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Chapter 7 - User Profiles

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This chapter describes how user profiles can help users maintain their own preferences, network settings, and application settings when logging on to a workstation. These features can help decrease the cost of managing numerous computers by allowing you to manage configurations remotely.

See Also

  • For more information about remote administration, see Chapter 23, "System and Remote Administration Tools." 

  • For more information about creating system policies, see Chapter 8, "System Policies." 

Overview of User Profiles

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A user profile consists of user-specific information contained in the User.dat file, which is one of the two files in the Microsoft Windows 98 registry. Optionally, a user profile can also contain special Windows 98 directories. The benefits of using user profiles are summarized in this section.

Multiple users on a computer can retain their personal settings. Roaming users can log on to the network from any computer and work with the same desktop settings as long as the computer is running a Windows 98 32-bit, protected-mode network client.

Windows 98 automatically maintains each user's profile. Whether profiles are stored locally or on the network, Windows 98 will maintain each individuals user settings automatically.

Mandatory profiles can be used to enforce consistent desktops. This is useful for novice users who cannot manage their own desktop settings. Mandatory profiles increase user productivity and ease the burden of training and support for system managers.

Choosing System Policies or Mandatory User Profiles

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You can use either system policies or mandatory user profiles to enforce user settings. In certain situations, it may be desirable to use both system policies and mandatory user profiles. Table 7.1 illustrates how the two features differ.

Table 7.1 Differences between system policies and mandatory user profiles

Mandatory user profiles

System polices

Allow you to mandate only user-specific settings.

Allow you to mandate user-specific, computer-specific, and group-specific settings.

Control every user-specific setting.

Allow you to selectively determine a subset of user settings to control; users control their own remaining settings.

Note Family members or coworkers can also control their own individual settings on the same computer through the Users option in Control Panel. See online Help for more information.

Before implementing user profiles, consider the following issues:

  • Do you want to use system policies for user settings? If so, you must enable user profiles on the computer.

  • What do you want to include in user profiles? For example, you might choose to include the desktop, Start menu, or Network Neighborhood in the user profile. 

  • Do you want user profiles to work across the network so that they are available to roaming users? If so, the computers must be running a 32-bit, protected-mode network client. Also, you must make sure that each user has a home directory on the network. 

  • Should mandatory user profiles be used? If so, you must copy the necessary files to each user's home directory. 

    Important If you want to specify desktop, shell, and security settings for your organization as they relate to the Internet Explorer (IE) browsing software or any part of the IE suite, use the Internet Explorer 4.0 Administration Kit (IEAK) which is available at the IEAK Web site at http://ieak.microsoft.com/. The IEAK Profile Manager controls system policies, however, it does not control user profiles as discussed in this chapter. For more information about the IEAK Profile Manager, see Chapter 6, "Configuring the Active Desktop and Active Channels" and Chapter 20, "Internet Access and Tools." 

How User Profiles Work

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Each time the user logs on to a computer, Windows 98 searches the registry under the following key to determine whether the user has a local profile:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \Software \Microsoft \Windows \Current Version\Profile List 

Windows 98 also checks for the user profile in the user's home directory on the server. If the user profile on the server is the most current, Windows 98 copies it to the local computer for use during the current session, and then it loads the settings in this local copy into the registry. If no local user profile exists, Windows 98 copies the server version to the local computer. If no profile is found, Windows 98 creates a new user profile on the local computer using default settings. If the user does not log on, Windows 98 automatically uses the Default User profile.

Both the local and the network copies of the user profile are automatically updated with current settings when the user logs off.

If the user is logged on at more than one computer at the same time, any changes made to the profile on the computer where the user first logs off will be overwritten when the user logs off the other computer. In other words, the last logoff is saved, and no merging of changes occurs.

In the \Profiles subdirectory of the \Windows directory, a folder is created for each user who has a profile on that computer. Each of these folders contains the following:

  • A User.dat file that contains the user portion of the registry. 

  • An Application Data folder that contains the Address Book (User.wab), the QuickLaunch toolbar, Outlook Mail and News, and the Windows 98 Welcome. 

  • A Cookies folder that contains the contents of Cookies for IE. 

  • A Desktop folder that contains the contents of the Active Desktop. (Only if this has been enabled in the Personalized Items Settings in the Users option of Control Panel.) 

  • A Favorites folder that contains the channels for Internet Explorer. (Only if this has been enabled in the Personalized Items Settings in the Users option of Control Panel.) 

  • A History folder that contains the contents of the History option for IE. 

  • A My Documents folder that contains the contents of the My Documents folder on the user's desktop. (Only if this has been enabled in the Personalized Items Settings in the Users option of Control Panel.) 

  • A NetHood folder that contains additional shortcuts available while viewing Network Neighborhood items. (Only if this has been enabled by a system policy. For information about system policies, see Chapter 8, "System Policies.") 

  • A Recent folder that contains the contents of the Documents option on the Start menu. 

  • A Start Menu folder that contains the contents of the Start menu and includes the Programs folder. (Only if this has been enabled in the Personalized Items Settings in the Users option of Control Panel.) 

  • A Temporary Internet Files folder that contains the contents of the \Temporary Internet Files directory. (Only if this has been enabled in the Personalized Items Settings in the Users option of Control Panel.) 

Enabling User Profiles

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You can enable user profiles after Windows 98 has been installed, either locally on a single computer or for multiple computers. You can avoid having to go to each computer to enable user profiles by creating a system policy that can be downloaded automatically when the initial Windows 98 installation is complete. For information about enabling user profiles centrally on multiple computers, see Chapter 8, "System Policies."

Note Using Microsoft Batch 98 you can also enable user profiles during a clean install or an upgrade. For information about using Microsoft Batch 98, see Appendix D, "Msbatch.inf Parameters for Setup Scripts."

To enable user profiles on a local computer after setup

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Passwords, and then click the User Profiles tab. 

  2. Click Users can customize their preferences and desktop settings

  3. Select the options you want under User profile settings, and then click OK. These options describe what should be included as part of the user profile. 

  4. Shut down and restart the computer. 

Tip If you include desktop icons in your user profile, only the shortcuts (icons that represent links) will be available when you log on to the network from another computer. Actual files on your desktop are part of your local user profile only.

To disable user profiles on a local computer

  • In Control Panel, double-click Passwords, and then click the User Profiles tab. Click All users of this computer use the same preferences and desktop settings

Note If an application is installed after user profiles have been enabled with the option to include the Start menu and Programs in the profile, only the user who was logged on when the application was installed will have an entry for that application on the Programs menu. Other users will have to create shortcuts to the application on their Programs menus.

Preparing for User Profiles on a Network

If you want to make user profiles available on the network rather than on individual computers, you must perform the following preliminary steps:

  • Install and run a 32-bit, protected-mode networking client (such as Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks) on the computers. 

  • Make sure that the server supports long file names for full user profile functionality. If the server does not support long file names, only User.dat will follow a user around the network. Users will not be able to download other folders, such as those that support the Start menu. 

  • For Microsoft networks, make sure that a network home directory exists for each user, because this is where user profiles are placed. 

  • For each computer, use the same names for the directory and the hard disk drive in which Windows 98 is installed. If Windows 98 is installed in C:\Windows on one computer and in C:\Win98 on another, some components of the user profile will not be transferred between the two computers. This is also true if Windows 98 is installed on different hard disks on different computers (for example, C:\Windows on one computer and D:\Windows on another).

Setting Up User Profiles on a Windows NT Network

You can use user profiles with Windows 98 on a Windows NT network if the computer is configured to use Client for Microsoft Networks.

Note Windows 98 does not use the Profiles directory on a Windows NT server; that directory is used only for Windows NT profiles.

To set up user profiles on a Windows NT network
  1. For each computer, make sure that user profiles are enabled, as described in "Enabling User Profiles" earlier in this chapter.

  2. In Control Panel, double-click Network, and then select Client for Microsoft Networks as the Primary Network Logon client. 

  3. Select Client for Microsoft Networks in the list of installed network components, and then click Properties

  4. Select Log on to Windows NT domain, enter the domain name, and then click OK

  5. On the Windows NT server, make sure each user is properly set up and has an assigned home directory on a Windows NT network server. (You can use the Windows NT User Manager tool to create this directory.) 

When the user logs off, Windows 98 automatically places an updated copy of the user profile in the user's assigned home directory on the Windows NT network, in the following path:

\\specified_server\user's home directory

For information about User Manager and home directories, see Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 online Help.

Setting Up User Profiles on a NetWare Network

You can use user profiles with Windows 98 on a NetWare network if the computer is configured to use Microsoft Client for NetWare Networks or another 32-bit NetWare client.

When a user account is created on a NetWare server, a subdirectory of the \Mail directory is automatically created for that user. Windows 98 uses this directory to store user profiles. Novell 4.x servers can specify where a user's home directory is located when using a client or service that supports Novell Directory Services (NDS).

To set up user profiles on a Novell NetWare network
  1. For each computer, make sure that user profiles are enabled, as described in "Enabling User Profiles" earlier in this chapter.

  2. In Control Panel, double-click Network, and then select Client for NetWare Networks as the Primary Network Logon client. 

  3. Select Client for NetWare Networks in the list of installed network components, and then click Properties

  4. Enter the name of your preferred server, and then click OK

  5. On the NetWare server, make sure each user has an established \Mail directory. 

When the user logs off, Windows 98 automatically places an updated copy of the user profile in the user's assigned \Mail directory on the NetWare network, as indicated in the following example. (The user's 8-digit ID can be determined by using the NetWare Syscon utility.)

\\preferred_server\sys\mail\user_id

Note On a network using Microsoft Service for Novell Directory Services, user profiles are stored in the home directory for each user object. Therefore, if your site has user profiles enabled, you must make sure that every user object in the directory tree has a home directory associated with it.

When you log on using bindery mode, your user profile is stored in the \Mail directory on your preferred server.

If a user alternates between bindery and Novell Directory Services when logging on, then user profiles will be stored in both the \Mail directory and the home directory. If the user always logs on from the same computer, both profiles will be updated properly. However, if the user logs on from several other computers, using both bindery and NDS modes, out-of-date user profiles could be copied.

Disabling Standard Roaming Profiles

You might want to have user profiles enabled on a computer but not allow the profiles to move between that computer and others.

To disable roaming profiles on a particular computer
  1. In Registry Editor, expand the Hkey_Local_Machine \Network key, and select the Logon subkey. 

  2. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value

  3. Name the item UseHomeDirectory. The Data value should be set to zero. 

Maintaining Roaming User Profiles on Other Networks

Windows 98 provides limited support for user profiles if the network does not have support for a 32-bit, protected-mode client or centralized network logon. This includes networks that provide only 16-bit network clients and peer networks such as Windows for Workgroups or Windows 98 without a Windows NT domain.

To enable roaming user profiles on such a network, you must first establish a network directory that can be accessed by all users. For security reasons, you should make sure that this directory has read-only permissions so that users cannot modify it. You must create in that directory a text file that lists the home directories for all users who can use roaming user profiles. For example, such a file might be named Profiles.ini on \\Bigserver\Profiles and have the following contents:

[Profiles]
Mary=\\bigserver\homedirs\mary\user.dat
John=\\bigserver\homedirs\john\user.dat
Pat=\\bigserver\homedirs\pat\user.dat

After you have created this file, you must configure each computer running Windows 98 to use it. First, disable roaming profiles. For more information about disabling roaming profiles, see "Disabling Standard Roaming Profiles" earlier in this chapter.

To configure a computer for roaming user profiles on other networks
  1. In Registry Editor, expand the Hkey_Local_Machine \Network key, and select the Logon subkey. 

  2. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click String Value

  3. Type SharedProfileList and press ENTER. Then press ENTER again. 

  4. In the Edit String dialog box, type the universal naming convention (UNC) path and file name for the home directory list (for example, \\Bigserver\Profiles\Profiles.ini).

  5. Click OK

Thereafter, when a user logs on at this computer, Windows 98 will search in the specified text file to determine the user's home directory. The user's profile will be loaded from that home directory as it is from other networks. If the user is not listed in the text file, the user profile will be only local.

Defining Mandatory User Profiles

In Windows 98, you can create mandatory user profiles for use on Windows NT or NetWare networks. With this feature you can create a standard user profile for each computer and make sure it is implemented every time a user logs on. To do this, create a User.dat file with the settings you want, save it as User.man, and place it in the network directory for each user you want to use that profile. The network directory is either the user's home directory (on a Windows NT network) or \Mail directory (on a NetWare network).

If User.man is present when the user logs on, Windows 98 uses this mandatory copy to load settings into the registry rather than any previous local user profile. If the user manually makes changes to the desktop configuration during the work session, these changes are not saved to the master copy in the user's network directory when the user logs off.

To create a mandatory user profile
  1. Enable user profiles. For information about this procedure, see "Enabling User Profiles" earlier in this chapter. 

  2. On any computer running Windows 98, customize the desktop as you want it to appear for the mandatory user profile. 

  3. Copy the required files for the user profile to the home directory for Windows NT networks or to the \Mail directory for NetWare networks, as described in "Setting Up User Profiles on a Windows NT Network" and "Setting Up User Profiles on a NetWare Network" earlier in this chapter.

    Note Windows 98 copies these files automatically for normal user profiles, but not for mandatory user profiles. 

  4. Rename User.dat to User.man in the user's home directory and reset the file attributes to be read-only.

Customizing the Desktop

The User Profile folders are a subset of the shell Special folders. These folders contain links to various desktop items and, coupled with the user's registry, make up the user's profile.

One of the important things about the User Profile folders is how they affect the look and feel of the desktop when a user logs on. Table 7.2 shows some User Profile folders and their contents.

Table 7.2 User Profile folders and their contents 

Folder name

Contents

Desktop

File system directory used to physically store file objects on the desktop.

NetHood

File system directory containing objects that appear in the Network Neighborhood.

Recent

File system directory that contains the user's most recently used documents.

Start Menu

File system directory containing Start menu items.

Programs

File system directory that contains the user's program groups (which are also file system directories).

StartUp

File system directory that corresponds to the user's Startup program group.

The User Profile folders can be located on the local hard drive or, for more centralized control and easier management, they can be located on a network server. The location of the Profile folders can be applied with system policies. For more information about system policies, see Chapter 8, "System Policies." To find out more about customizing the Active Desktop, see Chapter 6, "Configuring the Active Desktop and Active Channels."

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