9 Replies Latest reply on Aug 14, 2008 1:23 AM by MarXtar

    Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles

    Apprentice

      I work at large community college, and have been put in charge of

      finding a method of creating and deploying software packages to replace

      our current method of imaging.  Currently, we use Ghost Solution to

      create individual images for every computer pod and classroom.  Last we

      counted, this was around 180 different images.  The cause of this high

      number is the result the need for each image to be customized with

      different software due to license limitations and faculty requests.

      Since we are in a lab environment, we also use Faronics Deepfreeze to

      maintain OS/software stability in labs and classrooms.  With

      Deepfreeze, computers are left in a "frozen" state where upon reboot

      their hardrive is completely reset back to its original configuration.

      We are also in an AD environment newly migrated from Novell, and

      heavily rely on customizing application settings, and copying the

      "test" profile to the Default User profile.  We will be using LANDesk

      Management Suite to deploy software.  We have around 20 different

      campuses to administrate, and a team of 4-6 people cover the entire

      campus's imaging needs.  The kicker is that this has to be done twice a

      year for each new semester!

       

      LANDesk comes with an old

      package buider that is very similar to the old AI builder of Ghost (I

      am not sure if they have updated their software packaging software with

      Solution 11.5; we are licensed for this).  With this builder, I have

      heard of smaller colleges that manage a single NTUSER.DAT file that is

      saved on a network share somewhere, and is used to collect every

      registry setting for every image and every software package.  That

      creates a problem for us because we have so many people building

      software packages and images (3 - 4 at least, at different locations).  We also have such a diverse

      network topology that it is nearly impossible for us to use a roaming

      profile for our Default User profile.  For this reason, I would prefer

      a package builder that can build packages that will handle the Default

      User profile independently of anything else  (e.g. We don't have want

      have to manage a single NTUSER.DAT file or Default User profile for the

      entire college). 

       

      I need to find a software

      building/packaging tool that is easy to use, and has good capabilities

      of handing profiles (particularly the Default User profile.  (The

      Default User profile is copied to every user's profile as they log into

      our AD environment).  Is Wise a good option, or should I also look at a

      few other free trials out there?  Any advice would be much appreciated

      for specific needs that are encountered in a large lab/classroom

      environment. 

       

      Thanks in advance,

      Dan

        • 1. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
          zman Master

          So it sounds like you are happy with Ghost but want a way to deploy an image then post deploy applications and customize an image using LANDesk and a packaging solution that is more up to date and supportable than Package builder.  Sound correct?

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Well you have a very detailed post but it there still is not enough information (Desktop OS, how many packages, what type of packages, packagers experience level, budget,  64 bit support, MAC support, IIS/Java, Repackaging, Infrastructure,  etc...) to answer this question, however, I can give you suggestions.  

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Package Builder (PB) and the  Ghost Builder are basically the same tool. Both came from 20/20 but that is a long story.  PB for all extensive purposes is not supported past XP, and IMO is not really "truley" supported/enhanced by LANDesk. Good tool for quickie snapshopts (yack) and other items, but Autoitscript is a better tool.  Most of the tools out there will be MSI based since we are a MSI world. Not saying I agree with this decision but that is reality. Choosing a Packaging tool is like deciding to get married. First you have to make a decision whether you want to get married, then you have to find the right person.  Just like I can't tell you who to marry I can't tell you what tool to use.  So do you go with a straight packaging tool (Wise, Admin Studio, free MSI tools, etc..) or do you pursue a virtulization solution (Landesk App Virt, etc...) or a hybrid solution utilizing both.  All these tools work. You need to sit down and define your requirements and find the right one.  We have both Wise and Admin Studio (not my decision), and in about 90% of our packages both are overkill.  If you believe the poll on appdeploy then most people are using Wise Package Studio. Sounds like in your shop that you may not have dedicate packagers and admins may be doing the packaging.  I've had some good luck playing around with Advanced Installer  fast, easy, inexpensive. So don't feel you have to go with one of the big boys. 

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Default User Profile. Not really a packaging question since this can be accomplished without packaging.I would not use this as a package settting solution - too cumbersome. So define your requirements and budget and start downloading and testing. IMO I don't feel you can go purely virtualized since you may have apps that will not work virtualized, however, if you can Virtualize and store the apps on app share you won't have to worry about post image installs    

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Sorry got a little wordy... BTW we have 1 desktop/laptop image in a diverse enviroment and 1,500+ applications.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
            MarXtar ITSMMVPGroup

            I couldn't see what LANDesk version you are using, but if 8.8 then SP2 is close to release and includes a feature called launchpad. If you are from a Novell background you may be familiar with Novell ZenWorks' NAL. This presents applications to a user based on who they are (simplified explanation).

             

            LANDesk Launchpad aims to do a similar thing and present installations, networks shared apps, and virtualised apps to the users.

             

            Previous advice is valid especially when looking at complexity. Since you will be familiar with snapshot packaging, virtualisation might be a good idea for you but may be a serious investment. However, because nothing really gets installed it may be perfect for your frozen environment.

             

            If you can, wait to see launchpad before you decide what to do.

             

            Mark Star - http://www.marxtar.com

             

            Home of Power State Notifier & Wake-On-WAN for LANDesk

            • 3. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
              Apprentice

              Thakn you for the replies.  Here is a followup to answer some of your questoins about my question.

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

              zman: We have about 3000+ PC's and Macs across about a dozen campuses.  PC's all run Windows XP Pro SP3, and Macs run Leopard (Mac OS 10.5).  Fortunately, we have a Mac solution.  My main concern is for the PC's.  We will have dedicated package builders, but we are all new at this.  As far as the Default User profile, the Microsoft link that you posted is the current method that we use to create the Default User profile.  We do this as a last step in our image building process.  The Default User profile contains many software and OS configurations, such as license agreements, application settings, desktop settings, etc.  We rely heavily on creating a customized Default User profile in order to create a clean, easy to use Desktop PC for our computerized Labs and Classrooms.  This appears to be the true difficulty with packaging, as I have seen it.  For example, I can create a software package using the LANDesk Package Builder for Firefox.  In the configuration process of building the snapshot, I can chose to always delete private data in the Firefox options.  If I deploy this package, the Firefox options that I set are not applied to the Default User, and thus when students log into the lab or classroom computers using their Active Directory accounts, they will not receive the correct configuration of the Firefox application.

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

              It is little things like this that are currently difficult for me.  My environment is unique compared to a corporate environment, where users often keep their own profiles.  In a university lab or classroom, however, user profiles are created on the fly by relying on a Default User profile that has all of our desired settings for the lab environment.  Our classrooms and labs are our life blood.  Many different classes are taught in the same classrooms, each having different software requirements.  Classes are often moved to other rooms, and we require "software requests" from each department every semester so that we know what software is needed in what classroom or lab.  Multiply this by the number and size of our classrooms and labs, and you have quite a challenge to maintain each computer in such a way that classes can be held without interuption

               

               

              As faras budget goes, it is a problem, but I am not sure how much of a problem.  I want to find the best solution for us for a reasonable price.  If something works well, then I am sure we will be able to justify the budget for it.

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

              MarXtar: I have not tried virtualization.  One of our to-be package biulders if interested in this, and I will probably have him persue researching this aspect of software deployment.   Maybe launchpad is something that we would like to persue as well. 

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

              Thank you for the information, guys.  If you have more ideas, please throw them my way.

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

               

              Thanks,

               

               

               

              Dan

              • 4. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                MarXtar ITSMMVPGroup

                 

                You can get a free download of the application virtualisation from LANDesk but also take a look at http://www.thindownload.com as they have some useful litle freebie apps that will allow you to get a taste of virtualised apps and how they might work for you in your environment.

                 

                 

                Mark Star - http://www.marxtar.com

                 

                 

                Home of Power State Notifier & Wake-On-WAN for LANDesk

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                • 5. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                  Apprentice

                  Appdeploy.com votes these as the top 4 packagers:

                   

                  • Package Studio (Symantec)

                  • AdminStudio (Acresso)

                  • WinINSTALL (Scalable)

                  • MSI Studio (ScriptLogic)

                   

                  So, basically I want something that will get the job done with the Default User profile in mind.  Any advice on the viability of each of the above apps?

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                  Edit * the other important profile specific problem is registry settings that apply to HKCU.  This problem is sovled by another smaller college by maintaining a single NTUSER.DAT file, which is deployed to the Default User profile.  Since we are such a larger organization, I think this will be difficult to maintain.  So, I also need a package builder that works well with the registry in regards to HKCU.

                   

                   

                  Edit ** According to a post I made a while back on appdeploy.com, Wise can handle self healing the HKCU settings... maybe this is what I need?

                   

                   

                  http://www.appdeploy.com/messageboards/tm.asp?m=37584&mpage=1&key=&#37584

                  • 6. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                    zman Master

                     

                    Mark,

                     

                     

                    Have you noticed since Vmware took them over that packages are quickly disappearing off of Thindownload (e.g., Open Office, etc...)

                     

                     

                    • 7. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                      zman Master

                       

                      All good products that will do the job. However, a BMW M3 is ranked higher than my Ford Focus Wagon  and for my requirements the Ford Focus is perfect for me. I would again start by clearly defining your requirements. I would not pick any of those products purely on HKCU functions.  If that was it, grab a free copy of Autoitscript or perl.  Plus keep in mind how LANDesk works, especially when it comes to HKCU settings.

                       

                       

                       

                       

                       

                      We will have dedicated package builders, but we are all new at this.

                        So if you hire first the packagers will usually dictate the tool, or you can buy a tool and then hire packagers that are familair with the tool.  If you are an active directory shop alot of this settings can be done with either canned GPOs or writing your own. 

                       

                       

                       

                       

                       

                      Again you can't really go wrong with any of those choices, or the other ones that Mark and I listed.  The questions is are you going to use the majority of functions/features of those tools. This is where a clearly defined requirements doc will help.  Again a difficult decision.

                       

                       

                      • 8. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                        MarXtar ITSMMVPGroup

                         

                        Yes I have.  I actally went there today to look for OpenOffice for a different post then realised it was missing.

                         

                         

                        Mark Star - http://www.marxtar.com

                         

                         

                        Home of Power State Notifier & Wake-On-WAN for LANDesk

                         

                         

                        • 9. Re: Packaging Tool that Works Well with Profiles
                          MarXtar ITSMMVPGroup

                           

                          I just wanted to make one last note on this.  You seem to be doing what I've seen a lot of people do in the past for lost of reasons.  You are looking for a tool to support the way you currently work.  Would it not be better to look at how you currently work and make certain that it still is the way to go?

                           

                           

                          I saw this years back in a win9x environment where they insisted on a migration to Win2k that had to look and feel exactly the same as Win9x including all of the same lockdowns and registry hacks they had on that platform.  They managed it, but they could have saved a lot of time and effort if they had examined why they were trying to do that rather than insist on keeping what turned out to be an out-dated practice.

                           

                           

                          Not saying yours is out-dated, just that it sounds like you are severely limiting your options by assuming whatever you choose must support your current way of working.  Review what you are doing and why, and if it is the effect you want to keep rather than the practice itself, see what other practice gives you the same effect. if it turns out that what you are currently doing is still the best way, at least you have the satisfaction that you did your due-diligence ;).

                           

                           

                          Mark Star - http://www.marxtar.com

                           

                           

                          Home of Power State Notifier & Wake-On-WAN for LANDesk