Creating Containers with the Auto Packager

25/05/2019 Cliff Hobbs

Creating Containers with the Auto Packager

The Cloudhouse Auto Packager uses installation snapshot-based packaging, combined with runtime analysis, to create a Container for applications.

Overview

Cloudhouse has created a five-stage Packaging Methodology to minimise the time and effort spent creating Compatibility Containers™ to enable applications designed for older versions of Windows (such as Windows XP or Server 2003/2008), to be able to run on later versions, such as Windows 10 or Server 2016.

Introduction

This article explores in detail Stage 2: Install and Capture of the Packaging Methodology.

There are five stages involved to create a Compatibility Container using the Auto Packager:

Reminder

The Auto Packager may not be able to include files that are in use by antivirus software. If you are presented with a warning message, click Retry to include the files in the Container.

Stage 1: Install Capture (Required)

  1. Launch the Auto Packager from the shortcut.
  2. On the Select Package Folder page, click Select Folder, select a Package Folder to define where the Container will be created, then click OK
  3. Click Next
  4. On the Start Capture page, click Start Capture to capture the current state of the system (i.e. before the application is installed).
  5. Click the Next button which will be enabled once the capture has been completed.
  6. Install the application, components, and any required dependencies.
  7. Once all of the installations have completed, reboot ONLY if required to do so by the application's installer. After the reboot has completed, the Auto Packager can be restarted using the desktop shortcut.
  8. Return to the Auto Packager and click Next on the Install Application page.
  9. If required, proceed to Stage 2: Runtime Analysis (Optional) otherwise, click Next and proceed to Stage 3: Edit Container Contents (Optional)

Stage 2: Runtime Analysis (Optional)

The Auto Packager will detect any files, registry keys and/or shortcuts that are created or modified when the application is run for the first time. Any shortcuts will be shown on the Run Installed Applications screen.

If none are shown, proceed to Stage 3: Edit Container Contents (Optional)

Important

You should NOT use any desktop shortcuts or those on the Start menu. Make sure you only start the application using the shortcut(s) shown in the Auto Packager. Otherwise, the configuration changes will not be captured by the Auto Packager.

The following steps will enable application files and registry entries that are created or modified when the application is configured for the first time* to be captured in the Container:

  1. Start the application through the shortcut in the Auto Packager - do not use shortcuts on the desktop or start menu.
  2. Click each shortcut in turn which will load the shortcut.
  3. Perform any configuration changes* required so the app is configured for the users the first time it starts up.
  4. Once completed, close the programs and click Next to proceed.
  5. Click Complete Capture to record the final state of the system.
  6. Once the capture has been completed successfully, the Capture completed. Please click “next” to continue message will be displayed, at which point you can click Next to proceed.

*If the containerized application fails during a particular workflow, or an issue is identified, during User Acceptance Testing (UAT) it may be helpful to repeat the workflow during the packaging process.

Note

Do NOT uninstall the application during Runtime Analysis otherwise, the Auto Packager will capture this change and create the Container without the application.

Stage 3: Edit Container Contents (Optional)

Files, registry keys, and redirects can be added, removed, or modified from the Container depending on what was captured during the install capture and run-time analysis process. To modify the contents of the Container:

  1. On the Captured Files page, the left-hand side pane Files in package can be used to view or remove files as well as adding re-directions for files captured in the Container by the install capture process.
  2. Navigate to the file or folder, right click and select Redirect or Remove Item as required. Note that if you select a folder and want to redirect all sub-folders, then select Redirect Children.

If you redirect or remove an item, the available options in the right-click menu will change to Remove Redirect or Add Item allowing any changes to be reversed.

  1. To include files detected by Runtime Analysis, select the right-hand side pane Files requested at runtime
  2. Navigate to the file, right-click and select Include in package
  3. Click Next which will display the Captured Registry Keys page that allows you to view and manage registry keys in the same way as files.
  4. Click Next once you have made any required changes for registry keys.

Stage 4: Package Finalisation (Required)

  1. On the Package page, in the App Name field enter a unique name for the application which will automatically populate the App ID field.
  2. Optionally, enter a description for the application in the Description field.
  3. From the Run drop-down, select the executable that is used to load the application.
  4. Support Telemetry is enabled by default. To disable it, uncheck the Help Us Improve (Enable Diagnostic Reports) checkbox.
  5. Click Browse to add a reporting token to the Container to enable HTTPS Usage Reporting.
  6. Click Package App to create the Container.
  7. Click Next once the Press “Next” to continue message is displayed.
  8. To view the contents of the Container, click Open Package
  9. Remove any Runx.exe files (where x is a number), unless you need to create UWP/MSIX packages of the Container. As many antivirus programs will detect these files as malware, removing them means exclusions do not need to be defined.
  10. If changes need to be made, click Edit this Package to modify the contents of the package or to change the name, description and initial executable in the Container.
  11. When you have finished, close the Auto Packager by clicking the in the top right-hand corner.

Stage 5: Feature Dependent Configuration (Conditional)

  1. Refer to When To Edit A Container's Configuration to see if changes are required to the Container's default configuration.
  2. Refer to Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers for general information on managing Containers.

Updating, Editing and Maintaining Containers

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