Thursday, 27 October 2011

Application of the Month: Adobe Acrobat 5.05, Part 2

Here's the second part of Carl Bennett's assessment of Adobe Acrobat 5.05.

Multi-Line Registry Analysis

App-V does not have any capability for merging multi-line registry keys. Quite often, several packages need to add things to a list so that Windows can manage them, however the only capability offered by App-V is to replace them. This check (in combination with our conflict checking tests) will identify those keys that are supposed to be merged rather than replaced. You would have to use scripting to enable the merge to take place.

Oh dear, something terrible seems to have occurred here; these are not supposed to be multi-line keys at all. The old version of AdminStudio used to capture this installation has hit a bug that has not been noticed by the person making the package. Luckily, AOK is watching out for these unusual things and now the person using it has the opportunity to correct the problem.

Non Supported Drivers (Streamed)

The main reason why programs are labelled as unsuitable for running on virtualised platforms is when they include driver files that are not compatible. The description in the green box in the screenshot, which you get when you click on the ‘more info’ button in AOK, explains this in more detail.

This would normally be the reason why an application would be taken off the list of those that are about to be virtualised. However, the part of the software that uses the driver may not be a part that the end-user needs to use, so it is best to follow the test-plan and to liaise with the end-users. If it turns out that the driver is a critical component then it could be deployed with an MSI, leaving the rest of the application virtualised.

Windows 7 – Windows Resource Protection Scan

This checks to see if there are any files in the package that are also protected by Windows. You might think that protection is a good thing, so what’s the worst that could happen? Well, the worst-case scenario is actually quite bad. If a file that is protected manages to make it into a sequence then it will take precedence over the one in the regular system folder. That file may have security issue, but when the system is updated on Patch Tuesday it will only know about the regular one. The virtual version with the security issues will get loaded into memory the next time the program gets used. 

Here we have five files that are protected by Windows and located in the System folder, and two that are in the application’s folders. AOK is offering to fix the five that are likely to cause the problem discussed above by deleting the files, and as they are already present in Windows this should always be an improvement. The other two are less likely to get loaded into the memory, however you can delete them manually from the package if you desire.

Virtualisation – Citrix XenApp – hosted and MS RDS

This report group deals with the readiness of an application to run on Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services) and Citrix XenApp. These tests were developed in collaboration with Microsoft. 

This package has passed the majority of the tests and there are just two areas of note.

Global User Data Settings Detection

These checks test a variety of the most common incompatibility issues, caused by a program writing its settings or data to a common location. In a multi-user environment, multiple users of the software need to be able to use it at the same time without affecting each other’s work. Often, programs were not tested or designed to be run in such circumstances and so these tests look for the common tell-tales that would indicate a collision of settings. 

There are two kinds of results here, folder and registry. The first two are folder issues where there are folders in the package called Tmp and Temp. The software is using these directories to temporarily store data while it is performing some tasks. If multiple users were trying to store the different data at the same time in the same place then the software could easily get confused. Windows Folder Virtualisation on Server 2008 will alleviate the worst of these problems but, by letting you know, it will help to concentrate your testing in these areas.

The screenshot here doesn’t show the complete detail but the registry issues all relate to the errors in the original package revealed by the Multi-Line Registry Analysis tests.

Printer Driver Detection

In an RDS environment printer drivers are not something you would want to install onto the server. The client computer is the one that will be set up and configured with the printers that the user will connect to and use. For this purpose, RDS has a technology called Easy Print which allows printing to work from the client computer. This test spots printer drivers inside a package so that you can install them on the client if necessary.

For this application, knowing some of the background behind how the software works helps to explain these drivers. It installs a driver that allows you to print from any program and for the output to be saved as a PDF file. These driver files present themselves in exactly the same way as regular drivers so it is not possible for AOK to distinguish between them and the ones of concern. In this case, these errors can be safely ignored.

We will see in a later test that these files are not compatible with 64-bit Windows, so they may not actually be suitable for running on RDS.

That's it for this week - part 3 will be up soon, but in the meantime why not view the full assessment here?

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