Repurpose an old PC as a VMWare View thin-client

Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is sure to become the next big thing in a post-PC market. The ability to centralize user desktops around a pool of virtual images eases administration, support and updates. User productivity can be enhanced by the constant presence of a virtual machine connection, from the office or at home.

The ultimate expression of this is put into a zero-client, which is just a terminal, connecting the user to a virtual session in the cloud. As companies move their networks in this direction, many desktop computers will become surplus, some that still have a few years of use left in them. Repurposing a desktop as a thin-client is the best way to try-out VDI with a minimal investment up front.

What is needed is an old computer that can adequately run either Windows XP or Windows 7, a VMWare View Infrastructure and the VMWare View client (free).

1. Install Windows on the old computer and update it to its fullest extent. The house rules where I work stipulate antivirus software must be installed on any PC, so do that if necessary. That is all that really needs to be installed. Microsoft Office or other software are not necessary because they will never be used. Joining the computer to a corporate domain is optional as well. We’ll set the machine to auto-login as a local user and start the VMWare view client immediately.

2. Install The VMWare View client on the computer.

3. Create a new directory ~ C:\CustomShell

4. Place the following code below in a file named C:\CustomShell\view.vbs
Set WshShell = CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
                      WshShell.Run chr(34) & “C:\CustomShell\view.cmd” & chr(34), 0
                      Set WshShell = Nothing

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5. Place the below code in a file named C:\CustomShell\view.cmd
                      ”C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Client\bin\wswc.exe” -   connectUSBOnStartup true -connectUSBOnInsert true
                      goto View

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6. Open regedit.exe and naviagte to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Winlogon and edit the Shell entry and modify from explorer.exe to:
wscript C:\CustomShell\view.vbs

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This will replace Windows Explorer as the default shell, with VMWare View. On the next reboot, the only thing that the user will see is the VMWare View application.

7 (optional). Create a local or domain user account and give it a strong password. Configure Windows to log in automatically with that user account, from the Users applet in the Control Panel. This step skips the computer’s login prompt and allows the user to proceed directly to the VMWare View login.

Reboot the PC and Windows should log in automatically and show only the VMWare view console. From there, the user can access View with their domain credentials and be shown the resources which have been made available to their account. A somewhat double-login still exists, but that can be changed from the VMWare View console.

What is available now, is a thin-client made from a computer which may have been very well discarded.

The code portion of this tutorial was taken from the following web-site:
Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader

Comments (1)

Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader


Thanks ericpete, much obliged!

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