Advanced Sequencing Topics – Part 1

Sean Donahue has started a great new series of posts that you will be seeing! They are called "Advanced Sequencing". The posts aims to help gain greater understanding of the steps required to sequence products.


In response to a recent post on the Microsoft SoftGrid Forums at this Blog post has been submitted in order to lend some form of guidance to Sequencing scenarios that are beyond the “Standard Sequencing”.

The title of the post is a little ambiguous, “Advanced Sequencing”. The name implies that what we are doing here is more complex that a “Standard Sequence”. That is not really the case. What I mean by that is Sequencing through the Sequencer utility is still a 36 step process. What is really important for a topic like this is which of those steps needs to have an action taken that is a little different than the “Standard Sequence”.

In this series of posts we will address the following “Advanced Sequencing” topics:

· Sequence an application that hard codes its install to the C:\ drive

· Create a Virtual Environment for a web based application

· Perform an Open for Package Upgrade on an existing package

· Build scripts into an .OSD file

The first topic in this multi part series is performing what has been coined in the field as a “VFS of an Install”


VFS Installs

Some applications require that they be installed to the local C:\ drive as opposed to giving the installer the choice of destination paths. It is possible to successfully sequence these applications and stream them to a client to run from the client’s virtual drive (typically Q:\). This is accomplished by performing what is called a VFS of the install.

Microsoft does not recommend Sequencing to the C:\ drive for a number of reasons. First, depending on how the Sequencing is performed, it may introduce slight or significant Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization overhead. Also, the specific drive letter C:\ would be required to be present on the Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization client. While this may not seem like an unusual requirement there are environments that will not meet it. For example if drives were remapped in a Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization for Terminal Services environment.

What is important to keep in mind during the Sequencing of this type of application is that you are causing the entire application to be run from the Virtual File System, hence the phrase “VFS the install”. Now, to appreciate this we need to understand that during a “Standard Sequencing” files will always be copied into the VFS. However, in a “Standard Sequence” those files are generally the ones that are copied outside of the application’s own asset directory.

For example, if you are performing a “Standard Sequence” of the SeanDo application and during its install it places the bulk of its files in the Q:\SeanDo.v1\assets directory. However, it also places a handful of files in the C:\Windows\System32 directory. The Sequencer captures that and places those handful of files in the Q:\SeanDo.v1\VFS\CSIDL_SYSTEM directory. This is “standard”.

But, if we have an application that is installed into the C:\whatever_directory , during the monitor phase of Sequencing then the entire contents of that applications assets directory will need to be copied to the Q:\pakcroot\vfs directory.

During the installation phase of the Sequencer you will create a directory on the Q:\ drive for the application to use (following the recommended best practices). Let the application install as required to the C:\ drive. After “Stop Monitoring” is clicked you will be prompted for the primary directory that the application was installed to. Here you will select the Q:\ drive and the directory that you created during the installation phase. This will cause the entire application’s assets to be copied to the VFS of this directory.

The next phase of the Sequencing is the launch application phase. During this phase you will execute the application from the virtual drive and root directory that you had created during the installation phase. This will order the blocks of code into stream able units to be delivered to the client in Feature Block 1 or Feature Block 2.

One variation of a Step by Step :

The following 34 steps can be followed to help you perform the VFS of an Install. Even though I am listing out all of the steps it is important to understand that only a few of the steps are unique from the “Standard Sequence”. Also, some of the steps can vary based on preference.

1. Restore a clean image with the current Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization Sequencer software

2. Map any network drives to installation files, home directories, and / or any network share needed to run the application

3. Close all Windows Explorer or Command Prompt windows

4. Execute the Sequencer software and select File to New Package

5. When prompted if you would like some assistance select Yes

6. On the Welcome to the Package Configuration Wizard select Next

7. Provide a Suite Name and complete your Comments field with details about the package, the sequencer, base operating system, block size, and any other information you deem necessary

8. Enter the name of your Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization Server in the Hostname field replacing %SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER% and enter a subdirectory of the \content directory in the Path field where the SFT file will be placed. Select Next

9. Select the values for your supported client operating systems, Select Finish

10. On the Welcome to the Installation Wizard page select Next

11. Set your Sequencing Parameters such as Compression Algorithm and Block Size and select Next

12. Click on Begin Monitoring to put the Sequencer monitoring process into the background

13. Create a directory on the drive letter that will be utilized by the Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization client as it’s virtual drive (typically Q:\). This directory should follow 8.3 naming standards and be unique (e.g. Q:\AppName.v1)

o This could be done before the Sequencer is started or it could be performed after the Monitoring has been stopped.

14. Execute the setup program for the application to be Sequenced

15. During the installation of the application install the application to the C:\ drive and appropriate directory as required by the application

16. Perform any manual post installation configurations (e.g. ODBC connections, service packs, etc.)

17. Click Start to Run and enter the path to the applications executable on the C:\ drive

18. Click OK to run the application

o This step is being performed to Test and Configure the application during this phase. It needs to be performed from the C:\ drive since it does not exist on the Q:\ drive yet.

19. During the Installation phase of the Sequencing it is important to test and configure the application. It is recommended to execute the application multiple times during this phase

20. Exit the application and bring the Sequencer to the foreground

21. Click Stop Monitoring to complete the Installation phase

o Perform this only if everything has been installed, tested and configured for the suite.

22. When prompted to select the Primary Installation Directory of the application navigate to and select the directory you created on the Q:\ drive in step 13 (e.g. Q:\AppName.v1). This will copy the entire application’s assets to the Q:\ drive’s VFS

o This is the step that is important. Here you are essentially telling the Sequencer that you did install the application to this empty directory on Q:\ and that anything else that was placed on C:\ should be placed under this directory’s VFS. In this case it is the entire assets directory.

23. If you have another application to install or want to run the application again to configure a setting select Begin Monitoring, otherwise select Next

o Even though I stated you should do this in step 21 this allows you to “restart” the Monitor and essentially continue the monitoring phase.

24. On the “Add Files to the VFS” screen browse to and select any files that need to be manually added to the VFS.

25. Select Finish

26. On the Application Wizard Welcome Screen select Next

27. On the Select Shortcuts screen Select Edit and Browse to the location of the executable on the Q:\ drive (e.g. Q:\AppName.v1\VFS\...\app.exe)

28. Modify any of the entries on this screen and select next so that you move to the Launch Application screen

29. Select the Shortcut for the application executable on Q:\ and select Launch to execute the application from the VFS

30. While in the application perform your “top 10” actions to create the proper Feature Block 1. Once done, close the application. You should be returned to the Launch Shortcuts Window, Select Next

o If you choose to launch nothing, not a thing, then all of the blocks for the package will be placed in FB1 and there will essentially be no FB2

31. On the Sequence Package Window select Finish

32. Select File to Save

33. Name the file (e.g. AppName.sprj) and save it a folder on your desktop

34. If necessary modify the OSD file to reference the correct Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization server and proper working directory (e.g.<WORKINGDIR>C:\directory</WORKINGDIR>) and save it

Now if you look at the Q:\ drive on the Sequencer workstation you will see the packroot directory and inside of it you will see the VFS. Under the VFS structure you will find the assets folder that the application installed into the C:\ drive.

Like any other package you take the folder containing the .ICO, .OSD, .SFT and the .SPRJ and copy it to the \Content share and publish.

- Sean D

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