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What does roaming mean in context of Domino/Notes Architecture?
As the word ‘Roaming’ itself explains, a roaming user is a Notes user who roams with personalized data. Notes Roaming User provides the ability for an end-user to move from computer to computer using a consistent set of Notes personal data and settings. The movement between different machines can be due to two major reasons. First, the user is moving to a brand new machine and wants Notes setup with the same look and feel (personal settings) as on current machine. Secondly, the user does not have a dedicated workstation and hence, lands up using different machine every time. In either of the two cases, the roaming user does not have to worry about its latest settings or data saved on machine s/he last worked upon.
Roaming user capabilities allows the notes user to carry its personal data which includes Bookmarks, Contacts, Notebook, Feeds, Notes Workspace and some eclipse preference settings to which ever machine this user logs in. When a roaming user logs on from any Notes Client, the user’s roaming data is retrieved from the roaming server and synchronized back to the roaming server through replication if the user makes any changes into it.
Roaming functionality got introduced in Notes/Domino 6.0.1 and evolved gradually after every release.
- Introduced in Notes/Domino 6.0.1 (Only Domino roaming)
- 7.0 : User.id could be roamed in the Personal Address Book
- 8.0 : Notes Basic client Roaming only
- 8.0.1 : Standard client Roaming, but no roaming of RCP settings
- 8.5 :
- File Server based Roaming for 32-Bit Windows clients
- Roaming of RCP settings
- 8.5.1 :
- File Server based Roaming for Mac OS and Linux
- Roaming support for Citrix XenApp
- 8.5.2 : Enable/Disable Roaming on the fly
User data and settings for notes user resides in some specific notes databases. Roaming functionality requires these databases to be synchronized with roaming server, these are known as Roaming Databases. There are five roaming databases which are responsible to synchronize all supported roaming information from server to client:
Please refer to following article for more information on what information can roam:
What information can roam?
List of Notes.ini variables that roam and what they control: List of Notes.ini variables that roam and what they control
A Roaming user always replicates to/fro from the roaming server.
Roaming user feature is an administrator controlled feature in Notes/Domino architecture. That is, the end-user cannot create/convert a roaming user. An administrator can register a notes user directly as a roaming user or convert an existing standard user to roaming user, whenever required.
There are two ways which can be used by Domino administrator to provide roaming functionality to any end user:
- Domino Roaming: Domino server is used as a roaming server to store roaming databases of roaming users. This feature only available through Advanced User Registration for new user registration and Roaming tool for upgrade/downgrade of existing Notes standard users.
- File Server Roaming: File shared folder is used as a roaming server to store the roaming databases of roaming users. Only available through domino policies.
The organization needs to decide the mode of roaming to be used. It can be a mix of both the roaming modes also. Both roaming modes solves the same purpose for end user to provide consistent set of personal notes settings and data. However, for domino administrator, both roaming modes have their own unique way to enable/disable this feature for any end user. Additionally, the administrator is responsible for the Domino architecture of the Roaming Mode(s), manage/administer the roaming users and the storage of the roaming databases on the Roaming Server.
To take the decision on the roaming modes, we need to understand the details of both the Modes which are explained in details in below section.
Domino Roaming is a classic roaming mode supported since Notes/Domino 6.0.1 where Notes personalized data is stored on domino roaming server only and administered using ‘Roaming Tool’ in Domino Administrator Client. For more details on Domino Roaming: Essentials of Domino Roaming
File Server Roaming
File server roaming was introduced in Notes/Domino 8.5. Where roaming user’s files are stored on a standard file share location rather than a domino server. This type of roaming can be enabled through domino policy only. This type of roaming can be used in cases where roaming users are needed on remote sites where local domino server is not available. File server can be specified as a mapped drive or UNC path in roaming policy setting document.
A roaming policy is always applied to a user during or after Notes client setup, so technically it is always applied to existing users. So even if roaming policy is assigned to a user during registration, file server roaming will be enabled only after user setup the Notes client.
For more details on File Server Roaming:Essentials of File Server Roaming
File Server Roaming Vs. Domino Roaming
As mentioned above Domino Roaming and File Server Roaming are mainly separated by the way both are configured and administered. Here you can find all the significant differences which can help administrators to choose the correct roaming mode as per their requirements.
File Server Roaming
All roaming databases are stored in domino roaming server.
Roaming databases are stored in a shared location as mentioned in roaming policy setting document. The shared location can be any storage device, it doesn’t need to have Domino server installed on it.
Roaming Tool or Advance user registration is used to enable this type of roaming. Roaming Policies cannot be used to configure Domino server roaming.
File server roaming can be enabled through policy only. Roaming tool cannot be used to enable file server roaming.
Administrator can create a domino roaming user through notes user registration using advance options. Roaming databases are created on domino roaming server during user registration only.
File server roaming user can be registered only through policy. However, User always gets registered as non-roaming user and gets upgraded to file server roaming only after user configure the Notes client for the first time. So roaming databases are created on the notes client first and then replicates back to the roaming server.
Non-Roaming user can be upgraded to Domino roaming through roaming tool.
Non-roaming user can be upgraded to file server roaming by assigning roaming policies.
Domino roaming is supported with both basic and standard client configurations.
File server roaming is supported only with the Notes standard configuration.
No Notes Client preference setting is available to temporarily disable or enable roaming for domino roaming user.
Roaming preference to allow user to temporarily enable or disable roaming is shown to file server roaming user only. The significance of this setting is that it allows the user to remain a "roaming user" but choose whether the roaming-enabled applications actually replicate.
Clustered Roaming Server provides automatic failover for roaming data
Automatic failover for roaming data is not available, Use OS clustering.
1. End user experience is same for both domino and file server roaming user. Once the roaming is enabled for a user, notes client replicate the roaming databases to roaming server.
2. All the roaming files that roam are grouped on the Replication page in a folder called "Roaming User Applications” in notes client.
3. Cleanup options are same in both type of roaming modes.
4. The data that roams for standard client configuration is the same for both Domino server and file server roaming.
Types of Roaming User
Roaming users can be divided into four categories, depending on their behavior on end user notes client machines, related to notes data cleanup. There are four options available to create a roaming user with different types of cleanup options irrespective of the roaming mode.
1. Do not Clean-up : Notes data doesn’t gets cleaned up.
2. Clean-up periodically : Notes data gets cleaned up after a specific period of time. Periodic time can be set only while creating roaming user.
3. Clean-up at Notes Shutdown : Notes data gets cleaned up automatically after user exits from the notes client.
4. Prompt User : User gets a prompt to choose if user wants to clean up the notes data after client exits.
All above types of roaming user can be created in both domino roaming as well as file server roaming.
About the Author
Ankit Kumar Jain is working with IBM – India Software Labs, Pune as a Software Engineer with Notes Client product team. You can reach Ankit at firstname.lastname@example.org