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Author Archives: Heath Doerr

Troubleshooting ThinApp Factory installs when using Workstation

If you are planning to install ThinApp Factory into VMware Workstation, you should know that there are some requirements you must meet prior to running the setup.   This post will describe those requirements, and also offer some suggestions if you have attempted the install and it has failed.

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Comparing virtual and non-virtual environments

If you ever need to compare what a virtualized application is presented with inside the virtual bubble against a normal physical install, you might try using the following technique.

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Macro folder locations and newer versions of Windows

Listed in the ThinApp User Guide, you can find an explanation of the different macro folders available in ThinApp projects. However, the published locations provide typical locations for Windows XP based systems. Here are their equivalents in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

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ThinApp and Secure Flash Drives

I was asked recently if ThinApp's deployment model of running packages from USB thumb drives includes the ability to run from secure (encrypted) flash drives.   I decided it was worth a test, and after getting my hands on one from Iron Key, I tried it out.

Upon inserting the key, you'll get an encrypted drive, and a emulated CD drive that runs the encryption software:


Starting the unlocker program prompts you to enter your password:


Which when answered correctly, allows you access to the encrypted file system:


From there it was just a matter of running a ThinApp package from the encrypted file system with the sandbox configured to be created in the same folder (the recommended configuration for running apps from portable media).


I am happy to report, that it worked just as I expected.   The sandbox was created successfully, and the application loaded normally.   I think using secure Thumbdrives with portable applications is a great way to add another layer of security to your ThinApp packages, perhaps for when you want to control who can run the applications, but you cannot use the AD users and groups permissions that are built into ThinApp.  


Adding Shell Extensions to ThinApp Packages

By following the examples below, it is possible to add 'Right Click' functionality, or Shell Extensions, to your ThinApp packages.  In this way you can use Windows Explorer to send paths and file names as arguments to ThinApp executables before they launch. 

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How to add registry keys and custom actions to ThinApp MSI’s

Many organizations with established software packaging practices have standardized their process to include ‘registry branding’ to indicate that an MSI was created by their packaging team, and to populate an area of the Widows registry with information that they can use for inventory purposes.  Adding these custom registry keys to ThinApp generated MSI’s can be done very easily.  Additionally, there may be times when you would like to launch a script, execute a file, or collect some information programmatically as part of the MSI installation process.  Here are the steps you should follow to perform these functions within a ThinApp generated MSI.

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Adding Thinreg to the Windows Explorer Context Menu

If you spend a lot of time building and testing ThinApp
packages, you may have a use for this handy utility.  By installing ThinReg Helper, you can add
thinreg.exe’s functionality directly to Windows Explorer, saving you the effort
of running batch scripts manually, typing long paths into a command window, or
waiting for local installs to test ThinApp’s ThinReg functions on new packages.

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