VET v1.2 Group Policy Import Bug

This post is just a heads-up on some errors we’ve seen importing Group Policy Objects into RES Workspace Manager with the latest Virtual Engine Toolkit v1.2 release. In version v1.2 we introduced the ability to convert GPO permissions and OU links. To achieve this we needed to alter the way in which we enumerated the Group Policy Objects present within the source Active Directory domain.

VET v1.2 directly scans the SYSVOL volume (this approach has changed in VET v2.0). Unfortunately, if there is an errant folder that persists in the SYSVOL (but is no longer present in Active Directory) this error is not correctly trapped. The net result is a spectacular .NET exception error!

Internally we have code that fixes this issue, but it’ll be a few days before @nathan_sperry has digitally signed the new executable and built a new MSI installer. When this update is available, you will receive an update notification informing you that there’s an update available.

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In the meantime, if you receive a crash when importing GPOs, you’ll need to track down the errant policy folder and either delete the redundant GPO folder or remove the \USER\registry.pol or \MACHINE\registry.pol file.

Whilst the VET v1.3 is primarily a bug fix we are introducing something completely new, e.g. it’s nothing to do with VET, PuU, JET or JETCMD. It’s something we have been using internally and at customers for a long time. Stay tuned for more information…

Virtual Engine Receives RES Recognition

Virtual Engine are honoured to have been highlighted by RES Software in their 5 year milestone of the RES Software Valued Professional programme. Having two RSVP members is in itself a privilege, but to have received recognition for our efforts with the Virtual Engine Toolkit is also important to us.

Needless to say we are already working on the next major version of VET which incorporates a complete overhaul of the user interface. Thank you to Bob de K and the RES team for publically recognising the time and effort we contribute to the community.

VET v1.2 Released!

Virtual Engine are pleased to announce the general availability of version 1.2 of the Virtual Engine Toolkit (VET). The latest Windows installer and documentation is available for download now on the Virtual Engine web site.

We’ve put together a series of short videos demonstrating each new feature. In the “What’s New” video series we cover the following features:

  • Job Execution Tool (including JETCMD and JETPWD);
  • Migrating Group Policy Security Permissions (VET);
  • Group Policy Objects Wizard Search (VET);
  • Group Policy Migration Report (VET);
  • Enabling the Aero theme (PuU);
  • Importing International Settings (PuU).

For more videos on the Virtual Engine Toolkit, please check out our YouTube channel.

What’s New in VET v1.1

With the public release of the Virtual Engine Toolkit (VET) v1.1 just around the corner, we’ve put together a short overview video demonstrating each new feature. In the “What’s New” video we cover the following features:

  • Conversion of Group Policy Objects to RES Workspace Manager building blocks;
  • Conversion of Active Directory published printers and site definitions to RES Workspace Manager building blocks;
  • Direct import into the RES Workspace Manager console;
  • Multiple profile updates with the Profile Update Utility (PuU);
  • Ad-hoc registry changes in the Profile Update Utility (PuU).

For more videos on the Virtual Engine Toolkit, please check out our YouTube channel here.

Updating Mandatory Profiles Part 2

Having seen that our original Updating Mandatory Profiles post is quite popular, I thought I’d follow it up with an update. The process described in the first post is quite labourious and error prone. I’d like to make people aware of how quick and easy the Profile Update Utility (PuU) makes updating a mandatory profile with ActiveSetup keys.

Here’s the new process:

  1. Obviously you’ll need to have downloaded (it’s free) and installed VET.
  2. Once installed, simply launch the Profile Update Utility.
  3. Select your mandatory profile by clicking the “Browse” button (step 1).
  4. Check the “Merge HKEY_CURRENT_USER ActiveSetup keys” checkbox (step 2).
  5. Click the “Go” button (step 3).

It doesn’t get much simpler than that! Note: This will merge the ActiveSetup keys from the currently logged on user. Therefore, you need to perform this action on a machine that you’ll be using the mandatory profile on.


The “Output Options” at the bottom of the PuU windows could probably do with some explaination as there is sometimes some confustion.

  1. Update Original Profile: Overwrites the source (Step 1) profile.
  2. Backup Profile: Copies the source profile (in Step 1) to a .bak file and then updates the original.
  3. Create New Profile: Copies the source profile (in Step 1), renames the original (in Step 1) to a .bak file and then updates the new copy.

Which option you use is up to you depending on how you manage the lifecycle of your mandatory profiles.

Enjoy – Iain

Locating Computer GPO Registry Values

I come across this scenario all the time that requires a HKLM registry setting to be configured. Typically this can be implemented via Group Policy but, for whatever reason, you which to set the resulting registry value directly. It might be because you don’t wish to cut a new GPO just for a couple of servers or workstations. A common requirement is to set the RDS licensing server as part of an automated deployment. Maybe you use RES Automation Manager like we do. However, this scenario is not limited to just RES Automation Manager. You could use the information in this post to configure a few specific settings as part of a WDS deployment for example.

Hopefully by now you are all familiar with the free Virtual Engine Toolkit (VET). No!? Shame on you! I suggest you take a look over here and see how it can help migrate from a unmanaged user environment to a managed one.

So you now know VET is especially good at converting user related GPOs into .REG files that can be imported in your UV/UEM tool of choice i.e. RES Workspace Manager or AppSense Environment Manager. One of VET’s hidden talents (and undocumented until now) is we can also convert computer related GPO’s into .REG files.

Using the settings above as an example I’ll run you through how we achieve this with RES Automation Manager and not in a GPO. If you’ve read our series on user GPO migration then you’re aware that GPO settings (not all!) are just registry settings. The problem we normally have, is where and what should these values be set to?

You could at this point download the Microsoft Group Policy Settings Reference guide and find the individual registry keys. You could use the Group Policy Search which Kees Baggerman spotted and pointed out in this blog post Winking smile. You can spend time Googling them at which point you would have to start manually adding them to the registry task in AM. But its much, much simpler to use VET!

NOTE: the same process could be used for migrating multiple existing computer related GPOs into AM but please be aware that the computer will probably need a reboot before the targeted settings come into force.

  1. First thing to we need to do is create a Dummy GPO where we can set the various policies we’d like included in AM. In my example I’ve called my GPO “Dummy GPO for VET” and configured the settings we’d like to apply as in our example above.SNAGHTML20d08061
  2. Next we need to launch VET and use the “Convert Group Policy Objects Wizard” to scan the SYSVOL folder for our newly created/existing GPO. Once VET displays the list of GPOs select the one that you wish to convert then click “Next”
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  3. Select “Use subfolders for User and Machine policies”. Deselect “Also create RES Workspace Manager Building Block Files” then click “Next”, “Next” and “Finish”.image
  4. Looking in the “Documents\Machine” folder you’ll find the newly created .REG File containing our settings.
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  5. Now launch the RES AM console and create a new module which contains the “Registry Settings (Apply)” task. Its then a case of importing the .REG File created previously; so you should end up with something looking like this.
    image

It’s as simple as that! We’ve used a dummy GPO that is not applied to any computer objects, set our required settings and imported the exact resultant registry values into RES Automation Manager. You can probably think of other great use cases for this too.

You never know we might incorporate the ability for VET to generate RES Automation Manager building blocks in the future.. Hope this little gem helps someone in the future like it has me!

Nathan

Virtual Engine Toolkit BETA 3 Released

Virtual Engine are pleased to announce the launch the new BETA 3 release of the Virtual Engine Toolkit (VET). This release incorporates several reported bug fixes and a few enhancements. Issues importing Group Policy Objects and merging ADM/X files have been fixed.

New enhancements include the ability to easily view the .ONCE file GUIDs generated by RES Workspace Manager (as covered in the Finding the RES Workspace Manager Run Once GUIDs blog post).

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The Virtual Engine Toolkit BETA 3 can be downloaded from the Virtual Engine web site (registration required).

Office 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2008 R2 Templates Released

The merged Microsoft Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010 template files have been uploaded to the Virtual Engine website and are available for download in the Templates section. Each .ZIP file contains all the office templates for each product edition, e.g. Standard, Small Business and Professional etc, making it easy for you to configure settings for multiple Office products in a single policy within the RES Workspace Manager management console.

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In addition, all the standard Windows 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 administrative templates have been merged into a single file and is also available in the same place (as the Office templates). Using this template enables you configure all the standard Group Policy Administrative Template settings in a single Registry Policy within the RES Workspace Manager management console too. It takes a little while to expand the file due to the number of settings (it is all 156 ADMX files merged into 1!), but does mean that the console looks less cluttered. Here is what it looks like:

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All these files were put together with the Virtual Engine Toolkit (VET) so if they don’t meet your individual requirements you can always download the tool and “roll your own”. Note: a new BETA 3 version will be released in the near future that fixes a few reported bugs and sports a couple of new features too..

Enjoy! Iain

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