Home > Blogs > VMware Support Insider

Troubleshooting Composer for VMware Horizon View

At some point, every View administrator who uses a linked clone pool is going to need to do some troubleshooting. Most linked clone troubleshooting involves a component called Composer.
What is composer, and what does it do?
Composer is an add-on for VMware Horizon View and is used to build linked clone desktops. Details about linked clones and Composer operations can be found in my previous posts, What is a linked clone? and part II of that topic.

Today we will focus on troubleshooting Composer when it breaks.

We are in the process of compiling a KB which will serve as the go-to article for Composer. This will contain links to important KBs, common issues, and procedures for repair. In the meantime, I thought this tactic would be good to share.

Compatibility

Compatibility is more important than many admins realize. VMware builds, tests, certifies and supports components that are built to work together.

The Connection Server talks to:

  • Composer
  • View Agent
  • vCenter
  • Security Server
  • and the clients

Composer in turn, talks to:

  • vCenter,
  • Connection Server
  • The hosts
  • Active Directory
  • The guest OS

As you can imagine, it’s easy for problems to balloon out of control if a component doesn’t talk properly to another. So, you need to ensure that every component is compatible and is designed to work with every other.

Here’s how-

Identifying where a problem exists is the first step to solving it. Composer can be nonfunctional because of factors that are entirely outside of Composer itself. For example, View doesn’t build desktops, that step is done by vCenter through API calls. If you are trying to build desktops and nothing is happening, it doesn’t mean View or Composer are at fault. vCenter needs to be fully functioning properly for View to be able to provision desktops. Along the same lines, Composer needs to be able to talk to all of the hosts in a cluster plus your Active Directory to be able to customize VMs, so if you have a dead host, Composer will fail.

Is Composer at fault then if it doesn’t work? Well, what about the guest VM? Does it get an IP address? Does it boot? If the answer to any of these is no, then Composer can’t do its job.

One of the tactics I take when Composer fails is to manually step though all of the processes involved.

  • Can I clone the base image?
  • Can I change customize it?
  • Can I activate it?
  • Is it network accessible?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, the problem is outside of Composer. Understanding where the linked clone process fails is the key to resolving problems.

Top 20 Horizon with View KB articles

announcementHappy New Year VMware View implementers! We have a fresh new top 20 list of VMware View specific KBs to help you avoid these issues. Pass it on!

  1. Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from the View Composer database in VMware View Manager and Horizon View (2015112)
  2. Generating and importing a signed SSL certificate into VMware Horizon View 5.1/5.2/5.3/6.0 using Microsoft Certreq (2032400)
  3. Pool settings are not saved, new pools cannot be created, and vCenter Server tasks are not processed in a Horizon View environment (2082413)
  4. VMware Horizon View Best Practices (1020305)
  5. Finding and removing unused replica virtual machines in the VMware Horizon View (2009844)
  6. Network connectivity requirements for VMware View Manager 4.5 and later (1027217)
  7. Collecting diagnostic information for VMware Horizon View (1017939)
  8. Forcing replication between ADAM databases (1021805)
  9. Manually deleting replica virtual machines in VMware Horizon View 5.x (1008704)
  10. Connecting to the View ADAM Database (2012377)
  11. Restart order of the View environment to clear ADLDS (ADAM) synchronization in View 4.5, 4.6, 5.0, and 5.1 (2068381)
  12. Removing a standard (replica) connection server or a security server from a cluster of connection/security servers (1010153)
  13. Provisioning View desktops fails due to customization timeout errors (2007319)
  14. Generating a Horizon View SSL certificate request using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Certificates snap-in (2068666)
  15. Performing an end-to-end backup and restore for VMware View Manager (1008046)
  16. Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager (1008658)
  17. View Connection Server reports the error: [ws_TomcatService] STDOUT: java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space (2009877)
  18. Location of VMware View log files (1027744)
  19. Troubleshooting Persona Management (2008457)
  20. Administration dashboard in VMware Horizon View 5.1/5.2/5.3 reports the error: Server’s certificate cannot be checked (2000063)

Top 20 Articles for December 2014

Here is our Top 20 KB list for December 2014. This list is ranked by the number of times a VMware Support Request was resolved by following the steps in a published Knowledge Base article.

  1. VMware ESXi 5.x host experiences a purple diagnostic screen mentioning E1000PollRxRing and E1000DevRx (2059053)
  2. Installing async drivers on VMware ESXi 5.0, 5.1, and 5.5 (2005205)
  3. Investigating virtual machine file locks on ESXi/ESX (10051)
  4. Commands to monitor snapshot deletion in VMware ESX/ESXi (1007566)
  5. An ESXi 5.x host running on HP server fails with a purple diagnostic screen and the error: hpsa_update_scsi_devices or detect_controller_lockup_thread (2075978)
  6. Determining Network/Storage firmware and driver version in ESXi/ESX 4.x and ESXi 5.x (1027206)
  7. Broadcom 5719/5720 NICs using tg3 driver become unresponsive and stop traffic in vSphere (2035701)
  8. Unmounting a LUN or detaching a datastore/storage device from multiple VMware ESXi 5.x hosts (2004605)
  9. VMware ESXi 5.x host experiences a purple diagnostic screen mentioning E1000PollRxRing, E1000DevRx and Net_AcceptRxList (2079094)
  10. vSphere handling of LUNs detected as snapshot LUNs (1011387)
  11. Recreating a missing virtual machine disk descriptor file (1002511)
  12. Using esxtop to identify storage performance issues for ESX / ESXi (multiple versions) (1008205)
  13. Storage device performance deteriorated (2007236)
  14. Committing snapshots when there are no snapshot entries in the Snapshot Manager (1002310)
  15. Snapshot consolidation in VMware ESXi 5.5.x fails with the error: maximum consolidate retries was exceeded for scsix:x (2082886)
  16. Testing VMkernel network connectivity with the vmkping command (1003728)
  17. Information about the error: state in doubt; requested fast path state update (1022026)
  18. Identifying and addressing Non-Maskable Interrupt events on an ESX/ESXi host (1804)
  19. Understanding virtual machine snapshots in VMware ESXi and ESX (1015180)
  20. Best practices for virtual machine snapshots in the VMware environment (1025279)

Downgrading from VMware Workstation 11.x to VMware Workstation 10.x

This video tutorial demonstrates how to downgrade VMware Workstation 11.x to VMware Workstation 10.x.

Before attempting to downgrade, be advised that VMware Workstation 11.x and VMware Workstation 10.x use different virtual machine hardware compatibility. When downgrading Workstation, you must change the virtual machine hardware compatibility version of your virtual machine to Workstation 10.0.

Full instructions are available in VMware Knowledge Base article Downgrading from VMware Workstation 11.x to VMware Workstation 10.x (2082119).

Upgrading from Workstation 10 to 11

This video tutorial demonstrates how to upgrade from Workstation 10 to Workstation 11.

Before upgrading to VMware Workstation 11, ensure that your physical machine meets the system requirements. For more information, see Introduction and System Requirements in the Getting Started with VMware Workstation 11.x guide. You will also need to shutdown any virtual machines that you may have running before attempting the upgrade.

Full details and instructions are available in VMware Knowledge Base article Upgrading from VMware Workstation 10 to VMware Workstation 11 (2081971).

Top 20 VMware Fusion issues

Here’s a list of the top 20 KB issues our VMware Fusion customers are encountering in the past 30 days. Take a look over the list, maybe you’ll see something you or a friend could use.

  1. VMware Fusion 7.0 sales, licensing and compatibility FAQs (2081968)
  2. Downloading and Installing VMware Fusion (2014097)
  3. Troubleshooting Fusion virtual machine performance issues (1015676)
  4. Uploading diagnostic information for VMware (1008525)
  5. Installing VMware Tools in a Fusion virtual machine running Windows (1003417)
  6. Installing Windows in a virtual machine using VMware Fusion Easy Install (1011677)
  7. Troubleshooting networking and internet connection issues in VMware Fusion (1016466)
  8. Uninstalling, reinstalling, and upgrading VMware Fusion (1014529)
  9. Uploading diagnostic information for VMware using FTP (2070100)
  10. Troubleshooting Fusion virtual machine startup issues (1014534)
  11. Upgrading from VMware Fusion 6.x to 7.x (2081993)
  12. Uninstalling and manually installing VMware Tools in VMware Fusion (1014522)
  13. Manually uninstalling VMware Fusion (1017838)
  14. Troubleshooting printer connection issues in VMware Fusion (1014535)
  15. Troubleshooting Fusion startup issues (1003484)
  16. Converting a physical machine for Fusion, Workstation, or Player using Converter Standalone (2005129)
  17. Troubleshooting USB device connection and functionality in a Fusion virtual machine (1027964)
  18. Sharing a folder from your Mac to a virtual machine (1004055)
  19. System requirements for VMware Fusion (2005196)
  20. Resizing a virtual disk in VMware Fusion (1020778)

Installing VMware Workstation 11 on your PC

VMware Workstation 11 was released recently and this video tutorial demonstrates how you can install VMware Workstation 11 on a Windows based PC.

Before installing, ensure that your system meets the system requirements as laid out in the Getting Started with Workstation 11 guide.

Download instructions are available in VMware Knowledge Base article Downloading and installing VMware Workstation (2057907).

Upgrading from VMware Player 6 to VMware Player 7

VMware recently released a new version of VMware Player and this new video tutorial demonstrates how to upgrade from VMware Player 6 to VMware Player 7.

This video is based on VMware Knowledge Base article Upgrading from Player 6.x to Player 7.x (2081991).

Before upgrading to VMware Player 7, there are some prerequisites that you need to follow.

  1. Ensure that your physical machine meets the system requirements. For more information, see VMware Knowledge Base article System Requirements for VMware Player (2084507).
  2.  Shutdown your virtual machines.

For instructions relating to downloading the installer file, see VMware Knowledge Base article Upgrading from Player 6.x to Player 7.x (2081991)

Top 20 Articles for November 2014

Here is our Top 20 KB list for November 2014. This list is ranked by the number of times a VMware Support Request was resolved by following the steps in a published Knowledge Base article.

1. Installing async drivers on VMware ESXi 5.0, 5.1, and 5.5 (2005205)

2. Troubleshooting Fusion virtual machine performance issues (1015676)

3. VMware ESXi 5.x host experiences a purple diagnostic screen mentioning E1000PollRxRing and E1000DevRx (2059053)

4. ESXi host cannot initiate vMotion or enable services and reports the error: Heap globalCartel-1 already at its maximum size.Cannot expand (2085618)

5. Purging old data from the database used by VMware vCenter Server 4.x and 5.x (1025914)

6. Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from the View Composer database in VMware View Manager and Horizon View (2015112)

7. Installing VMware Tools in a Fusion virtual machine running Windows (1003417)

8. An ESXi 5.x host running on HP server fails with a purple diagnostic screen and the error: hpsa_update_scsi_devices or detect_controller_lockup_thread (2075978)

9. Determining Network/Storage firmware and driver version in ESXi/ESX 4.x and ESXi 5.x (1027206)

10. Investigating virtual machine file locks on ESXi/ESX (10051)

11. Installing Windows in a virtual machine using VMware Fusion Easy Install (1011677)

12. Installing or upgrading to ESXi 5.5 best practices (2052329)

13. Re-pointing and re-registering VMware vCenter Server 5.1 / 5.5 and components (2033620)

14. Resetting the VMware vCenter Server 5.x Inventory Service database (2042200)

15. Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5 best practices (2053132)

16. Commands to monitor snapshot deletion in VMware ESX/ESXi (1007566)

17. Restarting the Management agents on an ESXi or ESX host (1003490)

18. Creating a persistent scratch location for ESXi 4.x and 5.x (1033696)

19. Troubleshooting networking and internet connection issues in VMware Fusion (1016466)

20. Recreating a missing virtual machine disk descriptor file (1002511)

Deploying a VMware Horizon View Environment

You are the head of the IT department in your company, and you have just finished a meeting discussing finances and IT budget. The message is clear – it’s time to cut costs. Easy to say, but what can you do, and how do you do it? A VMware View infrastructure can provide significant cost savings as well as simplifying your administration while freeing up IT assets and personnel for other projects. But how do you start?

“VMware Horizon™ 6 (with View) delivers virtualized and remote desktops and applications through a single platform and supports end users with access to all of their Windows and online resources through one unified workspace.”

Ok, that product description sounds good, but what does it actually mean?

Think of how a physical computer lab runs. The IT administrator is tasked with the job of managing the computers. The lab requests 10 computers, so on day 1 the administrator sets up 10 PCs. The lab hums along happily and meets all the company’s needs. But wait, there is a big project coming and we need to bring in 5 people for a few months. The administrator puts in a requisition and purchases 5 new PCs for the lab and sets them up too. 3 months later when the project is complete and the extra computers are no longer needed, the administrator packs them up and puts them in a store room.

This is wasteful. 5 computers are just sitting in a closet unused. This is where a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with Horizon View comes in. A Horizon View implementation can reduce the cost and manpower associated with the physical lab.

Using our previous example, you have configured your lab to use Horizon View desktops. In the physical lab, you can use:

  • Old computers that are past their useful life due to hardware obsolescence
  • Low cost dumb terminals or embedded systemsNon-Windows clients
  • Non-Windows clients
  • BYOD user equipment

Now let’s investigate the same scenario with the Horizon View lab. New user accounts are created and we entitle the new users to the lab pool and that’s it. The pool can be configured to add desktops as required with no admin intervention. The lab requires a far smaller expenditure for workstations due to the low cost of client units, or perhaps the users can even use their own devices. The implementation costs are far less to expand to accommodate new users and there is significantly less labor required to administer.

In part 2, I will cover preparing your environment to deploy a Horizon View implementation.