So I am currently in Prague in Europe, and gaining Internet access has been very very tuff! I finally found a very little cafe with an access point so I can blog a great post. Sean emailed J.C and I the next installment of his advanced sequencing techniques!

Advanced Sequencing Topics - Part 1

Enjoy part 2!

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Creating a Web Based Application

“A VE for IE”

If an organization has applications that are web based it is possible to use the Sequencer to create a Virtual Environment for these applications. Although it is not possible to Sequence all base operating system applications, such as Internet Explorer, it is possible to create multiple Virtual Environments for it to run under.

In classes I would often describe a situation in which IE launches and is pulled into the Virtual Environment that has Java 1.5. IE starts up in this virtual environment and, if Internet Explorer were a person would say “Wow! Look at that. I have JRE 1.5”. And Internet Explorer would start using it.

Then you close Internet Explorer causing the systemguard virtual environment to shut down. You can think of IE now falling back out of the “bubble” and saying “Wait a minute. What just happened to my JRE 1.5?”

Then you launch another shortcut off the desktop that is associated with a SoftGrid .OSD file that was generated by Sequencing JRE 1.6. The FILENAME line actually calls the local .EXE of Internet Explorer. The Systemguard virtual environment gets created and then the local IE launches in the VE and starts using the JRE here as a dependency.

If Internet Explorer was a person they would say, “Hey! Look at that. I have JRE 1.6 now.” And Internet Explorer would now use this JRE. Then when you exit Internet Explorer the Systemguard gets shut down and IE falls back to the drive and says , “Hey! Wait a minute. What happened to my JRE 1.6?”

The best part is you can keep doing this. You create a VE for IE with Flash as a dependency in systemguard and the local IE gets run inside the “bubble” and uses Flash during that occurrence. But the key factor here is that none of these components was ever installed on the local machine. Internet Explorer is kept “untouched” by the installations.

An example would be an organization that runs Internet Explorer 7.0 as their standard web browser. This same organization runs different applications that require not only Internet Explorer but different versions of Java Virtual Runtime Environments, Codecs, Active X components, plug-ins, and Flash or Shockwave components. SoftGrid can provide Virtual Environments for each of these configurations and run them on the same Terminal Services Client or Windows Desktop Client without conflict. This is accomplished by making the components “dependencies” which become available to the Virtual Environment as needed.

It is important to understand that you are not actually installing the base application at all. You are utilizing the virtualization capability of SoftGrid to provide different configurations to the base application that is installed on the client locally. You actually launch the local application from within the OSD file and pull it into the Virtual Environment which causes the application to run with the settings provided by the Virtual File System and Virtual Registry.

Although the examples here are all about Internet Explorer, think of the other uses of this concept.

Step by Step

Follow the steps below to create a Virtual Environment for a web based application.

1. Restore a clean image with the current Sequencer software

2. Map any network drives to installation files, home directories, and / or any network share needed to run the application

3. Close all Windows Explorer or Command Prompt windows

4. Confirm that the version of Internet Explorer installed on the Sequencer workstation is correct

5. Execute the Sequencer software and select File to New Package

6. When prompted if you would like some assistance select Yes

7. On the Welcome to the Package Configuration Wizard select Next

8. Provide a Suite Name and complete your Comments field with details about the package, the sequencer, base operating system, block size, and any other information you deem necessary

9. Enter the name of your Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization Server in the Hostname field replacing %SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER% and enter a subdirectory of the \content directory in the “Path” field where the SFT and Package files will be placed. Select Next

10. Select the values for your supported client operating systems, Select Finish

11. On the Welcome to the Installation Wizard page select Next

12. Set your Sequencing Parameters such as Compression Algorithm and Block Size and select Next

13. Click on Begin Monitoring to put the Sequencer monitoring process into the background

14. Create a directory on the drive letter that will be utilized by the Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization client for the application. This directory should follow 8.3 naming standards and be unique (e.g. Q:\websuite.v1)

15. Open Internet Explorer and connect to a web page were the application can be installed from

16. Execute the setup program for the application to Sequence

17. During the installation of the application, if prompted, install the application to the Q:\ drive into a subdirectory of the root you created in step 15 (e.g. Q:\websuite.v1\Java VM)
NOTE: This is a unique step. How many times have you installed Flash, etc. and it has prompted you for a destination directory? Probably never. If that is the case then you are combining the concepts of the VFS of an installation with this.
In essence, it is a VE for IE with a VFS twist..

18. Perform any manual post installation configurations (e.g. ODBC connections, service packs, etc.)

19. Select Start to Run and enter the path to the application executable of Internet Explorer

Note: Make sure it runs without errors. Take this opportunity to configure Tool Bars, set a default Home Page, test Flash components, etc.
This is a unique step since you are actually launching a local .EXE and it is one that you did not actually install during the monitoring phase like in a traditional Sequencing.

20. Select OK to run the application

21. During the Installation phase of the Sequencing it is important to test and configure the application. It is recommended to execute the application multiple times during this phase

22. Exit the application and bring the Sequencer to the foreground

23. Select Stop Monitoring to complete the Installation phase

24. When prompted to select the Primary Installation Directory of the application navigate to and select the directory you created on the Q:\ drive in step 14 (e.g. Q:\websuite.v1).
This too is a unique step since you may not have installed the component here.

25. If you have another application to install or want to run the application again to configure a setting select Begin Monitoring, otherwise select Next

26. On the “Add Files to the VFS” screen browse to and select any files that need to be manually added to the VFS or select “Do Nothing”. Select Finish

27. On the Application Wizard Welcome Screen select Next

28. On the Configure Applications screen Select Add and Browse to the location of the executable for Internet Explorer
this is unique since you are browsing to a directory and location of an executable on the C:\ drive and not the Q:\ as is traditional.
What makes this particular situation with Internet Explorer even possible is the fact that on every client you stream this package to, Internet Explorer can be found as an .EXE on each drive. By specifying it here, you are causing it to appear in the FileName line of the .OSD file.

29. Correct any errors on this screen before selecting Next

30. Select the Shortcut for the application executable of IE and select Launch to execute the application with the Virtual Environment

31. While in the application perform your “top 10” actions to create the proper Feature Block 1. Once done, close the application. You should be returned to the Launch Shortcuts Window, Select Next
Alternately you could opt to launch nothing at this point. If you launch nothing at this point then the entire package will be generated into Feature Block 1 and you will not have a Feature Block 2 at all.

32. On the Sequence Package Window select Finish

33. Select File to Save

A word to the wise. If you want to publish a shortcut to these systemguard environments on the desktop you will need a unique name. Some desktops may already have a shortcut to IE already, and if you name this shortcut just “Internet Explorer” you will not see the duplicate shortcuts. Instead, consider naming it with a descriptive title such as “Internet Explorer with JRE 1.5”.

- Sean D