Video Screencast Help

Chapter 5: Performing Virtual Software Layer Tasks

Created: 07 Jun 2007 • Updated: 12 Feb 2013
Language Translations
Admin's picture
0 0 Votes
Login to vote

Virtual Software Layers are created and managed using the Software Virtualization Solution Admin (SVS Admin) tool. For instructions on installing SVS Admin, see Getting Started with Virtual Software Layers and Archive Files.

This section describes how to perform the following Virtual Software Layer tasks:

For information on advanced layer tasks, see Advanced Virtual Software Layer Topics.

Creating Virtual Software Layers

You can create three different kinds of Virtual Software Layers:

Application layer All installed files, registry settings, and application settings will be captured and stored in the layer.
Data layer Data layer Data files are captured and stored in a dedicated data layer.
Empty layer An Empty layer is an application layer without an application installed into it. Nothing is initially captured but you can edit the layer manually. There is no functional difference between creating an application layer by capture versus creating an empty layer and then updating it by capturing an application install.

The following topics explain the following tasks:

  • Creating Virtual Application Layers
  • Creating and Using Virtual Data Layers
  • Creating and Using Empty Layers

You can create layers using SVS Admin or command-line parameters. For information about command-line parameters, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

Caution Layers must not have the following characters in the layer name: & < > " ' .

Creating Virtual Application Layers

To create a layer for an application, you will "capture" the installation of the application. All installed files, registry settings, and application settings will be captured and stored in the layer.

To create a Virtual Software Layer

  1. On the base computer, make sure you have access to the setup files for the application you will be creating a layer for.
  2. On the base computer, open the SVS Admin tool by clicking the SVS Admin icon on the desktop.
  3. Select File > Create New Layer.
  4. Choose Install application and click Next.
  5. Name the layer. Exercise: Firefox 1_0_7. The maximum name length is 64 characters.
    Caution Layers must not have the following characters in the layer name:
    & < > " ' .
  6. Click Next.
  7. Select the capture method.

    There are two methods of capturing an application:

    Single program capture Only the changes during the installation of a specified program will be captured. Using this method, you select an application setup file. The capture automatically begins when the setup is started and the capture is automatically ended when the setup is completed. During this capture, only changes made for the selected application will be captured. Any other activity on the computer will be ignored. This is the preferred method of creating virtual software layers.

    If an application is installed through a packaging tool, such as Wise or InstallShield, SVS tracks the initial package process as well as any client instances of msiexec.exe. All client instances of msiexec.exe and accompanying service instances are captured as long as they are running, whether or not the original packaged .EXE terminates. See To create a layer using Single Program Capture.

    Caution All processes that were started by the application (Example: a system tray application) must be exited before the capture process will complete.
    Global capture All changes made to the computer during the capture process will be saved into the layer. This option is useful in capturing default application settings, shortcuts, or application updates after an installation is complete. You can also combine multiple applications into a single layer. See To create a layer using Global Capture.

To create a layer using Single Program Capture

  1. Choose Single program capture.
  2. Click Browse.
  3. Navigate to the setup file. Example: Firefox Setup 1.0.7.exe.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Click Finish.
  6. The animated capture icon (yellow lightning) appears in the system tray. The icon is animated (top to bottom) signifying that you are capturing.
  7. Follow any dialogs to install the application.
  8. When the application is complete, the capture is automatically ended and the layer is listed in SVS Admin.

To create a layer using Global Capture

  1. Select the Global capture method.
  2. Click Next.
  3. Click Finish.

    The animated capture icon (yellow lightning) appears in the system tray. The icon is animated (top to bottom) signifying that you are capturing.

  4. Install the application. Example: Run Firefox Setup 1.0.7.exe.
  5. (Optional) After the installation is complete, open the application and set any application preferences that you want to be default for your users. For example, you can set a default home page or custom security settings.
  6. After you have configured the application, exit the application.
  7. Right-click the capture icon in the system tray and choose Stop Capture.
  8. The layer is now listed in SVS Admin.

Testing Layers

After you have created a layer, you can test it to make sure it functions properly. To test a layer, you can manually activate and use the layer on a computer. For more information, see Testing, Activating, and Deactivating Layers.

Creating and Using Virtual Data Layers

Not only can you create virtual applications, but you can create virtual data layers. Using data layers, you can capture data files and redirect them to a layer rather than having them written to an application layer or the core file system. You can use one or more data layers for each user.

  • Uses for Data Layers
  • How Data Layers Work
  • Creating Data Layers

Uses for Data Layers

Data layers can be useful in the following ways:

Storing data from virtual applications

Data layers can be useful in managing data generated from virtual applications.

Any data generated by a virtual application will, by default, be saved within the Writeable sublayer of that application layer. This data will be lost if the layer is reset. By using a data layer, the data is stored separately and will not be deleted due to a layer reset. For general information about managing data with SVS, see Managing Data Within Layers.

Providing a single, portable data store

Data layers can also be useful for having a single source of user data files that can easily be exported to a VSA and moved or copied to a different computer. Example: You could create a data layer to store a company's product catalog and price list that is updated monthly. Each month, this layer could be exported to a VSA and distributed to the sales force to ensure they have the current files. The layer could then be deleted at the end of each month to ensure that obsolete data is not circulated or available.

How Data Layers Work

Using data layers, you can capture all files of a certain file extension and/or all files saved to a specified directory.

Using file extensions

You can create a data layer that will capture all files with a specified extension.

Example: You have a layer for Microsoft Office. You can create a data layer and configure that layer to capture all .DOC and .XLS file types. When a user saves a file from the Office layer, all .DOC and .XLS files are stored into the data layer rather than the Office layer. Those files are then protected if the Office layer is ever reset.

Files with the specified extension will be captured even if they are generated outside a layer.

Using directories

You can also create a data layer for a specific directory. You can select whether or not to include sub-directories. Example: You can create a data layer that captures all files written to the My Documents folder. Any file saved to My Documents or one of it's subfolders would be redirected to the data layer.

New and existing files

When you create or deploy a data layer, there will usually be existing data files on the computer with either the specified file extension or in the specified paths. Those files are not automatically captured into the layer. Instead, as soon as the files are modified, they are then redirected to the layer and removed from the core file system.

Creating Data Layers

To create a data layer

  1. On the base computer, open the SVS Admin tool.
  2. Select File > Create Layer.
  3. Click Data Layer and click Next.
  4. Name the layer.
  5. Select the capture method, file extension, or directory.
    Note

    When creating a data layer, you can configure either file extensions or a directory. To use both, you must edit the layer after it is created. For information, see Viewing and Editing Layer Properties.

    • To specify file extensions, do the following:
      1. Select File extension(s).
      2. Enter the file extensions. Multiple extensions can be used by separating them with a semi-colon.
        Example: doc;xls

        Do not include the wildcard asterisk, as it will be interpreted as part of the file extension.

        Example: do not use *.doc;*.xls
    • To specify a directory, do the following:
      1. Select Directory.
      2. Click Browse and select the directory.

        By default, sub-directories will also be included. To not include subdirectories, clear the Include subdirectories checkbox.

  6. Click Next.
  7. Click Finish.

    The layer appears in SVS Admin.

  8. To activate the layer, right-click it and click Activate Layer.

Creating and Using Empty Layers

An empty layer has nothing captured into it. You can manually edit the empty layer later. One useful purpose is creating an application layer for a program that does not have an installer. You would create the empty layer and then use the Advanced Layer Editor to add the files that are needed for the application.

To create an empty layer

  1. On the base computer, open the SVS Admin tool by clicking the SVS Admin icon on the desktop.
  2. Select File > Create Layer.
  3. Choose Empty Layer and click Next.
  4. Name the layer and click Next.
  5. Click Finish.

For information on manually adding files to layers, see Viewing and Editing Layer Properties.

Activating and Deactivating Layers

When a layer is created, it is activated by default. When a layer is activated, that means that all the contents of the layer are visible. When a layer is deactivated, the contents of the layer are hidden.

Activating and deactivating layers can be performed remotely or locally. Example: If you are using Software Virtualization Solution in a Notification Server or Deployment Solution environment, a helpdesk worker can remotely send a command to activate/ deactivate an application. If a computer is not connected to the network, a user can manually activate/deactivate the layer.

For information about remotely activating and deactivating layers, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

For information about manually activating and deactivating layers, see Testing, Activating, and Deactivating Layers.

Quick Link

  • Deactivating Layers with Services Running

Deactivating Layers with Services Running

You cannot deactivate a layer while a process is running from that layer. If you try to deactivate a layer with a process running, you will get a message stating that a process is running and asks you if you want to stop the service. If you click Yes, the service will be stopped and the layer will be deactivated.

The service PID (Process Identifier) is also displayed. You can use this PID to look up the process in Task Manager. To see PIDs in Task Manager, it will need to be configured to show the PID.

To see PIDs in Task Manager

  1. Open Windows Task Manager.
  2. Click the Processes tab.
  3. Select View > Select Columns.
  4. Select the PID (Process Identifier) checkbox.
  5. Click OK.

Resetting Layers

When a layer is created, the data captured is stored in a Read-only sublayer (see Layer Architecture on page 19). If a user makes any changes to the application/data, that data is stored in a Writeable sublayer. You can reset the layer, which deletes all the data added by the user (writeable data) and maintains the original read-only data.

Resetting the layer is useful if an application becomes damaged. You can reset the layer without having to uninstall/re-install the application. This is also useful in maintaining standard versions and configurations of applications across your network.

Another advantage to resetting a layer is that is does not damage other applications installed on the computer.

Using the Advanced Layer Editor, you can view files and settings that are contained in the Read-only and Writeable sublayers. For information, see Viewing and Editing Layer Properties.

Resets can be performed remotely or locally. Example: If you are using Software Virtualization Solution in a Notification Server or Deployment Solution environment, a helpdesk worker can remotely send a reset command to reset a damaged application. If a computer is not connected to the network, a user can manually reset the layer.

To manually reset a layer

  1. In SVS Admin, do one of the following:
    • Highlight a layer and click File.
    • Right-click a layer.
  2. Click Reset Layer.

For information about remotely resetting layers, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

 

Caution Any data generated by a virtual application will, by default, be saved within the Writeable sublayer of that application layer. This data will be lost if the application layer is reset. For general information about managing data with SVS, see Managing Data Within Layers.

Updating Layers

You can update layers by modifying the contents of an existing layer. When you update a layer, the capture mode is turned on, and any changes made on the computer are captured. For example, you could open an application and change default settings.

When you update a layer using capture mode, the changes are made to the Read-only sublayer making them permanent.

Example: You may have a layer for Mozilla Firefox and you may want to change some application preferences that you want to be default for your users.

You have the same capture options as when you created the layer—you can use either Global capture or Single program capture.

  • Updating Layers Using Single Program Capture

You can also use a command-line parameter to update a layer. For information, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

Note You cannot update a layer if any layers are active on the computer.

Updating Layers Using Single Program Capture

If you want to update a virtual application using Single program capture, there is currently not a way to select the application process directly because the executable is in the layer and the layer is not active.

Example: You may want to update a layer for Firefox by launching it using Single program capture, letting it perform its auto updates, then automatically ending capture. There is currently not a way to select the Firefox executable within an inactive layer. However, there is a work-around available listed below.

To update a layer using Single program capture

  1. On the base computer, open the SVS Admin tool by clicking the SVS Admin icon on the desktop.
  2. Select File > Update Existing Layer.
  3. Select the layer you want to update. Example: Firefox.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Select Single program capture.
  6. Browse to C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click Finish.

    This activates the layer and opens the command prompt window.

  9. In the DOS window, run the application file. Example: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe.
  10. Make the changes you want to make.
  11. After you have configured the application, exit the application.
  12. Exit the command prompt window.
  13. The capture process terminates.

Deleting Layers

You can delete an existing layer.

Deleting a layer deletes all data in the layer. Ensure that any files you want are moved out of the layer before deleting it.

To delete a layer

  1. In SVS Admin, right-click the layer and click Delete Layer.
  2. Confirm that you want to delete the layer.

You can also use a command-line parameter to delete a layer. For information, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

Exporting and Importing Layers

Layers can be exported to a Virtual Software Archive (VSA file) so that they can be shared. VSA files can be stored on a network share, e-mailed, or deployed to client computers on your network using Software Virtualization Solution or Deployment Solution.

You can manually import an existing VSA using SVS Admin so that you can edit, update, or use the layer as a stand-alone layer.

  • Exporting Layers to VSA Files
  • Importing VSA Files

Exporting Layers to VSA Files

To export a layer to an archive VSA file

  1. In SVS Admin, right-click the layer and click Deactivate Layer.
  2. Right-click the layer and choose Export Layer.
  3. Save the file. Example: C:\archives\AcrobatReader7.vsa.
  4. Click OK.

Importing VSA Files

You can import an existing VSA file to make the layer available through the SVS Agent.

Activating and deactivating layers can be performed remotely or locally. Example: If you are using Software Virtualization Solution in a Notification Server or Deployment Solution environment, a helpdesk worker can remotely send a command to import a VSA file. You can also manually activate/deactivate a layer.

For information about remotely importing layers, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

You can also manually import a VSA file using SVS Admin.

To manually import a VSA archive file

  1. In SVS Admin, select File > Import from Layer.
  2. Browse to the VSA file you want to import.
  3. Click Open.

    The layer appears in SVS Admin.

Starting a Layer Automatically

You can configure a layer to start (activate) automatically on system boot or not start automatically on system boot when the layer is deployed to a client computer.

Note Layers should be set to start automatically on client computers that do not have the SVS Admin console installed; otherwise users may not be able to access the data in the layers.

To set a layer to start automatically

  • In SVS Admin, do one of the following:
    • Highlight a layer and click File.
    • Right-click a layer.
  • Click Start Layer Automatically.

    If a checkmark appears next to the option, Start Layer Automatically is enabled.

You can also use a command-line parameter to set a layer to start automatically. For information, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

Viewing Layer Properties

You can view layer properties that will display useful information about the layer, such as the type of layer, the number of files in the layer, and the disk space used by the layer.

To view layer properties

  • In SVS Admin, right-click a layer and click Layer Properties.

Renaming a Layer

You can rename a layer, but only when it is deactivated.

To rename a layer

  1. In SVS Admin, select a layer to rename.
  2. If the later is activated, deactivate it by selecting File > Deactivate Layer.
  3. Select the layer and select Edit > Rename.
  4. Type the new name for the layer.

    The maximum name length is 64 characters and any characters can be used.

You can also use a command-line parameter to rename a layer. For information, see Using SVSCMD Command-Line Parameters.

Chapter 4: Getting Started with Virtual Software Layers and Archive Files

Chapter 6: Advanced Virtual Software Layer Topics