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Notes Wherever You Roam

Lotus roaming user support keeps users connected


 

Lotus Domino has had the capability to allow users to have their Lotus Notes client experience follow them from computer to computer for several releases now. It’s called roaming user support. By allowing files that make up a users Notes client environment to travel with them, users are more productive because their work environment isn’t constantly changing underneath them.

If you have employees who use more than one computer, you need roaming user support. When users are converted to roaming users, their bookmarks, contacts, personal journal, Eclipse plug-ins and customizations, and feed subscriptions follow them as they move between computers they use. This makes it much easier for users as they always have the latest changes to their work environment.

Roaming works by having users’ customization files replicated to a server where they can be stored in a central location. As users connect to different computers, their files follow them through Domino’s built-in robust replication capability.

In working with my customers, I’ve found three main reasons they implement roaming user support:

  1. To improve the productivity of users who need to use more than one computer
  2. To backup users’ critical files to a central server that represent their custom Notes environment
  3. To allow for contact synchronization to BlackBerry devices

Roaming user supports allows the most critical files—such as address-book contacts—to be backed up and accessed from a central server.

Extra Help With ID Vault

ID vault was introduced in release 8.5 and provides an added benefit to roaming users. ID vault benefits roaming users by propagating their password changes. For example, if an employee logs into the computer she uses in building A and changes her password, when she log into the computer she uses in building B, her ID file is automatically synchronized for her so she can enter her new password.

This prevents users from needing to change their passwords on every computer they work on or from having to copy their ID files from one computer to the next. ID vault handles synchronization of their ID files automatically.

Beware of Limitations

With the criticality of roaming user support to organizations, some limitations can inhibit its usefulness. You should be aware of two possible glitches when implementing roaming user support:

  • Switching IDs isn’t supported
  • Notes Single Logon isn’t supported

When roaming user support is enabled for a user, certain parameters are set in the Notes initialization file to indicate the user is roaming enabled. If a user needs to switch to a different ID on a regular basis, roaming user support isn’t a good option for them as switching user IDs can cause the situation where a user is unintentionally downgraded from a roaming to a non-roaming user.

The second limitation, use of Notes Single Logon, can create a situation where the user’s Notes ID is locked. In this scenario, the roaming upgrade can’t complete because the user’s ID file must be copied into his mail file so it can roam with him.

Debugging Roaming User Issues

If you have issues with upgrading a user to roaming status, you’ll need to enable debug parameters in the Lotus Notes client to collect further data. At a minimum, you’ll need to enable the roaming user debug variable:

debug_roaming=1

Additionally, you’ll most likely want to enable the following replication debug variables as the user’s contacts, bookmarks, personal journal, Eclipse plug-ins and customizations, and feed subscriptions are replicated to their roaming subdirectory on the server as part of the process of promoting a user to roaming status.

debug_repl=1
debug_repl_all=2
debug_repl_time=1
client_clock=1
log_replication=3

You can either have the output of these variables go to the console log or to a separate debug text file. To direct output of the debug variables to the console log, use this variable:

	console_log_enabled=1

To direct output to a text file, use this variable:

	debug_outfile=c:\roamingdebug.txt

If you’re working with Notes 8.x client installations, console logging will most likely be enabled by default.

After adding the necessary debug variables to the notes.ini file of the user’s Notes client installation, restart the Notes client to start collecting data.

Tip: If a user isn’t getting the prompt to be upgraded to a roaming user, set the variable 'RoamingUpgrade=2' to force the roaming upgrade when the user restarts their Notes client.

Big Benefits

Enabling roaming user support where sensible can save you and your users a lot of time and trouble. You’ll have fewer support issues and your users will have the files they require. Check into this feature to see how your company can benefit.

 

Kim Greene is the owner of Kim Greene Consulting Inc. and an IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems—IBM i edition technical editor. Kim can be reached at kim@kimgreene.com.



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