Installation and User Data in Multi-User Windows XP environment

I am trying to setup a computer lab with Blender and I am running in to some issues. I searched around but couldn’t really find much on this (please point me in the right direction if I missed it).

  • If I install blender in a Windows XP system as administrator, other users do not have shortcuts in their start menu (this I think I can overcome just by copying the shortcuts to the “All Users” profile
  • If I modify the Blender layout/preferences as an administrator and save it as the Default settings, it appears then that all users would have this as the default.
  • Can users have their own application settings? I was trying the various options under the “Specify User Data Location” in the Installer, I’ve tried the first two (Use Application Data Directory or Use Installation Directory), not sure about the third one “I have defined a %HOME% variable” (can I make this generic for each user?)
  • If the User Data Location is in a adminstrator protected area (Application Data/Installation directory) then the user cannot set their own default layout.
  • Users don’t appear to have the scripts directory (this makes sense as it only gets put in to the Application Data directory of the account that installs blender or in the installation directory.Has anyone got any suggestions for a blender install in a multi-user Windows XP environment? I don’t have any problems with Linux. Also (I’m more a Linux/Unix guy then a Windows guy but I have to cross over to the Dark Side occasionally. Our Windows Systems use a Domain Login and are under Group Policies which I don’t admin.
    Any information would be most appreciated.

The easiest way I would try would be to allow the users the priviledge to download thier own applications (this brings in security issues though). That way they can download thier own versions of blender and when the go thru the installation just click for the "for me only " selection instead of the one for all users. You may also have to require they save it to different places…not sure how that would work out for you though.

As the admin whos’ downloaded this you probably picked the for all users selection (actually you didnt, but by copying your file and adding it to the all users section…basically the same thing) Which means you are all going from the same files when you run blender. So that’s why you all have the same default scene. The b.blend (i think this is the “save default” file) is the same blend file for all of you.

Blender has such a small “footprint”, I would just copy/ install it to all users home directories.

(there’s no real install AFAIK i.e. registry keys / system files … it “lives” in it’s own directory)

For “advanced” python, it might be necessary to install python on each machine, but generally a python install is not required, Blender has it’s own python dll.


thanks for the replies, but
Allowing users to download and install their own applications is not allowed, its a very bad idea especially in a lab situation where you expect that everyone is running the same version and following a particular course outline.

While it’s true that blender does have a small footprint, if you multiply that by a couple hundred (or hopefully thousand) users, it’s no longer small.

It also becomes difficult to maintain and clean up if you have a bunch of people installing software all over the place and then come to you because something broke and you have to somehow figure out why?

It just seems to me that there must be a way to do this, since everyone runs from the same executable on Linux and each user has their own b.blend files and scripts, plugins, etc.

I don’t mind installing the full python (I have that installed) since it is a good programming language and some of the advanced blender scripts do need it.

(1) - Righto

(3) - I set my %home% in XP as a user environment variable (c:/home/data for me, where all my linuxoid .dirs go), and it makes a .blender dir in there for me. I’m sure if you can set that per user it’ll work out.

(2) Peoples’ default will be loaded from %whatevertheirhomeis%/.blender/ (or is it …). I don’t know if you could override this after they’ve got a user directory made.

(5) I have a %home%/.blender/scripts directory. I think it gets auto-copied there when a new user dir is made, though it’s been so long since I installed and I’ve never reset my user dir I’m not sure how it makes one. I think you might be able to put a default .B.blend in /programs/blender and it would copy that to new dirs at least.

(4) That would suck.

I tried setting %HOME% to something like %APPDATA%/Blender (where appdata should be something like c:\Documents and Settings%Profile Name%\Application Data\ but the installer could not interpret/expand %APPDATA%.

So I tried setting %HOME% to C:\Documents and Settings\Computer Center\Application Data\Blender doing the install and then changing %HOME% back to point to %APPDATA% but that didn’t work either.

Something I’m not understanding is that when I run blender as a different user I there is a directory created for Blender in Application Data (C:\Documents and Settings\Tomas\Application Data\Blender Foundation\Blender) but nothing seems to go in there?

I’m kind of at a loss. It seems that if I don’t install into the Installation Directory then users can’t “Set Default Settings”, they are stuck with whatever the Admin sets. Don’t really know what else to try to work around this.

I just had the though that the users could change to path maybe somewhere in the preferences to point somewhere else but that won’t work either since they can’t save the default settings to point somewhere else.

Seems I appear to be stuck, or at least users will probably scream. I’d dive into the code but just don’t have the time right now and haven’t taken the time to learn python (although I guess the installer might be in some other language?)

Looks Like this might be a bug that I am running into:

[#7893] Installation: User Data Location - Application Data Directory: Blender doesn’t update it’s location to that directory

I guess I will have to follow that one and see what happens. I tried the 2.45.15 (2.46 RC1) release but it had the same problem.

As a workaround, I Installed Blender using the Application Data Directory Option and then copied the C:\Documents and Settings\admin\Application Data\Blender Foundation directory to the Default User profile. Since this is a new computer setup, new users should get that directory (with the appropriate files) when their profile is created. At least it appears to work. I logged in as a new limited account user and I was able to set my user preferences and had the scripts as well without interfering with other users.

I guess I will find once I ghost the lab and students start blending.:yes: