Difference between revisions of "Roaming Windows User Profiles"

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= Introduction =
 
= Introduction =
  
Both Unix and Windows allow users to configure their computer to their individual taste. A users configuration may apply to one particular computer or to any networked computer on which they log in.
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A Windows profile is a set of files that contains all settings of a user including per-user configuration files and registry settings. In an Active Directory or NT4 domain you can set that the profile of a user is stored on a server. This enables the user to log on to different Windows domain members and use the same settings.
  
The Unix/Linux world provides a "home directory" for each user. This stores all of the users program settings, documents and other files. It is easy to offer network-wide home directories for all of your users using NFS (Network File System). When properly implemented, this system is transparent to the user and provides a nice way to centralize data storage and allow any user to log into any workstation using their own preferences and settings and have all of their data readily available.
+
When using roaming user profiles, a copy of the profile is downloaded from the server to the Windows domain member when a user logs into. Until the user logs out, all settings are stored and updated in the local copy. During the log out, the profile is uploaded to the server.
  
Microsoft Windows supports "user profiles" for all users settings. These store all the Registry settings, program settings, documents and other files for each user. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not trivial to offer network-wide user profiles for all of your users.
 
  
This HowTo will focus on the world of Microsoft's user profiles. It will cover how profiles work, the different options you have in implementing profiles, how to configure Samba for network-wide ("roaming") profiles or "local profiles", and various tips and tricks to get the most out of user profiles.
 
  
  
  
 +
= Windows Roaming Profile Versions =
  
 +
Depending on the operating system version, Windows uses separate profile folders for a user to support Windows version-specific features. Version 2 profiles and later append the <code>.V*</code> suffix to the user's profile folder.
  
= Windows profile basics =
+
The following Windows profile versions exist:
  
With the release of Windows NT, Microsoft made a conscious effort to create a multi-user system with separate settings for each user. To do this, user profiles were implemented. User profiles are simply a set of folders and files for each individual user. These folders are located in different places depending upon the version of Windows you are running:
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:{| class="wikitable"
 
+
!Windows Client OS Version
{| border="1"
+
!Windows Server OS Version
!OS
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!Profile Suffix
!Stored in folder
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!Example Profile Folder Name
 +
|-
 +
|Windows NT 4.0 - Windows Vista
 +
|Windows NT Server 4.0 - Windows Server 2008
 +
|''none''
 +
|user
 +
|-
 +
|Windows 7
 +
|Windows Server 2008 R2
 +
|V2
 +
|user.V2
 +
|-
 +
|Windows 8.0 - 8.1*
 +
|Windows Server 2012 - 2012 R2*
 +
|V3
 +
|user.V3
 
|-
 
|-
|NT4
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|Windows 8.1*
|C:\WinNT\Profiles\
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|Windows Server 2012 R2*
 +
|V4
 +
|user.V4
 
|-
 
|-
|2000, XP
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|Windows 10 (1507 to 1511)
|C:\Documents and Settings\
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|Windows Server 2016
 +
|V5
 +
|user.V5
 
|-
 
|-
|Vista, 7, 8
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|Windows 10 (1607 and later)
|C:\Users\
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|
 +
|V6
 +
|user.V6
 
|}
 
|}
  
If you browse these folders you will find a few directories contained within: A folder for each individual user that has logged onto the workstation - an "All Users" folder and a "Default User" folder.
+
: <nowiki>*</nowiki> Using the default settings, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 use V3 profiles. However, the profiles are incompatible with Windows 8.0 and Windows Server 2012. For this reason it is recommended that you configure Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 to use V4 profiles. For further details, see: [https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2890783/incompatibility-between-windows-8.1-roaming-user-profiles-and-those-in-earlier-versions-of-windows Incompatibility between Windows 8.1 roaming user profiles and those in earlier versions of Windows].
  
The users folders contain the users registry hive („NTUSER.DAT“), as well as various other folders, such as „Desktop“, „Documents“, „Favorites“, „AppData“, etc. Depending upon what applications are installed and how many documents a user has, the user profile can range from a few megabytes in size to well over gigabytes in size (especially when not setting up [[#Configuring_folder_redirection|folder redirection]] and storing documents, movies, etc. in your profile, too).
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When you set the profile path for a user, you always set the path without any version suffix. For example:
 +
\\server\profiles\user_name
  
The "All Users" folder contains settings that are in effect for every user that uses the workstation. Mainly this folder is used to place application shortcuts within the start menu and desktop so locally installed applications are available to all users of the workstation. The "All Users" folder does not contain any registry settings.
 
  
The "Default User" folder contains settings that are used when a user does not already have a profile folder on the machine, and no default user profiles was found on the „NetLogon“ share. In this case, this folder is copied to a new directory named using the username of the user logging in (or a variant of the username). You can control the default appearance and settings of a new user by changing the contents of this directory, more on this later.
 
  
When Microsoft designed profiles, they provided options for the administrator to use depending upon the network setup and needs. These options are implemented with either „Local Profiles“, „Server-Side (Roaming) Profiles“ and „Mandatory Profiles“.
 
  
  
 +
= Setting up the Share on the Samba File Server =
  
== Local profiles ==
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== Using Windows ACLs ==
  
Local profiles are simply profiles that are stored on the local machine, these, of course, are the default profiles used when not on a network. The downfall of this type of profile is that there is no way to have the users settings "follow" them from one workstation to another, also there is no feasible way to ensure all of the users settings on your network is backed up properly – this is especially important if your users store all of their documents within their profile directories (the default functionality).
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To create a share, for example, <code>profiles</code> for hosting the roaming profiles on a Samba file server:
  
 +
* Create a new share. For details, see [[Setting up a Share Using Windows ACLs]]. Set the following permissions:
  
 +
:* Share permissions:
 +
::{| class="wikitable"
 +
!Principal
 +
!Access
 +
|-
 +
|Domain Users
 +
|Change
 +
|-
 +
|Domain Admins
 +
|Full Control
 +
|}
  
== Roaming profiles ==
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:* File system permissions on the root of the <code>profiles</code> share:
  
Roaming profiles are profiles that are stored on a server and are „downloaded“ to the workstation whenever a user logs into the machine. The profiles are then „uploaded“ back to the central server, when the user logs out.
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::{| class="wikitable"
 +
!Principal
 +
!Access
 +
!Applies to
 +
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 +
|Domain Users *
 +
|Traverse folder / execute file<br />List folder / read data<br />Create folder / append data
 +
|This folder only
 +
|-
 +
|CREATOR OWNER
 +
|Full control
 +
|Subfolders and files only
 +
|-
 +
|Domain Admins
 +
|Full control
 +
|This folder, subfolders and files
 +
|-
 +
|SYSTEM **
 +
|Full control
 +
|This folder, subfolders and files
 +
|}
 +
::<nowiki>*</nowiki> You can alternatively set other groups, to enable the group members to store their user profile on the share. When using different groups, apply the permissions as displayed for <code>Domain Users</code> in the previous example.
  
In theory these types of profiles would be perfect in an environment where users jump from machine to machine, except for the fact that they are downloaded (copied) every time a user logs into a machine. Whenever you have multiple copies of a file, you run the risk of losing data during the re-syncing of the data over a network. An offset hardware clock, corrupt sectors on a disk or faulty network wiring could cause data corruption.
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::<nowiki>**</nowiki> For details, see [[The SYSTEM Account]].
  
Another drawback of roaming profiles is the fact that, by default, the users documents and other application data are stored in the profile folder so the profile can grow to be huge. A profile of several hundred megabytes is common. Imagine if 50 users are logging into workstations at the same time, your network would quickly slow to a crawl. To make matters worse, when these users log out, this same data (slightly modified) is then copied back to the server. But to counteract, there you can setup [[#Configuring_folder_redirection|folder redirections]].
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:: Verify that permission inheritance is disabled on the root of the share. If any permission entry in the <code>Advanced Security Settings</code> window displays a path in the <code>Inherited from</code> column, click the <code>Disable inheritance</code> button. On Windows 7, unselect the <code>Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent</code> check box to set the same setting.
  
 +
::[[Image:Profiles_Folder_File_System_ACLs.png]]
  
 +
These settings enable members of the <code>Domain Users</code> group to store their roaming profiles on the share, without being able to access other user's profiles. Members of the <code>Domain Admins</code> group are able to access all directories on the share.
  
== Mandatory profiles ==
 
  
Mandatory profiles are pretty much the exact same thing as roaming (server-side) profiles, except for the fact that the profile is deleted instead of copied back to the server when a user logs out. This has the benefit of keeping the profile small (since no changes are propagated back to the server), and the fact that you only really need to maintain one profile for your entire network is also nice.
 
  
The drawback, of course, is that the profile is never updated – no user settings are retained, if you install certain applications your users would continuously be bugged with different registration wizards (until you update the mandatory profile of course), etc. Using mandatory profiles, although in theory would be wonderful (especially in a controlled environment), are not very feasible to implement on a production network.
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== Using POSIX ACLs on a Unix domain member ==
  
 +
On a Unix domain member server, you can set up the <code>profiles</code> share using POSIX ACLs instead of using Windows access control lists (ACL). This will not work on a Samba Active Directory Controller.
  
  
== Folder redirection ==
 
  
Folder redirection allows you to redirect a folder that is usually located within the user profile to an external source, such as a network share. The frustration occurs because not all folders can or should be redirected and if the network share that you are redirecting to becomes unavailable you have issues as well, such as disappearing icons on the desktop, etc.
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{{Imbox
 +
| type = warning
 +
| text = When setting up the share on a Samba Active Directory (AD) domain controller (DC), you cannot use POSIX ACLs. On an Samba DC, only shares using extended ACLs are supported. For further details, see [[Setting_up_a_Share_Using_Windows_ACLs#Enable_Extended_ACL_Support_in_the_smb.conf_File|Enable Extended ACL Support in the smb.conf File]]. To set up the share on a Samba AD DC, see [[#Using_Windows_ACLs|Setting up the Profiles Share on the Samba File Server - Using Windows ACLs]].
 +
}}
  
To be able to redirect any folder, you need to know what folders are actually in the profile, and what folders really work well with redirection and which folders will give you headaches if you try to redirect them.
 
  
When redirecting folders you should look at two different things; how much data is stored within the directory and how important the data is. If the folder contains a lot of data, it would be optimal to redirect that folder outside the profile so the data is not continuously copied from/to the server when the user logs in/out. Also, if the data is important, such as documents, then it is very important to redirect that data out of the volatile profile – otherwise updated documents could be lost when the network is either congested or times out.
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* Add the following share configuration section to your <code>smb.conf</code> file:
  
With that in mind, there are a few directories that should usually be re-directed, these include Application Data, Desktop and My Documents. In reality, the My Documents folder should be redirected even when using Local Profiles. Some Administrators also redirect the Favorites folder (mostly for backups and if using different profiles for each architecture which is covered later).
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  [profiles]
 +
          comment = Users profiles
 +
          path = /srv/samba/profiles/
 +
          browseable = No
 +
          read only = No
 +
          force create mode = 0600
 +
          force directory mode = 0700
 +
          csc policy = disable
 +
          store dos attributes = yes
 +
          vfs objects = acl_xattr
  
Some folders are not prone to work well when redirected (you will eventually encounter errors). These folders include nearly any folder used with Internet Explorer (except Favorites) as well as NetHood and PrintHood.
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: For details about the parameters used, see the descriptions in the <code>smb.conf(5)</code> man page.
  
The Local Settings folder is a special case. This folder contains files specific to the local machine and should not be propagated to the profile. For this to happen you must either set a registry key on each workstation or utilize a system policy on your network.
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* Create the directory and set permissions:
  
 +
# mkdir -p /srv/samba/profiles/
 +
# chgrp -R "Domain Users" /srv/samba/profiles/
 +
# chmod 1750 /srv/samba/profiles/
  
 +
: These settings enable members of the <code>Domain Users</code> group to store their roaming profiles on the share, without being able to access other user's profiles. Alternatively, you can set a different group.
  
 +
* Reload Samba:
  
= Implementing local profiles with Samba =
 
 
The easiest type of profile to implement with Samba is the local profile. Local profiles are stored on each individual computer and are not centrally located on a server.
 
 
Even though local profiles are stored on the users computer, it is still a good idea to redirect certain folders within their profile to a Samba share, such as the "My Documents" folder.  See [[#Configuring_folder_redirection]].
 
 
 
 
== In an AD environment ==
 
 
Local profiles are the default, so the following is only necessary if you have a previously set profile path.
 
 
* Open ADUC.
 
 
* Right-click to an user account and choose „Properties“.
 
 
* Go to the „Profile“ tab. The field for the users profile has to be empty if using a local profile for the account (this is the default).
 
 
:[[Image:ADUC_profile_share_empty.png]]
 
 
== In a NT4 domain ==
 
 
* If you have and NT4 domain, set the following directive in your smb.conf to empty pm on your PDC:
 
 
logon path =
 
 
:Note: When using local profiles, Samba's "logon drive" directive has no meaning. If you still want the users home directory on a Samba server, set to a drive letter, you must set it with a logonscript.
 
 
* Reload Samba:
 
 
  # smbcontrol all reload-config
 
  # smbcontrol all reload-config
  
= Implementing roaming profiles with Samba =
 
  
== Creating a profiles share and setting permissions==
 
  
The following sections describe how to setup a profile share stored on a Samba server.
 
  
There are different ways to setup the share, depending on using Windows ACLs (recommended) or POSIX ACLs:
 
  
 +
= Assigning a Roaming Profile to a User =
  
 +
Depending on the Windows version, Windows uses different folders to store the roaming profile of a user. However, when you set the profile path for a user, you always set the path to the folder without any version suffix. For example:
 +
\\server\profiles\user_name
  
=== Profile share using Windows ACLs ===
+
For further details, see [[#The_Windows_Roaming_Profile_Versions|The Windows Roaming Profile Versions]].
  
* [[Setup_and_configure_file_shares_with_Windows_ACLs#Preparatory_work|Preparatory work]]
+
Note that you must not set a trailing backslash.
  
* Create a folder for the roaming profiles
 
# mkdir -p /srv/samba/Profiles/
 
  
* Add a new share to your smb.conf:
 
[Profiles]
 
      path = /srv/samba/Profiles/
 
      read only = no
 
  
* Reload Samba:
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== In an Active Directory ==
# smbcontrol all reload-config
 
  
* Log on to a Windows machine as Domain Administrator
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=== Using <code>Active Directory Users and Computers</code> ===
  
* Go to „\\Servername“. You'll see the newly added share.
+
In an Active Directory, you can use the <code>Active Directory Users and Computers</code> Windows application to set the path to the user's profile folder. If you do not have the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed, see [[Installing RSAT|Installing RSAT]].
  
:[[Image:Shares_view.png]]
+
To assign <code>\\server\profiles\demo</code> as profile folder to the <code>demo</code> account:
  
* Right-click the share name, choose „Properties“ and go to the „Security“ tab.
+
* Log in to a computer using an account that is enabled to edit user accounts.
  
* Click  „Advanced“ and then the „Change permissions“ button for a more granular way to edit the share permissions.
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* Open the <code>Active Directory Users and Computers</code> application.
  
:[[Image:Advanced_share_settings.png]]
+
* Navigate to the directory container that contains the <code>demo</code> account.
  
* Set the permissions as shown in the following table
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* Right-click to the <code>demo</code> user account and select <code>Properties</code>.
  
:{| border="1"
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* Select the <code>Profile</code> tab.
!Name
 
!Permissions
 
!Apply to
 
|-
 
|Administrator
 
|Full control
 
|This folder, subfolders and files
 
|-
 
|Domain Users
 
|Traverse folder/execute file, List folder/read data, Create folder/append data
 
|This folder only
 
|-
 
|CREATOR OWNER
 
|Full control
 
|Subfolders and files only
 
|}
 
  
:[[Image:Profile_share_permissions_for_group.png]]
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* Fill the path to the home folder into the <code>Profile path</code> field.
 +
: Set the path always without any profile version suffix and without trailing backslash. For details, see [[#The_Windows_Roaming_Profile_Versions|The Windows Roaming Profile Versions]].
  
:You can replace "Domain Users" with another group name, if you want to use that group to store profiles on the share. You can add multiple groups, just use the same recommended group permissions for "Domain Users".
+
:[[Image:ADUC_Set_Profile_Folder.png]].
  
* Save the new permissions by closing the windows with „OK“.
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* Click <code>OK</code>.
  
=== Profile share with using POSIX ACLs  ===
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The setting is applied the next time the user logs in.
  
* Create a folder for the roaming profiles and set permissions
 
# mkdir -p /srv/samba/Profiles/
 
# chmod 1770 /srv/samba/profiles
 
# chgrp „Domain Users“ /srv/samba/profiles
 
  
* Add a new share to your smb.conf:
 
[Profiles]
 
  path = /srv/samba/Profiles/
 
  read only = no
 
  store dos attributes = Yes
 
  create mask = 0600
 
  directory mask = 0700
 
  profile acls = yes
 
  csc policy = disable
 
 
* Reload Samba:
 
# smbcontrol all reload-config
 
  
== Configuring roaming profiles for a user ==
+
=== Using a Group Policy Object ===
  
=== In an AD environment ===
+
Using group policy objects (GPO), you can assign settings to organizational units (OU) or to a domain. This enables you, for example, to automatically assign profile paths to all users that log on to a computer that is a member of the OU or domain. If you move the computer to a different OU or domain, the setting is removed or updated. Using this way, you do not have to assign manually the settings to each user account.
  
In an AD environment, you can setup roaming profiles individual for every user.
+
{{Imbox
 +
| type = note
 +
| text = Windows only supports assigning a profile path using GPOs on a per-computer basis. This means that the path is also applied to local users on domain members, which have no access to the profile share. To set the profile path on a per-user basis, see [[#Using_Active_Directory_Users_and_Computers|Using Active Directory Users and Computers]].
 +
}}
  
* Open ADUC.
+
To create a group policy object (GPO) for the domain that automatically assigns the <code>\\server\path\''user_name''</code> path to every user that logs on to a Windows domain member:
  
* Right-click to an user account and choose „Properties“.
+
* Log in to a computer using an account that is allowed to edit group policies, such as the AD domain <code>Administrator</code> account.
  
* Go to the „Profile“ tab, and fill the path to the users profile.
+
* Open the <code>Group Policy Management Console</code>. If you are not having the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed on this computer, see [[Installing RSAT|Installing RSAT]].
  
:[[Image:ADUC_profile_share.png]]
+
* Right-click to your AD domain and select <code>Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here</code>.
  
:If you use the %USERNAME% variable, you can set the profile path to multiple accounts at once, too.
+
:[[Image:GPMC_Create_GPO.png]]
  
:Windows Vista up to Windows 8.0 create .V2 folders for their profiles. Windows 8.1 starts using .V4 folders and Windows 10 .V5. This is appended automatically if a profile from those systems is uploaded to the server.
+
* Enter a name for the GPO, such as <code>Profiles on ''server''</code>. The new GPO is shown below the domain entry.
  
 +
* Right-click to the newly-created GPO and select <code>Edit</code> to open the <code>Group Policy Management Editor</code>.
  
 +
* Navigate to the <code>Computer Configuration</code> &rarr; <code>Policies</code> &rarr; <code>Administrative Templates</code> &rarr; <code>System</code> &rarr; <code>User Profiles</code> entry.
  
=== In a NT4 domain ===
+
* Double-click the <code>Set roaming profile path for all users logging onto this computer</code> policy to edit:
  
In a NT4 environment, you can setup roaming profiles globally for all users on the Samba PDC.
+
:* Enable the policy and set the profile path. For example:
  
* Add the following directive to your smb.conf:
+
\\server\profiles\%USERNAME%
  
logon path = \\%L\Profiles\%U
+
:: Windows replaces the <code>%USERNAME%</code> variable with the user name during login. Set the path without trailing backslash.
  
:The logon path directive is where you actually set up roaming profiles. This directive should contain a Windows network path to the location of the profile for each user. If the users profile directory does not exist, it will be created on that location (as long as the user has write access to that directory).
+
::[[Image:GPME_Set_Profiles_Properties.png]]
  
:You can also take full advantage of Samba's variable substitutions (see „man smb.conf“ in the „variable substitutions“ section).
+
:* Click <code>OK</code>.
  
* Reload Samba:
+
* Close the <code>Group Policy Management Editor</code>. The GPOs are automatically saved on the <code>Sysvol</code> share on the domain controller (DC).
# smbcontrol all reload-config
 
  
= Troubleshooting roaming profiles =
+
* Close the <code>Group Policy Management Console</code>.
  
The registry contains information about each user's profile and should your Samba infrastructure change, like the network location of users profiles, Windows might be unable to find it. The list of user profiles is located at:
+
The GPO is applied at the next reboot of the Windows domain members or when they reload the group policies.
  
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
 
  
Deleting the correct subkey (user SID) will force Windows to look up the user's profile setting from the domain controller and restore the profile when the next login happens.
 
  
= Configuring folder redirection =
+
=== Using <code>ldbedit</code> on a Domain Controller ===
  
== In an AD environment ==
+
On a domain controller (DC), to assign, for example, the <code>\\server\profiles\demo\</code> path as profile folder to the <code>demo</code> account:
  
To keep the following guide simple, we setup the policy in the „Default Domain Policy“. If you have different requirements, adapt it to your needs.
+
* Edit the <code>demo</code> user account:
  
* Open the Group Policy Management console.
+
# ldbedit -H /usr/local/samba/private/sam.ldb 'sAMAccountName=demo'
  
* Go to „Forest: your.domain“ / „Domains“ / „your.domain“
+
* The accounts attributes are displayed in an editor. Append the following attribute and value to the end of the list:
  
* Right-click „Default Domain Policy“ and choose „Edit“ to open the Group Policy Management Editor.
+
profilePath: \\server\profiles\demo
:[[Image:Edit_group_policy.png]]
 
  
* Navigate to „User Configuration“ / „Policies“ / „Windows Settings“ / „Folder Redirection“,  right-click to „Documents“ and choose „Properties“.
+
: You must not set a trailing backslash to the path.
  
* Redirect the folder to your needs and adjust the values on the „Settings“ tab, too.
+
* Save the changes.
:[[Image:Folder_Redirection_Documents.png]]
 
  
* In the „Folder redirection“ sub-tree you can redirect other folders, too.
+
The setting is applied the next time the user logs in.  
  
* Save the changes by closing the Group Policy Management Editor.
 
  
  
 +
== In an NT4 Domain ==
  
== In a NT4 domain ==
+
In an Samba NT4 domain, to set <code>\\server\profiles\%U</code> as path to the profile folder:
  
NT4 policies can only be applied to Windows NT4 up to XP machines. Newer Windows versions only support group policies.
+
* Add the following parameter to the <code>[global]</code> section in your <code>smb.conf</code> file:
  
To keep this guide simple, we set the folder redirection in this example on the default user policy.
+
logon path = \\%L\Profiles\%U
  
* Open the System Policy Editor (poledit.exe).
+
: During logging in to the domain member, Samba automatically replaces the <code>%U</code> variable with the session user name. For further details, see the <code>Variable Substitutions</code> section in the <code>smb.conf(5)</code> man page.
:You find PolEdit e.g. on your Windows Server CD-ROM or in the Ms Office 2000 Resource Kit (ORK). Please look here for more informations: [http://support.microsoft.com/kb/910203 KB-910203]
 
  
* Go to „Options“ / „Policy Template“ and open an ADM file that contains policies for folder redirection (you may download such an ADM file from Novell's website: [http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/tools/downloads/redirect.zip http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/tools/downloads/redirect.zip])
+
* Reload Samba:
:[[Image:Poledit_opening_adm.png]]
 
  
* Create a new policy or open an existing.
+
# smbcontrol all reload-config
  
* Double-click on „Default User“.
 
  
* Follow the tree to the folder redirection (the way depends on the ADM file you use).
 
:[[Image:Poledit_folder_redirection.png]]
 
  
* Set a location where you want to redirect the folder to.
 
  
* Redirect other folders too, if necessary.
 
  
* Close the „Default User Properties“ window.
+
= Configuring Windows Profile Folder Redirections =
  
* Save the policy to \\PDC\NetLogon\ntconfig.pol (the file must be placed on your PDC's NetLogon share with the name „ntconfig.pol" and should be world-readable).
+
See [[Configuring Windows Profile Folder Redirections]].

Latest revision as of 09:31, 4 December 2018

Introduction

A Windows profile is a set of files that contains all settings of a user including per-user configuration files and registry settings. In an Active Directory or NT4 domain you can set that the profile of a user is stored on a server. This enables the user to log on to different Windows domain members and use the same settings.

When using roaming user profiles, a copy of the profile is downloaded from the server to the Windows domain member when a user logs into. Until the user logs out, all settings are stored and updated in the local copy. During the log out, the profile is uploaded to the server.



Windows Roaming Profile Versions

Depending on the operating system version, Windows uses separate profile folders for a user to support Windows version-specific features. Version 2 profiles and later append the .V* suffix to the user's profile folder.

The following Windows profile versions exist:

Windows Client OS Version Windows Server OS Version Profile Suffix Example Profile Folder Name
Windows NT 4.0 - Windows Vista Windows NT Server 4.0 - Windows Server 2008 none user
Windows 7 Windows Server 2008 R2 V2 user.V2
Windows 8.0 - 8.1* Windows Server 2012 - 2012 R2* V3 user.V3
Windows 8.1* Windows Server 2012 R2* V4 user.V4
Windows 10 (1507 to 1511) Windows Server 2016 V5 user.V5
Windows 10 (1607 and later) V6 user.V6
* Using the default settings, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 use V3 profiles. However, the profiles are incompatible with Windows 8.0 and Windows Server 2012. For this reason it is recommended that you configure Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 to use V4 profiles. For further details, see: Incompatibility between Windows 8.1 roaming user profiles and those in earlier versions of Windows.

When you set the profile path for a user, you always set the path without any version suffix. For example:

\\server\profiles\user_name



Setting up the Share on the Samba File Server

Using Windows ACLs

To create a share, for example, profiles for hosting the roaming profiles on a Samba file server:

  • Share permissions:
Principal Access
Domain Users Change
Domain Admins Full Control
  • File system permissions on the root of the profiles share:
Principal Access Applies to
Domain Users * Traverse folder / execute file
List folder / read data
Create folder / append data
This folder only
CREATOR OWNER Full control Subfolders and files only
Domain Admins Full control This folder, subfolders and files
SYSTEM ** Full control This folder, subfolders and files
* You can alternatively set other groups, to enable the group members to store their user profile on the share. When using different groups, apply the permissions as displayed for Domain Users in the previous example.
** For details, see The SYSTEM Account.
Verify that permission inheritance is disabled on the root of the share. If any permission entry in the Advanced Security Settings window displays a path in the Inherited from column, click the Disable inheritance button. On Windows 7, unselect the Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent check box to set the same setting.
Profiles Folder File System ACLs.png

These settings enable members of the Domain Users group to store their roaming profiles on the share, without being able to access other user's profiles. Members of the Domain Admins group are able to access all directories on the share.


Using POSIX ACLs on a Unix domain member

On a Unix domain member server, you can set up the profiles share using POSIX ACLs instead of using Windows access control lists (ACL). This will not work on a Samba Active Directory Controller.



  • Add the following share configuration section to your smb.conf file:
 [profiles]
         comment = Users profiles
         path = /srv/samba/profiles/
         browseable = No
         read only = No
         force create mode = 0600
         force directory mode = 0700
         csc policy = disable
         store dos attributes = yes
         vfs objects = acl_xattr
For details about the parameters used, see the descriptions in the smb.conf(5) man page.
  • Create the directory and set permissions:
# mkdir -p /srv/samba/profiles/
# chgrp -R "Domain Users" /srv/samba/profiles/
# chmod 1750 /srv/samba/profiles/
These settings enable members of the Domain Users group to store their roaming profiles on the share, without being able to access other user's profiles. Alternatively, you can set a different group.
  • Reload Samba:
# smbcontrol all reload-config



Assigning a Roaming Profile to a User

Depending on the Windows version, Windows uses different folders to store the roaming profile of a user. However, when you set the profile path for a user, you always set the path to the folder without any version suffix. For example:

\\server\profiles\user_name

For further details, see The Windows Roaming Profile Versions.

Note that you must not set a trailing backslash.


In an Active Directory

Using Active Directory Users and Computers

In an Active Directory, you can use the Active Directory Users and Computers Windows application to set the path to the user's profile folder. If you do not have the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed, see Installing RSAT.

To assign \\server\profiles\demo as profile folder to the demo account:

  • Log in to a computer using an account that is enabled to edit user accounts.
  • Open the Active Directory Users and Computers application.
  • Navigate to the directory container that contains the demo account.
  • Right-click to the demo user account and select Properties.
  • Select the Profile tab.
  • Fill the path to the home folder into the Profile path field.
Set the path always without any profile version suffix and without trailing backslash. For details, see The Windows Roaming Profile Versions.
ADUC Set Profile Folder.png.
  • Click OK.

The setting is applied the next time the user logs in.


Using a Group Policy Object

Using group policy objects (GPO), you can assign settings to organizational units (OU) or to a domain. This enables you, for example, to automatically assign profile paths to all users that log on to a computer that is a member of the OU or domain. If you move the computer to a different OU or domain, the setting is removed or updated. Using this way, you do not have to assign manually the settings to each user account.

To create a group policy object (GPO) for the domain that automatically assigns the \\server\path\user_name path to every user that logs on to a Windows domain member:

  • Log in to a computer using an account that is allowed to edit group policies, such as the AD domain Administrator account.
  • Open the Group Policy Management Console. If you are not having the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed on this computer, see Installing RSAT.
  • Right-click to your AD domain and select Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here.
GPMC Create GPO.png
  • Enter a name for the GPO, such as Profiles on server. The new GPO is shown below the domain entry.
  • Right-click to the newly-created GPO and select Edit to open the Group Policy Management Editor.
  • Navigate to the Computer ConfigurationPoliciesAdministrative TemplatesSystemUser Profiles entry.
  • Double-click the Set roaming profile path for all users logging onto this computer policy to edit:
  • Enable the policy and set the profile path. For example:
\\server\profiles\%USERNAME%
Windows replaces the %USERNAME% variable with the user name during login. Set the path without trailing backslash.
GPME Set Profiles Properties.png
  • Click OK.
  • Close the Group Policy Management Editor. The GPOs are automatically saved on the Sysvol share on the domain controller (DC).
  • Close the Group Policy Management Console.

The GPO is applied at the next reboot of the Windows domain members or when they reload the group policies.


Using ldbedit on a Domain Controller

On a domain controller (DC), to assign, for example, the \\server\profiles\demo\ path as profile folder to the demo account:

  • Edit the demo user account:
# ldbedit -H /usr/local/samba/private/sam.ldb 'sAMAccountName=demo'
  • The accounts attributes are displayed in an editor. Append the following attribute and value to the end of the list:
profilePath: \\server\profiles\demo
You must not set a trailing backslash to the path.
  • Save the changes.

The setting is applied the next time the user logs in.


In an NT4 Domain

In an Samba NT4 domain, to set \\server\profiles\%U as path to the profile folder:

  • Add the following parameter to the [global] section in your smb.conf file:
logon path = \\%L\Profiles\%U
During logging in to the domain member, Samba automatically replaces the %U variable with the session user name. For further details, see the Variable Substitutions section in the smb.conf(5) man page.
  • Reload Samba:
# smbcontrol all reload-config



Configuring Windows Profile Folder Redirections

See Configuring Windows Profile Folder Redirections.