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Jimmy RFR

Possible FSX Multi-Install Solution

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I've spent the last few days creating a new FSX installation, after a corrupt texture issue that arose in my last one.  I've got the base platform exactly where I want it, including ground, water, cloud and sky textures and I'm at the point where I can start layering add-on scenery and planes to the mix.

 

However, like most, I have different things that I want to use FSX for.  GA bush flying in north-western Canada, military flying over photo-real scenery in south-western US, and now that I have a machine capable of doing so, a bit of possible NGX flying between large centers.  And what I would love, is a separate install for each.  I had sort of done this with my last install - I had separate scenery config files for different regions, separate fsx.cfg files, etc - but it proved to be a pain to setup and maintain.

 

So this time I've come up with a different idea, using symlinks, and I wanted to bounce it off of the community prior to trying it out. I have to repeat, this has not yet been tested or implemented.

 

My plan is to move the required directories that normally reside in the various personalized locations back into the main FSX folder:

 

%appdata%\Microsoft\FSX  moves to  X:\FSX\Config\Settings\FSX  (fsx.cfg, dll.xml)

%programdata%\Microsoft\FSX  moves to  X:\FSX\Config\Scenery\FSX  (scenery.cfg)

and optionally

%userprofile%\Documents\Flight Simulator X Files  moves to  X:\FSX\Config\Flight Simulator X Files  (saved flights)

 

Then, a symlink would be setup for each of the above, linking the physical location with the location that FSX expects to find those files in.

 

Once this is done, then one could simply make multiple copies of the X:\FSX directory, giving them alternate names. For example:

 

X:\FSX-ORBX

X:\FSX-PHOTOREAL

X:\FSX-BASIC

 

To use any specific version, say for Orbx bush flying, just rename  X:\FSX-ORBX to X:\FSX.  Or one could automate this though a batch file or other means.

 

The one con that I can think of is that each installation would of course use hard drive space.  This could be reduced perhaps by creative use of symlinks and the SimObjects folder, but any duplication might not be preferable if you are short on space.

 

The pros are having specialized installs of FSX, each tweaked to your precise use, not loading any non-required scenery, modules, or dlls.  Also, if one of them screws up, you can simply delete it - if you've kept a clean version, it allows you to copy it and start that version over.

 

So, prior to me trying this out, are there any thoughts on this?  Suggestions?  Anything that I'm overlooking as to why it won't work?


Jim Stewart

Platforms: X-Plane 11 | P3Dv4 | DCS
System: i7-6700K o/c @ 4.4GHz | EVGA GTX 980ti | 32GB RAM | BenQ 32" @ 2560x1440 | Oculus Rift | W10 Pro

Other Sim Interests: Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Dirt Rally, Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator

 

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Well, i decided to go ahead and try this out, here are my results:

 

FSX works fine, it doesn't mind that the config files are in symlink'ed directories.

 

The only hiccup thus far is that I get an 'Access denied' message in the command prompt if I try to change the FSX folder name with the symlinks in place.  If I try to rename the folder in an explorer window, I get a message that the files are open somewhere else.  Must have something to do with the symlinks existing in one of the special windows folders.

 

I'll have to try a few more things!


Jim Stewart

Platforms: X-Plane 11 | P3Dv4 | DCS
System: i7-6700K o/c @ 4.4GHz | EVGA GTX 980ti | 32GB RAM | BenQ 32" @ 2560x1440 | Oculus Rift | W10 Pro

Other Sim Interests: Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Dirt Rally, Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator

 

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Although this thread might be of more use to myself that others, I'll keep going in case anyone else wants to try this. :rolleyes: From what I've researched on symlinks, this strategy won't work on systems older than Vista.

 

I seem to have this running perfectly now.  My initial problem with a folder lock seemed to have nothing to do with my symlinks, but something left over from the prior install (which was in the same directory).

 

This is how I've set this up so far:

 

Step 1:

 

I copied these two folders to the main FSX file structure, just as I indicated in my initial post -

%appdata%\Microsoft\FSX

%programdata%\Microsoft\FSX

They became 'X:\FSX\Config\Settings\FSX' and 'X:\FSX\Config\Scenery\FSX' respectively.  I've chosen to ignore the saved files for now, but I'll probably do the same with them later.  There's also a possibility that the shader folders also should be specific to each install, so I'll probably move them too.  (I'm not sure, but there's a chance perhaps that the names of these folders (in my case, 'FSX') vary depending on what you installed FSX to.)

 

Step 2:

 

I renamed my main FSX folder to FSX_BASIC.  I then made a copy, renamed that one FSX_BUSH. Eventually, I'll have two more copies - one as FSX_PHOTOREAL, one as FSX_TUBE.

 

Step 3:

 

I created a symlink from the folder FSX_BUSH to folder named the same as the original installation folder was - in my case, this is X:\FSX.

 

mklink /D "X:\FSX" "X:\FSX_BUSH"

 

It is extremely important that the name of the symlink is the same as what you originally installed FSX as.  This ensures that anything that points to your original FSX installation, such as any registry entries, start menu entries, etc. remain valid.

 

Step 4:

 

I created two symlinks to link the config files that physically now reside in the FSX folder to the spots where FSX expects them to be located:

 

mklink /D "%appdata%\Microsoft\FSX" "M:\FSX\Config\Settings\FSX"

mklink /D "%programdata%\Microsoft\FSX" "M:\FSX\Config\Scenery\FSX"

 

Note that this step has to come after the previous step, as we are pointing symlinks at a symlink.  I doubt this is a recommended windows practice, because of the complexity and possibility for error.

 

Step 5:

 

Cross your fingers, run FSX and hope you did it all correctly. :lol:

 

It has worked great for me so far.  To switch to another version of FSX, I simply delete the symlink created in Step 3, and recreate it, pointing to the different version.  It should work fine to install third party scenery or planes, since as far as the system is concerned, everything is exactly where it should be.  Anything installed will be located in the currently active version of FSX.

 

I will probably be complicating this further by introducing shared aircraft folders, but that's for another day.


Jim Stewart

Platforms: X-Plane 11 | P3Dv4 | DCS
System: i7-6700K o/c @ 4.4GHz | EVGA GTX 980ti | 32GB RAM | BenQ 32" @ 2560x1440 | Oculus Rift | W10 Pro

Other Sim Interests: Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Dirt Rally, Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator

 

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Further notes:

 

- When deleting a symlink, do not use the 'del' command at the command prompt.  Either use the command 'rmdir', or else use explorer.  Using 'del' at the command prompt will delete the target of the symlink.  I almost found this out the hard way!

 

- In explorer, right clicking on a symlink will show you the location of the target.  Helps to double check which FSX install is active.

 

- Shaders should be moved & symlink'ed:

mklink /D "%localappdata%\Microsoft\FSX" "X:\FSX\Config\Shaders\FSX"

 

- If aircraft aren't shared between installs, then it makes no sense to have the same saved flights available to all installs. I moved and symlink'ed mine:

mklink /D "%userprofile%\Documents\Flight Simulator X Files" "X:\FSX\Config\Saved_Flights\Flight Simulator X Files"

 

- To distinguish the various installs, it would be kinda cool and easy to simply have a different splashscreen for each by changing the \Uires\dlgsplash.bmp.


Jim Stewart

Platforms: X-Plane 11 | P3Dv4 | DCS
System: i7-6700K o/c @ 4.4GHz | EVGA GTX 980ti | 32GB RAM | BenQ 32" @ 2560x1440 | Oculus Rift | W10 Pro

Other Sim Interests: Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Dirt Rally, Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator

 

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