Table of Contents
Roaming profiles are feared by some, hated by a few, loved by many, and a Godsend for some administrators.
Roaming profiles allow an administrator to make available a consistent user desktop as the user moves from one machine to another. This chapter provides much information regarding how to configure and manage roaming profiles.
While roaming profiles might sound like nirvana to some, they are a real and tangible problem to others. In particular, users of mobile computing tools, where often there may not be a sustained network connection, are often better served by purely local profiles. This chapter provides information to help the Samba administrator deal with those situations.
Roaming profiles support is different for Windows 9x/Me and Windows NT4/200x.
Before discussing how to configure roaming profiles, it is useful to see how Windows 9x/Me and Windows NT4/200x clients implement these features.
Windows 9x/Me clients send a NetUserGetInfo request to the server to get the user's profiles location. However, the response does not have room for a separate profiles location field, only the user's home share. This means that Windows 9x/Me profiles are restricted to being stored in the user's home directory.
Windows NT4/200x clients send a NetSAMLogon RPC request, which contains many fields including a separate field for the location of the user's profiles.
This section documents how to configure Samba for MS Windows client profile support.
For example, to support Windows NT4/200x clients, set the following in the [global] section of the
This is typically implemented like:
where “%L” translates to the name of the Samba server and “%u” translates to the user name.
The default for this option is
\\%N\%U service is created automatically by the [homes] service. If you are using
a Samba server for the profiles, you must make the share that is specified in the logon path
browseable. Please refer to the man page for
smb.conf in respect of the different
semantics of “%L” and “%N”, as well as “%U” and “%u”.
MS Windows NT/200x clients at times do not disconnect a connection to a server between logons. It is recommended
to not use the
homes meta-service name as part of the profile share path.
By using the logon home parameter, you are restricted to putting Windows 9x/Me profiles in the user's home
directory. But wait! There is a trick you can use. If you set the following in the
[global] section of your
then your Windows 9x/Me clients will dutifully put their clients in a subdirectory
of your home directory called
.profiles (making them hidden).
Not only that, but
net use /home will also work because of a feature in
Windows 9x/Me. It removes any directory stuff off the end of the home directory area
and only uses the server and share portion. That is, it looks like you
\\%L\%U for logon home.
A question often asked is: “How may I enforce use of local profiles?” or “How do I disable roaming profiles?”
The arguments to these parameters must be left blank. It is necessary to include the
to specifically assign the empty value.
By using the Microsoft Management Console gpedit.msc to instruct your MS Windows XP machine to use only a local profile. This, of course, modifies registry settings. The full path to the option is:
Local Computer Policy\ Computer Configuration\ Administrative Templates\ System\ User Profiles\ Disable: Only Allow Local User Profiles Disable: Prevent Roaming Profile Change from Propagating to the Server
From the start menu right-click on My Computer icon, select , click on the User Profiles tab, select the profile you wish to change from type to , and click on .
Consult the MS Windows registry guide for your particular MS Windows version for more information about which registry keys to change to enforce use of only local user profiles.
The specifics of how to convert a local profile to a roaming profile, or a roaming profile to a local one vary according to the version of MS Windows you are running. Consult the Microsoft MS Windows Resource Kit for your version of Windows for specific information.
When a user first logs in on Windows 9X, the file user.DAT is created, as are folders
Nethood. These directories and their contents will be merged with the local
versions stored in
c:\windows\profiles\username on subsequent logins, taking the
most recent from each. You will need to use the
preserve case = yes,
short preserve case = yes and
case sensitive = no
in order to maintain capital letters in shortcuts in any of the profile folders.
user.DAT file contains all the user's preferences. If you wish to enforce a set of preferences,
user.DAT file to
user.MAN, and deny them write access to this file.
On the Windows 9x/Me machine, go to User Profiles tab. Select the required level of roaming preferences. Press , but do not allow the computer to reboot.-> and select the
On the Windows 9x/Me machine, go to Preferences. Select Log on to NT Domain. Then, ensure that the Primary Logon is Client for Microsoft Networks. Press , and this time allow the computer to reboot.-> -> ->
Under Windows 9x/ME, profiles are downloaded from the Primary Logon. If you have the Primary Logon as “Client for Novell Networks”, then the profiles and logon script will be downloaded from your Novell Server. If you have the Primary Logon as “Windows Logon”, then the profiles will be loaded from the local machine a bit against the concept of roaming profiles, it would seem!
You will now find that the Microsoft Networks Login box contains
[user, password, domain] instead
[user, password]. Type in the Samba server's domain name (or any other domain known to exist,
but bear in mind that the user will be authenticated against this domain and profiles downloaded from it,
if that domain logon server supports it), user name and user's password.
Once the user has been successfully validated, the Windows 9x/Me machine will inform you that
The user has not logged on before and asks you
wish to save the user's preferences? Select .
Once the Windows 9x/Me client comes up with the desktop, you should be able to examine the
contents of the directory specified in the logon path on
the Samba server and verify that the
Nethood folders have been created.
These folders will be cached locally on the client, and updated when the user logs off (if you haven't made them read-only by then). You will find that if the user creates further folders or shortcut, that the client will merge the profile contents downloaded with the contents of the profile directory already on the local client, taking the newest folders and shortcut from each set.
If you have made the folders/files read-only on the Samba server, then you will get errors from the Windows 9x/Me machine on logon and logout as it attempts to merge the local and remote profile. Basically, if you have any errors reported by the Windows 9x/Me machine, check the UNIX file permissions and ownership rights on the profile directory contents, on the Samba server.
If you have problems creating user profiles, you can reset the user's local desktop cache, as shown below. When this user next logs in, the user will be told that he/she is logging in “for the first time”.
Instead of logging in under the [user, password, domain] dialog, press.
Run the regedit.exe program, and look in:
You will find an entry for each user of ProfilePath. Note the contents of this key
(likely to be
c:\windows\profiles\username), then delete the key
ProfilePath for the required user.
Exit the registry editor.
Search for the user's .PWL password-caching file in the
c:\windows directory, and delete it.
Log off the Windows 9x/Me client.
Before deleting the contents of the directory listed in the
(this is likely to be
c:\windows\profiles\username), ask the owner if they have
any important files stored on their desktop or in their start menu. Delete the contents of the
ProfilePath (making a backup if any of the files are needed).
This will have the effect of removing the local (read-only hidden system file)
in their profile directory, as well as the local “desktop,” “nethood,”
“start menu,” and “programs” folders.
If all else fails, increase Samba's debug log levels to between 3 and 10, and/or run a packet sniffer program such as ethereal or netmon.exe, and look for error messages.
If you have access to an Windows NT4/200x server, then first set up roaming profiles and/or netlogons on the Windows NT4/200x server. Make a packet trace, or examine the example packet traces provided with Windows NT4/200x server, and see what the differences are with the equivalent Samba trace.
The entry for the NT4 profile is a directory not a file. The NT help on Profiles mentions that a directory is also created with a .PDS extension. The user, while logging in, must have write permission to create the full profile path (and the folder with the .PDS extension for those situations where it might be created.)
In the profile directory, Windows NT4 creates more folders than Windows 9x/Me. It creates
Application Data and others, as well as
Start Menu, and
The profile itself is stored in a file
NTuser.DAT. Nothing appears to be stored
in the .PDS directory, and its purpose is currently unknown.
You can use the System Control Panel to copy a local profile onto
a Samba server (see NT Help on Profiles; it is also capable of firing up the correct location in the
System Control Panel for you). The NT Help file also mentions that renaming
NTuser.MAN turns a profile into a mandatory one.
The case of the profile is significant. The file must be called
or, for a mandatory profile,
You must first convert the profile from a local profile to a domain profile on the MS Windows workstation as follows:
Log on as the local workstation administrator.
Right-click on the My Computer Icon, select .
Click on the User Profiles tab.
Select the profile you wish to convert (click it once).
Click on thebutton.
In the Permitted to use box, click on the button.
Click on the Look in area that lists the machine name. When you click here, it will open up a selection box. Click on the domain to which the profile must be accessible.
You will need to log on if a logon box opens up.
For example, connect as
To make the profile capable of being used by anyone, select “Everyone”.
Click onand the Selection box will close.
Now click onto create the profile in the path you nominated.
Done. You now have a profile that can be edited using the Samba profiles tool.
Under Windows NT/200x, the use of mandatory profiles forces the use of MS Exchange storage of mail data and keeps it out of the desktop profile. That keeps desktop profiles from becoming unusable.
There is a security check new to Windows XP (or maybe only Windows XP service pack 1). It can be disabled via a group policy in the Active Directory. The policy is called:
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles\Do not check for
user ownership of Roaming Profile Foldersi
This should be set to
Does the new version of Samba have an Active Directory analogue? If so, then you may be able to set the policy through this.
If you cannot set group policies in Samba, then you may be able to set the policy locally on each machine. If you want to try this, then do the following (N.B. I do not know for sure that this will work in the same way as a domain group policy):
On the XP workstation, log in with an Administrative account.
Click on-> .
A Microsoft Management Console should appear.
Click on-> -> .
Double-click on Group Policy.
Click on-> .
In the “Console Root” window expand Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> User Profiles.
Double-click on Do not check for user ownership of Roaming Profile Folders.
Close the whole console. You do not need to save the settings (this refers to the console settings rather than the policies you have changed).
There certain situations that cause a cached local copy of roaming profile not to be deleted on exit, even if the policy to force such deletion is set. To deal with that situation special service was created. The application UPHClean (User Profile Hive Cleanup) can be installed as service on Windows NT4/2000/XP Professional, and Windows 2003.
The UPHClean software package can be downloaded from User Profile Hive Cleanup Service.
Sharing of desktop profiles between Windows versions is not recommended. Desktop profiles are an evolving phenomenon and profiles for later versions of MS Windows clients add features that may interfere with earlier versions of MS Windows clients. Probably the more salient reason to not mix profiles is that when logging off an earlier version of MS Windows, the older format of profile contents may overwrite information that belongs to the newer version resulting in loss of profile information content when that user logs on again with the newer version of MS Windows.
If you then want to share the same Start Menu/Desktop with W9x/Me, you will need to specify a common
location for the profiles. The
smb.conf parameters that need to be common are
logon path and
If you have this set up correctly, you will find separate
NTuser.DAT files in the same profile directory.
There is nothing to stop you from specifying any path that you like for the location of users' profiles. Therefore, you could specify that the profile be stored on a Samba server, or any other SMB server, as long as that SMB server supports encrypted passwords.
Unfortunately, the Resource Kit information is specific to the version of MS Windows NT4/200x. The correct resource kit is required for each platform.
Here is a quick guide:
On your NT4 Domain Controller, right click on My Computer, then select the tab labeled User Profiles.
Select a user profile you want to migrate and click on it.
I am using the term “migrate” loosely. You can copy a profile to create a group
profile. You can give the user
Everyone rights to the profile you copy this to. That
is what you need to do, since your Samba domain is not a member of a trust relationship with your NT4
Click on thebutton.
In the box labeled Copy Profile to add your new path, e.g.,
Click on Permitted to use box.in the
Click on the group “Everyone”, click on . This closes the “choose user” box.
Now click on.
Follow the above for every profile you need to migrate.
The Windows 200x professional resource kit has moveuser.exe. moveuser.exe changes the security of a profile from one user to another. This allows the account domain to change, and/or the user name to change.
This command is like the Samba profiles tool.
Windows NT 4.0 stores the local profile information in the registry under the following key:
Under the ProfileList key, there will be subkeys named with the SIDs of the users who have logged
on to this computer. (To find the profile information for the user whose locally cached profile you want
to move, find the SID for the user with the GetSID.exe utility.) Inside the appropriate user's subkey,
you will see a string value named
A Mandatory Profile is a profile that the user does not have the ability to overwrite. During the user's session, it may be possible to change the desktop environment, however, as the user logs out all changes made will be lost. If it is desired to not allow the user any ability to change the desktop environment, then this must be done through policy settings. See the previous chapter.
Under NO circumstances should the profile directory (or its contents) be made read-only as this may render the profile un-usable. Where it is essential to make a profile read-only within the UNIX file system, this can be done but then you absolutely must use the fake-permissions VFS module to instruct MS Windows NT/200x/XP clients that the Profile has write permission for the user. See fake_perms VFS module.
For MS Windows NT4/200x/XP, the above method can also be used to create mandatory profiles. To
convert a group profile into a mandatory profile, simply locate the
NTUser.DAT file in the copied profile
and rename it to
For MS Windows 9x/ME, it is the
User.DAT file that must be renamed to
User.MAN to effect a mandatory profile.
Most organizations are arranged into departments. There is a nice benefit in this fact since usually most users in a department require the same desktop applications and the same desktop layout. MS Windows NT4/200x/XP will allow the use of Group Profiles. A Group Profile is a profile that is created first using a template (example) user. Then using the profile migration tool (see above), the profile is assigned access rights for the user group that needs to be given access to the group profile.
The next step is rather important. Instead of assigning a group profile to users (Using User Manager) on a “per user” basis, the group itself is assigned the now modified profile.
Be careful with Group Profiles. If the user who is a member of a group also has a personal profile, then the result will be a fusion (merge) of the two.
MS Windows 9x/Me and NT4/200x/XP will use a default profile for any user for whom a profile does not already exist. Armed with a knowledge of where the default profile is located on the Windows workstation, and knowing which registry keys effect the path from which the default profile is created, it is possible to modify the default profile to one that has been optimized for the site. This has significant administrative advantages.
To enable default per use profiles in Windows 9x/ME, you can either use the Windows 98 System Policy Editor or change the registry directly.
To enable default per user profiles in Windows 9x/ME, launch the System Policy Editor, then select -> , next click on the Local Computer icon, click on Windows 98 System, select User Profiles, and click on the enable box. Remember to save the registry changes.
To modify the registry directly, launch the Registry Editor
(regedit.exe) and select the hive
add a DWORD type key with the name “User Profiles,” to
enable user profiles to set the value
to 1; to disable user profiles set it to 0.
When a user logs on to a Windows 9x/Me machine, the local profile path,
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ProfileList, is checked
for an existing entry for that user.
If the user has an entry in this registry location, Windows 9x/Me checks for a locally cached version of the user profile. Windows 9x/Me also checks the user's home directory (or other specified directory if the location has been modified) on the server for the User Profile. If a profile exists in both locations, the newer of the two is used. If the User Profile exists on the server, but does not exist on the local machine, the profile on the server is downloaded and used. If the User Profile only exists on the local machine, that copy is used.
If a User Profile is not found in either location, the Default User Profile from the Windows 9x/Me machine is used and copied to a newly created folder for the logged on user. At log off, any changes that the user made are written to the user's local profile. If the user has a roaming profile, the changes are written to the user's profile on the server.
On MS Windows NT4, the default user profile is obtained from the location
%SystemRoot%\Profiles which in a default installation will translate to
C:\Windows NT\Profiles. Under this directory on a clean install there will be three
All Users directory contains menu settings that are common across all
system users. The
Default User directory contains menu entries that are customizable
per user depending on the profile settings chosen/created.
When a new user first logs onto an MS Windows NT4 machine, a new profile is created from:
All Users settings.
Default User settings (contains the default
The users' account information that is obtained during the logon process
contains the location of the users' desktop profile. The profile path may be local to
the machine or it may be located on a network share. If there exists a profile at the
location of the path from the user account, then this profile is copied to the location
%SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME%. This profile then inherits the settings
All Users profile in the
If the user account has a profile path, but at its location a profile does not
exist, then a new profile is created in the
directory from reading the
Default User profile.
If the NETLOGON share on the authenticating server (logon server) contains
a policy file (
NTConfig.POL), then its contents are applied to the
NTUser.DAT which is applied to the
part of the registry.
When the user logs out, if the profile is set to be a roaming profile it will be
written out to the location of the profile. The
NTuser.DAT file is then
recreated from the contents of the
HKEY_CURRENT_USER contents. Thus,
should there not exist in the NETLOGON share an
NTConfig.POL at the next
logon, the effect of the previous
NTConfig.POL will still be held in the
profile. The effect of this is known as tattooing.
MS Windows NT4 profiles may be local or roaming. A local
profile will stored in the
%SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME% location. A roaming
profile will also remain stored in the same way, unless the following registry key is created as shown:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ winlogon\"DeleteRoamingCache"=dword:0000000
In this case, the local copy (in
%SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME%) will be deleted
Under MS Windows NT4, default locations for common resources like
may be redirected to a network share by modifying the following registry keys. These changes may be
affected via use of the System Policy Editor. To do so may require that you create your own template
extension for the policy editor to allow this to be done through the GUI. Another way to do this is by
way of first creating a default user profile, then while logged in as that user, run regedt32 to edit
the key settings.
The Registry Hive key that affects the behavior of folders that are part of the default user profile are controlled by entries on Windows NT4 is:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Explorer \User Shell Folders
The above hive key contains a list of automatically managed folders. The default entries are shown in the next table.
Table 26.1. User Shell Folder Registry Keys Default Values
|Start Menu||%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu|
The registry key that contains the location of the default profile settings is:
User Shell Folders
The default entries are shown in the next table.
MS Windows XP Home Edition does use default per user profiles, but cannot participate in domain security, cannot log onto an NT/ADS-style domain, and thus can obtain the profile only from itself. While there are benefits in doing this, the beauty of those MS Windows clients that can participate in domain logon processes allows the administrator to create a global default profile and enforce it through the use of Group Policy Objects (GPOs).
When a new user first logs onto an MS Windows 200x/XP machine, the default profile is obtained from
C:\Documents and Settings\Default User. The administrator can modify or change the
contents of this location and MS Windows 200x/XP will gladly use it. This is far from the optimum arrangement
since it will involve copying a new default profile to every MS Windows 200x/XP client workstation.
When MS Windows 200x/XP participates in a domain security context, and if the default user profile is
not found, then the client will search for a default profile in the NETLOGON share of the authenticating
server. In MS Windows parlance,
%LOGONSERVER%\NETLOGON\Default User, and if one
exists there it will copy this to the workstation to the
C:\Documents and Settings\
under the Windows login name of the user.
This path translates, in Samba parlance, to the
[NETLOGON] share. The directory should be created at the root
of this share and must be called
If a default profile does not exist in this location, then MS Windows 200x/XP will use the local default profile.
On logging out, the users' desktop profile will be stored to the location specified in the registry
settings that pertain to the user. If no specific policies have been created or passed to the client
during the login process (as Samba does automatically), then the user's profile will be written to the
local machine only under the path
C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%.
Those wishing to modify the default behavior can do so through these three methods:
Modify the registry keys on the local machine manually and place the new default profile in the NETLOGON share root. This is not recommended as it is maintenance intensive.
Create an NT4-style NTConfig.POL file that specified this behavior and locate this file in the root of the NETLOGON share along with the new default profile.
Create a GPO that enforces this through Active Directory, and place the new default profile in the NETLOGON share.
The registry hive key that effects the behavior of folders that are part of the default user profile are controlled by entries on Windows 200x/XP is:
The above hive key contains a list of automatically managed folders. The default entries are shown in the next table
Table 26.3. Defaults of Default User Profile Paths Registry Keys
|Cache||%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files|
|Local AppData||%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data|
|Local Settings||%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings|
|My Pictures||%USERPROFILE%\My Documents\My Pictures|
|Start Menu||%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu|
There is also an entry called “Default” that has no value set. The default entry is
REG_SZ, all the others are of type
It makes a huge difference to the speed of handling roaming user profiles if all the folders are stored on a dedicated location on a network server. This means that it will not be necessary to write the Outlook PST file over the network for every login and logout.
To set this to a network location, you could use the following examples:
This would store the folders in the user's home directory under a directory called
Folders. You could also use:
in which case the default folders will be stored in the server named
in the share called
FolderShare under a directory that has the name of the
MS Windows user as seen by the Linux/UNIX file system.
Please note that once you have created a default profile share, you MUST migrate a user's profile (default or custom) to it.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ winlogon\"DeleteRoamingCache"=dword:00000001
In this case, the local cache copy will be deleted on logout.
The following are some typical errors, problems and questions that have been asked on the Samba mailing lists.
With Samba-2.2.x, the choice you have is to enable or disable roaming profiles support. It is a global only setting. The default is to have roaming profiles and the default path will locate them in the user's home directory.
If disabled globally, then no one will have roaming profile ability. If enabled and you want it to apply only to certain machines, then on those machines on which roaming profile support is not wanted it is then necessary to disable roaming profile handling in the registry of each such machine.
With Samba-3, you can have a global profile setting in
smb.conf and you can override this by
per-user settings using the Domain User Manager (as with MS Windows NT4/ Win 200xx).
In any case, you can configure only one profile per user. That profile can be either:
A profile unique to that user.
A mandatory profile (one the user cannot change).
A group profile (really should be mandatory, that is unchangable).
A user requested the following: “ I do not want Roaming profiles to be implemented. I want to give users a local profile alone. Please help me, I am totally lost with this error. For the past two days I tried everything, I googled around but found no useful pointers. Please help me. ”
The choices are:
I know of no registry keys that will allow auto-deletion of LOCAL profiles on log out.
As a user logs onto the network, a centrally stored profile is copied to the workstation to form a local profile. This local profile will persist (remain on the workstation disk) unless a registry key is changed that will cause this profile to be automatically deleted on logout.
The roaming profile choices are:
These are typically stored in a profile share on a central (or conveniently located local) server.
Workstations cache (store) a local copy of the profile. This cached copy is used when the profile cannot be downloaded at next logon.
These are loaded from a central profile server.
Mandatory profiles can be created for a user as well as for any group that a user is a member of. Mandatory profiles cannot be changed by ordinary users. Only the administrator can change or reconfigure a mandatory profile.
A Windows NT4/200x/XP profile can vary in size from 130KB to very large. Outlook PST files are most often part of the profile and can be many GB in size. On average (in a well controlled environment), roaming profile size of 2MB is a good rule of thumb to use for planning purposes. In an undisciplined environment, I have seen up to 2GB profiles. Users tend to complain when it takes an hour to log onto a workstation but they harvest the fruits of folly (and ignorance).
The point of all the above is to show that roaming profiles and good controls of how they can be changed as well as good discipline make up for a problem-free site.
Microsoft's answer to the PST problem is to store all email in an MS Exchange Server backend. This removes the need for a PST file.
Local profiles mean:
If each machine is used by many users, then much local disk storage is needed for local profiles.
Every workstation the user logs into has its own profile; these can be very different from machine to machine.
On the other hand, use of roaming profiles means:
The network administrator can control the desktop environment of all users.
Use of mandatory profiles drastically reduces network management overheads.
In the long run, users will experience fewer problems.
“When the client logs onto the Domain Controller, it searches for a profile to download. Where do I put this default profile?”
There must be a
[netlogon] share that is world readable. It is
a good idea to add a logon script to pre-set printer and drive connections. There is also a facility
for automatically synchronizing the workstation time clock with that of the logon server (another good
thing to do).
To invoke auto-deletion of roaming profile from the local workstation cache (disk storage), use
the Group Policy Editor to create a file called
with the appropriate entries. This file needs to be located in the
share root directory.
Windows clients need to be members of the domain. Workgroup machines do not use network logons so they do not interoperate with domain profiles.
For roaming profiles, add to
|# Default logon drive is Z:|
|# This requires a PROFILES share that is world writable.|