February 19, 2012

Microsoft Windows Profiles, Folder Redirection, GPO

This post contains two videos explaining Microsoft Windows user profiles, folder redirection, and Group Policy.

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A big piece of the Windows user experience is stored in the profile of the user.  Microsoft Windows user profiles can be a complex topic because of the variety of ways applications use them to store files and registry settings.  Microsoft revamped user profiles starting with Windows Vista and made them incompatible with the prior versions (Citrix blog) which only adds to the confusion. Incorrectly configured profiles can result in a variety of application errors and a poor user experience.

Example of a V2 profile on Windows 2008 R2

The only way to solve problems that involve a Windows profile is to understand how they work and the options Microsoft provides to deploy and manage them.  Third party profile management solutions (AppSense Environment Manager, Citrix Profile Manager, VMware Persona...) are not the focus of this post.

The following video from brianmadden.com blogger, Gabe Knuth (@gabeknuth), covers Windows profiles, folder redirection, and group policy best practices.  It is a great starting point for people new to group policy and only familiar with local profiles.  Keep in mind it predates Windows 2008 but a majority of concepts still apply.

The second video is a technical introduction into Windows profiles types with a focus on Microsoft Terminal Services and Citrix XenApp.  These same concepts also apply to virtual desktop products like Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View.

Applies to:
Citrix XenApp
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows 7
Microsoft Windows 2008
Microsoft Windows 2008 R2
Maybe others


February 14, 2012

Windows File Copy Guy

Check out more great webcomics at www.xkcd.com.

February 7, 2012

Dude, where's my admin?

My standard joke for a long time has been that I get paid to click “Next” for a living.  2011 will go down as the year that I stopped getting paid to click “Next” and started getting paid to read admin guides.  I am certainly not alone.  Guys and girls around the world are taking this work home with them.  The process usually goes like this: I check my morning tweets and find out that virtualization company X has released a new version of their product (this typically happens at a conference).  The next step is to go to their site and download the install and administration guides.  Then, curl up next to the fireplace with a hot beverage and be amazed by how much easier my job will become.  OK, that’s not exactly how it typically happens.  Replace fireplace with seat-back tray and hot beverage with nothing and you get the idea.  Personally, I would rather be reading about “Steve Jobs” (barnes and noble, kindle) then another product update novel but this is my life. 

This got me thinking, “how many virtualization products have been released in the last twelve months?”  Let’s see, Citrix released new versions of XenDesktop and XenApp.  Oh, VMware also released a new version of vSphere.  It didn’t take long to realize I would need help counting.  I reached out to my go-to VMware guy, Rene (@vrenenelson), to help me fill in gaps in the VMware product set.  Very quickly, we realized that nearly every major virtualization product has had a revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary) revamp.

We collaborated to bring you this list.  You may be thinking, “but what about AppSense or Unidesk or [insert your product here]?”  We stuck with the virtualization big three:



That is only the tip of the iceberg. We tried to stick to the major products that administrators have to install. If it is some kind of cloud offering or tech preview we left it off the list. August 2011 should be considered a hallmark month for virtualization due to the perfect storm of major products released.

If you are still looking for your administrator, there’s a good chance they are holed up somewhere going through another admin guide.  Studying like it was the night before the SATs.  Pat your virtualization girl or guy on the back because they are fighting to keep up with an incredibly quick moving industry.

Drop us a line in the comments about what product we scandalously forgot to chart.