This is a three-part article about internet browsers in multiuser environments like Citrix Server VDA or Remote Desktop Service (RDS). The articles explain how to deploy and configure the internet browser to work smoothly in those kinds of environments. The most common browsers used by my customers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox; therefore, a three-part article.

Please be aware that some things might change between browser versions and need to be checked with each version.
This is part two about Google Chrome.

 

Disclaimer
The article is about deployment and configuration of the browser in a multiuser environment and not if the browser is the best, fastest, coolest, etc.  

 

About Google Chrome

Google has a lot of online services, and optimizing Chrome for it makes sense and might be one reason why people like to use it. Google Chrome comes in two main editions, which are Work and Enterprise. The later is the one you want to go with and here's the link: https://www.google.de/chrome/business/browser/admin Google Chrome can also be configured using group policy and is always a plus in my opinion. Find the current version of policy templates here http://dl.google.com/dl/edgedl/chrome/policy/policy_templates.zip Make sure you use always the same policy version as the Chrome version.

Google seems to like changing Chrome, and sometimes not for the better; you never know what happens after an update. Additionally, some things might not work, as I found with the master_preferences file. The biggest issue for me is the avatar/profile/account icon that could be removed in previous versions (this is not the case with the current one). Another problem is that Chrome can really blow up the user profile and therefore, slows down login sometimes for minutes. 


Google Chrome - Avatar Icon 

Deployment

Google Chrome Enterprise comes as an MSI file googlechromestandaloneenterprise.msi and so common MSI parameters can be used. There is one option that you want to set and it is NOGOOGLEUPDATEPING=1

The command line for a silent installation:
MSIEXEC.EXE /I "%CURRPATH%\GoogleChromeStandaloneEnterprise.msi" NOGOOGLEUPDATEPING=1 /q /norestart

Google installs Update services that can be removed afterward, also in a command line: 

sc stop gupdate
sc delete gupdate
sc stop gupdatem
sc delete gupdatem

Should the master_preferences file work for you, then copy your customized version in the Google install target folder at the end of the installation.

 

Configuration

There are different options to configure Chrome besides group policy and they are: a) Command line switches; b) Chrome flags; and c) master_preferences file. Chrome flags are for manual change and the master_preferences file did not work for me. Group policies and command line switches are the combination to get Chrome working the way you want.

Switches to use are: --no-first-run and --disable-gpu. They disable the first run dialog and GPU usage, assuming you run your system virtually. The command line to start Google Chrome would be:
"C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --no-first-run --disable-gpu

Chrome stores a lot of data in the user data folder and is by default part of the user profile. I suggest redirecting the folder to a network folder, like the user home drive, since you need the directory per user. Of course, this can have performance and other issues (like network failure), but you have to decide between that or a very long login duration. So far, no customer has reported any problems with redirecting the user data folder to the network.

NOTE: I absolutely DO NOT advise to redirect the entire AppData folder! This can cause many issues.  

Here are some important group policy configurations you should set:

  • Set location for user data
  • Disable hardware acceleration (again)
  • To start Chrome with a specific site you need to set two policies: Start URL and Start action 

To view within Chrome which policies are active, use chrome://policy 

 

Deployment Package

All required files for Google Chrome deployment can be downloaded as a single package

deploy_chrome.zip

  

Summary

Easy to install and configuration isn't difficult. Google should again allow the avatar removal and in general, make things working as they should. When starting the browser more than one Chrome process is created and therefore the RAM footprint could be better, but other than that, there are no complaints. If your company uses Google web services, then Google Chrome is probably the right choice for you. 

 


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