Jeroen van de Kamp's Flex Profile Kit is hands-down the most useful free utility for Terminal Server and Citrix environments. The all-new version 4 builds upon the previous version and adds many new features. (If you're not familiar with the Flex Profile Kit, it's a free kit that combines the flexibility of roaming profiles with the small size, speed, and control of mandatory profiles. It has easily become the de facto standard profile solution for almost every Terminal Server or Citrix MetaFrame environment.)
Flex Profile Kit 4.0 introduces the Flex Framework 1.0. This is a complete and fully functional framework based on several tools (like Dennis Damen's FlexRefresh) and the valuable feedback posted after the release of FPK 3.0 in the Log*in Consultants tooling forum.
One of the biggest advantages of the Flex Framework is that the setup and configuration process of Flex Profiles is dramatically simplified. In addition, many known issues reported in FPK 3.0 have been fixed, and brand new features have been introduced to improve performance, flexibility, and ease of deployment.
With the introduction of the Flex Framework, the Flex Profile concept has become a mature and serious alternative to any other standard or commercially-availalbe profile management solution. Here'is a quick run-down on the key features of FPK 4.0 & Flex Framework 1.0:
- No license costs. FPK and the Framework are completely free to use in any environment. The FPK is a nothing more then a concept, and the Framework is based on an intelligent vbscript and freeware/opensource tooling.
- No backend servers required. There is no need for expensive SQL or IIS servers to run Flex Profiles. The profile data is stored in the user's homedrive and the configuration of Flex Profiles is done with a few INI files. Flex can be introduced into any Windows environment without investments in additional hard- or software.
- Any application is supported. A common misconception is that the FPK is limited to Office 2003, since it's based on the profile wizard from the 2003 Office Resource Kit. This is not true. Flex Profiles can be configured for every Office version or any other type of application.
- FPK is lightning FAST. When you use the Framework, all requirements for optimal performance are automatically met. Using a mandatory profile makes a big difference in loading times in comparison to roaming profiles, and FPK loads or saves within seconds!
- Support for Profile Files & Folders. In addition to user's custom registry information, FPK 4.0 also manages files and folders from the profile. Folders like "Application Data" can be processed though the Flex Profile Kit. While this will increase loading times it will still outperform a roaming profile.
- Robust operation. When configured corrected, FPK has proven to be a very stable profile solution. The documentation provides some basic guidelines to help set up a problem-free and reliable configuration of Flex Profiles.
- [NEW] Simplified Configuration. Previous versions of the FPK required some basic scripting skills. Flex Framework 1.0 lets you tailor a fully managed profile solution without scripting in no time. 95% of the Flex Framework is configured through INI files!
- [NEW] Per-application Configuration. The Flex Framework makes separate configuration of applications not only easier, but performance is much better as well. The big advantage of this modular setup is that it allows granular control over application settings. This adds the possibility to reset settings for a single application or to introduce a new application without changing the existing configuration for other applications.
- [NEW] Support for Silo's or Server Groups. Configuration for separate application silos is now straightforward and does not require additional scripting. The configuration of server or even workstation groups is stored in a single location and can be easily managed.
- [NEW] Easy & lightweight deployment. The Framework is packaged in an MSI format to make deployment easy. It does not require "install-mode," a reboot, or a service insteall. Only few registry keys and files are added, and the MSI is just 500KB.
- [NEW] Compression. The Framework can be configured to use the 7z compression algorithm for the storage of personal settings. This dramatically improves transfer times through WAN environments or when copying large OPS files. A 15x compression ratio is realistic for registry settings. Files and folders from the profile are compressed up to 7x.
- [NEW] Windows appearance support. Dennis Damen has released FlexRefresh.exe to re-activate Windows colors, sizes and fonts for Flex environments. Users can now customize their desktop to their own needs even when they are using a mandatory profile!
- [NEW] Certificates support. Thanks to feedback of "Jakobo" and many others in the Log*in Consultants forum, the Flex Framework now has an option to store and load certificates available. (Root certificates are not supported though, although these can be easily configured and distributed through Group Policies.)
- [NEW] Support for Passwords. FPK 3.0 did not support Windows and IE passwords. The Framework now introduces the possibility to store Windows related passwords with a "flick of the switch".
- [NEW] Error Handling. Configuration and troubleshooting of the Flex Framework is simplified with new options to generate clear warning messages when an error occurs.
Download the Flex Profile Kit 4.0 from the link at the top of this article.