Creating a Customized App Volumes AppStack Template VMDK

May 15, 2015
Gina Daly

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Gina is a technical marketing manager for VMware End-User Computing (EUC) Technical Marketing. She writes white papers and blog posts on VMware EUC products.

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By Gina Daly, Technical Writer for Technical Marketing, End-User Computing, VMware, and Dean Flaming, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager | Lighthouse and End-User-Computing Enablement, VMware

Would you like to optimize your App Volumes environment? Perhaps your current infrastructure is restricting performance. You may notice that it can take time to initialize the AppStack template. The default template size is 20 GB. But, you can create a custom-sized template, smaller than 20 GB, to better suit your environment.

A brief overview of the steps involved follows, and step-by-step details are discussed in the Knowledge Base article Creating a new App Volumes AppStack template VMDK smaller than 20 GB.

Brief overview of steps to create a new AppStack template VMDK:

  1. The first step is to ensure you have a clean Windows virtual machine without the App Volumes agent installed.
  1. Using the vSphere Web Client, add a new hard drive to this Windows virtual machine, define the new drive as a thin-provisioned disk, and specify the new size required. This is your new VMDK.

It is important to note that the disk size must be at least the minimum application requirements plus space needed for temporary installation files during the application install process. For example, Adobe Reader 11 needs a minimum available disk size of 384 MB, but requires more than 512 MB free to install, or the installation will fail.

  1. Next, attach the existing template.vmdk found in the cloudvolumes/apps_templates/ folder to the Windows virtual machine. You now have the newly created thin-provisioned VMDK and the AppStack template.vmdk attached to the virtual machine.
  1. From the Windows OS, perform the following steps:

a. Initialize the new thin-provisioned drive using Disk Management.

VMware_App_Volumes_Initializing_Disk
Figure 1: Initializing Disk with Master Boot Record in Disk Management

b. Unhide system files and folders from the Control Panel Folder Options applet and copy all contents from the attached template.vmdk to the new VMDK.

VMware_App_Volumes_Copying_Template
Figure 2: Copying Template Contents to New Folder

c. Note the file name and location of the new VMDK, and detach both VMDKs (the newly created one and the AppStack template.vmdk) from the Windows virtual machine.

Note: Do not delete the VMDK files from the datastore!

  1. The final step is to copy the new VMDK (this consists of the flat and stub files) from its current location to the /cloudvolumes/apps_templates/ folder using SSH. You can also use PuTTY; however, it is not recommended to use the vSphere Web Client. If you do use the vSphere Web Client to export the disk, the thin-provisioned disk will expand to full size.

The Best Bit

Did you know you can rename that awkwardly named AppStack that was created when adding the new hard drive to the virtual machine (step 2 above)?

How? Simply rename the parent VMDK and the flat file to a name of your choice. For example, AppStack_name.vmdk and AppStack_name-flat.vmdk.

If you use SSH, you must also modify the parent VMDK file to reference the new name of the flat file. To do this, open the parent VMDK with a text editor and replace the old flat VMDK file name with the new one.

VMware_App_Volumes_Flat_File_Reference
Figure 3: Flat File Reference in VMDK Stub File

Voilà! You are now ready to create a new AppStack using this modified template VMDK.

For more detailed steps, see the Knowledge Base article Creating a new App Volumes AppStack template VMDK smaller than 20 GB.

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