RG041 – Grabbing everything Explorer does!

By Max Ranzau

 

Here the other day I came across a nice article by Michel Stevelmans (link at end of article), where he’s taken the time to dig out some really useful explorer registry keys. These are the settings one may need to pick up from the users registry in order to serve up a consistent desktop experience, when moving across a computing estate. While the article was written with a competing vendor in mind, I have the luxury of really not having to care about that:

When I came across Michel’s article, my thought was – “Hmm, I wonder how many of these settings are already built into the RES Workspace Manager?” and I started poking around.

The RES Workspace Mananager comes with two powerful built-in weapons: User Settings templates and Building Blocks. If you are a regular reader of this blog, chances are you are already familiar with the concept of RES building blocks. If not, it’s quite simply the ability to backup, restore and share settings from within the Workspace Manager. The RES community has produced many cool publicly available building blocks, which I’ve attempted to make a list of, available here.

As for the User Settings Templates, these are templates built into the product by RES, for what you are likely in need of grabbing respectively in HKEY_CURRENT_USER and from %USERPROFILE%. The templates covers the most commonly used apps such as MS Office, browsers, messengers, etc. The templates is hardly a new feature as it was introduced back in the PowerFuse 2010 product over 1½ years ago. The original article where I covered it, is available here. This article also gives a nice overview of what apps are covered. The list have of course been expanded since.

So back to the original question, slightly modified: What explorer-specific settings are available in Workspace Manager? And are we missing something? The short answer is the template include a lot straight out of the box, and yes we could probably do with adding a few more items. Rest assured though, I would not waste your time reading this article, if I didn’t have you covered. Read on. Below is an overview of all the explorer/controlpanel registry settings which the Workspace Manager’s templates can pick up per default. Bear in mind what you’re seeing here is the contents of 4 different templates shown together. Click on the image to enlarge:

Above I’ve marked the items which are overlapping with Michel Stevelman’s article with black arrows (let me know if I’ve missed any). The templates inside Workspace Manager are relatively easy to find. Just fire up your RES Workspace Manager console and go to Composition | User Settings. From here, hit Add, choose Templates | Windows, and you’ll find all of the above templates here. Please keep in mind that not only does the RES UserSettings feature (also known as Zero Profiling) support grabbing registry settings out of the users session, but also files or folder trees from his profile.

At this point, there’s probably a few questions on your mind. I hope to answer some of them below:

Can you modify the built-in Workspace Manager templates?

The templates that come with the product themselves can’t be modified. They are baked into the product. However, once you chose a template, then you can tweak the resulting User Setting to your hearts content. But by then it isn’t technically a template anymore. In other words, you can’t add to the nice menu’s above, however RES Software have dedicated people to develop new content such as templates, tutorials and much more. Read on.

Can you create your own settings then?

Absolutely. As mentioned above, you can either create a new User Setting based on a template, or you can start completely from scratch, if that’s your thing. If you have no template and no clue what settings to pick up, the Sampling Mode is your friend. With that you can learn what is being modified by a given process or app. Your last option is to import a pre-built buildingblock that somebody else has created.

So what about those registry settings which Michel has on his blog?

Well, it’s not my call if you need them all or not. However, I’ve taken the liberty of preemtively creating a buildingblock for RES Workspace Manager based on Michel Stevelmans research, to make it easy to get the same settings into RES Workspace Manager.There’s a couple of the settings such as the application specific settings for Office, which I’ve omitted as there are templates for those already in Workspace Manager and I find it a good idea not to mix things up.

Can these settings roam between operating system X and Y ?

I would say no, as they are clearly meant to work from Windows 7 and up. It’s the same scenario if you’re expecting settings to roam settings back and forth between two versions of Office. If you are planning on running these particular User Settings in a hetrogenous environment with multiple Microsoft OS versions present, being managed by Workspace Manager, make sure to use at least some Zone under the Access Control tab on this User Setting. That way you can ensure it’s only being applied on Win7 machines.

Are there any of the registry settings from the existing blog post, which you would NOT recommend in a RES managed environment?

Yeah, I’d probably knock the following out of the User Settings if I were you. Nothing to problematic as such. First off, I’d hose anything to do with the HKCU\Network key. You probably want WM to handle drivemappings for you anyways. Second, anything on the pinned start menu is likely to be knocked out by Workspace Manager, if you’ve set Composition | Applications | Managed Applications | Properties tab | Windows shell shortcut creation to Replace. Other than that I think you should be good to go.

What settings are captured in the buildingblock you’ve created?

Have a look at the screenshot on the right. Click to expand. While we are at it, notice that I’ve checked the “Automatically exclude these targeted items from all other User Settings. This is to prevent double capturing of the same values.

Other than that, there’s not much more than to offer you the BuildingBlock so you can try it out yourself. Thanks again to Michel Stevelmans for the research. Click on the legobrick to download:

1 Comment

  • By Berry Haveman, March 7, 2012 @ 15:50

    Great post, includes the most things we needed working without a user profile with RESWM.
    I added one key for who needs it, the run command history key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RunMRU

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