Immidio Flex Profiles 7 released

Trial version is available here.

Immidio Flex Profiles 7 decouples user-specific desktop and application settings from the operating system, making them available across multiple devices, Windows versions and application instances.

With decoupled user profiles it is easy to introduce virtualization technologies and new application delivery mechanisms. Additionally, this enables painless upgrades, like migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Immidio Flex Profiles 7 is fully compatible with Windows 7 and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft App-V.

Overview of the most important new features:

  • Run FlexEngine as Group Policy - Flex Profiles 7 introduces a new feature to optionally run FlexEngine at logon as a Group Policy Client-Side Extension.
  • DirectFlex - Optionally manage user settings at application launch and shutdown.
  • Predefined user settings - Configure default values for any application or Windows setting.
  • Application Templates - Contains all the settings for common applications, like WinZip, Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Office – no need to manually configure these anymore.
  • Profile Cleanup - This unique feature allows you to automatically remove individual settings from roaming profiles as soon as you start managing them with Immidio Flex Profiles 7.  Your roaming profiles get gradually smaller while introducing Immidio Flex Profiles 7 step by step.  This leads to a smooth transition from conventional roaming profiles to well-managed user profiles – individual applications can be migrated from roaming profiles to Immidio Flex Profiles 7 at any time.
  • Improved editor in Flex Profiles Management Console - Including syntax highlighting and autocomplete of registry and file information.
  • App-V integration - With the release of Flex Profiles 7 the injection of the Flex Profiles configuration into the App-V configuration files can be done through the Flex Profiles Management Console.
  • Profile Archive backup improvements - Ability to make a configurable number of Profile Archive backups.

More info can be found at http://immidio.com/flexprofiles/

Sneak preview of a seriously cool add-on for App-V

Immidio will be releasing Immidio AppScriber 2.0 the coming month. This might be the coolest productivity add-on for Microsoft App-V. As I have blogged before, AppScriber is a web-based add-on for existing deployment solutions, which provides application Self-Provisioning.

Version 2.0 of AppScriber now finally adds a configurable workflow engine, which allows you to optionally configure “Approvers” for applications. Which means, that besides users can automatically enable ”General” applications for themselves, for some applications you decide on (Managed applications), upon user request, a notification e-mail will be sent to the associated “Approver”. The approver can then Accept or Reject this request. After this an e-mail will be sent back to the user with the decision the approver made and if accepted the application will be automatically deployed.

I created a video which demonstrates Immidio AppScriber 2.0 in conjunction with Microsoft App-V from a user and approver perspective.

For more information about Immidio AppScriber go to http://www.immidio.com/

Integrating Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced with Microsoft App-V

Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced is a Windows Profile Management solution which solves a lot of Windows Profile Management issues and optimizes the overall user experience of Windows Profiles.

This is achieved by decoupling and segmenting personal application settings from the underlying Windows OS and Profile, making these settings available cross-Windows Platform and creating a consistent user experience no matter what Windows OS the user is working on.

While this way of handling Windows User Profiles provides a lot of benefits in a scenario where applications are installed traditionally (i.e. no virtualization), it can also be used to decouple personal application settings from App-V enabled (sequenced) applications.

What are the benefits?

  • Decouple personal application settings from App-V Delta files (.PKG) proprietary format.

Using App-V there is practically no control over what gets stored into the user delta (.PKG), which in some cases can grow extensively. With Flex Profiles Advanced you can explicitly configure what application settings need to be restored and saved at application startup and shutdown, making you independent of the .PKG files. With Flex Profiles Advanced application settings are stored in an open format (.ZIP).

  • Migrate user application settings from installed instance to virtual instance.

When moving from traditional installations (e.g. MSI) to App-V enabled (sequenced) applications, users lose their personal application settings for those applications because these settings are stored in the “real” registry of their Windows User Profile. When using Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced in such a transition scenario, it is possible to migrate settings you specify to the App-V enabled applications.

This even works in a scenario where you now run Windows XP with MSI installations and you are migrating to Windows 7 with App-V enabled applications!

  • One transparent way to administrate all user/application settings.

This is especially a good way to manage user settings for scenarios where different deployment solutions are being used and users work on different Windows platforms. For example when users are connecting to remote desktops on TS or VDI and are also working on traditional desktops. With Flex Profiles Advanced it is also possible to manage user settings for both virtual and installed applications in the same way.

How do I configure this within App-V?

UPDATE 17-11-2011: With the release of Immidio Flex Profiles 7, the integration of Flex Profiles with App-V, is fully managed by using the Flex Profiles Management Console. So all the manuals scripting described below here does not apply anymore when using Flex Profiles 7 or higher.

Without going into detail on how to implement Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced, which is explained in the Admin Guide, I will shortly explain the App-V configuration part of it.

When managing user settings for App-V enabled applications, it is necessary to restore and save these settings at application startup and shutdown, because the “real” registry and file information does not apply for the Virtual environment these application run in.

Microsoft App-V supports running custom commands and scripts at application startup and shutdown from the App-V application config file, which exists for each application. This file has the .OSD extension and each .OSD file needs to be edited for Flex Profiles Advanced to work.

Editing the .OSD file can be done during sequencing or afterwards using any text editor, XML editor or the App-V OSD editor from Login Consultants.

In each .OSD file there is a DEPENDENCY section. This is where the FlexEngine commands should be placed. Here is an example:

<DEPENDENCY>
<SCRIPT EVENT=”LAUNCH” TIMING=”PRE” PROTECT=”TRUE” WAIT=”TRUE” TIMEOUT=”">
<HREF>c:\flex\FlexEngine.exe /r “%homedrive%%homepath%\PaintNET.zip”</HREF>
</SCRIPT>
<SCRIPT EVENT=”SHUTDOWN” TIMING=”POST” PROTECT=”TRUE” WAIT=”TRUE” TIMEOUT=”">
<HREF>c:\flex\FlexEngine.exe /i \\fileserver\FlexINIs\Paintnet.ini /s “%homedrive%%homepath%\PaintNET.zip”</HREF>
</SCRIPT>
<CLIENTVERSION VERSION=”4.5.0.0″ />
</DEPENDENCY>

For more information about the command line parameters of the FlexEngine, please consult the Flex Profiles Advanced Admin Guide, or type “FlexEngine.exe /?” on the command line.

In the current version of Flex Profiles Advanced, App-V integration is already fully supported! You only need to configure this manually like shown above for each App-V enabled application you want to manage with Flex Profiles Advanced.

In the upcoming version of Flex Profiles Advanced, the Flex Profiles Management Console will provide a wizard for integrating the FlexEngine into the App-V OSD files. This new version of Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced will be available Q1 2010.

Download a trial version of Immidio Flex Profiles Advanced.

Free App-V USB Tool available from Login Consultants

Login Consultants today released the App-V USB Tool 1.0 which you can download here.

The App-V USB Tool is an add-on to the App-V 4.5 Client. It makes it possible to automatically, or by request, import and register App-V enabled (sequenced) applications into the App-V Client from any USB storage device. Note: This will only work with applications that are sequenced with App-V 4.5 sequencer or above.

When the App-V USB tool is running it displays an icon in the system tray.

App-V USB Tool systray icon

As soon as you insert a USB storage device, the App-V USB tool detects this and shows the following options.

App-V USB Tool storage detect dialog

When you select “Scan and Auto-Import all Virtual Applications” it will scan the complete USB storage device for App-V 4.5 sequences and import these automatically.
When you select “Scan and show list of found Virtual Applications” it will show a list of these applications. You can then select which applications you would like to import.

App-V USB Tool list of detected applications

Once the tool is installed, there is also an option to right-click on any folder (local or USB storage) that contains App-V 4.5 sequences, and Auto Import.

App-V USB Tool explorer integration

Download from source.

ACDC: Application tab explained

Many of you have downloaded the App-V Client Diagnostic and Configuration tool from our website and I received some positive feedback about the usage of the tool that was released about two weeks ago.

Now let me drill down and show you some detailed information about the tool.

Today I’ll show you the Applications tab.

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When the applications tab is selected ACDC will connect to WMI and retrieve package and application name and display it in a parent - child relationship. Depending on the number of packages and applications this may take some time.

The packages are colored depending on their status.

  • Green means the application is currently running
  • Orange means the application is not fully loaded and might not work offline
  • Red means the application is added to the app-v client, but is not loaded at all. Depending on your delivery method you might have an issue here.

This view differs from the default Client management console where only the applications are displayed. The advantage here is that packages with many applications (like Microsoft Office for example) will not fill up your console to quickly.

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After you select a package or application the detail pane on the right will display detailed information about the package or application. This information is retrieved and bundled from WMI, Registry or OSD file.

Below you’ll find all the possible information available (if applicable)

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One piece of information I’d like to highlight and that is Dynamic Suiting Composition.

ACDC will display DSC information in the right pane, showing dependency NAME, VERSION, GUID, HREF and Mandatory parameters.

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However if the dependent application is not available in the app-v client this information is only partially available. Only the information that has been added to the OSD file of the main application can be displayed.

Additionally ACDC will tell you whether the dependent application is not available and display this information in red. This information if particularly useful if you are troubleshooting the app-v delivery methods which don’t automatically load dependent applications like the App-V MSI method or the App-V integration with Configuration Manager 2007 R2.

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All the displayed detailed information can be copied to the clipboard for comparison, reporting or other purposes.

Launching the apps

The applications are not displayed for informational purposes only. If you need to troubleshoot you’ll need to launch them as well. Luckily ACDC provides a rich set of features around packages and applications for you to diagnose their environment.

Besides the actions that the default Client Management GUI has (like Add, Unload, Delete, Repair and Clear) ACDC gives you extended actions like:

  • Launch predefined commands in the virtual environment
  • Launch custom commands in the virtual environment
  • Edit the local OSD
  • Load from custom SFT path

Launching commands within the virtual environment

Getting inside the virtual environment and running your command within it was always one of the default questions I received when I was implementation App-V at customers.

Although I’ve written some articles that provide different ways to get inside the virtual environment in the past, it always seems to be hard to explain it to "technically challenged" people.

With ACDC it now becomes as easy as starting the application itself. ACDC provides 4 predefined (frequently used) commands to launch:

  • Command Prompt
  • Registry editor
  • Windows Explorer
  • Internet Explorer

image

And if you have a custom toolkit you also you can put these tools in the "External ACDC Launch Files" directory and they will incorporate in the tool.

image

Edit the local OSD

Settings in the OSD can influence the way the application runs. However editing the OSD and delivering it to the app-v client (multiple times) is somewhat time consuming.

What I always do in this scenario is edit the locally cached OSD until I was certain about the specific setting(s), before editing it back in the source. Finding the correct one however is difficult because they are all named with a GUID which you can find in the Client Management GUI.

All this is no longer needed because you can right click on any application and select Edit to open the locally cached OSD in notepad. This function even incorporates with Login Consultants OSD editor if you make that available in the same directory as ACDC.

image

Warning: be careful editing the OSD files because once they have a new timestamp they will not be overwritten by the Management Server during an refresh.

Load from custom SFT path

If you run into the situation where a package is not or not fully loaded and the package is unable to load for some reason, you might try loading it from the original URL (mentioned in the OSD) or an alternative source.

ACDC gives you the ability to browse to a directory and selecting the SFT file to load from. This must off course be the SFT from this particular application to work.

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The good thing is that ACDC can be run under both as a Limited User and under Administrative privileges. Some functions however do require Administrative privileges.

That’s about it for the Application tab. I hope this information was useful to you.

Next I will go through the other tabs as well.

Login Consultants launches App-V 4.5 Client Diagnostic and Configuration tool

Today Login Consultants released a new freeware tool to support Microsoft Application Virtualization called App-V 4.5 Client Diagnostic and Configuration tool.

ACDC makes it possible for administrators or users to troubleshoot virtual applications and the environment they run in:

  • Launch predefined and custom commands within the virtual environment of each application.
  • See the impact of the App-V Client and the available virtual applications on your system by calculating package size, cache size, user delta file size, log file size etc.
  • Diagnose problems with App-V applications by parsing the App-V Client log file (in real time) and search any message online.
  • Configure settings that are not visible in the App-V Client GUI, such as “Predictive Streaming”, “Allow Stream from File”, “Max Package Age” and many more.
  • Give an overview of application and package information by merging important WMI, registry and OSD information in one single window.
  • ACDC can be run both as an Administrator and as a Limited User. Running as a limited user will limit the functionality of the tool due to the fact that it has less permission on the system.

Requirements

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization Client 4.5 or
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization Terminal Services Client 4.5

Supported Operating Systems

  • Windows XP Pro w/SP2, Windows XP w/SP3
  • Windows Vista RTM/SP1
  • Windows Server 2003 (SP1, SP2, R2, SP2+R2)
  • Windows Server 2008

Questions or suggestions can be provided through the website http://www.loginconsultants.com/forum under “SoftGrid Tooling”

ACDC can be downloaded here (registration required).

The next couple of days I will talk in depth about the functionality of ACDC and how it can be used in the day-to-day business. Below are several screenshots from the actual tool:

 1. Launching commands within the virtual environment

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2. Client installation and settings

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3. Detailed cache information

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4. Real time log parser

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Login Consultants releases App-V 4.5 Add-on ADM v1.0

As you might know Microsoft released an Administrative Template for the App-V 4.5 Client which can be downloaded here. And documentation can be found here. This ADM can be used to manage numerous App-V 4.5 Client settings from Group Policies within Active Directory.

We have had the request from multiple customers about managing some additional App-V 4.5 Client settings which are not available in the ADM file described above. Ruben Koene from Login Consultants decided to make the App-V 4.5 Add-on ADM. This template is supplementary to the Microsoft App-V 4.5 ADM Template.

Settings managed from the Add-on ADM, amongst others, are:

  • Managing the virtual drive letter
  • Managing the client’s refresh settings (point to management server)
  • Cache location and size

You can download it from the Login Consultants website (registration required).

SFT Encoder

It looks like App-V MVP Kalle Saunamäki has created another cool tool for App-V which is called SFT Encoder.

Now for the first time outside the SoftGrid/App-V Sequencer you can create your own packages!

By using SFT Encoder Express Edition you have the possibility to create simple App-V package by encoding directory structure of your choice into a fully functioning SFT file. SFT Encoder Express Edition generates associated OSD and SPRJ files for one executable out of the package, that you can then distribute from the Management Server to App-V clients.

SFT Encoder Express Edition can be used as quick and simple way of generating tools -type of packages out from the pre-existing directory structure for applications that do not need virtual registry entries etc.

Packages generated by SFT Encoder Express Edition are in SoftGrid 4.1/4.2 format.

It comes in 4 flavors:

  • Express Edition (free) for command-line driver package creation of simple App-V package including OSD and SPRJ files for one executable out of the package
  • Professional Edition for command-line driven advanced functionality of new package encoding and modification of existing packages
  • Enterprise Edition for advanced command-line and processing template -driven functionality of new package encoding and modification of existing packages
  • Server Edition for all the same functionality as in Enterprise Edition but for server -based and automated processing

Mire info on http://www.virtualapp.net/sft-encoder.html

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/virtualworld/archive/2009/01/19/sft-encoder-express-edition-the-simple-app-v-package-encoder.aspx

App-V Ping tool available

A tool called the “App-V Ping tool” is available as a free download at http://www.immidio.com/. Look for the Immidio Resourse Kit if you can’t find it. The tool can be used to check if an Microsoft Application Virtualization Management and/or Streaming server is available from a Client-Side perspective.

For example, with use of a startup script, which runs on the client device, you can use this tool to check if the nearest by and configured App-V Streaming Server is available and responding properly and if not point the App-V Client to another, maybe central App-V Management or Streaming Server. The tool does not only check if the RTSP port 554 is still alive, but even if it is still really accepting RTSP streaming requests.

The company Immidio was spun off from Login Consultants in order to provide software products to enterprise customers with requirements that go beyond free and unsupported tools. Immidio’s mission is providing state-of-the-art software products to manage application delivery and virtualization in IT environments.

App-V Resource Kit Tools available

From stealthpuppy 

A number of useful App-V (resource kit) tools have been released which look very useful:

Application Virtualization Application Listing Tool
The App-V Application Listing Tool (ListVApps) is a tool which lists all the virtual processes that are running at a specific time on a specific computer. You can use the tool to get information about the priority and owner of each process, the size of its virtual memory, its session identifier and processing time. User with administrator privileges will see all running virtual applications.

Application Virtualization Cache Configuration Tool
The App-V client cache tool (AppVCacheSize) allows administrators to increase the Microsoft Application Virtualization client cache size through a scriptable command line interface. AppVCacheSize uses the specified parameters to configure the desired cache size, as well as toggle between using a free disk space threshold or set a maximum cache size.

Application Virtualization Client Log Parser Utility
You can use the fields and values contained in the output file to filter information obtained from the log files. The output file generated by the application log parser utility contains the following fields: System, OS, Build, Date, Time, Module, Log Level, hApp, App, User, Thread, and Message. The information contained in the output file can also be imported into Microsoft Excel for subsequent evaluation. This log parser simplifies the task of looking through log files, being able to filter by log level, build report, launch failures, mini-dumps, minimum disconnected operation mode entries and more. Afterwards, the appropriate party can import the data for analysis and/or utilization.

Application Virtualization SFT Parser Tool
This one looks interesting, but a PKG Parser would be nice too:
You can use the Application Virtualization SFT Info utility to extract the following information from SFT files:
·         Validation of SFT files—Process corrupted SFT files, and recover information from corrupted SFT files.
·         XML export of contents of SFT—Export the contents of an existing SFT file. You can evaluate SFT segments or SFT metadata and construct a textual tree view of all file information SFT file.
·         Listing of all of the files in the SFT—Identify and print the files contained in the SFT with their full paths. This is a good method to quickly identify the contents of a package.
·         Statistics about properties of the SFT metadata—Identify statistical information, such the largest file contained in a package. This can be very useful for identifying packages that are too large in size and are causing issues loading on the client.
·         Get relevant information on a file in the package—Display size, timestamps, attributes, and version information associated with the package.
·         Ability to skip processing of file data if using functionality that requires only the metadata—Allows working with very large packages quickly.
and finally:

Application Virtualization Dynamic Suite Composition Tool
This is a GUI tool for managing DSC.
Dynamic suite composition is a Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) feature that enables applications to be sequenced separately from the plug-ins and middleware applications they rely on, while still being able to utilize the virtual resources such as file system and registry settings, in the virtual environment. The packages will run and interact with one another as if they were all installed locally on a computer. The primary package will also assume the secondary packages entire virtual environment, including the virtual file system. If there is an installer associated with a virtual application package, the installers will be automatically updated.

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