1 2 Previous Next 18 Replies Latest reply on May 10, 2019 12:12 AM by Ray_handels

    Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM

    PFS Novice

      Hey guys,

       

      We really want to get on board with this JMP style, and are giving it a really good go, but it seems that no matter what we try, something is always broken.

       

      As the title suggests, we are using UIA+Profile writable volumes, around 10 Appstacks (2 of which are heavily used - Adobe Acrobat and Java for ADP), and UEM.

       

      Our App Volumes Agent and manager is 2.14.2, but we've had issues with every upgrade so far (and solved some), and UEM version 9.4.

       

      Our issue is mostly with App Volumes Appstacks. Our Adobe Appstack constantly breaks with the error of "Adobe Application Manager, required to start your trial, is missing or damaged."

       

      Previously, when a user had any Appstack assigned to them, upon a recompose, their Office would fail to license correctly and even in 2.10, it would completely fail to open.

      This seemed to be resolved with the combination of upgrading to 2.12 and enabling shared computer activation for Office.

       

      We are using dedicated-assignment linked clones which do not refresh at logoff, as well as an instant clones and finally, dedicated standalone vcenter computers, but the issues happen on all of them, with the potential exception of vcenter standalone computers. I know that AppVolumes is designed to work in a non-persistent environment, but even those have the same issues.

       

      Now I'm testing with Writable Volumes UIA only + UEM profile redirection, but of course, the start menu doesn't work. We had the same issue with Writable Volumes UIA + Profile, and I was able to get it working by excluding a specific file path in snapvol.cfg (by the way, why does so much have to be done on my end for it to work normally)

       

      I have submitted many SRs for VMware, but it seems that it will work for a while and then suddenly someone will stop working and I'll have to reopen the SR and then we won't really get anywhere again. It feels like I'm chasing my own tail here.

       

      I know this is a lot for one discussion, but my biggest concern is that I don't feel like I'm doing anything out of the ordinary or necessarily wrong, and it is strange that I'm doing so many things to try to stable the environment and NOTHING is consistently working. The only real thing I've fixed with AppVolumes is the Microsoft Office activation.

       

      But the Adobe appstack - COME ON. What is going on here? It's like it will work one day, and then the next day, for no reason at all, filed go missing from C:\Programdata\Adobe. Why would files remove themselves with no instigation? It works for the first time on provisioning and then I'll notice that in another session some files disappear or maybe the permissions on the folders becomes corrupt.

       

      Is there a whole side to this I'm not understanding? I've heard success stories from large businesses with App Volumes + JMP, so what am I doing wrong? Someone please help, this is out of control.

        • 1. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
          pchapman Hot Shot
          vExpert

          It sounds like your problems are related to writable volumes.  They are an absolute nightmare to use in practice.

           

          "But the Adobe appstack - COME ON. What is going on here? It's like it will work one day, and then the next day, for no reason at all, filed go missing from C:\Programdata\Adobe. Why would files remove themselves with no instigation? It works for the first time on provisioning and then I'll notice that in another session some files disappear or maybe the permissions on the folders becomes corrupt."

           

          This sounds to me like something is getting corrupted on the writable volume.  Have you mounted the writable volume on a machine without the appvol agent on it to investigate?

           

          I think you really need to consider getting rid of writable volumes, even if it means changing the architecture

          • 2. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
            GTO455 Enthusiast

            As far as a UIA+Profile, we have been told that we shouldn't use them (think roaming profiles) and to stick with the UIA only with UEM profile redirection (no AppData), which we have done. Supposedly, UIA+Profile can create havoc with Windows upgrades and updates. We have enough problems already, so if I can eliminate one ahead of time, I will.

             

            Also had the same problem with the Start Menu that you are having. Used this KB to fix it , but it was still flaky after the fix, (there was a significant delay when you clicked on the Start Menu before it loaded), but it worked.

             

            I finally found a thread that pointed the issue to the Windows 10 Default Template in the OSOT being the problem. I changed over to using the Login VSI template for optimization and that fixed the problem completely. No more delays and the Start Menu now loads normally.

             

            I can completely relate to your pain, you fix one thing and it creates three others. It's not even close to being consistent. Nothing but problems with App Volumes.  It's killing my login times, and I have only 1 App stack and a writable loading for every user.

             

            I have a thread on here that has gone unanswered that involves a firewall command that runs during the writable mount that takes 50 seconds to run in my environment.  From what I can understand from it, it runs as an elevated cmd process that;

             

            1. Deletes the current Windows Firewall config file it (AppVol) creates (See #3),

            2. Export the current firewall config, and then

            3. imports the firewall config it just deleted.

             

            It does this EVERY TIME a writable loads. Whut? Why?

             

            The other problem I'm having is if delete my writable and have it recreate at login, the first and second login time is great with the new writable, and then it gets progressively worse with subsequent logins until I delete it and recreate it again.

             

            Hope this helps.

             

            Chuck

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
              Ray_handels Master
              Community WarriorsvExpert

              With Windows 10 it is quite hard to work with the writable I must conclude to that. We are still using it with UIA + Profile though but it takes quite some effort to get it to work for about 90%.

               

              One thing I noticed though. If you use writable volumes you need to refresh the machines after use, otherwise the machine will still have some files and other crap in the VDI machine that is being imported into the newly attached writable.So make sure to refresh after use!!

              We are using dedicated-assignment linked clones which do not refresh at logoff, as well as an instant clones and finally, dedicated standalone vcenter computers, but the issues happen on all of them, with the potential exception of vcenter standalone computers. I know that AppVolumes is designed to work in a non-persistent environment, but even those have the same issues.
              • 4. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                sjesse Master
                vExpert

                I think the +Profile part is what really kills things. Even vmware's internal team won't use the profile part because it causes alot of problems. Watch the vmworld video if you haven't

                 

                VMworld On-Demand Video Library

                 

                I asked about our writable problems at the end, and they said once they switched to the uia only template alot of the problems went away.

                • 5. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                  PFS Novice

                  Apologies, I didn't clarify that we don't use writable volumes for linked clones (for those, we use a Persistent Data Disk). We only use writable volumes for the instant clones.

                  @ray_handels

                  • 6. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                    PFS Novice

                    You've hit the head of the nail with what we're experiencing. Can delete writable volume and recreate it - it works perfectly for maybe one or two days.

                     

                    How does this even happen?

                     

                    I'll have to check out that OSOT setting you mentioned. While testing with the writable volume uia only, it had the same start menu delay you mentioned.

                     

                    So you don't specify UEM to redirect the AppData folder? Why not? Does this not cause issues?

                    • 7. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                      PFS Novice

                      Thanks for your reply.

                       

                      I'd like to App Volumes for instant clones but the trouble is getting it to work properly. I'm also testing with UEM.


                      What do you mean mount the writable on a machine without the agent installed? I didn't even know that was possible. How do I do that and then what would I do after

                      • 8. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                        GTO455 Enthusiast

                        You can open your writable within the VM it is mounted to. Just open File Explorer and type C:\SnapVolumesTemp and the writable will open up. It's just a hidden directory in Windows.

                         

                        You can also open up your writable in 7Zip, and I find it easier to read this way. Copy the writable vmdk file (the 10GB file not the metadata file) to a different location (i.e., your local hard drive) and install 7Zip on your PC. With 7Zip installed, just right click on the vmdk file and select Open with 7Zip. Very cool!

                         

                        BTW- Using the LoginVSI Template in OSOT does make login times a bit slower, but at least you have a snappy Start Menu. Trade-offs I guess!

                        • 9. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                          GTO455 Enthusiast

                          When I redirected the APpData folder in my Dev environment, all sorts of weird things started happening; Desktop icons went away, folders stopped redirecting, etc. So I made the decision not to use it in Production.

                           

                          It is essentially a roaming profile at that point. Even the Vmware Technician suggested we not use AppData redirection in UEM.

                          • 10. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                            Ray_handels Master
                            vExpertCommunity Warriors
                            You can open your writable within the VM it is mounted to. Just open File Explorer and type C:\SnapVolumesTemp and the writable will open up. It's just a hidden directory in Windows.

                            Yes you technically can but it wont do you any good.

                            Because the Appvolumes filter driver is active it will show you all folders located on the C drive of the machine and it wont be representative of was is actually on the machine.

                             

                            Just create a basic machine without agent, go to edit machine, add disk, browse the datastore and go to cloudvolumes\writable and add the disk you want. If it does not connect persistent either attach it non persistent (you cannot change anything) or change the ddb.deletable flag of the vmdk... Just search the web for that one .

                             

                            Do change settings in the writable at your own risk. It could make the writable non usable anymore.

                            • 11. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                              PFS Novice

                              Thanks for the help, I'm just not sure what to look for when the disk is mounted

                              • 12. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                                Ray_handels Master
                                vExpertCommunity Warriors

                                It will mostly be the info in the svroot folder, these are the files stored in your writable.

                                You will also find a snapvol.dat file on the root of the writable. When you load that as a Hive in regedit you can read throguh it.

                                 

                                I find that most of the times you need to look into the metadata\FS hyve. This should be a one on one with the files located in the svroot as it registers what folders are being created in the writable (this is both for UIA + Profile and UIA only). Most of the time you will find some #DELETED# values inthere. What this does is mark folders as deleted.

                                 

                                So for example if you have a C:\Temp folder in your GI and you remove it while writable is active it will create a value in the hyve with a temp folder on C in which it creates a #DELETED# value and will not show the C:\Temp folder anymore.

                                Sometimes this technique also masks important folders and they will then stop working as (AFAIK) is user triggered, Is system tries to create a folder it won't create it and thus throw some ugly errors.

                                • 13. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                                  HappierIT_TSmith Lurker

                                  Outlook ost and Search Index and Writeable Volumes

                                   

                                  I ended up only using writable volumes for *.OST files and the windows.edb file (windows search).

                                   

                                  Everything else is handled through UEM.

                                   

                                  If i could have used Profile + UIA for everything I would have, it would have been a lot less config work for instant clones.

                                   

                                  I ended up creating a custom snapvol.cfg that only captures c:\outlookdata\OST H/T App Volumes and OST files. | Age Roskam

                                   

                                  I also capture c:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows and run the scripts referenced here VMware Knowledge Base

                                   

                                  you cannot use %userprofile% or %username% variables in the snapvol.cfg hence the relocation of the OST file.

                                   

                                  the most stable I've had the writables in my environment is to only virtualize the two paths

                                   

                                  scope=global

                                  type=writable

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # File system

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                  virtualize=\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows

                                  virtualize=\OUTLOOKDATA\OST

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # Registry

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # File system exclusions

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # Registry exclusions

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # Process exclusions

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  ################################################################

                                  # 64-Bit OS exclusions

                                  ################################################################

                                   

                                   

                                  # This should always be the last line in the policy

                                  os=any

                                  • 14. Re: Unstable environment with UIA+profile writable volumes, appstacks, UEM
                                    mchadwick19 Enthusiast

                                    @HappierIT_TSmith

                                     

                                    That SnapVol.cfg seems to stabilize my environment as well for the sole purpose of storing my Outlook data file.

                                     

                                    Also drastically improves my login times which is great!

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