My View – Design documents, photos, image editing

Today was a documentation day. Yippee! Oh Visio, how you manage to manipulate the simplest lines into complex, tangled webs, one will never know.

What I do know is that PCoIP provided an excellent user experience when working with graphics in Visio. One of the great features of PCoIP is that it builds the image to full quality over time unlike some other protocols that will generate a fuzzy image when bandwidth is unavailable. Indeed, a nice feature when working with graphics and attempting to read the small print on drawings. Dragging objects, working with text, connecting devices, and editing images were all accomplished from within the virtual desktop with no frustrating waiting while the image is redrawn as in RDP. Keep in mind I am accessing a virtual desktop in Steelhead Data’s cloud in Sacramento, CA from my home office in Portland, OR.

Scott Davis, VMware View CTO, does a great job of describing the PCoIP technology in his blog

More importantly, by transmitting compressed bitmaps or frames, we can adjust the protocol in real time to account for the available bandwidth and latency of the communications channel. On a WAN connection with typically less bandwidth and higher latency, a less crisp image is produced quickly, typically with 0.2-0.5 bits/pixel producing a grainy, but still recognizable image. Kind of like an analog TV… This rapidly sharpens with increasing clarity and detail visibility with each succeeding frame until the image is perceptually lossless. This is a high quality image at a total of approximately 1-3 bits/pixel. Think of it as now Digital HD to stick with our TV analogy. On a higher performance LAN, the images become sharp instantly and will build to complete lossless at 5-15 bits per pixel. Think of it as Blu-Ray!

After completing some documentation, I shifted over to responding to customer requests in our managed services platform where we host VMware View desktops for businesses. Pros to using a View desktop: My desktop is located in the datacenter with the managed environment so connectivity to the infrastructure is fast and easy. Running tools such as the vSphere client to access the console of VMs from within the View desktop provides a better experience than if I run the same tool over a VPN connection on my local client. In the past I would have made a similar connection into a terminal server or Citrix environment where I could then access these tools. The difference here is that I have my own dedicated desktop where I get to install the tools that are useful to me like the great automation tool from thevesi.org for performing tasks in a vSphere environment. Or maybe I want to use the Webex one-click application. This is not something that I would want to install on a shared terminal server but it’s my desktop and I’ll do as I please! If an application decides to misbehave, I have the option of rolling back to a snapshot or refreshing my desktop to a point where it is running like a well oiled machine. Try doing that on a terminal server or traditional desktop.

This post is part of a project I am undertaking where I will be using a VMware View desktop for - hopefully - all of my work computing.  See more by clicking the "myview" tag.

My View- Day 2

I was only at the keys for part of the day today so there wasn’t too much interaction with my VDI, View, virtual desktop, whatever you want to call it. It’s tempting to call it VD for virtual desktop but that just seems wrong. One “fun” thing happened while connected from a café over 4G. I was working on a document and writing some emails when suddenly I got a message that my laptop battery was nearly dead and I should connect to a power supply. Oooops. No power outlet in sight. I decided to let it run out because there was no risk of losing the data I was working on. Add that to the list of things I did not consider as a benefit of desktop virtualization.

This blog is about the good and the bad so let me tell you about something that is really frustrating. In order to keep my work and personal computing separated, I have a personal laptop and thin client connected to a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch to allow for sharing a single monitor, keyboard, and mouse. For some dang reason, the thin client recognizes the keyboard and mouse properly but often times – not always – when I connect to my desktop in the cloud, the keyboard and mouse aren’t recognized or I receive a prompt saying that they couldn’t be installed. GRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrr. This typically is resolved by connecting to the desktop using the View client on my laptop and rebooting it but sometimes just requires switching through the KVM connections or unplugging and reconnecting the USB plug. Any thoughts? Let me make it clear that I am running Windows 7 as my virtual desktop which is “experimental” according to VMware.

Blank Screen on Windows 7 VMware View Desktop Using PCoIP

Updated 11/5/2010:

You may want to check out this KB from VMware in reference to this issue.

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Original Post:

I was recently setting up a Windows 7 image for our VMware View environment and the overall process was very quick and simple compared to other OSes due to the simple, fast installation of Windows 7. However, when I first attempted to connect to a View desktop using PCoIP, I was presented with a blank or black screen that in a minute just closed seemingly refusing the connection. The console of the virtual desktop appeared to logon with the specified user but the remote session was not working. Quickly, I remembered setting up Windows 7 in another View environment and recalled the need to change the video driver. Here is a quick “how to” that will get you up and running with Windows 7 in VMware View using PC-over-IP. NOTE: Windows 7 is still “experimental” in VMware View.

Right-click Computer then click Manage.

In Device Manager, expand Display adapters, right-click VMware SVGA 3D, click Update Driver Software…

Click Browse my computer for driver software

Click Let me pick from a list…


Click Have Disk…

Browse to C:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\video and click OK.

Choose VMware SVGA II and click Next.

The driver is installing…

Done. Click Close and restart Windows.

Finally, it is a good idea to increase the amount of video memory by editing the virtual machine settings. 40 MB seems to be a recommended amount floating around the blogosphere.