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    ThinApp Howto

    I attended a brain dump session by Travis Sales (@thinappguru on twitter), one of the guys that built the original Thinstall prior the VMware’s purchase and re-branding.

    I decided to put together a step by step Howto ThinApp a program like Firefox.  The setup:

    Windows 7 64b, VMware Workstation 7.1.3, Windows XP SP2 guest VM and ThinApp Enterprise 4.6.1.  The VM is configured for Host Only networking.  A share has been configured on Windows 7 to hold content that will be used during the ThinApp process (*).

    Per Travis’ suggestion to “Know Thy App,” I have gone with XP SP2 with the following packages installed:

    • VMware Tools
    • Windows Installer 3.1
    • SP2

    I took a snapshot (#1) of the Virtual Machine for rollback.  I then installed ThinApp Enterprise, verified it worked, and took another snapshot (#2).  This will be my “gold” image.

    We are now ready to conduct a ThinApp Capture.   First fire up ThinApp -> Start -> Programs -> VMware ->ThinApp Setup Capture.

    You will see the Welcome Screen, hit Next.

    Select Prescan, in most cases.

    Once the scan is complete, we can now install the application, in our case it will be FireFox.

    Install FireFox as usual, and then verify it works.  At that point, click Postscan in the ThinApp window.

    I selected Mozilla Firefox.exe as the only entry point for our ThinApp.  In short, Entry Points are the Windows executables that allow the launch of the ThinApp.  For a more detailed description, check out this ThinApp team blog entry.

    Select the user groups that have permissions to run this ThinApp.  If this machine was connected to a Windows domain, AD groups can be selected here.  ThinApp permissions could then be managed via AD.  Very cool!

    I told our ThinApp to run in WriteCopy mode for security purposes.

    Place the sandbox on a windows share as described with (*) above.  We do this to allow for rollback of the VM to test the FireFox Thinapp, and keep our data intact.

    On the next few screens, select “No, Do not send info to VMware,” and Next on the plugin section.

    Change the Inventory Name from Mozilla Firefox 3.y.z to Mozilla Firefox 3.  This way we can easily upgrade .y.z versions, and have seperate trees for x. versions.

    Create the Package Settings with both the EXE entry point we selected above, as well as a MSI file.

    If you want to poke around on the build screen, go ahead.  I hit Build.

    The build is complete!

    Copy the Captures directory back to your file share.  The EXE and MSI will be found in the bin directory.

    Roll back your VM, re-mount the file share, and test the EXE.  Congrats, you just built your first ThinApp!

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