VMWare View 4: Repurpose an old PC. The right way.
We have been evaluating VMWare View 4 in our organization and have really been liking it. I went through the article to convert an ordinary PC into a thin client which worked well, but there was something missing and it wasn’t quite perfect. I’ll detail the process I took in this article.
The first thing I did was to build a basic Windows XP Pro image on an old IBM desktop I had. I only installed the basics, as in all Windows updates, the VMWare View 4 client, and anti-virus. Now the fun stuff. I created a folder in the root of the C:\ drive called “BatchFiles”. This is where I placed several things. A desktop background image, a batch file I called “view.cmd”, a vbs script file called “view.vbs”, a small executable called “eject.exe”(for ejecting the CD/DVD drive), and a folder for “RK Launcher”. RK Launcher is a program that requires no installation and will give you a small hide-able dock bar. This is important because you’ll be replacing the explorer shell with the VMWare View 4 client, so you may want a way to open Windows Explorer, shutdown or restart the PC.
The view.cmd file you create will contain this code:
“C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Client\bin\wswc.exe”
Your view.vbs file should contain this code:
Set WshShell = CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
WshShell.Run chr(34) & “C:\BatchFiles\view.cmd” & Chr(34), 0
Set WshShell = Nothing
Those are the 2 important files that belong in the C:\BatchFiles folder.
In order to replace the default Explorer shell with the VMWare View client, you need to make a change in the registry. Go to Start and click Run, type in regedit and hit Enter. The registry key you need to edit is called Shell and is located in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon. Double-click the key and remove all text in the box. Replace it with wscript c:\BatchFiles\view.vbs and then click OK. Before you restart the computer, you want to set up RKLauncher. Drop the entire RKLauncher folder into C:\BatchFiles, and then double-click RKLauncher.exe. You can then configure it the way you want and add any icons you’ll need to it. Don’t forget to add a shortcut to RKLauncher in the Startup folder.
There are 2 really good icons to add to the dock. One is for restarting and the other is for shutting down the client machine. In C:\BatchFiles, right-click and select Create Shortcut. For the location of the item, type %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe and click Next. Name this one “Restart” and click OK. Now right-click the new shortcut and select properties. Change the entire target box to read %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe -t -r -0 and then click OK. You’ll do the exact same for the Shutdown shortcut but you’ll name it “Shutdown”(of course!) but you’ll change the Target field to read %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe -t -s -0. That’s basically it. When you restart your computer, it should not start up the Windows Explorer shell but just the VMWare View client. What’s nice about doing it this way, is whenever you log out of your View desktop, the View client will automatically restart itself.
On a side note, once you have this BatchFiles folder the way you want it, you can copy it to other machines. Then all you need to do is to edit the one registry key for replacing the Explorer shell.