Appsense StrataApps

So far my posts, have mainly focused on Microsoft products and Citrix, so I thought I needed to expand the horizon a bit Winking smile
I read a post about StrataApps from Appsense the other day and thought “Wow, I need to try this” but what does it do?
First of StrataApps is labeled a application virtualization solution since it allows users to install applications in a sandboxed environment. Note thou that StrataApps is not like other applications virt software.
StrataApps’ isolation engine engages only during application installation – not during runtime as with other application virtualization solutions.

What is StrataApps?

  • Securely install applications without the
    need for local admin rights into an isolated
    environment, separate from the underlying
    desktop environment – even on a locked down desktop!
  • Self-service ‘Follow-me Applications’
    between your various computing devices
  • Create an internal, self-contained application
    store

So therefore I needed to give this a test run. You can download StrataApps free from Appsense here –>
http://www.appsense.com/labs/strataapps (and remember this is still in beta)

  • Requires .Net 4 frameworks installed before you can start the installation.

After finished the installation you need to restart the computer.

For the purpose of this demo, id try with the Winamp installer, since WHO hasn’t used Winamp ?
The installer isn’t pretty huge so it should be easy enough to install and remove.

Accept the license terms and click next –>

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Choose the features, click next –>

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Choose directory –>

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Click next and click install. After finished the installation you need to restart the computer.

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When you start StrataApps after reinstallation, you get this option to define where you want the applications stored.
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The first screen after its finished, pretty nifty ?
Now you can just download and drag the application installer into the hub.

Cool thing is that you don’t even need to drag it into the app store, when you click on a installer file it will automatically launch within strataapps.

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I downloaded the winamp setup file (which is an .exe file)
And dragged it over to the app hub.

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The setup start the regular winamp installer and you just click trough the wizard like normal.
After Its finished installing you can see that setup created 2 folders containing the winamp files.
In the regular folder under C:\program files & under the App folder.

And I installed Winamp now as a regular user without admin rights.

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And Winamp now appears in my app hub, like a local app store.

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When I lauch from the app store It launches the executable contained in the regular installer file.

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If I wish to uinstall Winamp I can just click and drag the Icon to the trash bin.

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Note: I ran on a little error when I tried to remove Winamp from the system, after I was finished uninstalling, I seemed like I couldn’t remove a plug-in from winamp, which stayed visible in the app store.
If this is a bug from StrataApps or from the system I cannot say.

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But since its still in Beta I guess there might a a couple of bugs within the software.
I’ve worked as an it admin before I safely say that this software will be to good use!
Since it allows users to install software without admin rights will be a real time saver for it admins. I don’t know how many times I’ve needed to install a small app for a user and wasting a lot of time….

Of course this software isn’t meant to replace App-V or SCCM, but for all those small pesky software that your employees need to do some thing.
For instance winamp, which you don’t want to integrate in your gold image for OS deployment Smile

And of course you need admin rights to deploy this software as well.

But! might this software might also add some extra security risks?
Lets say that a user A (which has never had admin rights before) and gets StrataApps installed.
And he knows that he has a pesky AV solution like Norton installed from the OS deployment.  Can he then download the setup file, run it in StrataApps (The setup file of course checks if Norton is installed and gives the user the option to uninstall Norton)

UPDATE: After I posted this post, I got a quick reponse from AppSense, which confirmed that you cannot remove already installed apps with StrataApps.

Quote:StrataApps is meant to be seperate from the OS/Admin installed apps. Its meant for that session/user and therefore shouldn’t allow the installation of kernel drivers etc and should error out. I also tested with a standard application – TreesizeFree.. I installed it on my local machine.. then installed it using StrataApps as a normal user. I was able to uninstall my StrataApps app, however the locally installed install remained, as expected.

As you mentioned, this is still in BETA, so it is still being worked.

 

I haven’t tested this, but is it possible ? If so then StrataApps has to check the program list and verify which software was installed, that StrataApps cannot modify.

If you are interested in it, I suggest you give it a try –>
http://www.appsense.com/blog/post/2012/03/27/Meet-StrataApps.aspx