Application Layer Editing, Sledgehammer or Scalpel?

In comparison to traditional ways to install applications and other application delivery methods that have been around for quite some time – such as application virtualization – application layering technology is still in its early stages. Because app layering is relatively new, tools for editing existing layers are unfortunately sparse.

You might ask, “Why would I need to edit an application layer?” Well, you could find yourself needing to edit registry keys for an application layer because you want the application to behave differently. So, how would you edit registry keys for a layer that is already created? The default answer for all layering vendors (assuming they can even edit layers, you should ask!) is to put the layer back into capture or packaging mode and make your registry changes there. Sure, this will work, but this is a “sledgehammer” approach when a “scalpel” may be better. When you put a layering tool into capture mode, it records all changes that happen to the operating system. This is a bit heavy-handed when you’re only trying to make a single registry key change.

Windows is noisy. When you put a layering product into capture mode, it is trying to ignore as much of the noise as it can.  You can see how effective layering vendors are at ignoring static by looking at how large your layers are for even the smallest applications. Again, a good question to ask of your layering vendor is, “How big is Notepad++ as a layer — closer to 60 MB or more like 1.2 GB?” If layering solutions playback too much noise when layering an application, they can destabilize the OS. So, vendors have two options. They can either ignore the noise on capture and create a smaller layer, or they can capture all the noise and ignore noise on playback, resulting in inflated layers. No matter what a vendor says, they will capture at least a little bit of noise into the layer. This is the risk of putting a layer back into capture mode.

What’s in a layer? Application layers are made up of files and metadata that tell the layer how to behave on playback when it comes to registry and other behavioral things. Why not just edit the metadata directly with a scalpel and avoid the risk to the state of the layer?

Let’s talk about Liquidware’s FlexApp editing and answer the questions above in reference to FlexApp.

  1. Yes, you can put a FlexApp layer back into capture mode.
  2. FlexApp avoids static/noise on capture.
  3. Since FlexApp avoids static/noise on capture, a Notepad ++ layer is approximately 60 MB.
  4. Yes, FlexApp has an editing tool to provide a scalpel approach to application layer editing.

FlexApp’s layer editor for registry entries is a dream to work in. If you know how to use Regedit.exe, then you know how to use our app layer editor for registry. With our metadata Editor which we call a Cap editor, you can edit, delete, create and import registry keys into the layer with precision and without fear of breaking an application layer.

Our metadata Cap Editor will continue to expand in capabilities, and shortly it will be built into our FlexApp Packaging Console for ease of access. For now, you can contact our Support Team or your sales engineer for access to this great tool.

Here are some resources to our layering editing tool:

ProfileDisk: The Profile Easy Button!

Today, I want to talk about ProfileDisk and its benefits using FlexDisk or VHD.  ProfileDisk is a new major feature scheduled for ProfileUnity 6.5,  targeted for release in Q1 of 2015.

Before I talk about ProfileDisk, let’s level set about ProfileUnity itself and how it deals with the user profile. Today, ProfileUnity uses its portability engine to backup and restore users’ profiles. This engine is highly optimized to make backup and restore of a user’s profile as fast as possible. This engine archives the profile into smaller parts that also include a checksum so that the solution can sort through what does and does NOT need to be save or restored. Out of the box, ProfileUnity comes with templates that cover 85% of the user profile, Windows settings, application settings, etc. ProfileUnity’s portability engine backups up and restores profile on login, logoff or on triggers for example on PCoIP or ICA disconnect  the users profile can be saved. This approach gives you great control over how much or how little of the profile you want to make portable. But this approach also sometimes requires you to create a portability rule for paths that are not captured out-of-the-box. Customers have told us they want a fully persistent desktop, leveraging non persistent VDI but without having to configure many portability rules.    Essentially, they want a feature that would act as an “easy button” or “catch all” for users’ profiles. Continue reading

FlexDisk, a Robust VMDK Delivery System

In just a few weeks, Liquidware Labs will go live with the introduction of FlexDisk, heralding a new evolution in User Management.  ProfileUnity with FlexApp already boasts some of the fastest logon times and smoothest Application Layering in the industry.  However, even our own current impressive performance will pale in comparison to ProfileUnity User Environment Management with new FlexDisk technology.  FlexDisk, planned for release in ProfileUnity v6.5 in Q1 2015, will deliver the entire user profile and application layers to both persistent and non-persistent desktops with unmatched speed and flexibility. Continue reading

Tame BAD Applications with ProfileUnity, without users having administrative rights

What is a BAD application?

We consider bad applications those applications that store user settings in places the user does not have rights to out of the box and traditionally you would have to give the user administrative rights to tame these bad applications. But with ProfileUnity, we have a better way to not repeat the mistakes of the past when moving to VDI and strip away the administrative rights the user once had. Continue reading