Establishing Roaming and Mandatory Profiles - Page 2

Profiles make life easier for both users and administrators. Part 2 of our series on Creating User Profiles demonstrates how to create roaming and mandatory profiles.

 By Brien M. Posey
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A template profile is a generic profile that you can create yourself. You can set up the necessary desktop icons and menu choices while removing options that the users shouldn't have access to. Once you've created this template, you can copy it to every user on the network or to a group of users. From there, you can make the template mandatory, or you can allow users to custom-tailor it to their liking. The only downside to using a template is that some users tend to get mad when they log in for the first time and the desktop they're used to seeing is gone. Therefore, if you plan to use a template, it may be best to explain to the users that they'll be seeing some changes but they can still customize their desktop (if you permit it) when the process is complete. My personal opinion is that using templates is a good way to get the job done in a timely manner. For the purposes of this article, I'll be using templates in my examples.

Creating the Roaming Profile

The actual process of creating a roaming profile is quite simple. The first step is to create a directory on the server you've chosen. You can assign this directory a name like PROFILES. Once you've created the directory, share it and grant everyone full access to it.

Beneath the PROFILES directory, create directories based on the user names. For example, if my user name was BRIEN, I'd create a directory called \PROFILES\BRIEN. When you create the individual user directories, keep a couple of things in mind. First, make sure the directory name is spelled exactly the same as the corresponding user name. If you spell the names the same, you can use the variable %username% later on instead of typing each user's name individually. As you'll see later, doing so will save you lots of time. Also remember that although the main PROFILES directory should allow everyone full access, you don't want everyone to have full access to the individual directories. Therefore, you should use NTFS permissions to make sure that only the intended user and the administrator have access to the directory.

Next, create your template profile. You can do this by creating a new user account (I actually used the Guest account for this purpose, which works just as well). When you create the new account, go to the Profile tab on the user's properties sheet. From here, enter the profile's path in the Profile Path field, in the format \\SERVER\PROFILES\%username%. You can see an example in Figure 1. I mentioned earlier that using the %username% variable would save you time in the long run; notice in the figure that nothing listed in the dialog box is specific to the individual user. This makes it possible to select the text and press Ctrl-C to copy it to the Clipboard. When you get to the next user, you can simply press Ctrl-V to paste the text into the appropriate field, rather than retyping it.

Figure 1
Figure 1: You can specify the location of the profile from within the user's properties sheet.

When you've finished setting up the template user's account, log in as that user. Now, begin configuring the user's desktop in the way you want it to appear for all the other users who will be using that template. When you're done, log out of the machine and go to a different computer. At the new machine, log in as the template account to make sure that the profile you created follows you from machine to machine.

Once you've verified that the new user profile is working correctly, you're ready to begin distributing it to the other users. To do so, copy the entire contents of the template account's profile directory to the other users' profile directories. Next, go into each user's properties sheet and update the path to the profile, as I described earlier. Finally, log in as an existing user to make sure the new profile is now in effect.

This article was originally published on Dec 4, 2000
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