User Experience Virtualization: Part 2: UE-V Generator and Rollback

With the UE-V Generator, you can configure third party applications to roam their settings. With PowerShell, we can directly manage and revert applications to the previous state.

Joseph MoodyMVP By Joseph Moody - Wed, January 9, 2013 - 0 comments google+ icon

Joseph Moody is an admin for a public school and helps manage 5,500 PCs. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Software Packaging, Distribution, and Servicing. He blogs at DeployHappiness.com.

Contents of this article
  1. UE-V Generator
  2. Application Rollback

UE-V’s power is in its simplicity. Right out of the box, UE-V will extract and roam user settings for Windows (such as the desktop background), Internet Explorer, a few built-in applications, and Microsoft Office 2010. But if I had to bet, your organization uses a lot more than just those few pieces of software.

Before creating your own application settings location templates, check out Microsoft’s Gallery. Common application templates, such as one for Adobe Acrobat or Mozilla Firefox, can be found here.

UE-V Generator

If your application isn’t listed, you will need to create a custom template using the UE-V Generator. As a recommendation, treat the UE-V template creation machine the same way you would treat an application packaging or virtualization machine. For a list of best practices, see this TechNet article. Once your reference virtual machine is setup, you will need to install the UE-V Generator.

UE-V Generator installation wizard

UE-V Generator installation wizard

Continue through the installation wizard. As a recommendation in the installation process, enable automatic updates for the UE-V Generator and join the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Surprisingly, in my test lab, the installation took much longer than expected.

The UE-V Generator, finally installed

The UE-V Generator, finally installed!

Once installation has completed, take a snapshot before proceeding. If your application is not installed, go ahead and install it. As an example, we will create a template for Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC) in order to roam Navigation Nodes.

Creating the Template

By using the UE-V Generator, template creating is a snap! Once the Generator has been launched, select Create a Settings Location Template. Specify the path to your application. Optionally, you can specify the starting location and any command line arguments needed.

Create UE-V template

To create a blank template, clear the Run checkbox.

Once we hit next, ADAC will automatically launch. While it launches, the Generator will monitor read and write locations that ADAC uses.

UE-V Genertor discover locations

The UE-V Generator is still monitoring application data locations.

After ADAC is completely launched and the wizard search is finished, close the application. You will then need to review the locations that the wizard discovered and save your template.

Create a Settings Locations Template Wizard

When naming, be as specific as possible for that application.

Testing the Template

Before rolling out the newly created template across your organization, you will want to ensure that it properly roams your desired data (and will not roam extra or potentially dirty data). Launch PowerShell and import the UEV module.

Navigate to your newly created template and register it with the Register-UevTemplate command.

Get-UevTemplate will show all registered templates for all users.

To filter the Get-UevTemplate output, you can simply add the template name to the end of the command.

The ADAC template is ready to test

The ADAC template is ready to test

Before continuing, let’s take a look at our SettingsPackages folder within our Home Directory and notice the lack of an ADAC folder.

SettingsPackages

SettingsPackages folder

To test our template, we will launch ADAC on our client machine and configure a Custom Navigation Node. Then we will close ADAC.

Quick link

We added a quick link to our Domain Controllers OU.

Once closed, take another look at our Home Directory. It saved ADAC data!

Our Home Directory with a DSAC folder.

Our Home Directory with a DSAC folder.

To ensure that UE-V will actually roam our navigation node, either delete your local profile (and then log back in) or register the template on another computer. I registered the template on another computer, launched ADAC, and sure enough – our navigation node was there! Now we can have a fully customized Administrative Center console and have it follow you on all of your machines!!

Distributing the Template

At 3:30 AM, every day, the UE-V Agent will check for new Settings Location Templates and will register them for all users. This is accomplished through a scheduled task. To take advantage of this, you will need a network location to store the templates. The recommended setup can be found here. Because Domain Computers will need read permissions, you can most likely create a sub-folder on a software distribution server.

Template Auto Update Properties

As a note, any template removed from the share will automatically be unregistered

How does the UE-V client know which share to monitor? Well, that’s up to you. You can configure the client through WMI, PowerShell, command line (during installation), and with Group Policy! I would personally choose Group Policy for transparency and ease of access.

To configure a Custom Settings Template Location share, enable the Setting Template Catalog Path option within your UE-V Configuration GPO. Then specify your share path.

Settings Template Catalog Path

If you do not have the UE-V ADMX settings, you can get them here.

Application Rollback

When an application’s user data is synced by UE-V, you can instantly roll that application back to a default state. I, for one, cannot count the number of times I have wiped a computer or profile because a user messed up an application. This UE-V feature is sure to save a significant amount of time!

The easiest way to rollback an application is to launch PowerShell as the troublesome user. As an example, we are going to wipe away our ADAC data. To do so, type:

If you know the template name or application name, you can add a –template or –application option.

Once we launch ADAC, our Navigation Node (plus any other ADAC settings) are gone!

ADAC is back to a pristine state

ADAC is back to a pristine state

If you do create a Settings Location Template, be sure to upload it to the UE-V Gallery! If you wish to use the ADAC sample template in your environment, it can be downloaded here.

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