VMware View - User Profile Options

All the technology and gadgets for managing desktops are worthless if your users complain about their experience with the desktop. Something I learned administering Citrix Presentation Server. Differing methods exist to keep the technical presentation of the desktop usable, for example the mouse being in sync and the right pixels show the right colors. What is also included in the user experience is a consistent environment where their personal data and settings are where they should be. Here are a few methods for managing those bits when using VMware View.

**Mandatory Profiles **This profile is kept on the a central file share. The profile is copied to the machine on login, when the user logs out the changes are not kept. Great way to keep a consistent profile on kiosk type and data entry desktops. Where customization is not needed and most likely not wanted mandatory profiles are worth exploring. Main change is you set up the profile just like you want it then rename the NTUSER.dat to NTUSER.man. A lot exists on the internet about setting up man profiles.

Local Profiles If you go through life never changing a thing in your Windows environment, you are using a Local Profile. Not to say you don’t change settings, save files or customize your background. You just have Windows running as the default. This is an option I will usually discourage because it is hard to backup data that is often kept in the local profile. VMware View will redirect user data to a User Data Disk (or whatever it is called today) on Persistent Desktop Pools. This is a good way to get the data on another VMDK. This introduces problems when looking at data recovery. There is solutions, but just something you will need to remember to look into.

Roaming Profiles Roaming profiles is a great way to redirect current profiles to a central location. In theory this works great. In a View environment you can keep a local copy on a users desktop profile  and the changes are copied back and forth. I have often seen this work just great. Then from time to time, the profile will become corrupt, many times it does not unload correctly when users disconnect, or log out. Then you may have to pick through folders trying to find their “My Documents”. This is why I would suggest using this with Group Policy and Folder redirection which I will cover next.

Redirecting Folders You may end up using a folder redirection group policy. This will move folders like the Desktop and My Documents for a user to a file server. This slims down the roaming profile as those locations are redirected to another location outside of the profile. This data is not copied from the machine to the server over and over. More information here.

**Other Options Immidio Flex Profiles I really liked this option it was a way to combine mandatory profiles and a Roaming profile. This program would run some scripts on logon and log off to save files and settings. A really great paper on how to use it can be found here. Just like any great program that takes a new way to solve an annoying old problem, this is now not free. **

**RTO Virtual Profiles I have never implemented this solution before. I have used it as part of a few training labs. I liked the feel. Now that VMware has purchased this software from RTO, the website redirects to a transition page. So I am looking for a way to test it in the lab, hoping the next set of bits of View includes RTO. Check this FAQ out for more information. **

Maybe once it is built into View this will no longer be a serious issue. Profiles will be one of those things we tell stories to young padawan VM admins about, “We used to have to fight profiles, they were big and slow, and sometimes they would disappear!” Until that day…

Written on March 14, 2010