Location Based Applications with ThinApp and View

Virtual Desktops can be considered both the newest and the oldest craze in IT. As a leading technology integrator, Clearpath has been able keep up with the craze and stay ahead of the curve with multiple deployments around the VMware View suite. One of the best and most underrated components in the View suite is ThinApp.

ThinApp gives you the ability to package applications and stream them from a file server to the users. When combined with the View Connection Broker you can present an entire user experience from the operating system through specific applications assigned from the IT staff. Sounds great, but what if I don’t care about the user and want the applications to always be installed on specific machines? This is especially useful in organizations looking to deploy virtual desktops across kiosk-styled thin clients.

Well, we can now do this through a little scripting and the use of Group Policy ADM files that ship with View. The viewagent.adm file is deposited on the Connection Broker automatically during install and can be imported into a Group Policy Object (GPO) on your domain. The key to the .adm file and accompanying GPO is the ability to run scripting based on the local client. This is effectively accomplished by pulling registry information from the guest VM OS. You have the option of everything from the IP address to the host name or even the MAC address. To illustrate, I’ve pulled together a script that allows you to register a specified application to any machine named accordingly. In this example every machine in the “Blue Room” is named “BlueRoom-XXX” and all the applications in the “Blue” folder will get published to it along with everything in the “All” folder.


 

Const HKEY_CURRENT_USER = &H80000001

Set WSHShell = CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)

Set objShell = CreateObject(“Shell.Application”)

Set wmiLocator=CreateObject(“WbemScripting.SWbemLocator”)
Set wmiNameSpace = wmiLocator.ConnectServer(“.”, “rootdefault”)

Set objRegistry = wmiNameSpace.Get(“StdRegProv”)

sPath = “Volatile Environment”

lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_Machine_Name”, vMachine)

lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_IP_Address”, vIP)
lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_MAC_Address”, vMAC)

tokens = split(vMachine, “-“)

Room=tokens(0)

Select Case (Room)

Case “BlueRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$Blue*.exe”””)
Case “RedRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$Red*.exe”””)
Case “OrangeRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)

End Select


 

If your naming convention does not have a “-“ in it or maybe you need to use the second part instead of the first, you would change the following lines:

tokens = split(vMachine, “-“)

Room= tokens(0)

Simply change the “-“to your delimiter and if you need the third part you change the tokens to (2). Machine_1_BlueRoom would then still use BlueRoom as the variable.

If you want to use an IP address as your test and the subnets are different just use the tokens = split(vMachine,”.”). Then Room=tokens(2) would give you the third octet (i.e. if the IP is 192.168.121.3 the variable result would be 121). Remember this is not a number, it is a string, so greater than (>) and less than (<) will not work.

Need more than three options? Just add to the case statement. ThinApp now behaves as a location-based environment as opposed to user and/or OU.

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High-Tech Toys: Running Windows 7 on an iPad

Growing up there was a plaque on my basement wall that read: “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.”

This modern day tech guy loves his toys, and Apple’s iPad is the latest in a string of high-tech toys getting a lot of buzz. Everyone has seen the video of the cat playing games with the iPad, so instead of talking about how it works or how cool the screen is, I am going to focus on the integration with VMware View.

About 6 months ago I picked up the Wyse PocketCloud client for the iPhone and thought it was really cool but I couldn’t really see any business purpose for it other than putting out emergencies and even that would be tough on such a small screen. Then about a month ago I saw an update for the app that said it now had iPad support. A 10” screen could facilitate performance.

In terms of price, I can get a 10” screen on a netbook for around $300, maybe a little more if I add a solid state drive. Then I can add the VMware View client and get connectivity just about anywhere with a full keyboard without carrying around a 20-lb laptop. That would not be nearly as cool though. The iPad is priced at $499 starting with just WiFi, which I think right now is definitely a limiting factor but not one that is overwhelming. You’d normally only use it while you’re sitting on your sofa at home anyway. High price or not, I had to try it out.

The setup is extremely easy. You simply order it from the app store on the device and $14.99 later it is installed on the device. The connection to an existing View environment is almost as easy with just a few caveats. You have to set up a connection to each machine or pool you want to access. That is not at all a show stopper since you still can’t multi-task on the iPad anyway. Once you set the machine you have the option of how you want to view the desktop. This one is personal preference and if you plan to use landscape more than portrait I would change the setting as it really does make a difference when viewing it.

You get all the same features as the iPhone version with two-finger sizing and the extra mouse/all-in-one pointer that makes the touch screen even more useful. Plus if you must have Flash you can use the ThinBrowser feature and access your full browser on the virtual desktop and get Flash sites opened on the iPad. There are a few things to watch out for though. If you think you are going to use your finger to move up and down a page, think again. When you slide your finger it actually moves the whole desktop around. A lock feature would be nice so that you can use the desktop more like the base image. I think it is something you can get used to but for me it was annoying. A second thing to be aware of when using it is if you are in landscape mode and close out of it, the app seems to lock up and part of the screen goes back to portrait and some stays in landscape. If you just exit out and come back in it fixes it all so again not a big deal especially since if you are done you would most likely be exiting out anyway.

HP Cloud Tech Field Day .. What to expect…

Some of you who follow me on Twitter (@mletschin) have seen over the last few days that I am on my way to Houston to participate in HP’s second Cloud tech day.  This is the first of my tech field days to attend but from everything I have heard I am in for a whirlwind of learning and networking  I had the good fortune of working with HP on the Blogger Reality Contest for VMworld 2011 and can not imagine what they will bring when we goto their campus to see all their toys  we just got an agenda in this evening and it is jam packed.  Take a look below at some of the things to expect  I will do my best to do some live blogging, maybe even a video blog for Luigi (@nerdblurt).  Follow me on here, Twitter and even on our corporate blog site at www.convergencetech.us 

Field day topics:

  • Enterprise Cloud strategy
  • View of the future HP cloud
  • Hyperscale for cloud
  • The inner workings of the CloudSystem
  • Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD)
  • Networking and Cloud security
  • Cloudmaps
  • Cloudbursting
  • A tour of the HP Cloud Solutions Center
  • A tour of the environmental test lab

Like to be a great trip make surgery follow along…