Paul SlagerVirtualization, Storage, Exchange, SharePoint, and Backup Expert
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Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Part9: ThinApp Configuration/ManagementApril 21, 2011 at 9:28 pmPaul Slager21 comments
I bet some of you are thinking its about stinking time. I apologize to those of you who have anxiously been waiting for this article to be released. I hope it answers all of your questions surrounding Thinapp. This blog series has been a great success and I have gotten a lot of positive feedback. In appreciation to your feedback and to help out a lucky winner I am offering 6 free hours of VMware consulting services to the individual who comments/twitters the most about my site in the next month. These consulting services are no way affiliated with my current company. The contest begins today and ends May 19th.
So what is Thinapp anyway? Thinapp is simply a tool that allows you to virtualize your applications. This separates your applications from the desktop keeping your operating system registry squeaky clean. These virtualized applications run in a sandbox so to speak. One of the benefits is being able to quickly grant users access to certain applications based on their role or other criteria. There are some monetary savings that come from Virtualizing your applications as well because you can minimize the number of licenses needed. You have two Thinapp installation choices either you can stream the application from a shared file server or install the application on the VMware View desktop. If you stream the application you must take network bandwidth into consideration especially if streaming to satellite offices across a WAN. Virtualizing your applications is actually a good place to start if you are thinking about entering the realm of desktop virtualization. Its really the applications that matter in the long run and if you have a good application virtualization solution the rest is a bit easier to fall into place. On the flip side there are times were application virtualization doesnt really make sense either though. For instance, if you are a small company with maybe 10 major applications. It might be easier to create 2 or 3 different desktop pools based on the applications required. Or you could even use Windows 2008 RDS. Deploying applications quickly and on demand is a great selling point for any administrator though, especially when an upgrade to that software occurs. You can push out that upgrade in a matter of minutes to all of your desktops. This article is part 9 of a ten part series. Future articles are listed below.
Part Part Part Part Part Part Part
1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:
Installing & Configuring VMware View 4.5 Configuring VMware View 4.5 Local Mode Configuring VMware View 4.5 with Linked Clones Managing VMware View 4.5 Linked Clones Managing VMware View 4.5 Local Desktops Configuring Juniper SSL VPN with VMware View 4.5 VMware View 4.5 Planning & Implementation Guide
Part 8: VMware View 4.5 Thin/Zero Clients Part 9: VMware View 4.5 ThinApp Configuration/Management Part 10: VMware View 4.5 Event Logging
Preparing the Desktop The first thing you want to do before you start virtualizing any applications boot-up a clean virtual machine with no software installed. After you have a clean operating system take a snapshot, so you can go back to that clean image if you mess up. This clean operating system virtual machine will be used to install all of your applications that will be captured by the Thinapp Setup Capture application. I have had issues in the past where I would install an application and then try to capture that application and the capture would fail because of some other applications I installed/uninstalled previously, it can be a bit sensitive sometimes.
VMware View Thinapp Requirements The requirements listed below are for packages deployed to VMware View 4.5 Desktops 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. You must use ThinApp 4.6 or later You must package your applications as Microsoft Installation Packages (MSI) To run streamed ThinApp applications on View Desktops users must have access to the network share that hosts the MSI packages The MSI Packages must be stored on a Windows network share that resides in the Active Directory domain that VMware View can access. Do not deploy an application that is already installed on your View Desktop image you will get an error in the events tab under the ThinApp section in the VMware View Administrator. Do not assign a ThinApp to a desktop or pool more than once with a different installation type, you will get an error. So for instance, you dont want to install a streaming ThinApp for Adobe Reader and then turn right around and install the full ThinApp of Adobe Reader to the same desktop.
*IMPORTANT* Deploying ThinApps to your local desktop is not supported but it does work. ThinAppss are only fully supported when installed on View Desktops.
Installing ThinApp 4.6
Download the ThinApp bits using this demo download link https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/p/activate.php?p=view46&lp=1 Run the Thinapp Setup on your clean VM that you created earlier.
Accept the Terms and click Next
The installation window will disappear for a brief moment, so dont freak out. Enter in the License Key you got from the demo or purchased
Click the Install button
Click Finish to complete the installation
Build a Virtual Application Package 1. The first step is to run the VMware Setup Capture Utility. This utility will run a pre-scan of your computer before you install any applications, this creates the baseline. Then you install your application and run a post scan to pick up that new application and all of its registry files, and then build the application package.
Click the Next button to continue
Your operating system starts scanning
You might get a warning saying it couldnt scan certain registry keys on Windows 7. The keys are: Unable to Query the registry value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Perflib\009 index 0 Unable to Query the registry value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Perflib\CurrentLanguage index 0 These keys really dont play an important role from my experience and you can ignore them. If you dont want to see the error message anymore add those registry keys to the Setup Capture Exclusion list. The exclusion list is called snapshot.ini and can be found in the Setup Capture folder. Click Next to any Prescan warnings.
Its now time to install your application. I recommend starting with a small application while you get familiar with the product. Try Adobe reader, or Adobe flash to get your feet wet. *NOTE* after you install the application, open it up. Many applications require you to answer questions the first time you use it. For instance, some applications will ask you to accept terms and conditions; others will ask you for a username, others will prompt you for startup considerations, etc. Click the Postscan button, and then accept the warning message below.
After the PostScan completes you will find a list of all of the executable files associated with the new application you installed. I dont need to present the uninstall executable so I will just select the main flash application and click next. Please note that some larger applications like Microsoft Office have many different sub applications like word, excel, PowerPoint, Office Tools, etc (as shown in the screenshot below)
Choose who is authorized to access the application. You can change authentication based on AD groups if you wanted to but for now I am going to keep it simple and allow everyone.
I am going to give Adobe Reader Full Write Access, which you can read about below. Its a trusted application and I dont have any problem with it writing to non-system directories. When you select your option click Next
10. I am going to choose to store application data with the users local profile on the virtual desktop under the %AppData% folder. In my environment user data is stored on a persistent disk meaning all profile information is kept safe during a desktop refresh/recompose. If you were using a floating pool without a persistent disk you really couldnt store the application information in the user profile folder and would probably want to use option 3 which is to store it on a network drive.
11. Choose to send out quality assurance statistics or not and click the next button
12. Give the package a name that will show up in View Administrator that you can easily identify and select theproject location and click Next
13. The next screen asks you if you what the primary data container should be. Usually I take the recommendationthat is provided for me. Larger applications will automatically default to Use separate .Dat file; however, in this case I will use the Flash.exe entry point. Remember one of the requirements for deploying ThinApps to your View Desktops is that you must Generate an MSI Package, which I have checked. Another option you can play around with is compressing the package which will reduce its storage footprint. When finished with your settings click the Save button.
14. At the next screen you can manually edit the package.ini file. (Screenshot Below)
15. When satisfied with all of your settings go ahead and click the Build button.
16. Once the build process has completed go ahead and click the Finish button.
17. Awesome your first package has been created. The next step is to add this package to the VMware View Administrator.