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Vista and VMware View

While Vista is still not completely supported in every variant with all features as of this writing in a View environment today, I have many customers running it and asking for tips on how to make it run better than it does out of the box. The following are some tips you can try AT YOUR OWN RISK. These are provided as tips and suggestions only. Some you might use and others not. This is provided as thinking and discussion points for running Vista.  Now that the disclaimer is out of the way lets get started :)

 

 

First things first.  Start with the XP deployment guide found here;

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/resources/vmware-view-xp-deployment-guide.pdf

Read that, then read this.

 

Installing

Loading of the  Vmware SCSI driver floppy is not needed in Vista as it was with XP. Vista is able to recognize the SCSI hardware just fine. However using the LSI Logic driver is optimal but in seat of the pants testing I have not noticed a difference. In a scaled up environment you might.

 

Performance

 

RDP 6.2 should be used on the clients as it has added performance enhancements for Vista and Aero should you decide you would like to use it.

 

Theme

Aero utilizes advanced graphics features that do not work well across remote protocols. It also requires substantially more processing resources. Set Theme to something other than Aero from the Appearance settings for example, Vista Classic or Windows Classic.

 

This will completely disable Aero so that the end user can not turn it back on via Registry:

 

Expand and navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWN

 

On the right pane, there is an registry entry named ColorizationColor with type as DWORD. Right click on ColorizationColor, and select Delete on the right click menu. Click on OK to confirm the deletion.

Then right click on registry value titled Composition (type DWORD) and select Modify. Change the value to 0 (by default is 1).

Restart the computer.

 

 

Disable the screen saver

Leaving on the Screen saver will cause unneeded processor usage on the Host. This should be disabled to optimize processor usage.

Computer\Hkey_USERS\.Default\Control Panel\Desktop\ScreenSaveActive\0

 

Disable Superfetch

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters\EnableSuperfetch

And EnablePreFetcher

 set both to 0

 

Delete contents of c:\windows\prefetch after disabling and a reboot.

 

Disk Write Cache

Ensure that Write caching  on the disk is enabled. Disk properties>Hardware>Properties>Policies

 

Swap File and RAM

System Properties>Performance >Advanced>remove Pagefile

*  Delete and disable swap file if the Host has PLENTY of RAM. 768MB of RAM at least for the VM, 1024MB for advanced users. *

This can be subjective and should be played with. If the host is constrained for RAM or applications that use a swap file are being used the USE A SWAP FILE. This allows for the use of the Balloon driver and will optimize the use of RAM for the VM's. However if you have plenty of RAM try the VM's without a swap file and see how it goes.

 

Disable ASLR will result in more memory sharing and higher RAM utilization. This will lower overall security as you will need to turn off NX in the BIOS and DEP in the OS.

 

Security

Security is a relative term and this post is about performance not security. They rarely go together. Think twice before doing these steps if your environment is risk adverse.

 

Disable Fast User switching

Via GPO;

Click Start, type gpedit.msc and press Enter

Go to the following location:

Local Computer Policy | Administrative Templates | System | Logon

Set Hide entry points for Fast User Switching to Enabled

Quit the Group Policy Editor.

Via Registry

Click Start, type regedit.exe and press Enter

Navigate to the following branch:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ System

 

Create a DWORD (32-bit) Value named HideFastUserSwitching

Set the Value data for HideFastUserSwitching to 1

Quit the Registry Editor.

 

 

Windows Defender

Do you need it If refreshing the OS disk at every log out with View Composer? Probably not so disable it.

Run>msconfig>Startup> Uncheck Windows Defender.

 

 

Force Ctrl+Alt+Delete for log in for security reasons using View Manager

Press start->run

Type: secpol.msc

Press enter

Expand local policies

Click Security Options

Double-click "Interactive Login: Do not require CTRL+ALT+DEL"

Check Disabled

Click OK

This will require users to press CTRL + ALT + DELETE before being presented the welcome screen. The welcome screen will still be displayed and will allow the user to select their account from a list.

 

If you would like to remove the list of accounts and force the user to type his or her username and password, you will need to change another setting inside the local security policy window:

 

Double-click "Interactive Login: Do not display last user name"

Check Enabled

Click OK

With both of these settings in place, the same functionality of the old-style "Press CTRL + ALT + DEL to login" window is achieved.

 

Usability

Disable User Account Control (UAC). Maybe maybe not depending on your environment and the applications being used. If using Thinapp keep it, the apps will be running protected and in user mode so no worries.

 

And most important of all.

VM Tools does not install automatically. So install them, they include the balloon driver and all kinds of other goodies to make the VM run better.

 

 

Call to action

By The Way, these are just my observational testing results. If you have different results on this topic please add a comment as this should be a live document. I will update as I find more information both from you the clearly superior in mind VMware customer , myself your humble servant and the entire Desktop team here at VMware.

9 thoughts on “Vista and VMware View

  1. Jason Marshall

    Justin,
    While it is “supported” as a straight target, it does not have some key features like Composer and Offline. Until it can be used with all the features offered with View then it will have limited support within View. Also the out of the box performance is terrible,hence this blog post. So it is supported in so much as we guarantee that it will boot up, anything more than that and you are on your own.

  2. Joe

    I agree that Vista is not supported for offline, but I think it is supported with the View Composer.
    The admin guide only says “Vista Ultimate Edition” is not supported, and I think that I because there are no VLK-keys for that version.
    //J

  3. Jason Marshall

    Ultimate is not supported because of the audio and some video issues with Media Center content in addition to the Volume Linces issues. Vista is not supported with Composer due to the directory differences of the user space between XP and Vista. It will be soon, but not today. You can run Vista as long as it stays as Vista. You can not go back and forth between Vista and XP.

  4. Justin

    Jason,
    This should be made _VERY CLEAR_ in the documentation, then. None of this info is anywhere in the admin guide, the release notes, or anything else I can find.
    Even more damning, are these two KB articles: 1007698 and 1007707 (Not posting links to keep this short).
    The title of the first one?
    “Recompose operation from Windows XP to Windows Vista generates a warning message from ESX”
    So clearly the case of recomposing a Windows XP machine to Windows Vista was tested. Why is there no KB article saying “this isn’t supported”, rather there’s a KB article saying “If you do this, here’s an error message and here’s how to fix it!” That implies that the solution works and is supported.

  5. Jason Marshall

    First off lets remember that the purpose of this post is for tips around running Vista on ESX, not going back and forth from XP to Vista. I will look into writing another post around that shortly in addition to Windows 7 considerations as they are are very similar.
    If there is a KB identifying an issue that generally does mean that there is an issue :) Also if you read the first one it’s just an informational response. There was no real resolution, just that it will error. The second is more networking considerations than anything else. We will dive into this more in the future but for now if you are working with Vista and XP at the same time, proceed with caution ;)

  6. Dan Yates

    Have you had any issues with deploying a pool of vista desktops, the customisation spec I have is set up the same as my XP which works fine, but Vista and Windows 7 go through the customisation but don’t join the domain, can’t see any errors in the guestcust.log.

  7. PiroNet

    >Disable ASLR will result
    >in more memory sharing
    >and higher RAM
    >utilization. This will lower
    >overall security as you
    >will need to turn off NX in
    >the BIOS and DEP in the
    >OS.
    Are you sure of the last statement cause the NX is required by the ESX host, isn’t it?
    Rgds,
    Didier

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