Citrix Community…

I’m pleased to announce the release of the VirtuAll User Environment Manager (VUEM), an environment management tool designed for virtual desktops that is also flexible enough to run on traditional desktops!

This free tool, developed by CTP, Pierre Marmignon was designed as a companion to User Profile Manager, a Citrix tool that provides an easy, reliable way to manage user personalization settings (i.e., user profiles) in Windows environments. User Profile Manager is a whiz at managing user profiles, but it does not replace login scripts. Using VUEM with User Profile Manager, you can avoid login scripts to manage your user profiles and, while you’re at it, you can manage your entire environment… everything on your desktop including your applications.

With VUEM, you can manage your desktops while:

  • Eliminating login scripts – With VUEM, you can replace all your login scripts with a centrally managed tool, allowing you to manage all actions the most complex script can do and more. VirtuAll User Environment Manager has been designed to provide a new flexible and efficient solution for virtual desktops environment composition. No more scripts to maintain, only a single console managing the user desktop!
  • Optimizing user experience — Includes two different agents: the Console Agent, a command line application designed to execute all actions silently and exit after tasks are done (like a standard logon script), and the UI Agent that will execute with a splash screen and stay in memory after tasks are done. The user will be able to call the UI Agent via a systray icon, and this interface will provide additional features and customizations.
  • Getting centralized management With an easy-to-use admin console, gathering all configuration settings, adding a new application shortcut on a specific virtual desktop is now a matter of seconds! All configuration settings are stored in a central Microsoft SQL Database (SQL Server 2000 to 2008 R2, Express Editions supported) ensuring great performance and reliability.
  • Improving visibility – VUEM is using a user based log file to trace all actions. To find applied settings at a glance administrators can also use Administration Console Modeling Wizard or user side Resultant Actions Viewer.
  • Deploying with ease – Agents are stateless so you do not have to specify any setting during setup. All you have to do is to deploy them silently and then activate them through Group Policies.

Background

This project started a year and a half ago by Pierre Marmignon, a Citrix Technology Professional and active community contributor, who is well known for the useful management tools he has built and freely provided for the benefit of the virtualization community and industry.

Pierre noticed that the community was missing a free baseline user environment manager, so he decided to build one using adapted freeware and scripting. His main goal was to eliminate the need for login scripts that can be difficult to maintain and evolve, and he has met this goal with the VUEM tool that he has publicly released today!

Architecture

VUEM relies on a typical client/server database architecture, where:

  • VUEM Administration Console & Agents are written in Net Framework 4 (C#).
  • All Agent actions are written using unmanaged API calls, meaning the Agent is calling the Windows API directly to perform process actions. This functionality ensures the fastest possible performances when managing user environments.
  • SQL Server Database (2000 to 2008 R2, including Express) ensures that are all configuration settings are retained in a secure database platform. SQL Server (Express) 2005 and later, and SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 SP2 (Agent Service) are recommended.(Note: To ensure consistency and performances, Offline mode local host cache is running Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5.)
  • The VUEM Database model has been designed for efficiency and has been validated on environments containing up to 10,000 concurrent users.

User Licenses

There are two user license editions that work with unlock codes, one for the community called a Community License and one for each subscriber a support contract, called a Subscriber License. A Community License is a free version with no support contract, and a Subscriber License is delivered with a Maintenance & Support Package that can be purchased via PayPal for an annual cost of approximately $9 USD per user.

Register for free on Virtualdesktops.info to view VUEM support contracts, access downloads, and participate in the support forums.

Note: These two editions currently have the same feature set; however, feature sets are subject to change.

Components

The VUEM package includes two different types of client-side agents:

Note: Both agents are provided with translation files including English, Spanish, French and German, and additional languages can be added if needed.

  • Console Agent is a command line application designed to execute all actions silently and exit after tasks are done (like a standard logon script):

  • UI Agent executes with a splash screen and stays in memory after tasks are done. It is then accessible through a systray icon. As shown below, just right-click on this systray icon to get a menu that includes options to Refresh Settings and Manage Printers (that allows the user to override the default printer selection).

The VUEM package also includes a management console that allows the admin to manage all settings centrally:

Functionality

VUEM is able to manage a variety of actions, such as:

  • Applications Shortcuts
  • Network Printers
  • Network Drives
  • Virtual Drives
  • Environment variables
  • Registry Values
  • Ports (COM/LPT) Mapping
  • Ini Files Entry
  • External Tasks Execution
  • File / Folder Operations
  • File Associations Management
  • User DSN Creation

These actions will then be applied on Active Directory Users or Groups using filters:

The System Utilities includes features that improve both your virtual desktop and physical desktop user experience, such as:

  • Fast Logoff (only for virtual desktops)
  • CPU Management
  • Memory Management
  • Processes Management

More Info & Downloads

Visit the VirtuAll User Environment Manager Product Page for more details. Then register on this site for free to view support contracts, download the VUEM tool and documentation, and participate in the VUEM support forums!

This UEM tool is a fantastic contribution to the community! I’ve tested it out and have verified that it is extremely useful & user friendly, and it’s now publicly available! I encourage you to try it out and submit your feedback via the VirtualDesktops.info Support Forums (Note: Register for free to access these forums).

Laura Whalen
Citrix Systems, Inc.
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