VMware ThinApp in Action

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2008-08-26 Print this article Print

My VMware ThinApp test environment consisted of a VMware Workstation installation made up of two Windows XP Service Pack 3 systems and one Windows 2003 server. The server hosted Microsoft's IIS (Internet Information Services) and served as my update Web site. One of the Windows XP systems was my clean build system where I used VMware ThinApp to prepare my test applications (WinZip, Firefox and Microsoft Office 2003). The other system was my installation target.

The basic process I used for deploying Windows applications using ThinApp should be familiar to anyone who has used application packaging products in the last 10 years. Starting with a clean install of the Windows OS that matches one's production image, and using equipment that closely approximates one's installed hardware inventory, a desktop administrator uses ThinApp to take a snapshot of the registry, DLLs and other files on the clean system.

After completing this step on one of my test systems, I installed the application I wished to virtualize (I tested with WinZip, with Firefox and with Office 2003) and then allowed VMware ThinApp to capture the differences. ThinApp then packaged these differences, along with some ThinApp-specific client software, into either an .msi or an .exe that I could deploy to my test clients.

After I created my packages, I edited the .ini files associated with each package to direct them to a Web server on my network every minute for updates to the package. Be aware that any autoupdate feature in an application should be disabled as it will likely interfere with VMware ThinApp's attempts to keep product versions up to date.

VMware ThinApp was able to create an executable version of each of these applications that checked for updates, successfully installed the delta between the two versions and executed the updated version of the all three test products on my end-user systems.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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