How often are system administrators asked to provision computer labs or groups of computers for single use type scenarios such as testing terminals, kiosks or library machines? Or make a lab available for outside groups to use a single application? This is typically accomplished by a mess of specific user credentials and group policy settings which never fully accomplish the goal and leave a lot to be desired. The Lab Manager plugin for Recast Right Click Tools Enterprise helps you use Microsoft ConfigMgr 2012 to better manage these scenarios and many more.
Lab Manager is a new feature in the 1.1 release of the Recast RCT Enterprise that provides IT administrators an easy way to quickly transform their computers into single purpose kiosk-mode devices. This tool is particularly helpful for preparing education labs for standardized testing such as Pearson, setting up internet workstations in libraries, digital signage, and single-purpose kiosk devices. Lab Manager requires that the Recast RCT Enterprise Server can reach your lab machines over remote WMI, connect to their c$ share, and connect via remote registry.
Lab Manager Capabilities
Lab Manager utilizes profiles to apply settings to machines. A lab management profile can include the following settings:
- Specifying a user account to automatically login to machines on restart
- Replacing the Windows desktop experience with a custom applications
- Restarting computers when there has been no mouse or keyboard input for a specified number of minutes
- Deleting files or folders each time the computer restarts
- Preventing unauthorized websites from being visited through a URL whitelist
- Disabling keyboard keys for all users
- Setting master volume level
Using Lab Management Profiles
- Applying a Profile
Profiles are built using the Manage Profiles tool. Profiles can be copied, renamed, modified, or deleted from this tool as well. Once a profile is configured, it can be deployed to a device or device collection in the ConfigMgr console. When a profile is applied, the Recast Agent, Now Micro Shell, and Now Micro Configurator are copied to the device, the Recast Agent service is installed, and configurator.exe -apply is added to the run key. This ensures that on restart, any user-specific profile settings are applied. Additionally, it ensures that the profile settings are reconfigured on restart if any had been changed by the user.
- Removing a Profile
Lab Management profiles can be removed just as easily. Simply right click on a device or device collection, go to Lab Management, and choose Remove Profile. When a profile is removed, a remote process is started on the machine to remove any system settings. Additionally, configurator.exe -undo is configured to run at startup via the run key. This ensures that any user-specific Lab Management settings are removed at login.
- Scheduling a Task
The deployment and removal of Lab Management profiles can be scheduled as well. Simply check the Schedule Deployment checkbox and specify the desired start date, scheduled task name, and user credentials. Optionally, you can specify an end date and repeat interval. When a scheduled task is run, the results are recorded in the Scheduled Task Results tool. This tool lists all scheduled tasks, the dates they’ve run, as well as the results of those tasks. Scheduled task configuration can be seen in the Scheduled Tasks tool. This tool is also where you can delete scheduled tasks.
Preparing computer labs for Pearson VUE Testing features how to Apply a Profile as well as Remove a Profile