Third Party Applications September 15, 2006 at 2:04 pm

Network Home Redirector

Ed. Note: We’ve talked about redirecting parts of your home folder a number of times when dealing with AFP, but I don’t think we’ve ever actually laid out how to do it. This collection of scripts makes it easy.

If you manage an environment with lots of network home directory usage, then you need to check out Network Home Redirector. Most, if not all, of us have dealt with the thousands/millions of cache files that can hurt AFP performance on servers when utilizing network homes. Additionally, MS Office and the large chunks of data that it relocates can cause headaches. Jeff Ochsner has put together these redirection scripts and packaged them up for easy deployment.

This might be your new best friend. Be sure to read the ReadMe on Jeff’s site.

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  • Isn’t this the same thing as using portable (mobile) home directories with Tiger
    Server?

    I have portable directories setup for all our powerbook and desktop users. All
    the work they do is local, and then upon logout, everything syncs. I’ve scripted
    the synching to skip over all the cache files and other stuff that I don’t want
    synched. Their network home directories are stored on a Raid stripe and
    everything works super fast and well.

    Psync backups the home directories everyday to an external drive.

    • This solution is for using live network homes, but redirecting troublesome bits
      of those homes to the local machine.


      Breaking my server to save yours.

      Josh Wisenbaker
      http://www.afp548.com

    • Portable Home Directories do set up user accounts on the local machine, so
      everything is local. These packages are for people doing network home
      directories and don’t want to deal with the "slowness" of caches files and
      other files being constantly sent across the network. There are tons of ways
      to script this, and my installers are only one example. The thing I tried to do
      with these, is to allow anyone to install them via ARD Package Install (or by
      hand), and have the scripts, login/logout hooks, and all values set, without
      the need to know how to make all this work via the command line – they
      should be able to simply install them and have all the redirection done for
      them. People that are well-versed in the command-line, can take what I have
      done, and modify the scripts to make them work for their environment.

    • How many users do you have with portable home directories?
      Are they connecting to the network and syncing at the same time (or
      approximately the same time)?
      How big are the homes?
      And finally… how fast are the syncs?

      thanks.

      • There are about 10 users using portable home directories. Each home directory
        is about 20Gb. The beauty of portable directories is that only the changed files
        are synched across the network and not the whole home directory each time.
        Performance is very fast on a 100-Base-T, and insanely fast on a Gigabit
        network.

        Hope that helps.

  • Any chance the scripts themselves could be posted so that others could adapt
    them?

    Many thanks

    • I could either post the scripts, or if you download NHR, you can open up the
      DMG, and right click on any of the packages, and choose to show package
      contents. Then, go into the Contents folder and open up the Archive.pax.gz file.
      Inside there, are the scripts for the package install that you select. Hope this
      helps.

  • The reason Entourage breaks, is because part of the NHR.pkg copies all of the
    resources need for Office to run, to a location for the network user, so that
    the user will have a fast, "local", experience (even though they have a network
    home). One of the downsides of Office/Entourage is that the Entourage
    Database is stored in each user’s ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data folder.
    That DB can cause slow downs on the network (along with several other parts
    of Office causing slow downs), so I am simply copying all of the resources
    from the local admin’s account, down to a location (/tmp) for each network
    user to have access to it. Because of this, that DB will
    get "stomped on", each time the user logs in. If you are using Entourage,
    you could simply do NHRBasic.pkg (or your own custom scripts), which
    doesn’t redirect the Office stuff, but will redirect all the Cache files. This has
    been done in several locations, and by just redirecting cache files, can help
    speed up things significantly on the
    network. Hope this helps clarify.

  • This is a fantastic concept. I’m not super versed in login/out hooks. Nor am I amazing in Unix. I’ve been trying to get some time to become so, just to be able to use MS Office 2004 and other titles on our network. Now, I can use that time eslewhere! Thank you.

    One comment I have is the speed of the first login for users after installing this hook seems incredibly slow (10 – 15 minutes for some). I could not find in the documentation, just exactly what the script does on first login, and then subsequent logins.

    I have about 500 users, all with Network home directories. MS Office 2004 insisted on writing so much to the network that we downgraded last year to Office X. Now I’d like to use this with all of our 10.4 and 10.3 machines. Is there a FAQ site somewhere?

  • Good point – I looked at my script and realized that the script could be written
    better, to address this issue. The logout hook associated with the scripts
    removed the contents of /tmp, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but the latest version
    (1.1.1), redirects all Caches, etc. to /tmp/$1, and the logout hook removes /
    tmp/$1 at logout.

  • I’m running into the issue that if I use these scripts with either office X (10.1.8) or Office 2004 (latest whatever) I get an error when saving a file occasionally saying I don’t have permission. it then saves the temp file on the desktop. Saving again works.

    Anyone know what this might be?


    Ryan Stasel
    Systems Administrator
    School of Journalism & Communication
    University of Oregon

  • What I noticed is that while the cache and font redirection seems to be reversed upon logout, the Miccrosoft redirection stays after logout. I am currently in progress in rolling out NHD, and I have to say I see no improvement in behavior of Office 2004. It still wants to reconfigure itself each time someone uses it.

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