Posts tagged: Zero-Profile

Keeping Virtual Sandboxes under control

By Rob Aarts and Max Ranzau

Rob: After using VMware Thinapp in several projects I wanted to share some best practices The first one is about a common mistake I see made on a regular basis. Applications with several entry points for executables, are presented using Workspace Manager, using multiple managed applications. So far so good.

The problem arises when all entry points (from the same Thinapp capture) have their own Zero Profile setting pointing to the same Sandbox location. Are you still with me here? Let’s have a look at the example below:

p1

Here’s a working example:

  • When a user launches Application 1, Zero Profile settings are loaded and written to the sandbox.
  • The user then launches Application 2 and Zero Profile settings are loaded and writes to the same sandbox location.

What is likely to happen, is that settings for Application 1 become corrupted, due to it’s settings are being changed by another process while it’s running. I personally have seen some strange behavior from apps, which absolutely don’t like this messing are around with their appdata behind the scenes. It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to imagine what may happen when Application 3 is launched. It will just increase the likelyhood of corruption.

The solution to avoid this mess is simple and was covered previously, although for natively installed applications only: Have a look at Max’s article RG056 in the tech library. Setting up a placeholder application as described in the article will allow you to configure  individual apps app to save the sandbox and direct The Zero Profile from Application 1, 2 and 3 to this placeholder App:

p2

Max: Once you have this set-up, the next challenge is to make sure your User-Settings capture configurations are not overlapping. As of WM SR3 there is a setting for global User settings to grab a setting exclusively. This means that if say 3 different global user settings grab the same registry value you can check one of them as exclusive and only that UserSetting will store it. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work well for Managed Application based user-settings, as the capture-exclusive feature isn’t available there (yet?). Anyhow, there is a workaround for this. Let’s say you start with creating a suite-settings placeholder app, like described above for Office:

  1. You create a new managed app
  2. Under user settings, you add all the capture templates for Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. and you have a nice list like shown below
  3. Then everything is cool and ready to rumble, right?

p6

Unfortunately that’s not quite the case, as the templates are likely to overlap. This is not the fault of the template designers, but a function of that they need each to be able to stand alone. This means we have a bit of cleaning up to do, but it’s quite easy. When you are on the User Settings|Capturing tab of the SuiteSettings app as shown above, do the following

  1. Click the Show details checkbox at the bottom of the dialog box
  2. Now click on the data column header to sort on files and registry entries being captured
  3. Look for identical rows (highlight)

p5

Note the line for the ‘Microsoft InfoPath Designer 2010’, which I have highlighted and disabled. I disabled it because that particular User Setting was already captured by the template called ‘Microsoft Infopath Filler 2010’ and as you may recall from our discusion above, we do not have the option to capture exclusively on Managed apps.

You disable an item by doubleclicking on it. Don’t fall for the temptation of removing the checkbox you immediately see, as that will disable the entire template, in which you are only interested in disabeling a certain file/reg grab. Instead  go to the Capturing tab, then select the offending/duplicate entry, double click again and THEN remove the Enabled checkbox you see. Sequence shown below:

p7

You can of course also delete the duplicate entries to tidy things up. In this case I kept them around for illustrative purposes. One thing I’d like to make you aware of: First, go to the global User Settings node, and at the bottom check both ‘Show details’ and ‘Show all User Settings’:

p4

dpNotice that once you link up multiple applications to the same suite app, you will see multiple entries of the same user-setting. This is not a bug or an indication that something unnecessary is being captured. For example, look at the example above where about half way down you see about 7 references to %APPDATA\Microsoft\Access and both Word, Excel etc are pointing to it. This does NOT mean the and Word and Excel templates had duplicate entries. It’s simply because the combination of the two checkmarks shows the canonical list of all combinations of apps and user settings, thus the repeats. In short: They’re mostly harmless. Don’t panic!

We hope with this little away-mission into advanced WM User Settings management to have given you some new thoughts on how to both wrangle virtual applications as well as suite settings for multiple apps.

Rob & Max

 

Harry Potter and the XenClient 2.1

While Hollywood probably aren’t adopting said title just yet, there’s definitely some Practical Magic to be shared here. A couple of months back, my old partner-in-crime, British RES Wizard Mr. Grant Tiller, created a pretty cool video. In one swift go, it shows all the goodness there’s to be had with the Citrix XenClient in combination with RES Workspace Manager, Automation Mananger, and the Service Orchestration Module. All in less than 11 minutes. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can still catch it here.

I’d recommend you to watch this one, as it will be well worth your time. The good folks over at Citrix did so already, and highlighted it in their announcement of the XenClient 2.1 release last week. Read more »

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.