Has anyone used Sandboxie for large installs like games?

Discussion in 'sandboxing & virtualization' started by xheffalumpx, Mar 31, 2008.

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  1. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    I noticed Sandboxie can be used to sandbox an installer and this seems to isolate all the changes and additions that installer does.

    Does this extend to all installers and in particular has anyone tried it with games? I noticed it adds # symbols to normal Windows applications that were installed in a sandbox. Just wondering how it might work with games which use Direct X and so on? Are they fully isolated as well even while playing them?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  2. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    None of the games I play tolerate Sandboxie. However Returnil worked fine.
    I play Mostly Ghost Reccon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) & GRAW2
     
  3. Dieselman

    Dieselman Registered Member

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    No reason to sandbox games. I play hundreds of games.
     
  4. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    What kinds of problems did you have with sandboxie and games if you don't mind my asking? I'm trying to find different ways to keep a system partition relatively static but still allow temporary/virtualized install of things like games.

    Even when installed to other drives these things can still plaster stuff all over the C: drive and will often stop working if that drive gets reverted to a pre-game install state. Hence my interest in sandboxie effectively isolating everything but still allowing it to be used without any permanent changes to the system partition.

    I guess Returnnil is next on the list to look at :)
     
  5. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    Game just wont run, but I dont remember all the acting variables..

    On my next sitting, playing GRAW I will try again within Sandboxie and try pay attention and document my ordeal as basp.

    Keep an eye on this thread! ;)
     
  6. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    I think Sandboxie isn't able to handle services or drivers, installed by softwares inside the sandbox, but I never used Sandboxie for this purpose. I use snapshots for this (RollbackRx or FDISR)
     
  7. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    Thanks Hermescomputers :) I tried to install Sins of a Solar Empire just now from inside Sandboxie. First it complained about files being too big so I upped the file transfer limit to 10Gb. Then it seemed to install but it looks like MSI Installer got into a problem and it kept adding some strange name files to G:\config.msi - which is where I had G:\Sandbox.

    I looked inside the sandbox folder and it looked like it installed the game files in there but the config.msi folder in there was just getting more and more files until I manually killed all the processes in the sandbox :( Then I tried to launch it from the Sandboxie programs menu but it wouldn't even run.


    I've had a look at the trial of Returnil but I can't figure out how to make it remember stuff between reboots! The file manager seems to be for making permanent changes to the real hard disk which is what I'm trying to avoid. A quick test in that case was installing Teamspeak while Returnil protection was active. I rebooted and it was all gone. Then I tried again and added the teamspeak folder to the file manager but this caused it to be made permanent. I've no idea how it's supposed to handle a virtualised/temporary game install and have it available only during a shadow session?


    I must admit I'm somewhat wary about trying Rollback. I had used Goback some years ago and it corrupted my hard disk at the time, forcing a reformat. I've read Rollback essentially takes over the file system and if you do anything outside of Rollback's control (for example use a third party defrag program) this can cause problems. That kind of reminds me how Goback worked. FirstDefense apparently is no longer available. Well the version I found for sale apparently is not very good so I didn't try that.

    Really all I want to achieve for now is to keep something, most likely games, in some sort of virtualized state - or have the system partition protected - while having them still work between reboots. Then at some point in the future just turn off or delete the sandboxed game and have it disappear as if it was never installed.

    In parallel to this it's necessary to keep other folders unfrozen. For example Favorites, My Documents and one or two other ones which contain settings information for applications like Teamspeak.

    I hope I've managed to explain myself a bit better and what I'm trying to achieve :)

    - Straightforward disk image and roll back won't work, because games and other apps which need or use changing data stop working
    - Shadow/virtual system partition approach they stop working after reboot and apps lose their configurations
    - So essentially I want to compartmentalize games and some apps so they run in their own little world, between reboots, and do not leave any permanent change to the system partition when it's time to throw them out of the house :)
     
  8. Huupi

    Huupi Registered Member

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    Your own conclusion about these app.does'nt work or partially so only options are install on real system or take a look at the full virt. app. like VM Ware or Virtual Box.

    If you have the full FDISR its possible to create a special Game Snapshot.
    In all these cases reboot is'nt a problem,and changes are kept.
     
  9. InVitroVeritas

    InVitroVeritas Registered Member

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    I'd give a try to SVS (Software Virtualization Solution) from Altiris. Although I never tried it with highend graphics games, I used it without problem for little games, Office2007, and some other "big" applications. And no decent and reliable games should install any services or drivers, imo.
     
  10. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    Yes I am thinking of using a virtual box too. So far these programs I have trialled

    Shadow Protect, Acronis (free version :cool: - whole disk image only so games installed on another drive stop working when C: is reverted.

    Shadow Defender - can enable folders for configuration info files but registry changes are lost when rebooting (so some games don't work or complain about CD key again). Need to know everything installed and where though, which is not obvious because things get installed in different folders.

    Returnil - same as above I think

    Sandboxie - this one looks like it might have been able to record everything installed but is having problems with big files and maybe installshield/drivers as mentioned above. Saved info between reboots though which was nice, but other problem prevent games from working.

    Rollback RX - not tried. Nervous about how it works in case something goes wrong whole partition might be smoked.

    FirstDefense - I don't have any version of this and got advice elsewhere the only version left available is not very good.

    I guess a virtual pc setup might have to do though I don't know how much extra space and resources that would need. Games can be demanding on hardware :)

    InVitroVeritas: yes I've been suggested Altiris as well. I'll go try that next and see if that works!

    A lot of newer games install GB of data so I put them on seperate drives, but they also put things on the C: drive which is where the problems happen and is not so straightforward how to keep their "bits" seperate from the rest of the system. They put in registry and in Documents and Settings, and My Documents and who knows what else :) Some of the games use copy protection drivers such as Starforce which makes more headache.
     
  11. Chuck57

    Chuck57 Registered Member

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    I've run quite a few programs in SVS. I'm not sure about those that need reboot, although I've tried just deactivating and activating and they work, but not sure that proves anything.
     
  12. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    Lotsa reasons if you use mods for your games... :D
     
  13. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    Another reason would be games like Unreal Tournament 3 which actually launches at least three different installers! That particular game will launch and requires dotNET 2, Ageia Physx and I believe some sort of Microsoft Voice installer. Plus DirectX and the game itself and already you have 5 different installers all putting different things on your system and uninstalling the game leaves a lot of junk around, plus it might not uninstall those first few packages.

    Well some good news then. It looks like Altiris SVS is the tool for the job! It took a couple of steps at first to get set up but after that it's pretty easy.

    Here's what I did :-

    a) Start from clean disk image + Altiris
    b) Do a full system monitor using Altiris while installing the game
    c) Run the game then exit (so it sorts out any settings it needs to add)
    d) Finish monitoring with Altiris. Sandbox/layer is done and exported for future use to a seperate partition/drive
    e) Roll back to a) using disk imager so I'm certain no traces are left
    f) Load up the previously saved sandbox/layer
    g) Activate and play! Deactivate when done

    The only downside I can see is it seems to make a copy of the game files in C:\fslrdr which could end up several GB depending on how big the original game install was. But I believe there are ways to move that elsewhere. A utility called Junction springs to mind.

    And just what I was looking for it seems to save the game settings if I deactivate the layer too.

    Finally game can be deleted and space freed up completely by deleting the layer.

    Seems to be the one for me then. Sandboxie was close but didn't quite work for some reason.
     
  14. InVitroVeritas

    InVitroVeritas Registered Member

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    Good news, xheffalumpx. In the meantime I've been asking around me and was told that SVS is even used to prepare Lan parties, so I guess that it does it job for a couple of games at least.
     
  15. InVitroVeritas

    InVitroVeritas Registered Member

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    Or for those who play a hundred of games with their respective bunch of cracks...
    (unless they're far richer than me or have a lotta generous friends ; and of course I'm not pointing my finger at anyone here, no sir ;-) )
     
  16. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    oh... man, with some games averaging in the low $70.00 nowadays... you would need to mortgage the house for this kinda dough!!! o_O
     
  17. Gargoyle

    Gargoyle Registered Member

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    This question also applies to other software:

    How do you know if the crack or serial generator doesn't have malware or not?
     
  18. bman412

    bman412 Registered Member

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    How does returnil do with online games which need to update the files on a regular basis? Does using virtualization affect gaming performance?
     
  19. InVitroVeritas

    InVitroVeritas Registered Member

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    I can't say for Returnil and games speciffically, but it should be minimal. I didn't noticed any slowdown with returnil 2 when I did VideoEditing or used Maya with realtime 3D rendering pluging, among other things.


    As for SVS, Altiris once said that layered applications would run 2 to 3 % slower. Again, while even though I did not make any objective benchmark, I only notice that some application where - perhaps - showing slightly longer time to launch.


    the following link gives some undocumented tricks to adjust the initial installation of SVS, including the actual location of this FSLRDR relocation files&registry. For exemple, the author of this article use :

    D_FSLRDR=D:\fslrdr

    in a command line parameter for the windows installer, when installing svs naturally.

    Hope this helps,
    - IVV.
     
  20. InVitroVeritas

    InVitroVeritas Registered Member

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  21. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    Altiris should work fine for any game you wish to install. Whether drivers or services need to be installed doesn't matter, altiris virtualises it all. When your done simply deactivate the virtual layer and delete.
     
  22. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    You put a scope on its executables and watch it for streams or any type of online activity... Otherwise you can reverse engineer it.
     
  23. Hermescomputers

    Hermescomputers Registered Member

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    You only need to use returnil or virtualisation if you wish during online game play... otherwise you run into issues related to generational updates, patches, and so on...

    If you don't play online (on a Internet Server) you probably don't need to play inside a protected environment...
     
  24. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    Thanks for the tip how to move that folder InVitroVeritas :) Unless I have something set up wrong Altiris seems to "install" the files for a game or program and makes a copy of everything inside that fslrdr folder. This can make it take up a lot of space if you use it to virtualize a big game - most recent games are really starting to eat up the Gb and it's a trend I don't see changing.

    But hard drives are cheap so it isn't too bad :)

    And yes though I've posed this in the context of games it applies for other programs and apps too. I just want to sandbox the things which might not stay "permanently" on my computer. Typically this will be games, test applications and utility programs which might be used in conjunction - for example Teamspeak, Fileplanet downloader and other programs which might be used for a while but not necessary to have in a "permanent" disk image or status.

    I've been playing that game Sins of a Solar Empire just fine in a layer switching it on and off. Savegames and progress are all being saved fine - I presume inside the C:\fslrdr folder. If I want to remove everything permanently then I can just delete the layer. This particular game has no copy protection so I can't comment on that. If you're going to use cracks then that is your own risk and I doubt it is an allowed topic here. I avoid them personally since you never know what they might be doing.


    I've found a very nice way to keep things in a pristine condition just trialling it right now Shadow Defender and Sandboxie. Though I expect this will work with Returnil and Altiris or any mix of SD/R and Altiris/Sandboxie. I've tested it with Sandboxie and it seems to work fine with that as well.

    - Place the "sandbox" folder on a seperate drive from your system one. This will be "Sandbox" or "fslrdr" using whatever settings are needed in each case.
    - Add C:\Windows\sandboxie.ini to file exclude list or whatever is needed for Altiris so it doesn't lose its own settings between reboots.
    - Add desktop to exclusion list and whatever else you want. For me this is favorites, my documents, start menu (all users & currently logged in user). All these can be found inside C:\Documents and Settings
    - Activate Shadow Defender for the partition drive

    Now this for me has the effect of rolling back Windows every boot but maintaining Sandboxed items on a different drive.

    To use Altiris instead it will probably involving moving the fslrdr folder and finding out where Altiris stores its own information - and then adding that to an exclude list instead.


    I tried out Returnil and it did not seem to have an exclude list like Shadow Defender. You can exclude typical stuff like Desktop, Favorites but not specific files and folders like C:\Windows\sandboxie.ini by itself.

    However, I have in theory worked out how to get around that as well. This should work but I've not yet tried it: copy the ini file(s) and anything else specific you want to keep between reboots. Place them on a seperate partition or drive. Then use "Junction" which will create a link/redirection from the old file to the new one.

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/FileAndDisk/Junction.mspx

    After you're all set up, activate Returnil and this will keep your system partition "frozen" while still allowing Sandboxie/Altiris to maintain and add new sandboxed items. In theory :)

    I can confirm Shadow Defender + Sandboxie works like this - I put Teamspeak application in Sandboxie, then something else and it all worked fine. Games are a problem for Sandboxie though :(

    I'm going to play around some more with Altiris and Shadow Defender, then later try out Returnil if I have time + Junction approach and see if that works too. For me I'll be using Altiris since Sandboxie isn't working too well with games. All that remains is to make it remember its settings between reboots, most likely with Returnil since that's free too :)


    By the way Altiris did not seem to affect the game's performance at all. Loading times were a bit longer but I might have been imagining that. The game itself seemed to run at the same framerates as before. I think this is because Altiris does an "install" of the actual game files and maybe uses those, or the sandbox folder copy perhaps? But doesn't seem to try to hold everything in memory anyway. Later on I'll try with a more hefty game and see how that performs.
     
  25. xheffalumpx

    xheffalumpx Registered Member

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    Hmm it seems Altiris stores its configuration info in the real registry. I'll have to find some way to export and reimport those settings to a different drive if I want to use Returnil as well? Maybe a batch file?

    Import Altiris registry settings
    Run Altiris
    Export Altiris registry settings

    Something like that (after having done an initial setup) probably. Not so simple as sandboxie.ini lol anyway that should still enable using Returnil and virtualized games and apps.
     
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