Move Machine Based Context Menus to Per User (Part II)

In Part I of this two part blog post, I described how you go about denying access to the machine based content menus, this blog post will describe how you now can target these same context menus to specific users or groups i.e. moving them to per user based.

Before we go on another further, you’ll need to retrieve those .REG files we modified and saved in Part I – you know the ones where we replaced HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT with HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes.

So as you might have guessed to target the context menus are specific users or groups we simply need to inject this .REG file or its values for those users or groups. This can be achieved by various means or methods such as:

  1. Login Scripts (BAT, VBS, PowerShell);
  2. Group Policy custom ADM or ADMX’s;
  3. Group Policy Preferences;
  4. User Environment Manager (RES Workspace Manager or AppSense Environment Manager to name a couple).

I’m not going to detail how you would go about doing this for options 1 – 3 as there are numerous articles on the internet to aid with that process. What I will say is that you get a lot more flexibility using option 4 with regards to who, what and when these context menus are applied for users or groups. In most of my environments we tend to use RES Workspace Manager, so I’m going to cover what needs to be done to target the context menus at users and groups.

As a simple overview this is how I configured RES Workspace Manager to achieve this:

  1. Create a Location and Device (PowerZone), that determines if the application is installed that these context menus are associated with;
  2. Create a Global User Registry setting that adds the required registry keys and values by importing modified .REG, and changing the ACL to target the specific users or groups and the PowerZone created in step 1;
  3. Create a Global User Registry settings that removes the registry keys and values set in step 2, the ACL can be set to “All Users” but more importantly the order of execution for this setting must be HIGHER than that of step 2.

Step 1

To create this PowerZone use the “File or folder exists” rule for RES Workspace Manager 2012 or “File version” rule for RES Workspace Manager 2011 and below, that will check for the installation folder or file in the directory. My example here is using RES Workspace Manager 2012 to determine if WinRAR is installed.


Step 2

This registry setting will only get applied when both the user is part of the ACL and where the application is installed on the computer they are using; why apply these settings if the application isn’t installed!. These settings are applied at a Global level to ensure they are there, should the application be required to be started from the context menu and not just when the managed application is started.



Step 3

This step is import because should the user have access revoked to the application we need to make sure that context menu is removed from the users local cached profile. Make sure the order of execution for this setting is HIGHER than that of step 2, otherwise it will remove these settings after step 2 has applied, therefore removing the context menu for users or groups that have been granted access.


That’s all there is too it – any questions just post a comment.



Move Machine Based Context Menus to Per User (Part I)

WARNING! This post requires you to edit the registry. Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that might require you to reinstall your operating system. Virtual Engine cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk. Be sure to back up the registry before you begin. If this hasn’t scared you off keep reading….

imageIn my time installing and configuring applications for multi user environments like XenApp or RDS, I come across many applications that will create context menus within Windows explorer that can help a user quickly perform a function. The screen shot below shows how WINRAR has added context menus in Windows explorer that allows the user to easily create a .RAR file having selected file(s) or folder(s).

Generally these context menus are machine based, i.e. any user that logs in to a XenApp server will be able to see and use these context menus. On the face of things you might ask yourself why would this be a problem? Well suppose this application is strictly licensed for particular/named users. Therefore, you wouldn’t want anyone having the option to use them otherwise you would need to license the application for all users! In this case what you’d really like is to only have them available to users whom are licensed or whom you deem need them. A typical example of this might be Adobe Acrobat Professional that adds in a context menu to combine documents to single PDF.

The good news is there is a way of moving them from being machine based to per user with some fancy manipulation of various registry keys. So lets begin using our example of WINRAR and see how this can be done.

Firstly, we need to understand where context menus are located within the registry. From my experience when you right click on file(s) within windows explorer the context menus will be found in:


Here’s an example with WinRAR:


When you right click on folder(s) within windows explorer the context menus will be found in one or both of the following registry locations:


Below is a screen shot showing these registry keys for WinRAR:


So now we know where they are located we should open up the registry editor (REGEDIT.EXE) and export the context menu registry keys that we would like to make per user to .REG files (saving them to a location for safe keepings should you need to revert it back!).

What we need to do next is take a copy of those same registry (.REG) files so we can edit them. Using those copies open them in say notepad and replace HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT with HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes (this is where the equivalent registry keys are kept for a user). It should now look something like this; using WinRAR as the example. Once completed save and close the .REG file.


Now we get dangerous (well not really if you’re in the registry all time adding, deleting and generally tinkering – sound familiar?!?). The next step requires us to alter the permissions of those context menu registry keys located in:


Again using WINRAR as the example I would open up REGEDIT.EXE and browse to the following locations:


Modify the ‘Users’ permissions from ‘Read’ to ‘Deny’ on each registry key (as listed above) like so:


Having changed those permissions you have successfully removed the context menus from a per machine basis or more precisely denied access to users and administrators. I’m no fan of doing things manually so I try and automate where possible. My choice of tool to change the registry key permissions in that automated fashion would be to use RES Automation Manager which has a built-in task to manage registry key functions, e.g. registry permissions. Unfortunately there appears to be a bug – which has been logged with RES Support – in RES Automation Manager for this task when the registry key contains “*” i.e.


So I turned to the ever reliable SetACL from Helge Klein (follow Helge on Twitter here) to set the required registry permissions and added the command line into my RES Automation Manager job. For any existing users of RES Automation Manager I’ve attached a handy building block (just click on the big red brick) that can be used and manipulated for your needs to change those permissions as described above.

In Part II of this blog post I’ll describe how you go about targeting these same context menus at specific users Smile.



Installing RES HyperDrive Hypervisor Tools

RES Software have finally released RES HyperDrive and it’s available as a virtual appliance for VMware vSphere, VMware Workstation, Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V. One thing that might surprise you is that the relevant hypervisor integration tools are not preinstalled. It surprised me, but then I thought about it; how will RES know what particular build of vSphere or XenServer you’ll be running?!

Installing the integration tools will allow the RES HyperDrive appliance to play nicely with the hypervisor and permit migration and dynamic memory support etc. Whilst there are numerous articles on the internet, I thought I’d put a few notes together in one place to make it easy for people to evaluate or deploy the virtual appliance into production.

VMware Workstation 8 and vSphere 5

Installing VMware Tools into both VMware Workstation and VMware vSphere is relatively straight forward.

  1. Mount the VMware Tools CD/DVD by choosing the “Install VMware Tools” option within VMware Workstation/vSphere client
  2. Logon to the HyperDrive console or access the virtual appliance via SSH
  3. Mount the CD image with mount /dev/cdrom /mnt
  4. Copy the installation files to the temp directory cp /mnt/VMwareTools-x.x.x-xxxxx.tar.gz /tmp
  5. Change the temp directory cd /tmp
  6. Extract the Tarball tar zxpf /mnt/VMwareTools-x.x.x-xxxxx.tar.gz
  7. Dismount the CD image with umount /dev/cdrom
  8. Install VMware Tools by running ./vmware-tools-distrib/
  9. Accept all the defaults and select a default resolution for X support (not that it appears to be used on the appliance!)
  10. Reboot the virtual appliance
  11. If using vSphere the tools should be reported as installed

If you need to reconfigure the VMware tools configuration simply rerun the /usr/bin/ command as and when required.

Citrix XenServer 6

This is where the fun begins.. Installing the XenTools into the XenServer virtual appliance image is just as easy as VMware Worksstation/vSphere.

  1. Mount the Citrix XenTools CD/DVD by choosing the “Install XenServer Tools” or manually mount the xs-tools.iso image within XenCenter
  2. Logon to the HyperDrive console or access the virtual appliance via SSH
  3. Mount the CD image with mount /dev/cdrom /mnt
  4. Install XenTools by running /mnt/Linux/
  5. Accept all the default prompts
  6. Reboot the virtual appliance

Once you reboot the appliance you may find that XenCenter still reports that XenTools are still not installed?! After some investigation (and not being a Linux expert) it appears that the kernel used to build the appliance in not paravirtualization (PV) aware, rather in HVM mode. Therefore, without recompiling the kernel it’s impossible to get the XenServer tools installed to support live migrations. Hopefully this is a simple oversight on RES’s part and will be rectified in future builds (I hope!).

In the meantime I will try to find out how to recompile the HyperDrive appliance kernel. I’ll let you if I’m successful but it doesn’t look particularly easy. There appears to be an issue with the configured Nomadesk YUM repository and it won’t retrieve the package list correctly to install the additional kernel. My recommendation at this point would be utilise the VMware appliances wherever possible or live with the fact that you’ll need to shut the HyperDrive appliance down to move it to another host.. Sad smile

I’ve not played with the Hyper-V appliance as we have no customers running it but please let me know if it works and how to install them!

Replacing the RES HyperDrive SSL Certificate

We’ve had to replace numerous HyperDrive SSL certificates already as the self-signed SSL certificates generated by the RES HyperDrive appliance won’t cut it if you want to use the appliance in production or if iOS/OS X devices are deployed. image Fellow RES guru Rob Aarts has an article published on, but I’ve had differing experiences and our process is slightly different.

Unfortunately (for seemingly me in particular) I always appear to receive a “SSL key not valid” error when trying to import the certificate via the wizard (Nomadesk are aware of the problem and are investigating):

RES do have a KB article (login required) that details how to manually replace the certificate. There are some fairly simple steps that you follow, but as with all the RES HyperDrive documentation so far, there are some holes in it if you’ve never performed the actions before.

In the post I will assume that you have you SSL certificate in 2 parts; the public certificate (.crt file) and the private key (.key file). If you need to know how to generate these files from a .pfx file, I suggest you refer to the instructions in the Replacing the Default XenServer WSS Certificate post first and look for the “Converting the Certificate to a .CRT and .KEY Pair” section. Note: there must not be a password on the .key file!

Additionally you will need to be comfortable with Transferring Files to RES HyperDrive and probably Remotely Administering RES HyperDrive.

Preparing the Files

The RES HyperDrive appliance requires 3 files; the public certificate file, the private key file and the CA intermediaries. These files need to be named localhost.crt, localhost.key and ca-bundle.crt respectively.

It is probably easier to rename these files before copying them to the appliance (and it’ll keep the post shorter!).

Backup the Self-Signed Certificate

Once connected to the RES HyperDrive appliance console you can backup the existing certificate files with the following commands:

mv /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt.old
mv /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt.old
mv /etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key /etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key.old

If you get any permissions errors, remember to elevate to root with the su – command first.

Transfer the Files

The next step is to transfer the files to the HyperDrive appliance. I’ll assume that you’ve copied these to the appliance via SSH/SCP and they reside in the /home/hyperdrive directory. If you’ve used RES Automation Manager you can put them wherever needed 😉

Move the Files

Now that we’ve backed up the original self-signed certificate and copied the new files in they’ll need to be relocated. Move the files with the following commands:

mv /home/hyperdrive/localhost.crt /etc/pki/tls/certs/
mv /home/hyperdrive/ca-bundle.crt /etc/pki/tls/certs/
mv /home/hyperdrive/localhost.key /etc/pki/tls/private/

Fixing Permissions

I don’t actually know what permissions are needed by RES HyperDrive but my assumption is that they probably need to mirror what was there before. Fix the permissions by running the following commands:

chmod 0644 /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt
chmod 0644 /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt
chmod 0600 /etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key

If you copied the files in via SSH/SCP then they will be owned by the hyperdrive account. To reset the file owner on the files back, run:

chown root:root /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt
chown root:root /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt
chown root:root /etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key

Restart the Web Server

Once the files have been replaced and updated, restart the web server by running the service httpd restart command and BINGO!

Pre-canned RES AM Building Blocks

If you have integrated RES HyperDrive with an existing RES Automation Manager installation (remember you get a complimentary RES AM license) I’ve included a building block (click the red brick to download) that will perform the required configuration for you. Note: remember to replace the localhost.crt, ca-bundle.crt and localhost.key files in the \\RES HyperDrive\ resources folder before running it!

Automating Citrix Provisioning Server Install with RES AM

Here is a blog post I put together on automating the build of Citrix Provisioning Services using RES Automation Manager 2012. Before we get into the details I thought I’d mention a few resources and solutions I found on the way which helped me out. A big thanks to:

Before you can begin you will need to make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  • Provisioning Server Software (PVS 6.1 used for this example);
  • Windows Server 2003 upwards (Windows 2008 R2 SP1 used in this example);
  • NET 3.5 or higher is installed;
  • RES Automation Manager 2012;
  • Use the latest Citrix Licensing server.

I’ve split the automated process in to two distinct parts; creating the PVS database and installing PVS to make it easier to digest. If you’re lazy or just want to crack on you can just download the building blocks and get going! Note: you will need to update the resource references to the PVS 6.1 installation files.

Creating the PVS Database

Before you can automate the PVS installation we need to have a database in place for the PVS servers to connect to. Unfortunately for us there’s not an easy way to accomplish this as we need to generate an SQL script with our required database values. As we’re invoking the creation process from RES Automation Manager 2012 we can utilise parameters so we can prompt the administrator for these values at run time.

To create the SQL script we first need to install the Provisioning Services software on a clean Windows 2008 R2 server or if you have an install already you can obtain from here. Once installed we can run C:\Program Files\Citrix\Provisioning Services\DBscript.exe to launch the Provisioning Services Database Script Generator. Exciting stuff I know !!!


If we complete the details with placeholders (as above) for the database name and farm name, DBscript will create the required .SQL script with values that we can use within our RES Automation Manager jobs. Click OK and it will create the CreateProvisioningServerDatabase.sql file in the path specified, complete with embedded placeholders.

We can now import this file as a resource into the RES Automation Manager console. Note: remember to tick the ‘Parse Environment variable and parameters’ checkbox. If you forget to do this we’ll attempt to create a database with a name of $[PVSDB] which probably won’t work (not that I’ve checked!).

To create the required SQL database we can utilise the CreateProvisioningServerDatabase.sql file with the built in RES Automation Manager database connector task(s) or via SQLCMD on the local Microsoft SQL instance. As we’re cheap and can’t assume that you’re licensed for the relevant connector, we’ve utilised SQLCMD in the building blocks. For more details on this, download them and have a look.

After the database has been created we need add SQL permissions to the database (if using a network user for the SOAP and STREAM services). This is achieved with a couple of SQL statements (see the building blocks for more information). If we’re using an Windows service account to run these services, the user will be configured later during the install… And now the fun begins;

Installing and Configuring PVS

Now that the database is created we can move on to installing the software, configuring and adding servers to the farm. Installing the software is no problem however configuring and adding servers to the farm is a bit more involved. The method I used for configuring the servers was by utilising the configwizard.ans file which holds all the configuration items. By running the %PROGRAMFILES%\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.exe /s the answer file is in turn created here C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.ans.

Once we have the configwizard.ans file we can edit it and embed our RES Automation Manager 2012 parameters within it. If you’d like to know what options can be configured in the answer file, run configwizard.exe /c. The configuration wizard will write a C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.out file. Again, all this information is in our building blocks.

I used two different answer files one for the first server joining the farm and the other for all subsequent servers. Below is an example of the first server configwizard.ans file:

DatabaseInstance= FarmExisting=$[PVSFARM]
BootstrapFile=C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\Tftpboot\ARDBP32.BIN

Once the answer file/files have been created and modified, import them into the RES Automation Manager resources. Note: remember to select the ‘Parse Environment variable and parameters’ checkbox!

Finally to automate the actual PVS install, we need to make sure we download these resources to the C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\ directory on the target server. Then we kick off the configuration wizard which will apply the configuration, by running configwizard.exe /a. Once complete the services should start automatically and when you start the PVS console and connect you should be presented with the new farm, well hopefully anyway !!

Problems Encountered

If you do have problems using the answer file and the install fails the best place to start troubleshooting is under C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\Log directory. If all goes wrong you will notice that there will be only one file here;  configwizard.log. And at the end of this file hopefully it should give you some meaningful reason as to the failure. If all works fine and the services start you should see around 8 Log files and have a big smile on your face :D.

I did have other issues whilst getting this to work. Here are a few notes in case they help:

  • No device License available when a new machine is booted using provisioning server you will see the error in the streamprocess log on the PVS server and also on the device a pop message will say “No device License currently available for this computer a system shutdown will be initiated in 96 hours. I found the resolution to this problem was to upgrade the license server to the latest build.
  • PVS Console install does not install via AM job – ensure that UAC is disabled and use a security context to run the job instead of the local System account.
  • After a server install I could not mount Vdisks on PVS server and might get an error similar to “Cannot mount Vdisk mapi error”. Looked at device manager and noticed that the Citrix virtual hard disk Enumerator driver was not installed correctly. To resolve this first remove the device and then go to %PROGRAMFILES%\Citrix\Provision Services\Drivers right hand click and install cfsdep2.inf and then go back to device manager and add legacy hardware and select “I have disk” and then point to same location and the file is cvhdbusp6.inf. It should then hopefully install this device without any issues. Or the Preferred option with RES AM create a module to download the following, CFSDep2.inf and CFSDep2.sys to C:\windows\system32\drivers before installing provisioning server and all should be okay.
  • When using a service account make sure that this user is given the required permissions i.e read/write on the PVS store directory on the PVS servers / db_datareader and db_datawriter on the database although the latter can be done if you select configure user for database.

Building blocks now updated as there was a problem with the Service Account password passing through to the answer file, this should be resolved. Have also added a module to remove the answer file as the password is in plain text.

Hope this helps, Enjoy ! Smile Simon