Welcome aboard for part two of this ten part series on Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5. Click the following link to read Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Part 1.
Local mode was the feature that I was most excited about when I started reading reviews on View 4.5. Having over 90% of our staff as traveling laptop users makes a virtual desktop implementation extremely difficult. If all of our users had desktops it would be much easier to purchase some zero/thin clients and be off and running. However, this isn’t the case for us and it’s not the case for many companies. The questions we need to ask are, Is Local Mode going to be able to combat all of our roaming user’s issues in the virtual desktop space? Is Local Mode going to provide a quick and seamless check-in/out processes for users, is it going to slow down their machines to the point that productivity is greatly impacted? After all I certainly don’t want my users carrying around a 5 pound brick of a laptop because they can’t connect to their virtual machine.
There is no better way to get these answers than to start testing, so let’s get right into it!
Installing the VMware View Transfer Server
In order to utilize Local Mode you need to install a View Transfer Server and setup a Transfer Repository. The Transfer server should be installed on a new virtual machine preferably a Windows 2008 VM.
- Create a new Windows 2008 Virtual Machine. **IMPORTANT** before you install the operating system you must ensure that your SCSI Controller is a “LSI Logic Parallel”. By default Windows 2008 virtual machines are set to “LSI Logic SAS”
If you don’t do this when you try to install the Transfer Server role this is the error you will get.
- To install the Transfer server run the connection server setup file à VMware-viewconnectionserver-x86_64-4.5.0-293049.exe (note the build number at the end will change as later versions are released). Once the setup launches click Next, Next Again, Accept the Terms, and click Next.
- Chose the Destination Folder and click Next
- In Part 1 we installed the Standard Server, this time you need to select “View Transfer Server” and click Next.
- Enter in your domain, server name, and email address then click Next
- Select “Configure Windows Firewall Automatically” and click Next. I think if you install this on a Windows 2003 Server you are unable to automatically configure the firewall but I haven’t been able to test this.
- Click Install
- Finally Click the Finish button
A nice and simple install right?
Add View Transfer Server to View Manager
Now we need to add the Transfer Server to View Manager so we can complete the configuration.
- Sign into the VMware View Administrator https://servername/admin ; ex: https://viewconnectionserver/admin
- Expand View Configuration à Servers
- Click the Add button Under the Transfer Servers Section and select the vCenter Server, and then click Next.
- From the List of Virtual Machines chose the Transfer Server VM and click Finish.
You will then notice that your Transfer Server status changes to Pending. At this time the View Connection Server shuts down the VMware View Transfer Server and reconfigures it with four SCSI controllers and restarts the VM. The multiple controllers allow View Transfer Server to perform an increased number of disk transfers concurrently. After the reboot has completed the status will change to “Missing Transfer Server Repository” as shown below.
Create the Transfer Repository
You guessed it the next item on the list is to create a Transfer Repository. The Repository actually stores the View Composer base images which I will be discussing in part three of this series. Each Composer image could be several gigabytes so the repository needs to be large enough to handle all of these. Furthermore, if you have multiple Transfer Servers your repository needs to be setup as a network share. Multiple Transfer Servers will not be able to access the repository on a local drive.
- Create a network share to house the repository. I just added an E drive to my VM with 100GB of space.
Then I created a folder on that new drive called “TransferRepository”, as seen below.
- In View Administrator, click View Configuration > Servers.
Put all View Transfer Server instances into maintenance mode by highlighting them and clicking the button “Enter Maintenance Mode” and then click Ok.
The View Transfer Server status changes to “Maintenance mode.”
- When all View Transfer Server instances are in maintenance mode, current transfer operations are stopped.
- In the Transfer Servers panel, next to Transfer Server repository, click the link “Not Configured.” Optionally you can click View Configuration à
Transfer Server Repository; this will bring you to the Transfer Repository page.
- Click the Edit button under the General heading to begin configuring your repository.
- I setup my repository to be a network share, you can see my UNC path below: \\servername\sharename. The username/Password needs to be the account that accesses the Network Share. In my screenshot I show my name but it’s better to create a separate account for this.
- Now that we are finished configuring the repository we can Exit Maintenance Mode. To do this go back to View Configuration à Servers à Transfer Servers à
Select your Transfer Server à Click the Button to “Exit Maintenance Mode.”
- It took roughly two minutes for my Transfer Server status to change to “Ready”!
Local Mode Requirements
- You need to install View Client with Local Mode on one of the following supported Operating Systems. Please reference Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Part 1 on how to install the View Client. You can also go to https://viewconnectionserver to download the View Client with Local Mode.
- Local Mode is only supported on physical computers.
(Grid from VMware Installation Guide)
- When you use local mode your client computer needs to be able to support running the View Desktop or Virtual Machine. It’s basically like running a virtual machine on your desktop with VMware Workstation. Your underlying hardware now needs to be able to run two operating systems; your local machine and now the view desktop. Check the grid below to see if your machine is up to spec.
(Grid from VMware Installation Guide)
- You need enough disk space on your local machine to support downloading the View Desktop. Only the space used on the View Desktop will be downloaded to your client machine. For instance, let’s say your View Desktop is 20GB but only 12GB of it are being used, when Checkout your desktop only 12GB will be downloaded to your local client. Be aware that snapshots will also take up space on your local machine if you perform them.
- For a full requirements review please reference the VMware View 4.5 Installation Guide.
Testing Local Mode Checkout/In
Launch the View Client from your desktop and click the Options button. You can set your client to AutoConnect to the Connection Server that you have specified to speed up the sign in process. To enhance security I left SSL checked. When you are satisfied with your options click the “Connect” button.
Enter in your username/password and Domain
Click the Down Arrow next to your desktop and chose the “Check Out” Option. You will notice you can also reset your desktop (provided the administrator allowed this on the pool settings), and change your display protocol (provided your administrator allowed this on the pool settings).
The follow Message is displayed go ahead and click the Ok button.
- Your View Desktop gets downloaded to your client computer into the Local Desktop Folder by default.
Furthermore, when you check out your desktop two folders get created under the Transfer Repository directory as seen below
If you sign into your VMware View Administrator and go to Inventory à Desktops, you will see that the desktops status is changed to Local Mode with a Status of “Checked out” and a Mode of “Local.”
- Finally click the Connect button to sign into your desktop and start the fun! Remember that if you are using the Local Mode your client computer will slow down quite a bit because now you are running two operating systems.
Local Mode Rollback/Request Backup
When your desktop is checked out you have two more options at your disposal. You can Rollback and Request a Backup.
- If you chose Request a Backup, you get a prompt asking you to confirm the backup request. Then your status gets changed to “Backup Request Pending.” I am not entirely sure what this really does and haven’t been able to find too much information on it; nothing in the administration or installation guide. I will update this article when I know more.
The other Option is Rollback, click the Ok button if you chose to Rollback a change.
You can also initiate a Rollback from the VMware View Administrator making remote management convenient. To do this simply open your VMware View Administrator à Inventory à Desktops à
Select the Desktops you want to rollback à click the More Commands Button à Chose Rollback
Click the Ok button when the dialog box launches explaining what the Rollback does.
The Desktop Status then changes to “Provisioned” with a mode of “Remote”
The View Client status also displays a message to reflect that the checkout has been rolled back. At this point you must connect to the View Desktop through the connection server, the local desktop is no longer valid.
View Desktop Checkout Over WAN
Just for testing purposes I wanted to see how long it would take me to check out my desktop over the WAN on my home computer. My Windows 7 Virtual Machine is quite large at 30GB. The initial check out was 21.6GB and took roughly 4.5 hours over a 10MB WAN Link. The office upload speed is 10MBps and my download speed at home is 50MBps.
My next test was to make about 20MB worth of changes and then Check the View Desktop back in. This check in process took about 3 minutes to complete.
Most likely you wouldn’t need to have the initial check out process occur offsite unless users were checking out to their home computers. Otherwise the initial check out should be done while connected to the network if at all possible.
Local mode is a great new feature that is part of VMware View 4.5. Basically Local Mode is a type of insurance that grants one the ability to continue working on their desktop when they don’t have a network connection. If you do have a network connection running Local Mode is completely pointless. The biggest drawback that I ran across with Local Mode is that most client machines are not going to have the system resources to run two operating systems simultaneously. I have a dual core with 4GB of RAM on my work computer and it was running rather sluggish. The check-in/out process can take some time as well which may frustrate your end users.
Some use cases where I thought Local Mode may be useful is for the road warriors, sales staff, frequent flyers, and potentially home users who don’t have a constant network connection.
I am probably not going to look at Local Mode as a viable option for my laptop users. Instead I am going to check the feasibility of getting a Wyse Mobile Thin client with Windows 7 Embedded. All of our users have Blackberry’s with the tether feature enabled. This will allow them to turn their BB into a modem so when they don’t have a Wi-Fi or a LAN connection they can still access their View Desktop. There will still be times where there is no data coverage and in that case I am going to investigate how easy it is going to be to sync files from the Windows 7 embedded desktop to the network.
Overall Local Mode is a great feature but most businesses will probably not be using it. Stay tuned for my next article on View Composer and Linked Clones.
- Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Part 1
- Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Part6: – Juniper SSL VPN
- VMware View 4.5 Juniper VPN PCoIP Confusion Cleared Up
- Installing and Configuring VMware View 4.5: Part 3 – Configuring Linked Clones
- VMware View 4.6 Upgrade & PCoIP Security Server Configuration – Part 2