Getting Started with Virtual Machines

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This page contains documentation for product not actively maintained.

See documentation for the latest products: http://support.userful.com/Main_Page.


Please Note: Userful™ v9.7 is the last tested version that supports VDI. It is highly recommended to test your use case before using it in a production system. You can download Userful™ v9.7 from the given link https://www.userful.com/products/downloads/vdi-download


Copyright © 2019 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2018.08.03)


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Introduction

Userful's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution is a feature that makes it possible to map full-screen Virtual Desktop sessions to displays and video walls.

This guide provides step-by-step instructions for installing virtual machines (VMs) for use with the Virtual Machine source.


Userful VDI technology relies on third-party virtual machine players (also known as "hypervisors") like Oracle® VirtualBox™ to create and configure Virtual Machines.

For deployments in production environments, Userful strongly recommends accessing the third-party documentation for detailed information, instructions and troubleshooting of VMs created with that VM player.

For example, VirtualBox has extensive online documentation.


Considerations When Using Virtual Machines

  • Make sure that sufficient system resources, especially RAM, are available for all mapped displays.
  • The BIOS of the Userful host must be configured to enable the hardware virtualization CPU setting.
  • Though not required, performance will be better with a solid state drive (SDD). In particular, it is recommended to store the VM images on SSD.
  • If cloned VMs are to be bound to an Active Directory domain:
    • The Master VM must not be bound to an Active Directory domain prior to cloning, and
    • "Writable" clones must be used. For security purposes, Windows performs automatic machine password changing mechanism at regular intervals. You can disable this mechanism as per Microsoft KB article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/154501.
  • Zero client devices must be connected to the Userful host, assigned, and configured.
  • All Master VM image(s) must be stored under the same user account i.e. "userful-vdiuser". This is the user who "owns" the VM images.
  • If you access the internet through a proxy, it is important to configure your golden master image with the correct proxy settings.
  • Install VirtualBox Extension Pack through Control Center > Settings > Check for Available Packages.


Licensing is Your Responsibility

Please Note: You are responsible for complying with all operating system and application vendors’ license agreements when you clone a virtual machine or make it available for multiple users.


Creating a Master VM Image

A key advantage of Userful's design is that cloning is automatic and quick; clones are copied from "known good" virtual machine master images known as golden masters. To create a Master VM Image, follow one of the following options:

Using an existing OVA file

Virtual Appliance is a virtual machine, complete with all customization and settings (including memory allocation and network configuration).

The most common file format for virtual appliances is Open Virtualization Format, which is not specific to any system architecture. An OVF package is a directory containing several files; for ease of copying and redistributing, OVF packages are often compressed with the tar utility into a single .ova file.

If you have an existing .ova file, it can be used quickly to create a Guest OS VM on Userful host, complete with pre-configured settings. To do so:

  • Copy the .ova file using any storage medium (e.g. USB keys) from any desktop environment to your Userful host (under "/shared-files" directory). Alternatively, you can transfer files through ssh or another mechanism that you are familiar with.


Once finished, next step is to import Master VM from an ova file.


Please Note: Before using an .ova file for creating Master VM image, please ensure Guest Additions are installed as supported by Guest OS. For the complete list of OS and supported guest additions, visit https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Guest_OSes

Importing the Master VM Image
Importing an ova file

To import a Master VM from an ova file:

  • Ensure .ova file exists in /shared-files directory. If not, copy .ova file in /shared-files directory of the Userful host
  • Open Control Center > VMs
  • Click “Import VM image” button and wait for few seconds
  • Click “Ready to Import” button next to (.ova) file to create the master image. This process takes some time
  • Once finished, Master VM Image will be listed under Control Center > VMs > Available Master VMs Summary and is ready for use through Control Center > Mapping.


Using Installation Media or Disk Image (.iso)

It is not necessary to create a Master VM image on the Userful host; you can create image on any desktop environment(laptops etc) and copy the same on the host PC. Following steps can be used to create a "golden master" VM image that can be copied to the Userful host as an ova format for VDI funtionality:

Creating a Master VM Image

This process can be used to create a "golden master" VM image that can then be copied to other machines.

    Create VM Setting.png
  1. Login to the system.
    • Userful recommends logging in with an administrator account, as this account will have access to create, configure and/or delete VMs.
  2. Launch VirtualBox Manager.
  3. Click on the “New” button to open "Create Virtual Machine" window.
    • Note: At any point in the following instructions, press F1 to access VirtualBox help instantly.
  4. On the first screen, enter the Virtual Machine “Name”, “Type” and “Version”
    • The Name can be whatever you like, but Userful recommends using a short but descriptive name. In the example to the right, Windows 7 is the Name.
    • Select a Type from the drop-down list. In the example to the right, the Type is Microsoft Windows.
    • Select a Version from the drop-down list. In the example to the right, the Version is "Windows 7".
      • Important: If your operating system is 64-bit, you must select the 64-bit Version of the OS.
  5. Click "Next" to proceed.

  6. Memory Size.png
  7. Select the memory size(RAM) for the Virtual Machine. In the example to the right, 1024MB (1GB) of RAM is allocated to the VM.
    • The more RAM is allocated to a VM, the better the performance will be.
    • Each VM (or VM clone) is restricted to use only the amount of RAM (plus a small overhead) allocated.
    • Ensure that the Userful host has enough RAM to handle the number of VMs you plan to run, at the memory allocation you select.
    Userful suggests the following minimum memory allocations for selected operating systems:
    • Windows® 7: 1024MB
    • Windows® 8: 2048MB
    • Windows® 8.1: 2048MB
    • Windows® 10: 2048MB

    These are good starting points for demonstration purposes, but may not be sufficient for production use, depending on system hardware and/or intensity of usage.

  8. Click "Next" to proceed.

  9. Create Hard Disk.png
  10. Create a virtual hard drive for your VM. Click to select "Create a virtual hard drive now" and click "Create".
  11. Choose the "VDI" (VirtualBox Disk Image) type, and click "Next".

  12. Dynamic Memory Allocation.png
  13. Select the storage size for the virtual hard disk
    • Choosing "Fixed size" means that a portion of your hard disk storage will be reserved for the VM disk file.
    • Choosing "Dynamically allocated" means that the VM hard drive will only use space on the host PC's physical hard drive as it is needed (up to a maximum size that you will choose in the next step). Note that storage space is not "returned" to the Userful host even if the VM is no longer using it.


    File Location.png
  14. Next, specify the name, location and storage size of the virtual hard disk. (See example, at right, where 25 GB of host (physical) hard disk storage is being allocated to the virtual machine).
  15. Click "Create" to finish virtual hard drive creation.The "Create Virtual Hard Drive" window will close, leaving the "Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager" window; do not close this window.
    • Note: Your newly-created VM hard drive should appear in the VM list on the left side of the window.

  16. Select the new VM in the "Virtual Manager" window and click the "Settings" button.
    • Click on "System" tab and ensure that Enable I/O APIC option under "Extended Features" is enabled. Enabling the I/O APIC option is required for 64-bit Guest OS; it is also required when you want to use more than one virtual CPU in a virtual machine.

    Now you are ready to install the operating system onto the virtual hard disk that you have created. If installing from media, insert the installation media (typically an optical disk) and wait several seconds for it to spin up or be mounted.


    StartUp Disk.png
  17. In the "VirtualBox Manager" window, click "Start" to power up the VM.
  18. The VM player will typically give you one or two windows that contain tips and/or important information about working in your VM. Read these messages carefully before dismissing them.
  19. Next, the VM player will ask you to select a start-up disk; this is your installation CD/DVD or .iso file.
    • Click on the small "Folder" icon to browse to your host's optical drive, or the location of the .iso file, then click "Start".


    VM-Window-Anatomy.png
  20. From this point, installation will proceed as if you were installing your chosen OS on a physical system.
    • Follow the instructions for installing your chosen operating system.
    • When installation is finished, you should have the VM running in VirtualBox.

    The image to the right is an example of what a VirtualBox VM looks like, when running in windowed mode.

    Note that at the top and bottom of the window are elements from the VirtualBox application.

    • The VirtualBox Menu Bar appears above the Guest OS window.
    • The Device Status Bar appears below the Guest OS.

    When a VM is run in fullscreen mode, no VirtualBox control elements will be visible. Displays mapped to VM source will always run in fullscreen mode.



    Please Note: Before using the Master VM image, please ensure Guest Additions are installed as supported by Guest OS. For the complete list of OS and supported guest additions, visit https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Guest_OSes

Exporting Virtual Appliance Files

Export Virtual Appliance.png

Once a virtual machine is created and optimized, you may wish to create a virtual appliance (.ova to use as a Golden Master Image, to be deployed on several Userful systems. To create an ova file from a Master VM:

  1. Launch VirtualBox by going to Applications > System Tools > Oracle VM VirtualBox
    • Note: At any point in the following instructions, press F1 to access VirtualBox help instantly.
  2. Create an .ova file by going to File > Export Appliance in the Oracle VirtualBox Manager. This opens the "Export Virtual Appliance" window.
  3. Select the Master VM.
  4. Next, choose a filename and location for the exported appliance by clicking on the "Choose" button.
    • Navigate to the folder where you wish to save the appliance file, and enter a filename with the .ova extension.
  5. Click "Next" to continue.
    OVA Storage Setting.png
  6. A window will open showing the configuration options that are to be exported along with the virtual hard disk file.
    • To change any of the configuration settings, simply double-click on the description.
  7. Click "Export" to continue.
    • Export process will take several minutes.
  8. Once finished, navigate to the folder where the appliance file has been saved and copy that file to your removable storage media (or transfer file to the Userful host).

Transferring an OVA file to the Userful host

Virtual Appliance is a virtual machine, complete with all customization and settings (including memory allocation and network configuration).
If you have an existing .ova file, it can be used quickly to create a Guest OS VM on the Userful host, with pre-configured settings. To do so:

  • Copy the .ova file using any storage medium (e.g. USB keys) from any desktop environment to your Userful host (under "/shared-files" directory).


Once finished, next step is to import Master VM from an ova file.

Please Note: Before using an .ova file for creating Master VM image, please ensure Guest Additions are installed as supported by Guest OS. For the complete list of OS and supported guest additions, visit https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Guest_OSes


Importing the Master VM Image

Importing an ova file

To import a Master VM from an ova file:

  • Ensure .ova file exists in /shared-files directory. If not, copy .ova file in /shared-files directory of the Userful host
  • Open Control Center > VMs
  • Click “Import VM image” button and wait for few seconds
  • Click “Ready to Import” button next to (.ova) file to create the master image. This process takes some time
  • Once finished, Master VM Image will be listed under Control Center > VMs > Available Master VMs Summary and is ready for use through Control Center > Mapping.




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