Station Mapping Profile: Virtual Machine (VDI) Desktop

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(Updated 2013.05.23)

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

"Station Mapping" lets a system administrator configure what type of Virtual Desktop session to launch on each station. With a "mapped" session, end users no longer need to login to the native linux desktop to start the virtual desktop session. Once the system administrator has mapped a Virtual Machine (VM) session to a station, a "clone" of the master VM will automatically launch as a full-screen session on that station.

A key advantage Userful's design is that cloning is automatic and quick; clones are copied from "known good" virtual machine master images known as golden masters.

This document includes information about the Virtual Machine profile.

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Station Mapping: Creating a Virtual Machine Profile

Station Mapping allows you to bind a specific station to a Virtual Machine clone.

  1. The first step is to create a Virtual Machine profile. To do so, click on "New Profile". Give the new profile a name, and then use the drop-down menu to select "Virtual Machine" as the profile type.

  2. VDI-Station-Mapping-Create-Profile.png
  3. Choose a master VM from the drop down menu.
    • Master VMs must be configured through VirtualBox™ in order to appear in this list. Please see "Creating a VM Master Image", below.
    • When stations are mapped to this profile, "clones" of the master VM will be created automatically.
  4. Choose whether the clone(s) should be locked or writable by either clicking in the checkbox next to "Locked" or leaving it blank, respectively.
    • Locked clones automatically revert to the Master VM state (when the clone was last created or last re-synchronized) when the VM (or the host) is rebooted. This is best for kiosk mode.
    • Writable clones do not revert back to the previous state when they are rebooted. In other words, changes to the cloned images persist.
  5. Virtual machines can be mapped with or without audio capabilities. Note that activating sound in VMs may result in lower overall performance.
    • Userful recommends that sound is enabled only when absolutely required.

Map Stations to Virtual Machine Profiles


Once profiles are created, stations can be "mapped" or assigned to those profiles by simply dragging-and-dropping the station icons to the desired profile.

To change the profile configuration (for example, to turn off audio), click on the profile name to open the "Edit Profile" window.

Please Note: It is recommended not to map onboard station to VM profile.

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.

Considerations When Mapping Virtual Machines

  • Ensure that sufficient system resources, especially RAM, is available for all cloned station maps. For optimal setup we generally recommended that administrators double the minimum RAM to allow for extra capacity (due to failover or growth) or if you anticipate that users may perform memory intensive tasks on the system.
    • For example, if the master VM has been allocated 512MB, and there are 15 stations, the system must have at least 8Gigs RAM available. Remember that the host PC/Server requires between 2 an 3 GB of RAM itself, and that host/server RAM requirements increase with greater numbers of stations.
  • The BIOS of the host PC/Server 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.
  • All Master VM image(s) should be created and stored under the same user account, "administrator" (or any other user who will own the VM images).

Re-synchronizing Virtual Machine Clones

When a Master VM is mapped to stations, a "clone" is created for each mapped station. Both the cloned VMs and the original golden master VM can be viewed and managed within the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager.


The image to the right is an example of how Master, Unlocked Clones, and Locked (or Read-only) Clones appear in the VirtualBox Manager window.

To adjust the master image settings, simply highlight the image in the list, then click on "Settings".

Changes within a virtualized operating system (for example, installing new applications) are made by highlighting the master image, then clicking on "Start". The guest OS will boot inside a VM window; make any changes necessary then shut down the VM.

Please Note: The changes made to the master VM image will not automatically propagate to the clones of that image.

If you have changed a master VM and you wish to apply those changes to all the clones (that is, to all stations that have been mapped to run a VM based off that master image), you must delete any automatically created clones from the VirtualBox Manager.

The clones will automatically be re-created the next time you launch the affected profile on a station.


If anything bad or unexpected happens during the installation process, or with normal usage, you can reset either individual stations, or the entire Userful Control Center/Station Mapping interface with the following steps:

  1. Force a station to reload its Station Mapping configuration.
    • If a station is not being mapped correctly, press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to force it to restart.
  2. Recreate the Station Mapping Clone.
    • If ctrl+alt+backspace does not work, you can try to recreate the clone itself.
    1. Power-off the faulty zero-client device.
    2. As the user who owns the VMs, Logon onto the host.
    3. Launch VirtualBox.
      1. Manually delete the faulty numbered VM clones named "<VM> Clone ##" (Hint: It probably has the VirtualBox Status "Aborted".)
    4. Power-on the faulty zero-client device.
    • When the station powers back on, the Cloned VM will be re-created from the master.
  3. Recreate the master VM.
    1. Power-off all zero-client devices assigned as a Virtual Machine.
    2. As the user who owns the VMs, Logon onto the host.
    3. Launch VirtualBox.
      1. Manually delete all numbered VM clones named "<VM> Clone ##".
      2. Manually delete the master VM.
      3. Recreate the master VM using the same name.
      4. Boot the new master VM at least once, to validate if its ready to be cloned.
    4. Power-on the zero-client devices.
    Once all the stations power back on, the system will begin recloning VMs from the re-created Master.
  4. Recreate entire VirtualBox environment.
    1. Power-off all zero-client devices assigned as a Virtual Machine
    2. As the user who owns the VMs, Logon onto the host.
    3. Delete the following paths.
      • /home/user/.VirtualBox/
      • /home/user/VirtualBox VMs/
    4. Launch VirtualBox.
      1. Recreate the master VM using the name as before..
      2. Boot the new master VM at least once, to validate if its ready to be cloned.
    5. Power-on the zero-client devices.
    • Once all the stations power back on, the system will begin recloning VMs from the re-created master.
  5. Reset the Station Mapping database.
    1. Launch the Userful Control Center.
      1. Go to System Operations.
      2. Reset Userful Multiseat Configuration.
      3. Click Apply.
    2. Reboot the host PC/Server.
    3. Launch the Userful Control Center.
      1. Go to Station Mapping.
      2. Create a new Virtual Machine profile.
      3. Assign stations to the new Virtual Machine profile.
      4. Click Apply.