CLC/CLM Windows 7 Migration

 Version 1.2 9/7/10

This page describes completed plans and a work schedule for deploying Windows 7 on all CLM and CLC computers by Fall Semester 2010.   The work has been completed but the page has been left here in case there is information of use to others.

Links:

Overview

In February 2009 we posted to the CLM and NWOP lists our plans to migrate from Vista to Windows 7 during the summer of 2010 for complete deployment by the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester.   At that time the schedule was tentative and dependent on W7 being stable by December 2009.   Microsoft met the public release date of 10/22 and a migration schedule was published here and announced on various lists and at meetings.   Media and licenses became available from the PSU Computer Store on 9/21/09 for both departmental and personal purchases and the PSU KMS server has been updated to support Windows 7 activation with our volume license.

Why

Why upgrade from XP?  We skipped Vista because it didn't offer much, if any, advantage over XP (and it was slower).   There are several reasons to go to Windows 7.   Generally we wish to provide the most stable, usable and secure platform for users that is somewhat current and familiar to what they have on their home and office computers.  In recent years, the overall computing experience has become less important than the delivery of the specialized and/or expensive applications we install, but many users want to use something current and familiar.   We are also constrained by the calendar in that large conversions need to be done over the summer when there are fewer students and fewer classes scheduled.  And things should not change much during Fall Semester or between Fall and Spring semesters after faculty have prepared for classes perhaps targeting a particular computing environment in labs and classrooms.  Last, Microsoft support for XP will not last forever, so we would have to migrate from XP sooner or later.  Our early experience with Windows 7 has been very good, and so sooner seems better than later.

Many improvements in Windows 7 are important for laptops and home computers, and don't really apply in a lab or classroom, but users should find these advantages compared to our current XP build:

  • Faster system start.  While most classroom and lab computers are not shutdown, sometimes users do have to wait for system start.
  • Better Taskbar features, including easy search for applications.  Our full application suite of 200+ programs and nearly 600 short-cuts makes the XP start menu time consuming to navigate.   Also with Win7, users can "pin" favorite applications to the task bar.  Window previews are nice too.
  • Faster recognition of USB devices.
  • Faster application launch . . . maybe, we'll see (SuperFetch)
  • Kernel improvements for better thread and memory management (see this video)
  • Gadgets . . . we hope to be able to support users putting gadgets on their desktop, but it is likely users won't be able to install gadgets.
  • Libraries . . . hmm.
  • Aero UI is nice.

Everyone?

Will all CLM participants need to upgrade?  If there are compelling reasons to stay on XP then that will probably be ok for a while.   We don't expect tools and services that work today to be suddenly broken on 8/23/10 (first day of classes).   But one of the good reasons for being in CLM is to present a uniform and familiar environment to users, so we would hope most or all CLM units will find this an easy migration.

64-Bit Version?

Since Windows 7 comes in a 64-bit version too, allowing applications to take advantage of computers with more than 3.5GB of memory, a good question is should we invest time in building and supporting a 64-bit image.   We are currently looking at applications that come in 64-bit versions and that may perform significantly better, but we think these may be better suited to a 64-bit application (terminal) server.

Hardware Support

Windows 7 runs with less memory and lower speed processors than Vista.  We expect that all currently supported platforms will be fine, but that needs to be confirmed.   Computers with 80GB hard drives may need bigger disks for the full application suite (we are working with Adobe, whose products take about 13GB, to see if some files can be on servers).

Schedule

These dates will obviously slip and slide:

  • December 17 2009 -- begin building test computers and installing applications with BigFix
  • February 9, 2010 -- finish test USB key with image and build software
  • February 26, 2010 -- complete testing and changes to CLC tools and application baselines 1 and 2; make test build key available to CLM members
  • March 31, 2010-- complete baseline 3 testing and evaluation of 64-bit applications that could be hosted on terminal servers
  • April 15, 2010 -- finish review build of several computers in public areas; CLM units build test systems
  • June 1, 2010 -- finish solving all the problems and begin deployment in CLC areas, help CLM units
  • July 30, 2010 -- finish all baselines and begin major deployment in production areas
  • August 23, 2010 -- first day of classes, Fall Semester.

Open Issues / Tasks

  • Minor issues remain open with some applications.
  • We are also watching the number of times a logon results in a temporary profile and seeing if that is getting better (seems to be as of 9/7/10) or if there are problems that can be indentified.

Solved Issues

  • Connecting to Windows file servers and PASS SMB gateways: Windows 7 needs a registry entry to enable certain Kerberos encryption types.  This page shows the settings and has a zip file with a reg file to set that and the dce.psu.edu realm setting.
  • Symantec Endpoint Protection 11MR5 works with Windows 7.
  • The program UserSetup.exe would not launch on log in and required administrator elevation for the user to run manually.  After lots of experimenting, we determined the name having "Setup" in it was detected by UAC.  The application was renamed UserSetOptions.exe and then it worked fine.
  • Additional user shell folders are redirected to the user's "home"; folder (this is on the UDrive or in PASS, whichever is selected by the user).  UserSetup (now UserSetOptions, see above) sets the registry entries on logon and when the home folder choice is changed.  The values are in the registry key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\. In addition to Favorites, My Documents, we now change My Pictures, My Music, and My Videos to be under My Documents. Note that Windows 7 gets rid of the "My" but keeps shortcuts with those names.  For a transition from XP to Windows 7 we decided to keep the "My" part of the folder names.  "Downloads" is also redirected to <homefolder>\Downloads . . . note the registry value is "{374DE290-123F-4565-9164-39C4925E467B}".    Desktop and Cookies remain redirected to the a UNC for the UDrive.
  • PSUWinLogonExits -- this is our software that sends logon/logoff messages to PALS and provides the automatic logoff for abandoned sessions.  It has to be completely rewritten for Vista/Windows 7.  The PALS part is working but we were having difficulty making the screen saver timeout and forced logout.  Solution: move function to PSUAlerts.
  • UpdtServ -- this CLC-written service processes administrative commands and supports podium control of classroom computers.  With Windows 7, a service cannot (or has great difficulty) displaying a window on the user's desktop.  UpdtServ displays warnings and a "lock" window".   It will have to use a process created in the user context at logon; this is in development.  Solution: this is working now in PSUAlerts.
  • Library Default Folders -- the 4 default Libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos) contain the corresponding public directories which are not usable in our environment, and end users cannot add their home directories (UDrive or PASS) because the server files are not indexed.   Solution: remove the public directories and add the home directories programmatically via PSUAlerts when the user changes their home directory.
  • Library Non-Indexed Locations -- folders on servers such as UDrive and PASS when added to a library result in an error message "Some library features are unavailable due to unsupported library locations".  A description of how to turn this off is found here.
  • Roaming Profiles -- roaming profiles are stored on servers using the path defined in each user's AD entry, but with ".v2" appended.  Jobs to create, delete and backup these folders have been working for a long time.  We should have enough disk space for the transition period.  The process for users to initiate clearing a profile was modified to allow them to pick which profile to clear.
  • Logon After Resume from Sleep -- there were several intermittent problems logging on immediately after waking up the computer from sleep mode.   These have been circumvented but some computers may not have the correct settings to avoid all problems.  Also, we still have cases open with Microsoft and Dell to resolve some problems that trigger these problems.
    • Cannot log on, get "The user name or password is invalid"; this usually clears up in 1 minute. 
    • Immediate logoff (3 seconds) after logon; no message, only "Welcome" shown briefly.   Next attempt is ok.  Fixed by removing KB977074.
    • Roaming profile slow to load; this is less frequent than the other two problems; probably caused by the network link going up/down/up after resume; fixed on Dell Optiplex 980 with BIOS A02 and latest Dell network driver 11.6.92.0.  Fixed on Optiplex 780 and 960 by turning off "AMT".

CLM members can consult the issue tracking list at https://wss.psu.edu/CLM/Lists/Windows%207%20Issues/.

Notes

  • CLM computers will be in OUs in the win.psu.edu domain rather than the labs.win.psu.edu domain so we can eventually get rid of labs.win.psu.edu.  

 

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Last Updated December 16, 2015