One of the challenges in getting a vmware view POC put together for me has been getting the client ready at the endpoint to ensure no impact, or residue, is left after the POC is complete. If you are lucky, you’ve got a pile of unused thin clients ready to go. In my experience, the more likely scenario is you’ve got a your existing PC infrastructure that you’re going to use.
With existing hardware, an easy solution is to use a software package like Thin Desktop from Thin Lauch, to automatically launch your client software. This works great for certain projects, but if you’re looking for a more temporary solution, or don’t want to install applications locally, you can use a live linux cd as an alternative. This allows for testing without impacting any installed applications on the local drive.
Building custom live cds with linux used to be a non trivial task, but one of the more interesting projects I’ve seen out of the linux ecosphere in the last few years is suse studio.
suse studio is an online linux appliance building monster. It allows you to very quickly and easily build virtual appliances that can run on a host of hypervisors (vmware included) as well as custom live cds, or bootable usb drives. As if that isn’t enough, you can run any of the appliances you build live right there in their portal to ensure that everything is working as it should. Novell was at vmworld last year, and if you missed the suse studio demo kiosks there, you’ll kick yourself after you’ve poked around on the website awhile.
2) The vmware open view client. This is an official vmware client, but for some reason it’s hosted over on a google project page. Grab the latest .rpm package for installation into SUSE, I ended up with the following package:
Getting started with suse studio
When you log into suse studio for the first time you’ll be presented with an appliance selection screen. This selection will be the base configuration for your first appliance. I selected the opensuse 11.2 base image with gnome desktop.
Scroll down, select if you want your image to be 32 or 64 bit, give your appliance a name, and select the Create Appliance button.
With a base appliance ready to be configured, you’ll be greeted by dister, the suse studio mascot, and you’ll be ready to configure the appliance. Select the software tab.
At this point we’ll go ahead and upload the vmware view client to our appliance. Select the Upload and Manage rpms link…….
…and upload the view client rpm that you downloaded above.
After you’ve uploaded the view client, select the Customize tab. In the general section, select the Default time zone you want to use, and if required, change the network settings. I’ve left the default DHCP in place. If you want, you can also change the default users, or root password from here, I’ve left the defaults in place.
Select Personalize from the configuration tab. This is a neat option to allow you to customize the bootup and login appearance of the appliance. I found a large vmware open view icon here, and uploaded it as my appliance logo. I also changed the default background color to the blue background that was available by default.
I left the defaults in the Startup and Server sections. In the Desktop section of the configuration tab, I selected the option to automatically log in the default user, and to autostart the vmware-view application.
To do this, in the Autostart desktop programs section, select the add new autostart program link. In the command field enter:
leave the start for user default option selected, and if want, add a comment for this application. We want to start the view client in fullscreen mode, to stop the average user from poking around on the local suse live cd.
Note: Beyond just starting the application, you can use any supported vmware-view variables to customize the start up of this application, such as connecting directly to the POC connection server, or defaulting to commonly used variables automatically. For specific POC environments, or actual deployments, this can make what to do, or where to connect much less confusing for your testers.
I didn’t make any changes to the Startup & Scripts and Storage sections under configuration.
Today, we’ll skip the overlay files section.
Last thing to do is build the appliance. Select the build tab, and in the Create appliance section, select the type of image you want to build. For this, we selected Live CD/DVD (.iso) Select build, sit back, and wait for your live cd to build!
Select the download option, burn your iso, and enjoy your live vmware view client linux boot cd.
It’s interesting to note, with some additional configurations within susesudio, some tweaking to lock down the gnome desktop, and some more polish, you could easily provide the full thin client experience, completely removing the users ability to launch any other applications, as well as the option to install this “os” locally for longer POCs.
Obviously this is a VERY narrow use case for the suse studio appliance tool as well. It’s extremely useful in customizing appliances quickly, and getting vms deployed into vmware environments.
If you have any questions about vmware view, the live cd build process, or want some tips on how to lock down gnome, you know where to find me. If anyone has a place to host this iso, I’d gladly put it out there for use for those that don’t have access to suse studio at the moment too.