We have had a great discussion going about user-installed applications and the need/risks associated with this type of solution. One of the comments I received in favor of allowing users to install applications was around Firefox. For those of you who don’t use Firefox, there are thousands of add-ons a user can install to customize their browser experience. I personally have about five different add-ons configured with my Firefox implementation.

Now I’ve been advocating the need for IT to have a process in place that can handle the expansion of the application pool for the users as needed by:

  1. Taking user requests for new applications/tools
  2. Validating the need
  3. Delivering in a timely manner

This is all well and good until we get to the topic of these add-ons. I don’t expect any IT organization to have a requirement to support the add-ons. There are thousands of them. Think about it, do you really expect your IT to be spending time messing with these add-ons? And what would it look like for the user? A Firefox application with thousands of add-ons? CRAZY (I do wonder at what point that app would crash. Maybe need a MythBuster episode on it)

All of the sudden, I had a very enlightening experience. I just got my new XenDesktop 4 environment built. I went in an started to personalize my environment, including my 5 Firefox add-ons (remember I’m using pooled desktops from a single base image with roaming profiles). The next day, when I logged onto my virtual desktop, my Firefox starts up and BAM all of my add-ons are still there?!?!

I did some investigation into this. Well, this is an example of an intelligent application design. The add-ons are located within the user’s profile (the roaming portion). User’s are able to customize the Firefox application without any special tools/utilities. The discussion about Firefox and the add-ons is now a non-issue as the application manages this for us.

So, 1 application down, only 999,999 to go   The point is you need to test before deciding if something will or will not work.

Daniel – Lead Architect – Worldwide Consulting Solutions