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Using snAppShot Correctly

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip

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Posted: 13 Feb 2004

General Tips

  • Don't snAppShot MSI applications (like MS Office 2000 & XP), distribute MSI applications through NAL instead (using a MST answer file).

  • Don't use it for Internet Explorer (IE), use the IE Administration Kit (IEAK) instead - Available from Microsoft.

  • Don't snAppShot Operating System Upgrades (like upgrading a Windows 2000 Professional workstation to XP Professional).

  • Don't snAppShot Operating System patches, support packs, or hot fixes. Microsoft provides documentation on how to do silent installs for Network Administrators.

  • Some applications (those tied to hardware or complex licensing/activation) will work better with silent installs or unattended answer files (not snAppShot). See application vendor for details on distributing those applications silently without user intervention. Some examples of applications tied to specific hardware would be the Novell Client, which uses the ACU mechanism for automatic upgrades, or VPN Clients. An example of complex licensing/activation would be the activation process for Windows XP Professional.

Program Operations

  • Only scans HKLM and HKCU (doesn't capture HKDU, HKCR, HKU, HKCC).

  • /slow option will work better on double-byte Operating Systems (language specific option, like for Japanese).

  • /u: filename.ini to automatically use pre-defined snAppShot settings (called as an option to the snAppShot executable).

  • Use the custom snAppShot option, and change copy mechanism to "copy if newer version" (this is probably better logic than the default choice).

  • The .AXT text file created during the snAppShot process doesn't include the application icon (the .AXT file is a simple text file, no binary information).

  • snAppShot doesn't require the Novell Client or ZENworks Desktop Management Agent for proper operation (it is a standalone Novell application).

  • snAppShot won't capture changes to very large registry files (HKCU and HKLM). Make sure the snAppShot is taken on a clean machine with minimal size of registry files.

Getting a Clean snAppShot

  • Turn off hibernation, power management, and screen saver.

  • Turn off system restore (XP and 2003 Server only) - located in the System Properties (Properties on My Computer).

  • Turn off Windows Time Synchronization process (in the clock settings and in the Administrative Tools | Services) (XP and Server 2003 only).

  • Disable the Operating System from doing routine updates while running the snAppShot. For example, don't let the OS check for any updates/patches, and disable any Anti-Virus program (if present) from checking for updates.

  • Turn off personalized Start Menus (HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced -- Value "IntelliMenus" of type REG_DWORD (DWord Value), data of "0").

  • Turn off personalized Favorites Menu in Internet Explorer (if IE will be opened by the application, like for a readme) - (HCKU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main -- Value "FavIntelliMenus" of type REG_SZ (String Value), data of "No").

  • Turn off Performance Logs and Alerts (Administrative Tools -> Performance -> Performance Logs and Alerts -> Counter Logs).

  • Clear any SSL certificates in Internet Explorer, this is done in Internet Options | Content | Clear SSL State. This will make sure to capture any SSL Certificates that may be installed). (XP and Server 2003 only).

  • Do not do a snAppShot on a NT Domain Controller, 2000, or 2003 Server AD Domain Controller. The Domain database is constantly changing/updating and shouldn't be captured in a snAppShot.

  • If doing the snAppShot on a 2000 Professional or XP Professional workstation, make sure to add two additional files to the file exclusion list (using the custom option). The two files are USRCLASS.DAT and USRCLASS.DAT.LOG, these are two new registry files that were introduced with Windows 2000/XP. See TID "Error: "File copy error on USRCLASS.DAT" when doing a snAppShot".

  • Copy the snAppShot executable files from your ZfD server to a local directory (like C:\snapshot), and then add that directory to the directory scan exclusion list. Then the network will not have to be accessed to run snAppShot.

  • Configure snAppShot to put the resulting AOT/AXT files in a directory you will exclude from the scan (like C:\snapshot).

  • Use a fixed IP address (not a DHCP assigned address), or temporarily disable the NIC altogether.

  • Login locally (so as not to capture network connection information).

  • Disable NAL and workstation manager on the workstation (you don't want to track any application distributions or policies coming down) - Preferably just the Novell Client (if used/required for base image), with no ZEN components at all.

  • Make sure that the application hasn't been installed on the clean workstation previously (unless you are trying to snAppShot an application upgrade or setting change).

  • Install the application on a freshly imaged machine (to catch installation dependencies). You should use an image that contains the base operating system with patches without any corporate applications installed.

  • Use the "Run Application Install" button to launch your application (this will prevent the browse and run histories on the workstation from changing).

  • Sometimes a memory conflict exists between snAppShot and the application being captured. If this seems to be happening, restore your base desktop image, and restart the snAppShot process. When prompted to run the application install (to be captured), cancel out of the snAppShot application (completely shutting it down). Complete the application install, and then manually start snAppShot again, it will prompt you to see if you want to continue the last snAppShot. Continue with the snAppShot analysis processes to finish making the application AOT/AXT. These steps will prevent snAppShot and your application from running at the same time, and therefore shouldn't have any memory conflicts.

Cleaning up the snAppShot

  • Examine the resulting .AXT file, and clean up as necessary (for example, look at the registry keys and files being copied, make sure they reflect what you wanted to capture).

  • Examine the resulting FILEDEF.TXT file (make sure you captured the files that you wanted to, and not other changes or files that you might of accidentally touched).

For details or updates on this tip, see TID 10081452.

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