EUC Toolbox: Regshotting across the end user universe

For managing applications and user environments it is very useful to know the way the application and the user behaves. And for application provisioning and user environment management it is necessary to know where the application and system stores the settings and personalizations options. We will need some form of application to use for capturing or monitoring the system for changes that the application or it’s settings are doing. For UEM for example we have the Application Profiler to use and create application configuration or predefined settings. But if you like to see where our Windows friend stores its changes, application profiler is not enough. We need other tools for the job. We can use Process monitor (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/processmonitor.aspx) or SpyStudio (http://www.nektra.com/products/spystudio-api-monitor/) to name a few. Or regshot.

The main difference of regshot to, for example the mentioned Process monitor or SpyStudio, is that this tool does not require admin permissions like Process monitor or installation on the system like SpyStudio. You can just download and run in the user context. This is what is the strong point is of Regshot, low footprint and no changes to the system that could influence your capturing. As long as the changes you want to monitor are within the user context, but wasn’t this the point in the first place….

What does regshot do?

In short regshot takes a first and a second shot of the registry, and shows you the differences between these. Next to this regshot also allows you to scan dirs. For example save the registry and APPDATA after you have changed that minor customization. Isn’t that what you would want to see?

In short take a first shot before your change. Change the system and take a second shot. Press compare and see what has been changed. And use that output in for example UEM configurations.

Options

First up the application is available in 32-bit and 64-bit, and in ANSI and Unicode encoding.

Regshot Files

The difference here is the program architecture and how the character encoding is handled. If for example your language settings include non-latin characters, you may want to use the Unicode version of Regshot. Else it will not matter which one you take as long as the processor architecture is right.

Secondly with the shots you can do your shot, or do and save your shot. When saved you can later use this with the load option.

Capture and shot

Third, want your output in HTML or text. HTML is friendlier on the eyes, however it will take some more time to output. Sometimes the external program connection to HTML is screwed.

Fourth is including a scandir. Default regshot will do registry, but a lot of application do save something in for example the AppData Local, ProgramData or other locations. I would recommend to include the scandirs where possible. To only downside is that you would need to know where an application stores its values, or put in the most likely suspects. Just going for all out C:\users is getting you a lot of background noises from other applications using the same space.

Fifth is setting an output path. Currently it is set to the administrators AppData profile path. If I am scanning dirs in that location it might be a better idea to redirect the output to another location not to mess up the output.

Do keep in mind not to let in a lot of cycles between the first and second shot. The system will continue to run and add up in changes between the shots. Do your required change and shoot again.

Where can I get Regshot?

RegShot is available on its Sourceforge project page at https://sourceforge.net/projects/regshot/. You can download Regshot as a compressed .7z file. You can open this with 7Zip or WinZip. Downpart of the 7z is that if you haven’t brought an additional zip application, native Windows can’t handle this. There goes my no changes to the system with using Regshot…..or just unzip it on another system ūüėČ

Show me

Don’t mind if I do. First we are going to take our first shot. Just let the program count the keys and values, and the dirs and files, until the second shot button appears.

Regshot Shooting

I don’t mind the time it takes, my testlab is a bit on the slow hand. And including the scandir takes an even longer time than just browsing the registry. But I’m there for the results not the speed.

Next up do a change to the system. For this example I changed Chrome browser settings to show the home and always show the bookmark bar. Done with the change? Take the 2nd shot. And wait until the compare button is available. Than press that one. In the output is for example:

Keys Home

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed..

We see that Chrome wrote to the \Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs in the USER SID key. However SIDs we cannot capture with for example UEM. We do know that this is the same as HKCU and can be captured from the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs. Just add the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs or HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome to be included in the UEM Configuration.

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed.

– Happy shooting at your users…ermmm user environment I mean!

Sources: sourceforge.net/projects/regshot

EUC Toolbox: Helpful tool Desktop Info

As somebody who works with all different kinds of systems from preferably one client device, from the intitial look, all those connected desktops look a bit the same. I want a) to see on what specific template am I doing the magic, b) directly see what that system is doing and c) don’t want breaking the wrong component. And trust me the latter will happen sooner then later to us all.

dammit-jim

Don’t like to have to open even more windows or search for metrics in some monitoring application as it does not make sense at this time? Want to see some background information on what the system you are using is doing, right next to the look and feel of the desktop itself? Or keep an eye on the workload of your synthetic load testing? See what for example the CPU of your Windows 7 VDI does at the time an assigned AppStack is direct attached? And want to keep test and production to be easily kept apart in all those clients you are running from your device?

Desktop Info can help you there.

Desktop Info you say?

Desktop Info displays system information on your desktop in a similar way to for example BGinfo. But unlike BgInfo the application stays resident in memory and continually updates the display in real time with the interesting information for you. It looks like a wallpaper. And has a very small footprint of it’s own. Fit’s perfectly for quick identification of test desktop templates with some realtime information. Or keeping production infrastructure servers apart or….

And remember it’s for information. Desktop Info does not replace your monitoring toolset, it gives the user information on the desktop. So it’s not just a clever name……..

How does it work?

Easy, just download, extract and configure how you want Desktop Info to show you the …well.. info. For example put it in your desktop template for a test¬†with the latest application release.

It can be downloaded at http://www.glenn.delahoy.com/software/files/DesktopInfo151.zip. There is no configuration program for Desktop Info. Options are set by editting the ini file in a text editor such as Notepad or whatever you have lying around. The ini file included in the downloaded zip shows all the available options you can have and set. Think about the layout, top/bottom placement, colors, items to monitor and WMI counters for the specific¬†stuff. Using Nvidia WMI counters here to see what the GPU is doing would be an excellent option. Just don’t overdo it.

In the readme.txt that is also included in the zip there is some more explanation and examples. Keep that one closeby.

capture-basicinformation

Test and save your configuration. Put Desktop Info in a place or tool so that it is started with the user session that needs this information. For example in a startup, shortcut or as a response to an action.

Capturing data

You have the option to use Desktop Info with data logging for references. Adding csv:filename to items will output the data to a csv formatted file. Just keep in mind that the output data is the display formatted data.

– Enjoy!

VMware Utility Belt must have tools – RVTools 3.7 released

March 2015 RVTools version 3.7 is released. 

This, in my opinion, is the tool each VMware consultant must have in his VMware utility belt together with the other standard presented tools. At this time RVTool is still free, so budget is no¬†constrain to use this tool. More important it’s lightweight, very simple in usage and shows much wanted information in a ordered overview or allows for exporting the information¬†in Excel format to analyse this offline.¬†

Before using this tool, it is important to understand the tool is used to make a point in time snapshot of the infrastructure configuration items in place. In short what is configured and what is the current operational state. No more, no less. The information can then be used in for example operational health checks or AS IS starting point in projects (consolidation or refresh projects) in the analysis/inventory phase. See more use cases further below, and I am sure there can be some more examples out there.

No trending or what if’s for example, that is something you will have to do yourself or use other solutions/tools available for the software defined data center. VMware has some other excellent tools for SDDC management and insights in your virtual environment (for example vRealize Operations and Infrastructure Navigator). But that is a complete other story.

What is RVTools?

RVTools is a Windows .NET application which used the VI SDK (which is updated to 5.5 in this release) to display information about your VMware infrastructure.
A inventory connection can be made to vCenter or a single host, to get as is information about hosts, VM’s, VM Tools information, Data stores, Clusters, networking, CPU, health and more. This information is displayed in a tabpage view. Each tab represents a specific type of information, for example hosts or datastores.

RVTools can currently interact with Virtual Center 2.5, ESX Server 3.5, ESX Server 3i, Virtual Center 4.x, ESX(i) Server 4.x, Virtual Center 5.0, Virtual Center Appliance, ESXi Server 5.0, Virtual Center 5.1, ESXi Server 5.1, Virtua lCenter 5.5, ESXi Server 5.5 (no official 6.0 in this version).

RVTools can export the inventory to Excel and CSV for further analysis. The same tab from the GUI will be visible in Excel.

image

image

There is also a command line option to have (for example) a inventory schedule and let the results be send via e-mail to an administrative address.

Use Cases?

– On site Assessment / Analysis; Get a simple and fast overview of a VMware infrastructure. The presented information is easy to browse through, where in the vSphere Web Client you would go clicking through screens. When there is something interesting in the presented data you can go deeper with the standard vSphere and ESXi tools. Perfect for fast analysis and health checks.

– Off site Assessment / Analysis; Get the information and save the Excel or CSV dump to get a fast overview and dump for later analysis. You will have the complete dump (a point in time reference that is) which you can easily browse through when writing up an analysis/health check report.

– Documentation; The dumped information can be used on or offline to write up documentation. Excel tabs are easily copied in to the documentation.

– (Administrator) reporting; Via the command tool get a daily overview of your VMware infrastructure. Compare your status of today with the point in time overview of the day before or last week (depending on your schedule and/or retention). Use this information in the daily tasks of adding/changing documentation, analysis, reporting and such.

Release 3.7 Notes

For version 3.7 the following has been added:

  • VI SDK reference changed from 5.0 to 5.5
  • Extended the timeout value from 10 to 20 minutes for realy big enviroments
  • New field VM Folder on vCPU, vMemory, vDisk, vPartition, vNetwork, vFloppy, vCD,¬†vSnapshot and vTools tabpages
  • On vDisk tabpage new Storage IO Allocation Information
  • On vHost tabpage new fields: service tag (serial #) and OEM specific string
  • On vNic tabpage new field: Name of (distributed) virtual switch
  • On vMultipath tabpage added multipath info for path 5, 6, 7 and 8
  • On vHealth tabpage new health check: Multipath operational state
  • On vHealth tabpage new health check: Virtual machine consolidation needed check
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields: boot options, firmware and Scheduled Hardware Upgrade¬†Info
  • On statusbar last refresh date time stamp
  • On vhealth tabpage: Search datastore errors are now visible as health messages
  • You can now export the csv files separately from the command line interface (just like the xls¬†export)
  • You can now set a auto refresh data interval in the preferences dialog box
  • All datetime columns are now formatted as yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss
  • The export dir / filenames now have a formated datetime stamp yyyy-mm-dd_hh:mm:ss
  • Bug fix: on dvPort tabpage not all networks are displayed
  • Overall improved debug information

Who?

RVTools is written by Rob de Veij aka Robware. You can find Rob on twitter (@rvtools) and via his website http://robware.net.
Big thank to Rob for unleashing yet another version of this great tool!

As the tool is currently free please donate if you find the application useful to help and support Rob in further developing and maintaining RVTools.

VMware Utility Belt must have tools – RVTools 3.6 released

This februari the 22nd RVTools version 3.6 was released. As I use this tool very often, and I notice on some occasions not all consultants are familiar with this tool, I wanted to write a post about RVTools to further spread the word.

This in my opinion is the tool each VMware specialist must have in his VMware utility belt together with the other standard presented tools. At this time RVTool is free and lightweight, very simple in usage, and budget is small (just a donation!) and will not have to be a constrain to use this tool.

What is RVTools?

RVTools is a Windows .NET application which used the VI SDK to display information about your VMware infrastructure.
Connection can be made to vCenter or a single host to get information about hosts, VM’s, VM Tools information, Data stores, Clusters, networking, CPU, health and more. This information is displayed in a tab view. Each tab represents a type of information for when clicking on the tab you will be displayed that specific kind of information from your environment.

RVTools can currently interact with Virtual Center 2.5, ESX Server 3.5, ESX Server 3i, Virtual Center 4.x, ESX(i) Server 4.x, Virtual Center 5.0, Virtual Center Appliance, ESXi Server 5.0, Virtual Center 5.1, ESXi Server 5.1, Virtua lCenter 5.5, ESXi Server 5.5.

RVTools can export the inventory to Excel and CSV for further analysis. The same tab from the GUI will be visible in Excel.

image

image

There is also a command line option to have (for example) a inventory schedule and let the results be send via e-mail to an administrative address.

Use Cases?

On site Assessment / Analysis; Get a simple and fast overview of a VMware infrastructure. The presented information is easy to browse through, where in the vSphere Web Client you would go clicking through screens. When there is something interesting in the presented data you can go deeper with the standard vSphere and ESXi tools. Perfect for fast analysis and health checks.

– Off site Assessment / Analysis; Get the information and save the Excel or CSV dump to get a fast overview and dump for later analysis. You will have the complete dump (a point in time reference that is) which you can easily browse through when writing up an analysis/health check report.

– Documentation; The dumped information can be used on or offline to write up documentation. Excel tabs are easily copied in to the documentation.

– (Administrator) reporting; Via the command tool get a daily overview of your VMware infrastructure. Compare your status of today with the point in time overview of the day before or last week (depending on your schedule and/or retention). Use this information in the daily tasks of adding/changing documentation, analysis, reporting and such.

Release 3.6 Notes

From the version information page, at 3.6 the following has been added:

  • New¬†tab page¬†with cluster information
  • New¬†tab page¬†with multi-path information
  • On vInfo¬†tab page¬†new fields HA Isolation response and HA restart priority
  • On vInfo¬†tab page¬†new fields Cluster affinity rule information
  • On vInfo¬†tab page¬†new fields connection state and suspend time
  • On vInfo¬†tab page¬†new field The vSphere HA protection state for a virtual¬†machine (DAS Protection)
  • On vInfo¬†tab page¬†new field quest state.
  • On vCPU¬†tab page¬†new fields Hot Add and Hot Remove information
  • On vCPU¬†tab page¬†cpu/socket/cores information adapted
  • On vHost¬†tab page¬†new fields VMotion support and storage VMotion support
  • On vMemory¬†tab page¬†new field Hot Add
  • On vNetwork¬†tab page¬†new field VM folder.
  • On vSC_VMK¬†tab page¬†new field MTU
  • RVToolsSendMail: you can now also set the mail subject
  • Fixed a¬†data store¬†bug for ESX version 3.5
  • Fixed a vmFolder bug when started from the¬†command line
  • Improved documentation for the¬†command line¬†options

Pretty fly…

Who?

RVTools is written by Rob de Veij aka Robware. You can find Rob on twitter (@rvtools) and via his website http://robware.net.
Big thank you Rob for letting this excellent tool in the cyberspace!

As the tool is currently free please donate if you find the application useful to help and support Rob in further developing and maintaining RVTools.