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Policy-driven Personality Migration

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Martin Buckley

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Posted: 7 Aug 2003

ZENworks Integration with Miramar Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition

NEW: Download PDF version

ZENworks for Desktops Personality Migration, provided by Miramar Systems Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition, is included in ZfD 4.0.1 and the ZENworks 6 suite. Miramar Systems provides ZENworks users with Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition to create the personality files; Novell provides ZfD to distribute Application objects to collect, store, and apply personality settings to associated workstations. Personality settings include such things as a user's desktop shortcuts, taskbar, system tray, wallpaper, and display settings, as well as applications, files, folders, and network settings. Whether you are migrating to Windows 2000 or XP, replacing or refreshing old machines, or building a desktop recovery process, Personality Migration helps your organization increase IT staff productivity, reduce user downtime, and save money.

Deployment and Migration overview

The entire Desktop OS deployment and personality migration consists of several distinct stages.

This document captures the requirements to integrate ZENworks with Miramar's Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition.

Server Preparation

There are three distinct server-based processes which are involved in the ZENworks/Desktop DNA personality migration process. These can be placed on multiple servers or on a single server; this would be wholly dependant on many factors such as the customers LAN/WAN environment, the scale of the migration as well as the ongoing requirements for lifecycle management.

This document makes no assumptions about the above scenarios; the three processes being mutually independent.

These processes are:

  • ZENworks infrastructure
    • application management
    • eDirectory requirements
    • out-of-scope requirements for inventory, reporting and imaging
  • Desktop DNA code and migration policy store
  • Desktop DNA personality storage

ZENworks Infrastructure

A functioning ZENworks for Desktops environment is a pre-requisite for this personality migration integration. The application objects described are built with ZENworks for Desktops 2 - and function with ZENworks for Desktops 2, 3.0, 3.2, 4 and 4.0.1. This allows customers to migrate their legacy workstations to newer workstations while continuing to provide management across both environments.

Desktop DNA code store

Desktop DNA Template store

There are similar requirements for NetWare and Windows 2000 environments.

  • NetWare

    Create a DDNA directory; space required around 60MB. Users should be given Read and File Scan rights to this directory. Migration Administrators should also be given Write rights. It is recommended that the SYS volume is not used to house this directory.

  • Windows

    Create a DDNA directory; share this as DDNA; again the space required is around 60MB. Users should be given basic Read permissions to this share. Migration Administrators should be given Full Control permissions to this share.

  • Templates

    Create a Templates directory within the DDNA directory. This will be used as the storage point for customer migration policies - i.e. Desktop DNA Templates. Rights/permissions should be inherited from the parent directory.

  • Desktop DNA code

    Copy the contents of the DDNARUN directory from the Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition product CD to the DDNA directory.

It is recommended that Rights/Permissions to the DDNA directory and Templates subdirectory are controlled using groups. Such a group could also be used as a trigger for the migration pack process.

Desktop DNA Personality Storage

A typical personality can be around 10-15MB in size (assuming storage of Microsoft Office settings, templates etc) and can grow to in excess of 500MB if user data is consolidated and relocated.

It is recommended that the size and content of Desktop DNA personalities is monitored and the templates adjusted as required.

Personalities can be stored anywhere - including the user home directory or Novell iFolder. This document discusses using a dedicated storage server for personality storage. Future integration solutions will include integration with NetWare and Windows user home directories and also Novell iFolder.

  • NetWare

    Create a DDNADATA directory; give users Read, File Scan and Write rights to this directory. Again rights can be given by virtue of group membership. A typical corporate personality store should start with a minimum of around 15GB storage for personalities. As mentioned - the personality size should be monitored closely.

  • Windows

    Create a DDNADATA directory; share this as DDNADATA. Grant users Read and Write permissions to this share. It is recommended that group membership is used to control access to this share.

ZENworks Integration

The ZENworks integration is quite simple - a pack and unpack process delivered as ZENworks application objects. In addition ZENworks application objects are also used to deliver the Desktop DNA pre-requisites.

Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition Pre-requisites - Microsoft XML Parser and IE 4.01 or higher

Desktop DNA requires Microsoft XML parser 3 to be installed to the workstation in order to function. This is an integral part of Windows XP professional and systems with Internet Explorer 6 installed. Other configurations will need the Microsoft XML parser components installing.

Microsoft XML Parser 3 dlls:

  • msxml3.dll
  • msxml3a.dll
  • msxml3r.dll

The msxml3.dll needs to be registered; regsvr32 msxml3.dll

There are several methods for delivering the required dlls. Included with this integration are the redistributable MSI package MSXML3.MSI as well as the monolithic installation. Installation requires that the user have administrative rights on NT class workstations - unless ZENworks is used for delivery (requires NAL NT Service)

ZENworks is the preferred method of delivery - the most appropriate method depends on the ZENworks version and also the target workstation.

ZENworks for Desktops 2

  • Windows 95/98 - delivery of dlls and registration via NAL
  • Windows NT/2000 - delivery of dlls, registration via registry snapshot

ZENworks for Desktops 3 and later

  • Windows 95/98/NT/2000 - delivery of MSI installation package; this installs dlls and registers.

If the Microsoft XML Parser has not been installed correctly - either the files are not present or the msxml3.dll has not been registered. A typical symptom is:

Desktop DNA Pack and Unpack Applications

Sample, working application object templates (AXT) are included; these utilize macros to be portable for all customer environments - NetWare or Windows server based, and supporting ZENworks for Desktops 2 and later.

The basic process involves calling the DesktopDNA.exe binary from the DDNA directory with the appropriate parameters for the environment and template. The same base application object is used for both pack and unpack processes; the unpack application includes additional notification for the user.

The following descriptions may be best understood by creating ZENworks applications using the two application templates.

This calls the DesktopDNA.exe binary from the DDNA source with the correct parameters for pack. The location and name of the personality are defined by macro; the template is defined by macro. The verbosity of the pack process is also controlled from the application object.

In a production environment this application would likely be made to Run Once; and possibly to Force Run. This would be determined by the migration administrator. The pack process uses the current user's credentials - there is no requirement to run this as a secure system impersonation.

The current macros for the pack and unpack process are defined here. These are further detailed in the appendix.

It is worth noting that the DDNA_SOURCE and DDNA_DATA locations are specified using UNC or mapped drive. The personality pack and unpack process as part of this integration require access to the network; access will be using the Novell Client32 or the Microsoft CIFS client. This process does not support the ZENworks for Desktops Middle Tier.

The unpack application could also include a confirmation for the user or administrator that the personality is to be unpacked. To show this message ensure the Prompt before Distribution setting is enabled.

The ZENworks application also ensures that non-legacy workstations are not targeted for the personality pack process, and subsequently only relevant workstations are used to unpack. Here the pack application has a dependency saying it runs on Windows 9x, NT 4 workstation and Windows 2000 professional machines. The unpack application requires Windows XP professional.

The final part of the personality migration integration is triggering the pack and unpack processes.

It is envisioned that in a production deployment the pack process would be triggered some time prior to the SOE deployment - during the preceding week - and the unpack immediately after the SOE upgrade.

This first integration uses group membership to control this process; along with Run Once applications to ensure the pack and unpack do not repeat. A future enhancement is to integrate this more closely with the imaging lifecycle.

This first integration shows a user a personality pack icon before upgrade:

Post-upgrade the unpack application is shown.

Defining Desktop DNA Templates using Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition

Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition is able to create templates for use across the enterprise - giving the administrator the ability to drive the migration process centrally.

Note: Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition scans the local machine during the creation of the Template to determine the applications that should be migrated. It is strongly recommended that a 'golden machine' be created with all applications for the settings that should be migrated - e.g. a Windows 2000 workstation with all corporate applications and line-of-business applications installed. It does not matter which versions of applications are detected.

Desktop DNA's Migration Management Toolkit is an additional product offering which extends the capabilities of Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition -

One of the sample application object templates creates a Desktop DNA Wizard application - this launches the DesktopDNA executable with a limited set of configuration tabs shown.

Select 'Create' - this starts the Template creation process.

Previously created Templates can be modified if required:

Work through the settings:

Select Current User to migrate the personality of the user who is logged in when the migration process runs.

Multiple Users allows machines with multiple personalities to be migrated; this requires administrative rights on the workstation and is not covered as part of this ZENworks integration.

Next select the workstation and OS settings that should be collected and migrated:

Next select the applications and settings that are to be migrated. Again note that this list of applications is read from the local workstation. This process should be run on a 'golden workstation' with all corporate applications installed.

The final stage is selecting which documents and files will be collected as part of the migration process.

Filters can be applied to this rule:

Once this is complete select File, Save Template

Save the Template to your DDNA\Templates directory

The template name should be specified in the pack and unpack application objects. The template can be amended to include destination information for the migrated items when performing a real-time migration or when applying a DNA file migration. During this process, the destination tab will give you the option to redirect files, folders, filters and drives to new locations. You will need to resave the template after this step. This new template can be used for either the pack or unpack application objects

In action

The pack process:

The unpack process - after SOE upgrade:

Desktop DNA Migration Management Toolkit

Desktop DNA Migration Management Toolkit for ZENworks includes DNA Template Editor, DNA Director, DNA File Explorer (included with Desktop DNA ZENworks Edition) and DNA Studio. The Toolkit can dramatically reduce the overhead and downtime required for large-scale migrations by offering more granular control of the personality migration process.

It is recommended that the following components of the Desktop DNA product family are installed - DNA Template Editor, DNA Studio and Desktop DNA File Explorer.

It is recommended that the application scripts are updated from the Miramar website ( after the installation.

The management console is a Windows workstation; typically one used by the OS deployment and migration administrator. It is recommended that ConsoleOne is also installed to allow management and creation of ZENworks applications.

Creation of Desktop DNA Template - Collection Policy Definition

Each customer will have specific requirements for their migration. It is envisaged that these requirements will be defined by Novell consulting or a Novell partner. It is outside the scope of this document to define the various implications and parameters for each migration. The main factors which will drive the complexity and ultimately the size and scope of the personality migration are whether the legacy environment is well managed, does the customer have an existing Standard Operating Environment, how many laptops and remote users are part of the migration project, how much data is stored locally on workstations as opposed to network storage.

The following is a swift overview of the Template definition process; giving a base for testing and demonstration.

Desktop DNA Templates can be thought of as policies defining the collection of data from the legacy workstation. An additional role of the Template is in defining which application and OS setting are collected; hence influencing the subsequent transformation policies for the new SOE.

Desktop DNA Templates are most effectively created and edited using the DNA Template Editor. The Desktop DNA Template Editor is installed to the migration administrators Windows workstation. Templates are saved to the DDNA\Templates directory on the Desktop DNA code server.

The main components for modification in the ZENworks integrated environment are the Settings and Options of the Template. These control what is collected and various options for saving and compressing the personality.

As a sample save the current users personality and add some system settings such as ODBC configuration, Desktop Settings, Networking and Printing.

Next select various typical applications to be migrated. Note that additional application settings are available for download from Miramar. Non-standard applications can also be migrated using a 'muscle' migration. This is outside the scope of this document.

It is also possible to migrate and relocate documents and files - into the users home directory or iFolder. This can also be managed using a set of wildcards and filters.

Next configure the Options.

Typical selections include No Compression and disabling user intervention. It may also be useful to include logging of the status of the pack and transfer process.

Next, enter some administrative notes for the migration.

Finally, save the Template in the DDNA\Template directory.


Application Macro settings:

Application Macro




A Apply = unpack

D Dump = pack

A in unpack application
D in pack application


Location of DDNADATA directory

Can be UNC or drive mapping



/Q Suppress all client messages, silent pack and unpack
No value to show progress and cancel



Location of DDNA directory and hence Templates subdirectory.
Can be UNC or drive mapping



Name of Desktop DNA Template to apply to this pack/unpack process.
Template defines collection policy for pack and transformation policy for unpack.
Do not add the template extension.



Defines the personal directory structure for the personality to be stored in.
It is recommended that this is always the eDirectory common name. This will ensure that each users personality can be recovered successfully.



Names the personality itself.
This is provided to allow users with multiple workstations to store multiple personalities.
Such an event would normally be discovered during the consulting engagement. Multiple workstation personalities require a little work to restore successfully -- this could be made a prompted macro for restore in such a case.
The default is ZEN_DDNA -- every user personality is named ZEN_DDNA in their personal directory. To take individual workstation personalities -- which are named after the workstation - use %COMPUTERNAME%. To name the personality after the user use %CN%.

The default setting is recommended for this initial implementation.



Showing policy enablement

Pack process:

Unpack process:

AXT Files

Here are the long-awaited axt files that go along with this article.


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