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Friday, May 26, 2006

Howto: Installing Programs with Any User

I never did get around to the series I was planning to write about the Windows and Unix data/code models, and how to properly deal with this (which would make your program work for limited users). But after a brief "debate" (if you can call it that) on Slashdot, I had a whim to explain how to allow limited users to install programs on Windows, without having to use runas to access the administrator account (and done in a relatively safe, multi-user friendly way). You will, however, need administrator access to configure Windows to allow this.

Now, before I say anything more, let me point out that this is only intended to work on programs that are multi-user friendly (that is, they don't assume they can write to their Program Files folder whenever they please). Maybe I'll do a post afterwards about how to deal with those types of programs.

Right now I'm thinking this post series will have the following parts (each one should be pretty brief, as none of them are particularly difficult:
1. Creating a user group for users that can install programs
2. Allowing programs run by users to add to the Program Files folder, start menu, and shared desktop (while not creating a gaping security hole on multi-user systems)
3. Allowing programs run by users to add to the registry (same criteria)
4. (maybe) Having the system take ownership of programs after they're installed (so that one user can't uninstall something that is used by multiple users)

Now, note that, while I have a general idea of how to accomplish this, I've not tried this before; so this will be a learning experience for all of us. We'll deal with complications as they arise (I can already think of one that might come up...).

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