I work at large community college, and have been put in charge of finding a method of creating and deploying software packages to replace our current method of imaging. Currently, we use Ghost Solution to create individual images for every computer pod and classroom. Last we counted, this was around 180 different images. The cause of this high number is the result the need for each image to be customized with different software due to license limitations and faculty requests. Since we are in a lab environment, we also use Faronics Deepfreeze to maintain OS/software stability in labs and classrooms. With Deepfreeze, computers are left in a "frozen" state where upon reboot their hardrive is completely reset back to its original configuration. We are also in an AD environment newly migrated from Novell, and heavily rely on customizing application settings, and copying the "test" profile to the Default User profile. We will be using LANDesk Management Suite to deploy software. We have around 20 different campuses to administrate, and a team of 4-6 people cover the entire campus's imaging needs. The kicker is that this has to be done twice a year for each new semester!

LANDesk comes with an old package buider that is very similar to the old AI builder of Ghost (I am not sure if they have updated their software packaging software with Solution 11.5; we are licensed for this). With this builder, I have heard of smaller colleges that manage a single NTUSER.DAT file that is saved on a network share somewhere, and is used to collect every registry setting for every image and every software package. That creates a problem for us because we have so many people bulding packages and images (3 - 4 at least). We also have such a diverse network topology that it is nearly impossible for us to use a roaming profile for our Default User profile. For this reason, I would prefer a package builder that can build packages that will handle the Default User profile independently of anything else (e.g. We don't have want have to manage a single NTUSER.DAT file or Default User profile for the entire college).

I need to find a software building/packaging tool that is easy to use, and has good capabilities of handing profiles (particularly the Default User profile. (The Default User profile is copied to every user's profile as they log into our AD environment). Is Wise a good option, or should I also look at a few other free trials out there? Any advice would be much appreciated for specific needs that are encountered in a large lab/classroom environment.

Thanks in advance,
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Maybe Im reading your post wrong, you want a packaging tool to create PC images ?

Sounds like you should be looking more at Citrix, VMWare, or Thin Clients.
Answered 07/13/2008 by: reds4eva
Second Degree Blue Belt

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windows installer supports self healing which can be leveraged to handle your HKCU profile related issues.

As such you don't need to manage NTUser.dat files at all you just need to create packages which leverage the self healing capabilities to manage your profiles automatically.

For example installing AppA under ProfileA, logout and login as ProfileB run application (detect missing HKCU or profile related items) and activate self healing to repair the profile.

this way you only need to manage packages not so much profiles. as long as each package is capable of repairing its HKCU you can forget all about the profiles (sounds like this is a major task for you at present)

So my advice would be to pick a tool you like which can manipulate Windows Installer. Wise is my personal preference but Installshield offer a reasonable solution as well.

this post explains self healing and offers entry level advice into managing profiles.

Answered 07/13/2008 by: jmcfadyen
Fifth Degree Black Belt

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Thanks for the help. Can anyone point me to an example or documentation on how Wise can leverage the Windows Installer in such a way?

Answered 08/13/2008 by: danpixley
Senior Yellow Belt

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