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Deploying Default User Profiles
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Deploying default user profiles is one of the easiest ways to deploy settings to new users. You can't use default user profiles to deploy settings to existing users, though, because they already have user profiles. These aren't settings that you want to manage. They're defaults that you want to establish for users while allowing users to change them when necessary. Essentially, deploying default user profiles is like modifying the default settings in Windows XP. If you want to define a setting that users can't change, use policies. 6, "Using Registry Based Policies," contains more information about managing settings. To deploy a default user profile, follow these steps: 1. Create a template account. You can use a local or a domain account, but the user profile is generally cleaner if you use a local account on a computer that's not joined to a domain. (Because I include network shortcuts in my profiles, I usually use a domain account to create default user profiles.) Also, use a name for the template account that you're sure is unique in the registry and is shorter than eight characters. You'll learn why using a unique name is important a bit later. 2. Log on to the computer using the template account, and customize its settings. The section "Customizing User Settings," later in this chapter, describes settings that I frequent. 3. Clean up the user profile to remove artifacts that you don't want to deploy. The section "Cleaning the User Profile," later in this chapter, describes how to clean the profile. 4. Copy the template account's user profile folder to a new location and name it Default User. Don't replace %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings\Default User, however, because you might need to repeat the process a few times to get it right and you'll want the original default user profile handy. In the section "Creating the Default User Folder," later in this 235
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chapter, I describe an alternative method for building the Default User folder, which I think is more precise and yields a cleaner default user profile. 5. Deploy the default user profile. You can put the Default User folder in %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings on disk images and then deploy them, or you can put the Default User folder on the NETLOGON share of the server. I prefer the second method because it separates settings from the disk images, which allows me to update settings much more easily. Alternatives to Default User Profiles An alternative to customizing a bunch of settings in default user profiles is scripting. Create a script that configures Windows XP user settings per your company's requirements. This assumes that you have a specification, or at the very least, a list of settings that you want to customize for users. Then edit the Ntuser.dat hive file in the disk image's Default User folder, adding the command that executes the script to the key HKCU\Software\Microsoft \Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce. The Ntuser.dat hive file in the Default User folder doesn't contain the RunOnce key by default, so you must add it. Then add a REG_SZ value to this key the name is arbitrary and put the command line you want to execute in it. Each time Windows XP creates a new user profile, it executes the script to customize the user's settings. Also, you can add a script that customizes the current user profile to HKLM\Software \Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. Windows XP runs this script every time a user logs on to the computer. If you want only to configure settings the first time the user logs on to the computer, add code to the script that checks for a value in HKCU and runs only if that value doesn't exist. Then end the script with code that creates the missing value so that the script doesn't run the next time the user logs on to the computer. 9, "Scripting Registry Changes," shows you how to write scripts using Windows Scripting Host, and these are ideal for this scenario.
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