Applications

VMware OS Optimization Tool – New App Volumes Packaging Machine Template

The VMware OS Optimization Tool is a VMware Fling that helps optimize Windows 7/8/2008/2012/10 systems for use with VMware . The optimization tool includes customizable templates to enable or disable Windows system services and features, per VMware recommendations and best practices, across multiple systems. Because most Windows system services are enabled by default, the optimization tool can be used to easily disable unnecessary services and features to improve performance.

We have added a template specifically for VMware App Volumes. The VMware OS Optimization Tool Fling now contains a new template called App Volumes Packaging Machine.

This template is to be used by application packagers who are responsible for creating AppStacks, and should be used only on the App Volumes provisioning machine. This template is part of the standard download of the Fling.

The App Volumes template prevents unnecessary data from ending up in AppStacks. This way, the AppStacks contain only the necessary application data and no unnecessary components like Windows updates or antivirus updates.
Use this template along with any other OS optimization templates to keep the production master image and the App Volumes provisioning machine as similar as possible. For instance, you can apply the Windows 10 optimization template to the master image and to the provisioning machine, and apply this App Volumes optimization template, in addition, to only the provisioning machine.

Currently there is no out-of-the-box option in App Volumes to streamline optimization of the master image or provisioning machine specifically for App Volumes. Although we recommend in the documentation that the provisioning machine resemble the image used to deploy production virtual desktops, many administrators skip this recommendation. The consequence is that captured AppStacks contain unnecessary registry and file system entries from services and software running in the background. The new App Volumes template solves this problem.

Many organizations already use the VMware OS Optimization Tool for Horizon 7. To provide a low-effort, out-of-the-box solution for administrators to optimize their master images and provisioning machines, we are now including this App Volumes optimization template in the publicly available VMware OS Optimization Tool.

We hope that you will find the App Volumes Packaging Machine template useful if you are using AppVolumes to deliver applications in your Horizon 7 environment.

The post VMware OS Optimization Tool - New App Volumes Packaging Machine Template appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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VMware OS Optimization Tool – New App Volumes Packaging Machine Template

The VMware OS Optimization Tool is a VMware Fling that helps optimize Windows 7/8/2008/2012/10 systems for use with VMware . The optimization tool includes customizable templates to enable or disable Windows system services and features, per VMware recommendations and best practices, across multiple systems. Because most Windows system services are enabled by default, the optimization tool can be used to easily disable unnecessary services and features to improve performance.

We have added a template specifically for VMware App Volumes. The VMware OS Optimization Tool Fling now contains a new template called App Volumes Packaging Machine.

This template is to be used by application packagers who are responsible for creating AppStacks, and should be used only on the App Volumes provisioning machine. This template is part of the standard download of the Fling.

The App Volumes template prevents unnecessary data from ending up in AppStacks. This way, the AppStacks contain only the necessary application data and no unnecessary components like Windows updates or antivirus updates.
Use this template along with any other OS optimization templates to keep the production master image and the App Volumes provisioning machine as similar as possible. For instance, you can apply the Windows 10 optimization template to the master image and to the provisioning machine, and apply this App Volumes optimization template, in addition, to only the provisioning machine.

Currently there is no out-of-the-box option in App Volumes to streamline optimization of the master image or provisioning machine specifically for App Volumes. Although we recommend in the documentation that the provisioning machine resemble the image used to deploy production virtual desktops, many administrators skip this recommendation. The consequence is that captured AppStacks contain unnecessary registry and file system entries from services and software running in the background. The new App Volumes template solves this problem.

Many organizations already use the VMware OS Optimization Tool for Horizon 7. To provide a low-effort, out-of-the-box solution for administrators to optimize their master images and provisioning machines, we are now including this App Volumes optimization template in the publicly available VMware OS Optimization Tool.

We hope that you will find the App Volumes Packaging Machine template useful if you are using AppVolumes to deliver applications in your Horizon 7 environment.

The post VMware OS Optimization Tool - New App Volumes Packaging Machine Template appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7

The best practices guide for published applications and desktops in Horizon 7 and Horizon Apps is now available!

This guide is intended for anyone installing or administering published applications or published desktops in Horizon 7 or Horizon Apps. Readers should already be familiar with basic installation and administration procedures, such as those described in Publishing Applications with VMware Horizon 7.

When deploying a Horizon 7 or Horizon Apps RDSH-based published application and desktop solution, administrators will want to consider a number of best practices. Areas of consideration include VMware ESXi host sizing, RDSH image configuration and optimization, Horizon 7 configuration and policies, antivirus solutions, provisioning, and recurring maintenance.

Administrators will also want to consider integrating VMware JMP technologies, which include VMware Instant Clone Technology, VMware App Volumes, and VMware User Environment Manager. With our latest release of VMware Horizon 7, just-in-time delivery of virtual desktops is extended to include published applications delivered from RDSH servers, bringing increased speed, scale, and simplicity.

Be sure to download and read Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7.

To comment on this paper, contact VMware End-User-Computing Technical Marketing at euc_tech_content_.

The post Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7 appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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Announcing the Introduction to VMware Horizon 7 for Citrix Administrators

We are excited to announce the Introduction to VMware Horizon 7 for Citrix Administrators white paper. This guide is for Citrix administrators or anyone with a Citrix background who wants to learn about VMware Horizon 7. It offers a tour of Horizon 7, how the Citrix components map to a Horizon 7 deployment, and the steps to get you started in evaluating Horizon 7.

This guide covers some of the recent advances in Horizon 7, as well as how VMware JMP technologies deliver an enterprise-class, innovative solution. We also detail the key areas where Horizon 7 delivers a modern, enterprise-secure, and consumer-simple virtual desktop and application solution:

  • Enterprise-class application-publishing and virtual-desktop solution
  • Simple, fast, efficient management at scale
  • Consistent, adaptive user experience
  • Flexible, robust security

Did you know that Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are very similar in architecture to VMware Horizon 7? Both solutions use a combination of connection brokers, web-based application catalogs, and RDSH or VDI servers to securely deliver virtual desktops and applications.

The following diagram compares the major Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop components to those of VMware Horizon 7.

For details on this diagram and more, download the Introduction to VMware Horizon 7 for Citrix Administrators now.

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VMware User Environment Manager 9.2 Technical Deep Dive

We are excited about the newest release of VMware User Environment Manager - version 9.2. This release includes some great new features that enhance the product functionality and continue to offer administrators more flexibility in managing the user experience. We have put together a series of videos that will help you learn about User Environment Manager, get up to speed on the new features, and see demos of some of those features.

User Environment Manager 9.2 Technical Overview

Before you dive into the new features, this brief technical-overview video will introduce you to User Environment Manager, provide some details about how it works, and examine the architecture. If you are new to the product, or want a short refresher, this is a great place to begin.

User Environment Manager 9.2 – What&#rsquo;s New

Two videos explain the new features of User Environment Manager 9.2. The first video focuses on the privilege elevation feature and publisher-based rules for application blocking and privilege elevation.

The second video discusses the additional new features of automation with new environment variables, new config file templates for better personalization, and several additional topics.

Privilege Elevation

This video discusses and demonstrates the new privilege elevation feature of User Environment Manager 9.2. Privilege elevation is designed as a tool for IT administrators to mitigate risks in their privilege-management strategy. Applications that are already installed and require elevated privileges to run, as well as application installers, can have privileges elevated.

Publisher-Based Application Blocking and Privilege Elevation

User Environment Manager 9.2 added the ability to use a software publisher&#rsquo;s certificate to configure application blocking or privilege-elevation rules. This enables the IT administrator to allow all applications or elevate privileges for all applications from a software publisher. This video provides the details and a demo of how this works.

Scripting Variables

This video looks at and demonstrates the use of environment variables automatically created by User Environment Manager. These environment variables can be leveraged for automation scripting.

Summary

We hope you learn a lot from these videos covering new features in VMware User Environment Manager. User Environment Manager 9.2 is available for download today.

To comment on any of the videos, contact VMware End-User-Computing Technical Marketing ateuc_tech_content_.

 

The post VMware User Environment Manager 9.2 Technical Deep Dive appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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Profiling Applications with VMware User Environment Manager, Part 2: Applying and Troubleshooting Predefined Settings

In Part 1 of this blog series, you were introduced to the VMware User Environment Manager Application Profiler. In Part 2 we will profile a popular video playback application called VLC Media Player, capture specific application settings, apply these as predefined settings when an end user launches the application, and explore troubleshooting techniques as needed.

Introduction

Configuring a specific toolbar layout, setting a region-specific language, disabling automatic updates—these are just a few of many reasons IT might want to configure predefined application settings. Unfortunately, this is not always a simple task. Software vendors store configuration data in a variety of locations, and various packaging and deployment technologies have their own methods for customizing application settings.

VMware User Environment Manager provides an easy and consistent way to apply and enforce predefined settings for all your Windows applications. We will use the Application Profiler tool to capture these settings.

Environment

Installing Application Profiler and performing the initial profiling process is outside the scope of this blog post, and is well-documented in the VMware User Environment Manager Application Profiler Administration Guide. This blog post will focus on the advanced scenario of troubleshooting a profiled application.

The following describes the configuration used to profile VLC. For a comprehensive list of supported operating systems for Application Profiler, see the VMware User Environment Manager Application Profiler Administration Guide.

Application Packaging and Profiling Machine Configuration (Profiling VM)

The application packaging and profiling machine (also called the profiling VM) is configured with the following:

  • Windows 10 Anniversary Update (AU) VM.
  • VMware App Volumes Agent version 2.12.
  • VMware User Environment Manager Application Profiler version 9.1.
  • svc-profiler domain account has local administrative privileges.

 

The App Volumes Agent is an optional component, and is part of the VMware End-User-Computing JMP Solution. This agent is included so the same VM can be used to build an App Volumes AppStack for application deployment, and to profile the application for personalization with User Environment Manager. If you would like to learn more, or include App Volumes in your environment, refer to the App Volumes Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide.

End-User Machine Configuration

The end-user machine in this example has the following configuration:

  • Windows 10 AU
  • VMware App Volumes Agent version 2.12.
  • VMware User Environment Manager FlexEngine version 9.1.
  • jspencer is a standard end user domain account.

Application Profiling

VLC Media Player version 2.2.4 was captured to an App Volumes AppStack using all default installation options. The AppStack was then used to deliver VLC to the profiling VM. During the User Environment Manager application profiling process, the View > Playlist setting was selected for the default view.

Note: Playlist is the item being selected. Docked Playlist is a default setting, independent of Playlist.

Upon completion of the profiling process, we see that the configuration change was written to the file system, in the %AppData%vlc folder.

Selecting Config File with Predefined Settings from Application Profiler produces four files:

  • INI – User Environment Manager configuration file containing the import and export locations. This file defines the parameters for User Environment Manager to manage the application.
  • ICO – Icon used by User Environment Manager Management Console and the Self-Support tool.
  • FLAG – Flag file for FlexEngine, when DirectFlex is enabled (default).
  • ZIP – Contains the predefined user settings.

I prefer to modify the Default Save Path so saved files are automatically added to User Environment Manager.

While you may be tempted to open and edit the ZIP file directly from Windows Explorer, it is critical that the Edit Profile Archive button be used instead. User Environment Manager uses the standard ZIP file format to prevent the creation of proprietary file formats, but the writes to and reads from the ZIP files are optimized for performance. Using tools outside of User Environment Manager to edit these ZIP files makes them unreadable by FlexEngine.

By editing the profile archive, we can browse the contents and make changes as needed.

Notice that VLC uses an INI file to record the user settings. When View > Playlist was selected during application profiling, playlist-visible=true was recorded in the INI. However, there are a number of additional settings that were automatically recorded in the INI.

When configuring predefined application settings, user settings that are stored in an INI file may result in different behavior than user settings stored in registry keys. We will come back to predefined settings later in this post.

For now, we are going to take a step back and run the application profiling process again for VLC. This time, View > Playlist is selected, and Tools > Preferences > Menus Language is configured for French.

Upon completion of the profiling process, we see that the configuration changes were written to the file system, in the %AppData%vlc folder, and to the registry, in HKCUSoftwareVideoLAN.

When we edit the profile archive this time, we see both AppData and Registry folders.

While it is not a common practice for application vendors, this version of VLC Media Player stores the language setting in the registry, while a variety of other user settings are stored in an INI file.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series on the Application Profiler it is important to &#rsquo;know thine app.&#rdquo;

Configuring and Applying Predefined Settings

To configure and apply the predefined settings, we use the User Environment Manager Management Console.

The VMware User Environment Manager Administration Guide provides a detailed description of the four types of predefined settings you can choose from. For our purposes, we will configure VLC Media Player predefined settings to Partially Enforced Settings. Partially Enforced Settings are applied after the user profile archive has been imported. This effectively merges the user personal settings with the partially enforced settings. In case of a conflict, the partially enforced settings win and overwrite the user personal settings.

To test our configuration, I will log in to a View instant-clone desktop in as jspencer. The same App Volumes AppStack that was used to deliver VLC to the application-packaging VM is used to dynamically deliver VLC to the VM when I log in. When I launch VLC for the first time, the menus are in French, and the interface is configured for Playlist view. Success!

While logged in as jspencer, I will disable the Playlist view, change the language to American English, and clear all of the check boxes on this preferences page.

Based on the way the Partially Enforced Settings option is designed to behave, we would expect the following behavior the next time VLC is opened by jspencer:

  • The menus will be in French and the Playlist view will be enabled. This is because both settings were configured during application profiling, and applied as partially enforced predefined settings.
  • The check boxes cleared on the preferences page will remain cleared. This is because these settings are not specified by the predefined settings, and are therefore user settings that will be stored in the user-profile archive.

After closing and re-opening the application, we see that all of my changes were discarded, including the check boxes on the preferences page. This is not what we expected!

But why did this happen?

We are seeing the result of an application storing its user settings in an INI file. To understand this, let us look at the workflow when a user logs in to a Windows desktop with User Environment Manager enabled.

  1. User logs in.
  2. User profile archive, including any custom user settings, is imported to Windows.
  3. Predefined application settings are imported to Windows.

User Environment Manager behaves differently during Step 3 depending on whether the application settings are stored in the registry or in an INI file.

User Environment Manager can parse individual registry settings. You might think of this as merging only the specified, predefined registry keys to the Windows registry. In our test case, only the language setting is forced on the end user by the predefined application settings registry import. Any other user settings that happen to get recorded in HKCUSoftwareVideoLAN are preserved for the end user. This enables IT to enforce specific application settings, while granting the end user flexibility to customize and preserve any other settings.

When applications store configuration data in files (INI,XML, or others), User Environment Manager can only overwrite the entire file. In our test case, the Playlist view predefined setting is stored in an INI file. That file is part of the predefined applications settings that are applied after the user profile archive is imported. The user jspencer made several changes (cleared check boxes) to the preferences page, which were stored in that same INI file. Going back to the previous workflow, the problem becomes apparent.

  1. User login.
  2. User profile archive, including the INI file customized per the user settings, is imported to Windows.
  3. Predefined application settings, including a copy of the INI file created during the application profiling process, overwrites the INI file imported in Step 2.

Another Issue with Text Files

Even though I am logged in to the end-user VM as jspencer, browsing to the VLC application settings INI shows a value that includes the user name (svc-profiler) of the account that was used during the application profiling process.

The intended behavior is for this line to be populated with the user name of the currently logged-in user—jspencer in this case.

User Environment Manager supports using placeholders to accommodate variables in text files.

Editing the profile archive allows us to modify the text file manually. In this case, I have replaced jspencer with the system variable %username%. See the User Environment Manager Administration Guide for proper syntax and usage.

Now when jspencer runs the application, the user name is properly reflected in the INI.

Conclusion

The following is a brief summary of the application profiling concepts and practices covered in this blog post, which you can apply to your own applications.

  • Always use the Application Profiler or the User Environment Manager tools to edit a profile archive ZIP
  • Applications might store user settings in the registry, in files, or both. Ta