in the PWRMENU.INI file to ensure it matches the wallpaper.
  • Migrating GPOs to RES PowerFuse (Part1, Part2 and Part3). In this article series you can learn how to efficiently convert existing applied ADM(X) for an environment into Powerfuse, by importing the registry.pol files located in the Sysvol folders.

New whitepaper: PowerFuse 2010 Workspaces

A very interesting whitepaper, dealing with Workspace management in RES PowerFuse  has been released by Iain Brighton over at Virtual Engine.This document is definatly level 400 as it dives into the deep end of the tech pool, with very detailed real-world examples of do’s and don’t of workspace management. This is definatly a must-read if you are contemplating implementing workspace containers and using delegation in a large scale environment.

The document can be downloaded here:

Updated article: Getting rid of first-time login stuff

The technote article RG01F, published January 2010, discussed how to get rid of the Personalized Settings window, which appears at first-time login for new users. In this minor overhaul of the article, there is now detailed information on how to configure this through the PowerFuse 2010 console.  Click here to read the updated article.

Inside the PowerFuse SR2 Release

Yesterday August 23rd 2010, RES Software released the anticipated Service Release 2 for RES PowerFuse 2010. The focus of this release is primarily User Settings. Among other things, this release contains User Settings templates for some of the most common applications on the market. More further down.

For OS migration purposes, there is one feature you cannot afford to miss: A new option has been added, called “Capture targeted items once, then track further changes”.  Essentially what this option does is to flip the zero profile mode from Specified to Immediate, combined with a run-once flag.

To quote the releasenotes: “By using this mode it becomes very easy to use User Settings to migrate personal settings from one machine to another: With the Capture targeted items on application/session start/end mode it is easy to transfer all stored changes that were made on system A and track all new changes on system B with Track any setting changed by application immediately.”

The other key feature in this release are the User Settings templates. When you edit your managed applications, you now have a pleatora of standard applications for which PowerFuse now includes pre-canned user settings. In order to use them. To find the templates go to the User Settings part of a new managed application and select Targeted Items. When you hit the Add button, you will now see a Templates menu, which includes many standard apps. Below is a complete list of all the included templates and the versions of the applications they support:

  • MS Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, Word, Office Common, Office Tools: Versions 2003, 2007 and 2010
  • MS Frontpage 2003
  • MS Groove 2007
  • MS InfoPath: Versions 2003, 2007, Designer 2010, Filler 2010
  • MS OneNote: 2007 and 2010
  • MS SharePoint: Designer 2007, Designer 2010, WorkSpace 2010
  • MS Internet Explorer: Versions 6..8
  • MS Outlook Express (no specific versions)
  • MSN Messenger: Versions 7.0 and 7.5
  • Adobe Acrobat Professional: Versions 6..9
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader: Versions 6..9
  • AOL Instant messenger (no specific versions)
  • Filezilla: Versions 2 and 3
  • Mozilla Firefox: Versions 1..3
  • Winzip: Versions 9, 12 and 14
  • Yahoo Messenger: Versions 7.5 and 8

In addition to the above application specific user settings templates, you also have the ability to grab user settings for the control panel. This can however only be done using a global user setting, as found in the Composition | User settings node. The templates available here currently are:

  • Display (XP only)
  • Internet Options
  • Keyboard Settings
  • Mouse settings
  • Regional and Language options
  • All Control Panel settings

The above settings should make it much easier for you to get a proof-of-concept job going and to harness the full capabilities of RES PowerFuse Zero Profile technology. If your application is not listed here, do not despair though. You still have the ability to create custom User Settings and import them through buildingblocks. This leaves you two options. Either you can check in the Forums if somebody has or would like to share some user settings they’ve created. I’d probably go look in the BuildingBlock board. Second you can always create your own. Using the sampling mode to figure out what an unknown application is doing is a very valuable tool as the log of the sampling mode can be converted directly into user settings.

In addition to the above described key features, there are a bunch of usefull new registry tweaks and enhancements and about 53 fixes. To get all the details, see the releasenotes which you can download below.

Click here to download the SR2 releasenotes:

Last minute update: I was informed by my good friend Mr. De Koster over at CDG UK that an problem with the license count, using the Workspace Designer seems also to have been solved in SR2. Alledgedly, under some circumstances the workspace designer would not allow you to analyze the number of .DTS files than you actually had licenses for. This has been fixed.

New technote: StealthMode PowerFuse Deployment

From the cloak & dagger dept. Another technote, RG02A has been posted in the RESguru technote library.  This article is a one-of-a-kind, that will explain to you how to get started with PowerFuse in an existing production environment, where you do not care to disturb the users, but want to sneak PowerFuse in through the back door. The solution to this is StealthMode. By combining a few console settings and installation parameters, you can fly in under the radar completely unnoticed. The article goes through step-by-step what you need in order to set this up to work correctly. Note; a Wisdom Buildingblock is included for your convenience.

Click here to read the RG02A article

New technote: Workspace Models 101

From the technote department. A new technote, RG027 has been posted in the RESguru library. This one covers the usage of Workspace Models in PowerFuse 2010. In the article we will look at how you can make exceptions to default global behavior with practical examples. The article also covers how the inheritance, prioritization, deletion of Workspace Model settings work in detail.

Click here to read the RG027 article

New technote: Control Panel applets for PowerFuse

From the we-work-harder-so-you-don’t-have-to dept. As an administrator or integrator, you may often find yourself in the situation you need to offer certain Controlpanel applets to the users. Unfortunatly PowerFuse doesn’t (yet) offer the ability to import Control Panels as easily as it does regular applications.

To address this, I’ve created a set of buildingblocks which includes every single applet to be found in the standard Windows XP and Windows 7 control panels. On top of that there’s a set of Extras which includes some other nice control panel applets often found. Have a look at what’s inside below: (click to enlarge).

Click here to view the article and download buildingblocks.

New Technote: Secrets of PWRGATE.EXE

A new article has been posted in the Technote Library.  The subject is an obscure little executable, called PWRGATE.EXE, which is part of PowerFuse. In the 2010 release, you are able to do many interesting things with this program, such as launching many of the PowerFuse components directly. You are now also able to lauch the User Installed Applications (formerly known as Partially Managed Workstations) wizard directly, so users don’t have to go through the old PowerPanel. Of course they are still able to do that if enabled, that is. As a part of this article, I have created buildingblocks which you can import into your own environment to get access to these apps.

Click here to view the article.