Large Scale System Administration of Windows NT Workshop, 1997
Effective Use of Individual User Profiles with Software Distribution
Mark Murray and Troy Roberts
Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc.
Many system administrators have found themselves
supporting user communities who are either quite mobile and use many
different workstations or share one workstation among multiple
users. Within Windows NT networks, these users can still maintain
unique personal settings for the software packages they each use
through the use of individual profiles. Individual user profiles have,
however, introduced a problem in the typical software distribution
During software installations,
whether software distribution tools are used or not, there is usually
a portion of the "package" that requires updates in each users
personal profile or configuration storage area (often their home
directory). These updates include default, and often required, user
customizable settings and can only be performed for the user that is
logged in at the time the package is distributed to each
Problems occur when a user
who was not logged in during the distribution of a particular package
attempts to use that package. This user will not have the required
registry entries or configuration files and the software package will
not work properly, if at all. Some software packages work around this
by creating a default configuration on the fly, but they are not in
the majority, and this does not allow organizations to customize the
default settings that a user will receive.
At Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. we have
implemented a combination of commercial and home-grown utilities that
provide a flexible and complete software distribution mechanism to a
network of Windows NT 4.0 client workstations. These utilities
specifically address the issue of applying individual user defaults
and customizations after an application has been installed.
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