Chapter 27. Desktop Profile Management

John H. Samba Team Terpstra

Samba Team

April 3 2003

Table of Contents

Features and Benefits
Roaming Profiles
Samba Configuration for Profile Handling
Windows Client Profile Configuration Information
User Profile Hive Cleanup Service
Sharing Profiles between Windows 9x/Me and NT4/200x/XP Workstations
Profile Migration from Windows NT4/200x Server to Samba
Mandatory Profiles
Creating and Managing Group Profiles
Default Profile for Windows Users
MS Windows 9x/Me
MS Windows NT4 Workstation
MS Windows 200x/XP
Common Errors
Configuring Roaming Profiles for a Few Users or Groups
Cannot Use Roaming Profiles
Changing the Default Profile
Debugging Roaming Profiles and NT4-style Domain Policies

Features and Benefits

Roaming profiles are feared by some, hated by a few, loved by many, and a godsend for some administrators.

Roaming profiles allow an administrator to make available a consistent user desktop as the user moves from one machine to another. This chapter provides much information regarding how to configure and manage roaming profiles.

While roaming profiles might sound like nirvana to some, they are a real and tangible problem to others. In particular, users of mobile computing tools, where often there may not be a sustained network connection, are often better served by purely local profiles. This chapter provides information to help the Samba administrator deal with those situations.

Roaming Profiles


Roaming profiles support is different for Windows 9x/Me and Windows NT4/200x.

Before discussing how to configure roaming profiles, it is useful to see how Windows 9x/Me and Windows NT4/200x clients implement these features.

Windows 9x/Me clients send a NetUserGetInfo request to the server to get the user's profiles location. However, the response does not have room for a separate profiles location field, only the user's home share. This means that Windows 9x/Me profiles are restricted to being stored in the user's home directory.

Windows NT4/200x clients send a NetSAMLogon RPC request, which contains many fields including a separate field for the location of the user's profiles.

Samba Configuration for Profile Handling

This section documents how to configure Samba for MS Windows client profile support.

NT4/200x User Profiles

For example, to support Windows NT4/200x clients, set the following in the [global] section of the smb.conf file:

logon path = \\profileserver\profileshare\profilepath\%U\moreprofilepath

This is typically implemented like:

logon path = \\%L\Profiles\%U

where “%L” translates to the name of the Samba server and “%U” translates to the username.

The default for this option is \\%N\%U\profile, namely, \\sambaserver\username\profile. The \\%N\%U service is created automatically by the [homes] service. If you are using a Samba server for the profiles, you must make the share that is specified in the logon path browseable. Please refer to the man page for smb.conf regarding the different semantics of “%L” and “%N”, as well as “%U” and “%u”.


MS Windows NT/200x clients at times do not disconnect a connection to a server between logons. It is recommended to not use the homes metaservice name as part of the profile share path.

Windows 9x/Me User Profiles

To support Windows 9x/Me clients, you must use the logon home parameter. Samba has been fixed so net use /home now works as well and it, too, relies on the logon home parameter.

By using the logon home parameter, you are restricted to putting Windows 9x/Me profiles in the user's home directory. But wait! There is a trick you can use. If you set the following in the [global] section of your smb.conf file:

logon home = \\%L\%U\.profiles

then your Windows 9x/Me clients will dutifully put their clients in a subdirectory of your home directory called .profiles (making them hidden).

Not only that, but net use /home will also work because of a feature in Windows 9x/Me. It removes any directory stuff off the end of the home directory area and only uses the server and share portion. That is, it looks like you specified \\%L\%U for logon home.

Mixed Windows Windows 9x/Me and NT4/200x User Profiles

You can support profiles for Windows 9x and Windows NT clients by setting both the logon home and logon path parameters. For example,

logon home = \\%L\%U\.profiles
logon path = \\%L\profiles\%U

Windows 9x/Me and NT4 and later profiles should not be stored in the same location because Windows NT4 and later will experience problems with mixed profile environments.

Disabling Roaming Profile Support

The question often asked is, “How may I enforce use of local profiles?” or “How do I disable roaming profiles?

There are three ways of doing this:

In smb.conf

Affect the following settings and ALL clients will be forced to use a local profile: logon home = and logon path =

The arguments to these parameters must be left blank. It is necessary to include the = sign to specifically assign the empty value.

MS Windows Registry:

Use the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) gpedit.msc to instruct your MS Windows XP machine to use only a local profile. This, of course, modifies registry settings. The full path to the option is:

Local Computer Policy\
	Computer Configuration\
		Administrative Templates\
				User Profiles\

Disable: Only Allow Local User Profiles 
Disable: Prevent Roaming Profile Change from Propagating to the Server

Change of Profile Type:

From the start menu right-click on the My Computer icon, select Properties, click on the User Profiles tab, select the profile you wish to change from Roaming type to Local, and click on Change Type.

Consult the MS Windows registry guide for your particular MS Windows version for more information about which registry keys to change to enforce use of only local user profiles.


The specifics of how to convert a local profile to a roaming profile, or a roaming profile to a local one, vary according to the version of MS Windows you are running. Consult the Microsoft MS Windows Resource Kit for your version of Windows for specific information.

Windows Client Profile Configuration Information

Windows 9x/Me Profile Setup

When a user first logs in on Windows 9x, the file user.DAT is created, as are folders Start Menu, Desktop, Programs, and Nethood. These directories and their contents will be merged with the local versions stored in c:\windows\profiles\username on subsequent logins, taking the most recent from each. You will need to use the [global] options preserve case = yes, short preserve case = yes, and case sensitive = no in order to maintain capital letters in shortcuts in any of the profile folders.

The user.DAT file contains all the user's preferences. If you wish to enforce a set of preferences, rename their user.DAT file to user.MAN, and deny them write access to this file.

  1. On the Windows 9x/Me machine, go to Control Panel -> Passwords and select the User Profiles tab. Select the required level of roaming preferences. Press OK, but do not allow the computer to reboot.

  2. On the Windows 9x/Me machine, go to Control Panel -> Network -> Client for Microsoft Networks -> Preferences. Select Log on to NT Domain. Then, ensure that the Primary Logon is Client for Microsoft Networks. Press OK, and this time allow the computer to reboot.

Under Windows 9x/Me, profiles are downloaded from the Primary Logon. If you have the Primary Logon as “Client for Novell Networks”, then the profiles and logon script will be downloaded from your Novell server. If you have the Primary Logon as “Windows Logon”, then the profiles will be loaded from the local machine a bit against the concept of roaming profiles, it would seem!

You will now find that the Microsoft Networks Login box contains [user, password, domain] instead of just [user, password]. Type in the Samba server's domain name (or any other domain known to exist, but bear in mind that the user will be authenticated against this domain and profiles downloaded from it if that domain logon server supports it), user name and user's password.

Once the user has been successfully validated, the Windows 9x/Me machine informs you that The user has not logged on before and asks Do you wish to save the user's preferences? Select Yes.

Once the Windows 9x/Me client comes up with the desktop, you should be able to examine the contents of the directory specified in the logon path on the Samba server and verify that the Desktop, Start Menu, Programs, and Nethood folders have been created.

These folders will be cached locally on the client and updated when the user logs off (if you haven't made them read-only by then). You will find that if the user creates further folders or shortcuts, the client will merge the profile contents downloaded with the contents of the profile directory already on the local client, taking the newest folders and shortcut from each set.

If you have made the folders/files read-only on the Samba server, then you will get errors from the Windows 9x/Me machine on logon and logout as it attempts to merge the local and remote profile. Basically, if you have any errors reported by the Windows 9x/Me machine, check the UNIX file permissions and ownership rights on the profile directory contents, on the Samba server.

If you have problems creating user profiles, you can reset the user's local desktop cache, as shown below. When this user next logs in, the user will be told that he/she is logging in “for the first time”.

  1. Instead of logging in under the [user, password, domain] dialog, press escape.

  2. Run the regedit.exe program, and look in:


    You will find an entry for each user of ProfilePath. Note the contents of this key (likely to be c:\windows\profiles\username), then delete the key ProfilePath for the required user.

  3. Exit the registry editor.

  4. Search for the user's .PWL password-caching file in the c:\windows directory, and delete it.

  5. Log off the Windows 9x/Me client.

  6. Check the contents of the profile path (see logon path described above) and delete the user.DAT or user.MAN file for the user, making a backup if required.


Before deleting the contents of the directory listed in the ProfilePath (this is likely to be c:\windows\profiles\username), ask whether the owner has any important files stored on his or her desktop or start menu. Delete the contents of the directory ProfilePath (making a backup if any of the files are needed).

This will have the effect of removing the local (read-only hidden system file) user.DAT in their profile directory, as well as the local “desktop,” “nethood,” “start menu,” and “programs” folders.

If all else fails, increase Samba's debug log levels to between 3 and 10, and/or run a packet sniffer program such as ethereal or netmon.exe, and look for error messages.

If you have access to an Windows NT4/200x server, then first set up roaming profiles and/or netlogons on the Windows NT4/200x server. Make a packet trace, or examine the example packet traces provided with Windows NT4/200x server, and see what the differences are with the equivalent Samba trace.

Windows NT4 Workstation

When a user first logs in to a Windows NT workstation, the profile NTuser.DAT is created. The profile location can be now specified through the logon path parameter.

There is a parameter that is now available for use with NT Profiles: logon drive. This should be set to H: or any other drive, and should be used in conjunction with the new logon home parameter.

The entry for the NT4 profile is a directory, not a file. The NT help on profiles mentions that a directory is also created with a .PDS extension. The user, while logging in, must have write permission to create the full profile path (and the folder with the .PDS extension for those situations where it might be created).

In the profile directory, Windows NT4 creates more folders than Windows 9x/Me. It creates Application Data and others, as well as Desktop, Nethood, Start Menu, and Programs. The profile itself is stored in a file NTuser.DAT. Nothing appears to be stored in the .PDS directory, and its purpose is currently unknown.

You can use the System Control Panel to copy a local profile onto a Samba server (see NT help on profiles; it is also capable of firing up the correct location in the System Control Panel for you). The NT help file also mentions that renaming NTuser.DAT to NTuser.MAN turns a profile into a mandatory one.

The case of the profile is significant. The file must be called NTuser.DAT or, for a mandatory profile, NTuser.MAN.

Windows 2000/XP Professional

You must first convert the profile from a local profile to a domain profile on the MS Windows workstation as follows:

  1. Log on as the local workstation administrator.

  2. Right-click on the My Computer icon, and select Properties.

  3. Click on the User Profiles tab.

  4. Select the profile you wish to convert (click it once).

  5. Click on the Copy To button.

  6. In the Permitted to use box, click on the Change button.

  7. Click on the Look in area that lists the machine name. When you click here, it will open up a selection box. Click on the domain to which the profile must be accessible.


    You will need to log on if a logon box opens up. For example, connect as DOMAIN\root, password: mypassword.

  8. To make the profile capable of being used by anyone, select “Everyone”.

  9. Click on OK and the Selection box will close.

  10. Now click on OK to create the profile in the path you nominated.

Done. You now have a profile that can be edited using the Samba profiles tool.


Under Windows NT/200x, the use of mandatory profiles forces the use of MS Exchange storage of mail data and keeps it out of the desktop profile. That keeps desktop profiles from becoming unusable.

Windows XP Service Pack 1

There is a security check new to Windows XP (or maybe only Windows XP service pack 1). It can be disabled via a group policy in the Active Directory. The policy is called:

Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles\
          Do not check for user ownership of Roaming Profile Folders

This should be set to Enabled.

Does the new version of Samba have an Active Directory analogue? If so, then you may be able to set the policy through this.

If you cannot set group policies in Samba, then you may be able to set the policy locally on each machine. If you want to try this, then do the following:

  1. On the XP workstation, log in with an administrative account.

  2. Click on Start -> Run.

  3. Type mmc.

  4. Click on OK.

  5. A Microsoft Management Console should appear.

  6. Click on File -> Add/Remove Snap-in -> Add.

  7. Double-click on Group Policy.

  8. Click on Finish -> Close.

  9. Click on OK.

  10. In the “Console Root” window expand Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> User Profiles.

  11. Double-click on Do not check for user ownership of Roaming Profile Folders.

  12. Select Enabled.

  13. Click on OK.

  14. Close the whole console. You do not need to save the settings (this refers to the console settings rather than the policies you have changed).

  15. Reboot.

User Profile Hive Cleanup Service

There are certain situations that cause a cached local copy of roaming profile not to be deleted on exit, even if the policy to force such deletion is set. To deal with that situation, a special service was created. The application UPHClean (User Profile Hive Cleanup) can be installed as a service on Windows NT4/2000/XP Professional and Windows 2003.

The UPHClean software package can be downloaded from the User Profile Hive Cleanup Service[7] web site.

Sharing Profiles between Windows 9x/Me and NT4/200x/XP Workstations

Sharing of desktop profiles between Windows versions is not recommended. Desktop profiles are an evolving phenomenon, and profiles for later versions of MS Windows clients add features that may interfere with earlier versions of MS Windows clients. Probably the more salient reason to not mix profiles is that when logging off an earlier version of MS Windows, the older format of profile contents may overwrite information that belongs to the newer version, resulting in loss of profile information content when that user logs on again with the newer version of MS Windows.

If you then want to share the same Start Menu and Desktop with Windows 9x/Me, you must specify a common location for the profiles. The smb.conf parameters that need to be common are logon path and logon home.

If you have this set up correctly, you will find separate user.DAT and NTuser.DAT files in the same profile directory.

Profile Migration from Windows NT4/200x Server to Samba

There is nothing to stop you from specifying any path that you like for the location of users' profiles. Therefore, you could specify that the profile be stored on a Samba server or any other SMB server, as long as that SMB server supports encrypted passwords.

Windows NT4 Profile Management Tools

Unfortunately, the resource kit information is specific to the version of MS Windows NT4/200x. The correct resource kit is required for each platform.

Here is a quick guide:

Procedure 27.1. Profile Migration Procedure

  1. On your NT4 domain controller, right-click on My Computer, then select Properties, then the tab labeled User Profiles.

  2. Select a user profile you want to migrate and click on it.


    I am using the term “migrate” loosely. You can copy a profile to create a group profile. You can give the user Everyone rights to the profile you copy this to. That is what you need to do, since your Samba domain is not a member of a trust relationship with your NT4 PDC.

  3. Click on the Copy To button.

  4. In the box labeled Copy Profile to add your new path, such as, c:\temp\foobar

  5. Click on Change in the Permitted to use box.

  6. Click on the group “Everyone”, click on OK. This closes the “choose user” box.

  7. Now click on OK.

Follow these steps for every profile you need to migrate.

Side Bar Notes

You should obtain the SID of your NT4 domain. You can use the net rpc info to do this. See The Net Command Chapter, Other Miscellaneous Operations for more information.


The Windows 200x professional resource kit has moveuser.exe. moveuser.exe changes the security of a profile from one user to another. This allows the account domain to change and/or the username to change.

This command is like the Samba profiles tool.


You can identify the SID by using GetSID.exe from the Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit.

Windows NT 4.0 stores the local profile information in the registry under the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

Under the ProfileList key, there will be subkeys named with the SIDs of the users who have logged on to this computer. (To find the profile information for the user whose locally cached profile you want to move, find the SID for the user with the GetSID.exe utility.) Inside the appropriate user's subkey, you will see a string value named ProfileImagePath.

Mandatory Profiles

A mandatory profile is a profile that the user does not have the ability to overwrite. During the user's session, it may be possible to change the desktop environment; however, as the user logs out, all changes made will be lost. If it is desired to not allow the user any ability to change the desktop environment, then this must be done through policy settings. See System and Account Policies.


Under NO circumstances should the profile directory (or its contents) be made read-only because this may render the profile unusable. Where it is essential to make a profile read-only within the UNIX file system, this can be done, but then you absolutely must use the fake-permissions VFS module to instruct MS Windows NT/200x/XP clients that the Profile has write permission for the user. See fake_perms VFS module.

For MS Windows NT4/200x/XP, the procedure shown in Profile Migration from Windows NT4/200x Server to Samba can also be used to create mandatory profiles. To convert a group profile into a mandatory profile, simply locate the NTUser.DAT file in the copied profile and rename it to NTUser.MAN.

For MS Windows 9x/Me, it is the User.DAT file that must be renamed to User.MAN to effect a mandatory profile.

Creating and Managing Group Profiles

Most organizations are arranged into departments. There is a nice benefit in this fact, since usually most users in a department require the same desktop applications and the same desktop layout. MS Windows NT4/200x/XP will allow the use of group profiles. A group profile is a profile that is created first using a template (example) user. Then using the profile migration tool (see above), the profile is assigned access rights for the user group that needs to be given access to the group profile.

The next step is rather important. Instead of assigning a group profile to users (Using User Manager) on a “per-user” basis, the group itself is assigned the now modified profile.


Be careful with group profiles. If the user who is a member of a group also has a personal profile, then the result will be a fusion (merge) of the two.

Default Profile for Windows Users

MS Windows 9x/Me and NT4/200x/XP will use a default profile for any user for whom a profile does not already exist. Armed with a knowledge of where the default profile is located on the Windows workstation, and knowing which registry keys affect the path from which the default profile is created, it is possible to modify the default profile to one that has been optimized for the site. This has significant administrative advantages.

MS Windows 9x/Me

To enable default per-use profiles in Windows 9x/Me, you can either use the Windows 98 System Policy Editor or change the registry directly.

To enable default per-user profiles in Windows 9x/Me, launch the System Policy Editor, then select File -> Open Registry. Next click on the Local Computer icon, click on Windows 98 System, select User Profiles, and click on the enable box. Remember to save the registry changes.

To modify the registry directly, launch the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and select the hive HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Network\Logon. Now add a DWORD type key with the name “User Profiles.” To enable user profiles to set the value to 1; to disable user profiles set it to 0.

User Profile Handling with Windows 9x/Me

When a user logs on to a Windows 9x/Me machine, the local profile path, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ProfileList, is checked for an existing entry for that user.

If the user has an entry in this registry location, Windows 9x/Me checks for a locally cached version of the user profile. Windows 9x/Me also checks the user's home directory (or other specified directory if the location has been modified) on the server for the user profile. If a profile exists in both locations, the newer of the two is used. If the user profile exists on the server but does not exist on the local machine, the profile on the server is downloaded and used. If the user profile only exists on the local machine, that copy is used.

If a user profile is not found in either location, the default user profile from the Windows 9x/Me machine is used and copied to a newly created folder for the logged on user. At log off, any changes that the user made are written to the user's local profile. If the user has a roaming profile, the changes are written to the user's profile on the server.

MS Windows NT4 Workstation

On MS Windows NT4, the default user profile is obtained from the location %SystemRoot%\Profiles, which in a default installation will translate to C:\Windows NT\Profiles. Under this directory on a clean install, there will be three directories: Administrator, All Users, and Default User.

The All Users directory contains menu settings that are common across all system users. The Default User directory contains menu entries that are customizable per user depending on the profile settings chosen/created.

When a new user first logs onto an MS Windows NT4 machine, a new profile is created from:

  • All Users settings.

  • Default User settings (contains the default NTUser.DAT file).

When a user logs on to an MS Windows NT4 machine that is a member of a Microsoft security domain, the following steps are followed for profile handling:

  1. The user's account information that is obtained during the logon process contains the location of the user's desktop profile. The profile path may be local to the machine or it may be located on a network share. If there exists a profile at the location of the path from the user account, then this profile is copied to the location %SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME%. This profile then inherits the settings in the All Users profile in the %SystemRoot%\Profiles location.

  2. If the user account has a profile path, but at its location a profile does not exist, then a new profile is created in the %SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME% directory from reading the Default User profile.

  3. If the NETLOGON share on the authenticating server (logon server) contains a policy file (NTConfig.POL), then its contents are applied to the NTUser.DAT, which is applied to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER part of the registry.

  4. When the user logs out, if the profile is set to be a roaming profile, it will be written out to the location of the profile. The NTuser.DAT file is then re-created from the contents of the HKEY_CURRENT_USER contents. Thus, should there not exist in the NETLOGON share an NTConfig.POL at the next logon, the effect of the previous NTConfig.POL will still be held in the profile. The effect of this is known as tattooing.

MS Windows NT4 profiles may be local or roaming. A local profile is stored in the %SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME% location. A roaming profile will also remain stored in the same way, unless the following registry key is created:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\

In this case, the local copy (in %SystemRoot%\Profiles\%USERNAME%) will be deleted on logout.

Under MS Windows NT4, default locations for common resources like My Documents may be redirected to a network share by modifying the following registry keys. These changes may be made via use of the System Policy Editor. To do so may require that you create your own template extension for the Policy Editor to allow this to be done through the GUI. Another way to do this is by first creating a default user profile, then while logged in as that user, running regedt32 to edit the key settings.

The Registry Hive key that affects the behavior of folders that are part of the default user profile are controlled by entries on Windows NT4 is:

						\User Shell Folders

The above hive key contains a list of automatically managed folders. The default entries are shown in the next table.

Table 27.1. User Shell Folder Registry Keys Default Values

NameDefault Value
AppData%USERPROFILE%\Application Data
Programs%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs
Start Menu %USERPROFILE%\Start Menu
Startup%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The registry key that contains the location of the default profile settings is:

User Shell Folders

The default entries are shown in Defaults of Profile Settings Registry Keys.

Table 27.2. Defaults of Profile Settings Registry Keys

Common Desktop%SystemRoot%\Profiles\All Users\Desktop
Common Programs%SystemRoot%\Profiles\All Users\Programs
Common Start Menu%SystemRoot%\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu
Common Startup%SystemRoot%\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

MS Windows 200x/XP


MS Windows XP Home Edition does use default per-user profiles, but cannot participate in domain security, cannot log onto an NT/ADS-style domain, and thus can obtain the profile only from itself. While there are benefits in doing this, the beauty of those MS Windows clients that can participate in domain logon processes is that they allow the administrator to create a global default profile and enforce it through the use of Group Policy Objects (GPOs).

When a new user first logs onto an MS Windows 200x/XP machine, the default profile is obtained from C:\Documents and Settings\Default User. The administrator can modify or change the contents of this location, and MS Windows 200x/XP will gladly use it. This is far from the optimum arrangement, since it will involve copying a new default profile to every MS Windows 200x/XP client workstation.

When MS Windows 200x/XP participates in a domain security context, and if the default user profile is not found, then the client will search for a default profile in the NETLOGON share of the authenticating server. In MS Windows parlance, it is %LOGONSERVER%\NETLOGON\Default User, and if one exists there, it will copy this to the workstation in the C:\Documents and Settings\ under the Windows login name of the use.


This path translates, in Samba parlance, to the smb.conf [NETLOGON] share. The directory should be created at the root of this share and must be called Default User.

If a default profile does not exist in this location, then MS Windows 200x/XP will use the local default profile.

On logging out, the user's desktop profile is stored to the location specified in the registry settings that pertain to the user. If no specific policies have been created or passed to the client during the login process (as Samba does automatically), then the user's profile is written to the local machine only under the path C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%.

Those wishing to modify the default behavior can do so through these three methods:

  • Modify the registry keys on the local machine manually and place the new default profile in the NETLOGON share root. This is not recommended because it is maintenance intensive.

  • Create an NT4-style NTConfig.POL file that specifies this behavior and locate this file in the root of the NETLOGON share along with the new default profile.

  • Create a GPO that enforces this through Active Directory, and place the new default profile in the NETLOGON share.

The registry hive key that affects the behavior of folders that are part of the default user profile are controlled by entries on Windows 200x/XP is:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\

This hive key contains a list of automatically managed folders. The default entries are shown in the next table

Table 27.3. Defaults of Default User Profile Paths Registry Keys

NameDefault Value
AppData%USERPROFILE%\Application Data
Cache%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
History%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\History
Local AppData%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data
Local Settings%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings
My Pictures%USERPROFILE%\My Documents\My Pictures
Personal%USERPROFILE%\My Documents
Programs%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs
Start Menu%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu
Startup%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

There is also an entry called “Default” that has no value set. The default entry is of type REG_SZ; all the others are of type REG_EXPAND_SZ.

It makes a huge difference to the speed of handling roaming user profiles if all the folders are stored on a dedicated location on a network server. This means that it will not be necessary to write the Outlook PST file over the network for every login and logout.

To set this to a network location, you could use the following examples:


This stores the folders in the user's home directory under a directory called Default Folders. You could also use:


in which case the default folders are stored in the server named SambaServer in the share called FolderShare under a directory that has the name of the MS Windows user as seen by the Linux/UNIX file system.

Please note that once you have created a default profile share, you must migrate a user's profile (default or custom) to it.

MS Windows 200x/XP profiles may be local or roaming. A roaming profile is cached locally unless the following registry key is created:

 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\

In this case, the local cache copy is deleted on logout.

Common Errors

The following are some typical errors, problems, and questions that have been asked on the Samba mailing lists.

Configuring Roaming Profiles for a Few Users or Groups

With Samba-2.2.x, the choice you have is to enable or disable roaming profiles support. It is a global-only setting. The default is to have roaming profiles, and the default path will locate them in the user's home directory.

If disabled globally, then no one will have roaming profile ability. If enabled and you want it to apply only to certain machines, then on those machines on which roaming profile support is not wanted, it is necessary to disable roaming profile handling in the registry of each such machine.

With Samba-3, you can have a global profile setting in smb.conf, and you can override this by per-user settings using the Domain User Manager (as with MS Windows NT4/200x).

In any case, you can configure only one profile per user. That profile can be either:

  • A profile unique to that user.

  • A mandatory profile (one the user cannot change).

  • A group profile (really should be mandatory that is, unchangable).

Cannot Use Roaming Profiles

A user requested the following: “ I do not want roaming profiles to be implemented. I want to give users a local profile alone. I am totally lost with this error. For the past two days I tried everything, I googled around but found no useful pointers. Please help me.

The choices are:

Local profiles

I know of no registry keys that will allow autodeletion of LOCAL profiles on log out.

Roaming profiles

As a user logs onto the network, a centrally stored profile is copied to the workstation to form a local profile. This local profile will persist (remain on the workstation disk) unless a registry key is changed that will cause this profile to be automatically deleted on logout.

The roaming profile choices are:

Personal roaming profiles

These are typically stored in a profile share on a central (or conveniently located local) server.

Workstations cache (store) a local copy of the profile. This cached copy is used when the profile cannot be downloaded at next logon.

Group profiles

These are loaded from a central profile server.

Mandatory profiles

Mandatory profiles can be created for a user as well as for any group that a user is a member of. Mandatory profiles cannot be changed by ordinary users. Only the administrator can change or reconfigure a mandatory profile.

A Windows NT4/200x/XP profile can vary in size from 130KB to very large. Outlook PST files are most often part of the profile and can be many gigabytes in size. On average (in a well controlled environment), roaming profile size of 2MB is a good rule of thumb to use for planning purposes. In an undisciplined environment, I have seen up to 2GB profiles. Users tend to complain when it takes an hour to log onto a workstation, but they harvest the fruits of folly (and ignorance).

The point of this discussion is to show that roaming profiles and good controls of how they can be changed as well as good discipline make for a problem-free site.

Microsoft's answer to the PST problem is to store all email in an MS Exchange Server backend. This removes the need for a PST file.

Local profiles mean:

  • If each machine is used by many users, then much local disk storage is needed for local profiles.

  • Every workstation the user logs into has its own profile; these can be very different from machine to machine.

On the other hand, use of roaming profiles means:

  • The network administrator can control the desktop environment of all users.

  • Use of mandatory profiles drastically reduces network management overheads.

  • In the long run, users will experience fewer problems.

Changing the Default Profile

When the client logs onto the domain controller, it searches for a profile to download. Where do I put this default profile?

First, the Samba server needs to be configured as a domain controller. This can be done by setting in smb.conf:

security = user
os level = 32 (or more)
domain logons = Yes

There must be a [netlogon] share that is world readable. It is a good idea to add a logon script to preset printer and drive connections. There is also a facility for automatically synchronizing the workstation time clock with that of the logon server (another good thing to do).


To invoke autodeletion of roaming profiles from the local workstation cache (disk storage), use the Group Policy Editor to create a file called NTConfig.POL with the appropriate entries. This file needs to be located in the netlogon share root directory.

Windows clients need to be members of the domain. Workgroup machines do not use network logons, so they do not interoperate with domain profiles.

For roaming profiles, add to smb.conf:

logon path = \\%N\profiles\%U
# Default logon drive is Z:
logon drive = H:
# This requires a PROFILES share that is world writable.

Debugging Roaming Profiles and NT4-style Domain Policies

Roaming profiles and domain policies are implemented via USERENV.DLL. Microsoft Knowledge Base articles 221833 and 154120 describe how to instruct that DLL to debug the login process.