Desktop management with Novell ZENworks

ZENworks is full of useful tools and features, but like all clever products, it is also complicated. O'Reilly author Gerald Foster answers your ZENworks questions.

On July 7, O’Reilly author Gerald Foster answered your questions about ZENworks.If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript. We hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Note TechMail or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

On July 7, O’Reilly author Gerald Foster answered your questions about ZENworks. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript. We hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Note TechMail or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to TechProGuild
MODERATOR: Welcome to the Guild Meeting! I'll get started in just a minute. In the meantime, I'm going to do a little housekeeping. I wanted to let everyone know that this month, we're going to give away a grand prize. Since this is Novell month, we're giving away a copy of Novell's CNE Study Set for Netware 5.

How do you win, you ask? Easy. Each meeting, we'll pick the person who asks the most questions. At the end of the month, the person who has gotten picked at the most meetings wins the prize! Ask as many questions as you can!

Today our special guest is O'Reilly author Gerald Foster. He is the author of Desktop Management with Novell ZENworks. Thanks to O'Reilly, today's meeting winner will get a copy of Gerald's book. It's a great book, and if you don't win, you can always purchase a copy at fatbrain.com, TechRepublic’s partner.

Now, I'd like you to welcome Gerald Foster!!!

Introducing ZENworks
GERALD FOSTER: I’m not sure how many of you are already familiar with the product ZENworks. I guess there is a mixture out there.

MIKKILUSA: Gerald, I requested this topic many months ago, and I thank TechProGuild for getting such great a speaker.

GERALD FOSTER: Mikkilusa, I guess you’re a ZEN fan then?

MIKKILUSA: I have installed it. Setting it up seems to be okay, but after that is when things get confusing.

IMNOTHERE: I installed a beta version many, many moons ago.

TERRY_LAWSON1: I am new to the Novell arena. I have heard about ZENworks. My question is, "What can it do for me?”

HUEVOS: I have heard of it, but I want to know more about it.

GERALD FOSTER: I will outline the product first. It is all about managing Windows desktops. We have all heard about TCO, but how do you achieve it? The tools available with ZAK are just about restriction, which is only a part of the solution.

Full of ZEN
JCARLISLE: How does the full version of ZEN differ from the free trial version?

GERALD FOSTER: The full version contains application metering, inventory, and remote management. The free version contains policies, application management, and workstation objects.

MIKKILUSA: What version is ZEN up to now? 3.0?

GERALD FOSTER: ZEN is currently at version 2. Version 3 is in beta, and I’m under nondisclosure about it, so I can’t take any questions about ZENworks version 3. Sorry.

Upgrading with ZEN
TERRY_LAWSON1: Will ZENworks allow me to upgrade, say, 50 computers at one time?

GERALD FOSTER: You can upgrade as many computers as you feel your network can take.

TERRY_LAWSON1: Will this allow me to upgrade in increments? Can you set up an install to do what you want it to?

GERALD FOSTER: Yes, you can. What you do is capture what happens, change it to suit you, and then deliver it. What you really do is repackage it.

Taking a Snappshot
GERALD FOSTER: One of my favorite parts of ZEN is the application management. How many of you have struggled for a way to deliver applications that are configured correctly over the network?

JCARLISLE: Application management is cool. But Snappshot can be a pain sometimes!

GERALD FOSTER: I don’t know how I got by before now without Snappshot. For those who are unfamiliar with Snappshot, it is a tool to allow you to find out what occurs during an application install. It is very useful.

JCARLISLE: The hardest part is having to keep a clean machine to do the captures on.

GERALD FOSTER: I manage a network with hundreds of workstations, but I maintain the strategy that I manage only one station. That station is cloned around the network, so the stations are consistent in their configuration. The main image has no applications in it. This helps the installation Snappshots a lot.

JCARLISLE: Are there any applications you're aware of that don’t play nicely with Snappshot and ZEN?

GERALD FOSTER: We have had trouble with some applications, but in general, we have fixed the problems. We have over 300 application objects on our tree. If you have trouble, my Web site may help, and if you are desperate, e-mail me using the link on the Web site.

JCARLISLE: Do you sometimes find you have to do extra tweaks in the registry? I’ve seen some Snappshot-like programs that sometimes grab extraneous registry info that causes problems when the apps are distributed.

GERALD FOSTER: Most apps need to be tweaked in the reg and shortcuts and files and .... yes certainly all snapshot programs will do this.

Virus Updates
HUEVOS: Can ZEN push out virus updates?

GERALD FOSTER: Yes, you can push out virus updates.

Manufacture installs
NEWMANP1: Prior versions of ZENworks seemed to only deliver apps using image overlay; I could not run manufacturer install routines. Has this changed yet?

GERALD FOSTER: I personally don’t like manufacturer installs because they assume defaults that are inappropriate for my network.

Win2K Pro limitations?
JCARLISLE: Will ZEN 2 push apps out to Win2K Pro the same way it does to Win NT WS? Are there any Win2K limitations with ZEN 2, such as collecting info for WS Manager or remote control? What about Win2K Pro? Does ZEN 2 have any difficulty distributing apps to it, or does it work like WinNT WS?

GERALD FOSTER: ZEN works fine with Win2K Pro. Win 2K Pro certainly behaves just like Win NT 4, correct? I am not aware of any limitations with Win2K and ZEN.

GERALD FOSTER: One of the limitations with Win2K is about profiles. The Win NT or Win95/98 profiles are different, so users lose their settings when you move them on. Win2K is treated as Windows NT 5.

JCARLISLE: It's not possible to push OS updates using ZEN? Not just support packs, but entire upgrades, say, Win2K Pro to NT?

GERALD FOSTER: Updates can be done for service packs, but whole OS upgrades would be very tricky.

ZEN protocols
TERRY_LAWSON1: What protocol does ZENworks use?


HUEVOS: How does cloning work for machines with different hardware?

GERALD FOSTER: Cloning machines with different hardware is tricky but possible. I am doing a new section on my Web site, http://www.zenhelp.com, about it. I should be finished this weekend, so check it out. I can recommend my Web site to any of you who are interested in ZEN. I have really just started it, but I intend to keep lots of useful stuff about how to install apps, etc. there.

How soon till V3?
TERRY_LAWSON1: Do you know when they plan on releasing V3?

GERALD FOSTER: I am not aware of a release date for V3.

Intellimirror versus ZEN
JOHN: How does ZEN compare with Intellimirror in Win2K Server?

GERALD FOSTER: I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with Intelimirror.

Installing ZENworks
TERRY_LAWSON1: Can I install ZENworks to one computer, or do I have to install, say, a client version to all workstations?

GERALD FOSTER: ZENworks requires a client on the workstations. This client uses objects in the NDS to define how the desktop should look and how it should behave.

TERRY_LAWSON1: Will ZEN push that client to the workstations for me, or will I have to install it manually to each one?

GERALD FOSTER: You should install the client to each workstation. Do you use Win NT or Win95/98?

TERRY_LAWSON1: Win98, but we are also considering upgrading to Win2K. How much memory is required?

GERALD FOSTER: The ZEN client will use about 4K of memory depending on what features you have enabled.

ZEN clients
HUEVOS: Does the client take up many resources while it is running?

GERALD FOSTER: It is pretty good. The client is also more that just a login mechanism. It provides sophisticated functionality to the NetWare filesystem as well.

JOHN: Does the full version of ZEN require a different client, or can you use the same one you use for the starter pack?

GERALD FOSTER: The client for the starter pack is the same as the full client. There are extras for the extra features, but you can push them out.

Locking down the desktop with ZEN
MIKKILUSA: I found that I must run the desktop management icon in the tray because putting ZEN in the login script would never work for me.

GERALD FOSTER: ZEN will help you lock down the desktop (force authentication), but with Win95 or 98, it is impossible to really achieve it. Which part of ZEN did you put in the login script?

ZEN functionality
TERRY_LAWSON1: What kind of functionality will it give me?

GERALD FOSTER: Sorry there is lots of functionality in the client. I wrote a 40-page chapter on the subject.

Forcing a logoff and reboot
HUEVOS: Will it force a logoff after a specified time? Will it force a reboot? Can these be set to happen, I mean?

GERALD FOSTER: You can force a reboot after an application install as well if need be.

HUEVOS: Can you force a logout/reboot for security reasons, such as lazy users?

GERALD FOSTER: You can force a logoff by enforcing a screensaver called Winexit from the resource kit.

HUEVOS: What resource kit? ZENworks resource kit?

TERRY_LAWSON1: Is that the Windows resource kit or a ZENworks resource kit?

GERALD FOSTER: Windows NT resource kit.

TERRY_LAWSON1: Do you know if that screensaver is in Win2K?

GERALD FOSTER: I haven’t looked at the Win2K resource kit for it yet. I would imagine it is there.

TERRY_LAWSON1: Will it allow me to see what the users have added to their workstations? Can you set a time that it will log everyone off of the network?

GERALD FOSTER: Yes, you can force everyone off by using a policy action. Policies are another big part of my book—60 pages on that topic.

TERRY_LAWSON1: You mentioned earlier a software metering application that is easy to set up. What I want to know is can I lock out some users totally while allowing others limited access?

GERALD FOSTER: Metering is very easy, so easy that I could write only a 12-page chapter on it. Yes, you can lock down some and not others.

Inventory issues
GERALD FOSTER: The full client includes a hardware and software inventory.

TERRY_LAWSON1: Does it pick up serial numbers from the software and, if possible, from the hardware?

GERALD FOSTER: It will pick up the software version number but not the serial number. Hardware serial numbers can be picked up, with the right hardware.

HUEVOS: Does the inventory function actually work well?

GERALD FOSTER: The inventory function is better with the ZEN 2 service pack installed. You never know; it may improve in the future.

TERRY_LAWSON1: It would be nice if it could pick up the serial number of the software. Do you think ZENworks will be able to get the software serial numbers in the future?

GERALD FOSTER: Sorry, but I have to take the Fifth Amendment.

Remote management
MIKKILUSA: Have you had a lot of success in using remote management for help desk stuff?

HUEVOS: TrackIt! doesn't work well.

GERALD FOSTER: What is TrackIt?

HUEVOS: Another program that does inventory, as well as other stuff. It saved duplicate records and was not easy to manage.

TERRY_LAWSON1: It works well for general inventory but does not give you all of the information.

GERALD FOSTER: ZENworks is all about having a strategy and implementing it. It is worth taking the time to make a plan and then deliver it. My book will help a great deal in that strategy.

Visit the ZEN Web site
GERALD FOSTER: I hope you enjoyed the session. There is a lot more information in the book and on my Web site, www.zenhelp.com.

MODERATOR: I’d like to thank Gerald for speaking today.

MIKKILUSA: Thanks for being such a great speaker. There is no question we will buy the book. Between that and your Web page, I think I got what I wanted out of my ZEN meeting request.

MODERATOR: And don't forget, if you're interested in Gerald's book and you don't have a copy yet, you can get one on fatbrain.com at http://www1.fatbrain.com/asp/bookinfo/bookinfo.asp?theisbn=1565927117

TERRY_LAWSON1: Thanks for all the information.

MODERATOR: Gerald, thank you so much. We'd love to have you back in the future some time. As always, thank you for attending the meeting, everyone. Feel free to send your comments and questions to mailto:TPGEdit@techrepublic.com.

GERALD FOSTER: No problem. I would be happy to return anytime.
Our Guild Meetings feature topflight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Note TechMail or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox