07-03-14

VCAP-DTA – Objective 4.1 – Build, Upgrade and Optimize a Windows Desktop Image

Section 4 is based around the building and maintaining of desktop images. This is a pretty broad area that can encompass a whole raft of different settings and considerations, so again we need to try and be smart and take a guess at what the exam might ask us to do, really based on the very tight time constraints of the exam.

The tools reference lists only the View Administration guide and View Administrator, so this gives us some idea of the scope of the question. My guess is we’ll have a least a vanilla build of Windows 7 with no VMware Tools or View Agent. There may also be some other tasks to complete, such as enabling remote access and also tuning for PCoIP performance (there may well be the odd RDP question on the exam, but my expectation is PCoIP will be the primary focus as RDP is pretty much deprecated).

There is only one skill and ability being measured in this objective.

  • Create, configure, optimize and maintain a base Windows desktop image for View Implementation 
    • Pre-requisites of Windows installation and available Active Directory will most likely already have been completed for you.
    • Add the View users group to the local Remote Users group in Windows
    • Ensure you have administrative rights to the VM before proceeding to installation
    • Enable 3D rendering on the VM if asked to do so
    • Install VMware Tools and ensure NTP is set to an external source, not to the host
    • Install updates, service packs etc
    • Install anti-virus (seems unlikely this will come up, but you never know)
    • Install smart card drivers if required (again, seems unlikely)
    • Set power option to Turn off the display – never (required for PCoIP)
    • Set Visual Effects – Adjust for best performance (done in Control Panel, System, Advanced System Settings, Performance Settings)
    • Configure the IP stack (DHCP, DNS, etc)
    • Join the desktop to the Active Directory domain
    • Install the View Agent
    • Following steps are listed as optional, but may still come up on the exam
    • Disable unused ports such as LPT1, COM1, etc
    • Choose a basic theme, disable the screen saver and set the background to a solid colour, check hardware acceleration is enabled
    • Select the high performance power management profile
    • Disable Indexing Service
    • Remove restore points (disable?)
    • Disable System Protection on C:\
    • Disable any other unneeded services in the Services applet
    • Delete hidden uninstall folders, such as folders in C:\Windows starting with $NtUninstall
    • Clear down all event logs
    • Run Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup

As part of this section is “maintain”, it might well be possible you’re asked to update the base image with a couple of patches and recompose the pool.

VCAP-DTA – Objective 4.2 – Deploy Applications to Desktop Images

So now we have the desktop image built, patched and optimised, we now have to install applications. Objective 4.2 has two skills and abilities – identifying MSI installation options and determining when to use native installs.

  • Identify MSI installation options
    • I’m not sure I understand what is being asked on this one beyond what the command line switches for msiexec.exe are and how they affect application installations
    • There are several command line options that can be used with MSI based installers, the best way (and probably the quickest) for the exam is to simply run msiexec /? from a command prompt to get a list of them all. In fact, you don’t even need the question mark, just run the command with no switches to get a summary list of your options. This screen is shown below :-

msiexec

  • Determine when to use native installs
    • Again another skill/ability being tested that is worded a bit strangely, in my opinion. When would you natively install an application? What is implied by the term? I can only presume this question is based around ThinApp, so when would you embed an application into the base image and when would you ThinApp it?
    • If my assumption/interpretation above is correct, then we have to look at the limitations of ThinApp to guide us on what applications can and can’t be virtualised and added to the ThinApp repository
    • The limitations of ThinApp 4.7 are listed in the user guide, and amongst other things include :-
      • Applications requiring the installation of kernel mode drivers
      • Anti-virus, firewall products
      • Scanner and printer drivers
      • Some VPN clients
      • Device drivers (mouse etc.)
      • Shell integration is limited
      • Network DCOM is not supported
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