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Virtualizing the VMware View Client using ThinApp

By Joshua Spencer, End User Computing Specialist, VMware

Introduction

Over the years there has been much debate about which display protocol provides the best performance while being the most efficient. I think the debate is finally over, and the blog post you can find here goes a long way toward ending it. Leveraging the PCoIP protocol and the PCoIP Secure Gateway Server, VMware is helping end users stay connected from anywhere, at any time, using any device they choose.

Challenge

We can think of connecting to a VMware View desktop using PCoIP as a client/server application. The virtual machine, which resides in the datacenter, gets the VMware View Agent installed. Because PCoIP is completely host-side rendered, this agent acts as the PCoIP server. On the end point device, we install the VMware View Client, which serves as the PCoIP client. The PCoIP server (View Agent) encrypts and compresses display information and sends it down to the View Client where the display is rendered on the screen.

What this means is that the View Client has to be installed on every end point that will connect to a VMware View desktop. Installing the client is a simple process of connecting to a website and running the executable.

The client includes two drivers: one for Virtual Printing and another for Advanced USB Redirection. Because of this, the View Client requires local administrative privileges for installation. While local admin privileges are not usually an issue on personal or IT-managed devices, I have seen a number of customers encounter situations where they cannot install the VMware View Client. VMware View is a highly adopted technology in the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals often roam to multiple clinical sites throughout their network, and View provides a means of accessing a standard desktop workspace from any location. But what happens if he or she cannot install the View Client due to lack of permissions on a given PC? Likewise, I have seen this come up on public kiosk-like computers. For example, you are at a public library and you want to connect to your View desktop to get some work done. Library and other public-facing machines are often locked down, preventing the installation of any software, including the View Client.

Resolution

One solution to this problem is to leverage a simple, yet powerful, tool called VMware ThinApp. With ThinApp we can virtualize the VMware View Client software, allowing it to run on any Windows device regardless of privilege level. ThinApp will take all of the files and registry keys that make up the View Client and produce a single executable file.

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