Tag Archives: VDI

Making Microsoft Quick Assist work with VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes

6 Sep

Microsoft Quick Assist is a tool widely used by service desk teams to take remote control of a computer and help end-users with a screen share. We noticed with the recent changes Microsoft made to Quick Assist, it stopped working when VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes were present.

Error launching Quick Assist

We tried many steps of installing the Quick Assist offline using various Powershell commands, and nothing worked out. We also got to a point Quick Assist will launch without the Writable Volumes present or local admins with Writable Volumes. In the end, VMware Support GSS, with help from backend engineering, provided a working solution.

Solution (Workaround)

Step 1 – Download the offline version of the Quick Assist App from the Microsoft store and place all the files into C:\Temp\QuickAssist. Following are the steps to download the offline version of MS store apps.

Offline Files MS Quick Assist

Step 2 – Delete the old version of the Quick Assist App (Not part of the MS Store). Start Menu > Settings > Apps > Optional features > Microsoft Quick Assist > Uninstall. 

Uninstall Optional Features – Microsoft Quick Assist

Step 3 – Install the Offline version of the Microsoft Quick Assist package using PowerShell

PowerShell Add-AppxProvisionedPackage -PackagePath C:\Install\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_2022.614.2314.0_neutral___8wekyb3d8bbwe.AppxBundle -online -SkipLicense
PowerShell Install Appx Package

Step 4 – Install WebView2 component which is a pre-requisite for Quick Assist. Note this step is quite important and not something that has been emphazied alot.

  reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
  C:\Install\MicrosoftEdgeWebView2RuntimeInstallerX64.exe
  reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
Install Microsoft Edge WebView

Step 5 – Launch the Quick Assist App once. Make sure, without launching the app, don’t move to the next step. Please wait at least 10 mins on this step or/else reboot the template VM and launch the app

explorer shell:AppsFolder\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_8wekyb3d8bbwe!app
Launching Quick Assist

Step 6 – Create an OS scheduled task to run at every logon. This will launch the Quick Assist and register at every logon.

schtasks /create /RU "SYSTEM" /TN RegisterQuickAssist /SC ONLOGON /TR "C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe Add-AppxProvisionedPackage -PackagePath C:\Temp\QuickAssist\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_2022.614.2314.0_neutral___8wekyb3d8bbwe.AppxBundle -online -SkipLicense"
Schedule Task – Register of Microsoft Quick Assist at User Login

Step 7 – Take a snapshot of the golden image and the remaning steps will be performed in App Volumes files.

Step 8 – We need to prepare the template bundle of Writable Volumes (UIA+Profile) to contain a file startup_postsvc.bat with the following contents. Note Alter the file path if you decide to use something else.

  @echo off
  setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
  set WV_Path=none
  for /F "tokens=3" %%A in ('reg query HKLM\System\ControlSet001\Services\svservice\Parameters /v WritableVolume 2^>nul') do (
    set WV_Path=C:%%A
    fltmc attach bindflt !WV_PATH!
  )
  reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\Microsoft EdgeWebView" /v DisplayName >nul 2>&1
  if %ERRORLEVEL% NEQ 0 (
    reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    start /wait C:\Temp\QuickAssist\MicrosoftEdgeWebView2RuntimeInstallerX64.exe
    reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  )

Here is the procedure to update the writable volume’s file – Update Writable Volumes (vmware.com). Zip all the files and push the changes using AV Manager > Writables > Update Writable Volumes

Additional Files for writable volumes startup

Step 9 – Validation login to the virtual desktop (Make sure the updated file – startup_postsvc.bat are pushed onto the WV). After a few seconds, the Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime component and Quick Assist should appear in Programs and Features.

PowerShell Get-AppxPackage *assist*

Step 10 – Launch Quick Assist via Start Menu or Explorer and Voila!

explorer shell:AppsFolder\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_8wekyb3d8bbwe!app

If you encounter a similar issue, you can follow the above solution. I hope you will find this information useful if you encounter the same issue. A big thanks to my teammate Jishan T for his continuous effort while troubleshooting with GSS over 3+ months.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Mindmap – Part 2 – Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure (HCoA) – Configuration of Images – Desktops – Farms – Assignments

13 Apr

This post is in continuation of my part 1 – Mindmap – Part 1 – Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure (HCoA) – Quick start guide where we look at pre-requisites and the initial deployment of the HCoA solution. In this post, I want to share my learnings about the configuration of Images, Virtual Desktops, Farms and Assignments. We shall take a look into the following topics:

  • Mind map for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure – Part 2 – Configuration of Images – Desktops – Farms – Assignments
    • Creating a Virtual Desktop or RDSH Image
      • Import VM
      • Create Image (Converting VM to Image)
    • Farms (Published Applications)
      • Create Desktop Farm
    • Add Applications to the Farms
      • New Applications – Auto-Scan from Farm
    • Create an Application Assignment
    • Create an Assignment for Multi-session or Hosted Shared Desktop
    • Create a Virtual Desktop Assignment (Persistent – Full Clone)
    • Create a Virtual Desktop Assignment (Non-Persistent – Floating)
    • AppStacks

In the second part of this series, the mindmap acts as an visual representation of all the configurations to be performed post the initial deployment of the Horizon Cloud Pod. It also helps during customer discussions and allows everyone to be on the same page. You can figure out in advance the pre-requisites, deployment details, and requirements for performing the next steps in your HCoA journey.

HCoA – Part 2

Disclaimer – This guide is a deployment/configuration guide, and the production settings, configuration, and use-cases might be different. Please make sure you change the settings appropriate for production workloads. Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom in (Don’t stress your eyes!) –

Screenshots from my deployment

Horizon Cloud POD Managers + Unified Access Gateways

Note everything is deployed keeping in mind High availability.

  • 2 x Horizon Cloud Pod Managers
  • 2 x External Unified Access Gateways (Public IP)
  • 2 x Internal Unified Access Gateways (Internal on-premise network)
Azure – Virtual Machines

Azure Load Balancers

  • 1 x Horizon Cloud Pod Managers
  • 1 x Public UAG Appliances
  • 1 x Internal UAG Appliance
Azure – Load Balancers

Azure Virtual Network

I have created the vNet as part of pre-requisites in Part 1 series

  • 1 x Subnet for DMZ (Unified Access Gateway)
  • 1 x Subnet for Mgmt (Pod Managers)
  • 1 x Subnet for Workload (Desktop/Farms)
Azure – vNet

Azure Resource Groups

Note these are auto-created during the Pod deployment.

Azure – Resource Groups

I hope you will find this helpful information on your HCoA journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Unable to use Privilege Elevation – VMware Dynamic Environment Manager

7 Mar

We were exploring the feature Privilege Elevation – VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) within our development environment, and for some odd reason, a specific feature and configuration wouldn’t work in our setup.

Disclaimer

The windows registry mentioned within this blog post is used within enterprise-grade secure environments. The hardening measure is part of CIS Benchmarks on Windows 10. If your machines aren’t hardened, the feature typically works out of the box. For example, in my home lab, I had no issues with the Privilege Elevation feature working.

Issue

Whenever we enable the feature and apply any settings, it will not work. It didn’t matter which configuration you picked. The error within the logs remains constant.

The error within the FlexEngine-ElevatedTasks.log

2022-02-21 13:02:30.122 [ERROR] Cannot launch elevated task 'TaskName01' (token infrastructure not available)
2022-02-22 11:22:02.960 [ERROR] Cannot launch elevated task 'TaskName01' (token infrastructure not available)
2022-02-28 18:23:19.736 [ERROR] Cannot launch elevated task 'TaskName01' (token infrastructure not available)

Cause

Provided by VMware – The additional configuration on LSA Protection causing issues with the VMware DEM agent (2103 Version). The windows registry key – HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa

RunAsPPL=1

Resolution

My team managed to open a VMware GSS case handled by GuruKripal (A very helpful support engineer), we had to provide numerous amount of logs, procmons and group policy export of the enivornment. After giving them the export of our CIS Benchmarked group policies, they could reproduce the issue. In the end, the VMware engineering team provided us with a newer build of DEM Agent (10.2.4.1023 x64.msi).

If you encounter a similar issue, you can raise a VMware support case to obtain the fix or/else, I was assured all future releases of DEM Agent would include the fix. I hope you will find this information useful if you encounter the issue. A big thanks to my teammate Jishan T for his continuous effort while troubleshooting with GSS over 6+ months.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Mindmap – Part 2 – Managing Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

21 Jan

This blog post is in continuation of my part 1 – Mindmap – Part 1 – Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Quick start guide to virtual desktop/applications | AskAresh where we look at deploying the AVD solution. In this post, I want to share my learnings with you all around the management and #Day2 aspects of AVD. We shall take a look into the following topics:

  • Mind map – Managing Azure Virtual Desktop
    • Scale Out – Add extra Host (VM) to the Host Pools
    • Lifecycle – Update your Master Image – Shared Image Gallery aka Azure compute galleries
    • Drain the old Session Host VM
    • Automatically Power ON the Session host Virtual Machines
    • Monitoring Azure Virtual Desktop

Mindmap for Managing Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

I have managed to document all the high-level steps involved in managing the AVD on an ongoing basis. The idea here is that the mindmap acts as an excellent visual representation of what to do during ongoing maintenance activities. You can figure out in advance the requirements/steps and pre-requisites.

Disclaimer – This guide is a get you started guide, and the production management may vary. Please make sure you always reference Microsoft documentation. Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom in (Don’t stress your eyes!) –

I hope you will find this helpful information on your Managing Azure Virtual Desktop journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Script/API – Delete Orphaned Writable Volumes from VMware App Volumes Manager

10 Nov

Often within the VMware App Volumes Manager (AVM), Writable Volumes will show up as Status – Orphaned. Let’s take a look at the following topics:

  • What is Orphaned Writable Volumes?
  • Script to delete them from the App Volumes Managers

What is Orphaned Writable Volumes?

App Volumes Manager is integrated with Microsoft Active Directory (AD), and it’s in continuous synchronization. Whenever an end-user account gets disabled into the AD during the next sync activity of App Volumes Manager, it will mark the writable volumes with Writable Status = Orphaned.

Now in the ideal world, these accounts have been disabled and should be okay to delete? Maybe, if you don’t have the obligation of data retention, then you are ready to delete them. If you need to retain them, keep them as-is for compliance purposes.

Script to delete them for App Volumes Manager

Before we talk about the script, the deletion is very straightforward within the App Volumes Manager. Select the volumes with Status = Orphaned and select the Delete button. However, when you have to do the same against multiple POD, which becomes challenging, and as always, if it’s not automated, there is the scope of human error.

Pre-requisites

  • You need the App Volumes Manager URL
  • You need the username and password of the App Volumes Manager
  • You need to enter y/Y to proceed further with the deletion
  • The script was tested on PowerShell V5.x with App Volumes Manager version 2.18.10 (The logic will be the same however, the API call for App Volumes 4.x will be different)
###########################################################################
# Get List of Wrtiable Volumes from AppVolumes Manager for Status=Orphaned
# Delete the Orphaned Wrtiable Volumes
# You need username and password for the App Volumes Manager
# Author - Aresh Sarkari (Twitter - @askaresh)
# Version - V5.0
###########################################################################

#App Volumes Manager Name or IP Address
$AVManager = "https://avm001.askaresh.local"

# Run at the start of each script to import the credentials
$RESTAPIUser = "domain\username"
$RESTAPIPassword = "enteryourpassword"

#Ignore cert errors
add-type @"
    using System.Net;
    using System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates;
    public class TrustAllCertsPolicy : ICertificatePolicy {
        public bool CheckValidationResult(
            ServicePoint srvPoint, X509Certificate certificate,
            WebRequest request, int certificateProblem) {
            return true;
        }
    }
"@
[System.Net.ServicePointManager]::CertificatePolicy = New-Object TrustAllCertsPolicy
[System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [System.Net.SecurityProtocolType]'Ssl3,Tls,Tls11,Tls12'

#Login AV Manager Body
$body = @{
    username = “$RESTAPIUser"
    password = “$RESTAPIPassword”
}

#Login API call to the AV Manager
Invoke-RestMethod -SessionVariable DaLogin -Method Post -Uri "$AVManager/cv_api/sessions” -Body $body

#Get the list of Writbale Volumes from the AV Manager
$output = Invoke-RestMethod -WebSession $DaLogin -Method Get -Uri "$AVManager/cv_api/writables" -ContentType "application/json"

#Selecting the WV with status Orphaned into a variable
$WVouput = $output.datastores.writable_volumes | Select-Object id, owner_name, owner_upn, title, status | Where-Object {[string]$_.status -match "Orphaned"}

#Output on the console (Validate carefully before proceeding ahead)
$WVouput | Format-Table | Out-String | % {Write-Host $_}

#Confirmation logic to proceed with the deletion
$confirmation = Read-Host -Prompt "Are you Sure You Want To Proceed with the deletion:" 
if ($confirmation -match "[yY]" ) {
    # proceed

# The WV Deletion API call only looks for IDs. We are filtering the ids only
$WVOutputIDs = $WVouput.id

#Looping to delete each Writable Volumes via its ID
foreach ($WVOutputIDss in $WVOutputIDs) {

# Writable Volumes deletion Parameters body
$jsonbody = @{
    bg = "0"
    volumes = "$WVOutputIDss"
} | ConvertTo-Json

#API call to delete the Wrtiable Volumes
#We are using Invoke-webrequest for getting the Content of the deletion (Success) in oneline
$WVdeletecall = Invoke-WebRequest -WebSession $DaLogin -Method Post -Uri "$AVManager/cv_api/volumes/delete_writable" -Body $jsonbody -ContentType "application/json"

}

#Dig into the exception to get the Response details.
Write-Host $WVdeletecall.StatusCode
Write-Host $WVdeletecall.StatusDescription
Write-Host $WVdeletecall.Content

}

GitHub scripts/del-writablevolume-status-orphaned at master · askaresh/scripts (github.com)

Observations

  • When you run the script, it will identify all the end-users with Status = Orphaned. If you like, you can copy and paste the output in an editior (Notepad++) to verify the output.
  • Once you press y/Y it will go ahead and delete the Orphaned writable volumes.

I hope you will find this script useful to bulk delete orphaned Writable Volumes in App Volumes Manager. A small request if you further enhance the script or make it more creative, I hope you can share it back with me?

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Mindmap – Part 1 – Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Quick start guide to virtual desktop/applications

1 Nov

I have been learning Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) from the awesome book DaaS – The Complete Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide on deploying Desktop-as-a-Service solutions from Microsoft, Nutanix, Citrix, VMware, Accops. I want to share my learnings with you all, and in this post, we shall take a look into the following topics:

  • Mind map for Azure Virtual Desktop – Getting started
    • Getting started with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
    • Deployment – Pre-requisites for AVD
    • Master Images – (Windows 10 Multi-Session, Windows 10 1909 Enterprise or Windows Server 2019 DC)
    • Template and Shared Image Gallery
    • Host Pools
    • Application Groups
    • Workspaces
    • Windows Desktop Client
  • Quick Start Links

Mindmap for Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Getting started

Managed to put together a mindmap on the AVD getting started from zero to a working desktop or application. The idea here is the mindmap acts as an excellent visual representation of what to do during pre-requisites, deployment and you can figure out in advance the requirements/steps and pre-requisites.

Azure Virtual Desktop

Disclaimer – This guide is a get you started guide, and the production settings and configuration might be different. Please make sure you change the settings appropriate for production workloads. Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom in (Don’t stress your eyes!) –

Change log

  • The Mindmap was last updated on 21st Jan 2022 with lots of changes!

The intention here is to get you quickly started on Azure Virtual Desktop Solution:

DescriptionLinks
Azure Virtual Desktop OverviewWhat is Azure Virtual Desktop? – Azure | Microsoft Docs
Azure Virtual Desktop technical (ARM-based model) deployment walkthrough. (Christiaan Brinkhoff)Azure Virtual Desktop technical (ARM-based model) deployment walkthrough. It covers all you need to know and beyond! | christiaanbrinkhoff.com – Sharing Cloud and Virtualization Knowledge
AVD Zero to Hero (YouTube – I am IT Geek)Series 5: Episode 1 – AVD Zero to Hero Introduction – YouTube (Playlist)
AVD PowerShellAzure Virtual Desktop PowerShell – Azure | Microsoft Docs
AVD PricingAzure Virtual Desktop | Microsoft Azure

I hope you will find this helpful information on your Azure Virtual Desktop journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap, or reference links, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Script/API – Horizon Reach – Get consolidated Horizon Farms/Desktops pools – Name Health, Image and Snapshot information

27 Oct

Horizon Reach is a potent tool, and Andrew Morgan has put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to develope it. What suprises me is why isnt this fling included into the Horizon product? We haven’t gathered here to talk about the product management and roadmap aspects 😉

Horizon Reach fling aggregates all the various Horizon POD information into its database. Typically, running Horizon API calls or Horizon Powershell modules might have to run them against individual pods to fetch information about that POD. The beauty with Horizon Reach is it aggregates all the information, we can write scripts/API calls to request information from there instead of writing Horizon POD specific scripts.

Let’s take a look at the following information from the Horizon Reach fling:

  • What API’s are available with Horizon Reach?
  • What all options are available to interact with Horizon Reach API?
  • Script – Get a consolidated list of Horizon Farm details (Display the Name, Base Image details, Snapshot Version, Health and If provisioning is enabled)
    • Note the above can also be fetched using the old Horizon Powershell modules but trust me it’s pretty tricky to run a foreach loop for every object on the SOAP method.
  • Script – Get a consolidated list of Horizon Desktop Pools details (Display the Name, Base Image details, Snapshot Version, Health and If provisioning is enabled)

What API’s are avilable with Horizon Reach?

After you have installed the Horizon Reach fling, go to the following URL to check out all the avilable API’s. Its the UI Swagger interface to simplify and understand each calls.

URL https://horzonreach.domain:9443/swagger/index.html

What all options are avilable to interact with Horizon Reach API?

You can interact with the API with your preffered method such as Powershell or Postman or something else.

Postman https://horzonreach.domain:9443/swagger/v1/swagger.json (You will be able to import all the Horizon Reach API as a collection within Postman)

Powershell – You can use the built-in modules of Invoke-RestMethod or Invoke-WebRequest method to interact with Horizon Reach API.

Scripts to get consolidated Horizon Farms/Desktops information

Pre-requsites:

  • You need the Horizon Reach Server URL
  • You need the password of the Horizon Reach Server
  • The script provides you with the details of all Horizon PODs in your setup.
  • The script was tested on PowerShell V5.x
#Horizon Reach Server Name or IP Address
$HZReachServer = "https://horizonreach.domain:9443"

#Ignore the self signed cert errors
add-type @"
    using System.Net;
    using System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates;
    public class TrustAllCertsPolicy : ICertificatePolicy {
        public bool CheckValidationResult(
            ServicePoint srvPoint, X509Certificate certificate,
            WebRequest request, int certificateProblem) {
            return true;
        }
    }
"@
[System.Net.ServicePointManager]::CertificatePolicy = New-Object TrustAllCertsPolicy
[System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [System.Net.SecurityProtocolType]'Ssl3,Tls,Tls11,Tls12'


#API Call to make the intial connection to the Horizon Reach Server##
$HZReachLogonAPIcall = "$HZReachServer`/api/Logon"

#The body payload that comprises of the login API request
$body = @{
    username = "administrator"
    password = "enteryourpassword"
} | ConvertTo-Json

$HZReachlogin = Invoke-RestMethod -Method Post -uri $HZReachLogonAPIcall -Body $body -ContentType "application/json"

#Header along with the JWT token is now saved for future API calls
#You need to call this header in all subsequent calls as it has the token
$Headers = @{ Authorization = "Bearer $($HZReachlogin.jwt)" }

#API Call to fetch the consolidated (as many pods you have) Horizon Farm information##
$HZReachFarms = Invoke-RestMethod -Method Get -uri "$HZReachServer/api/Farms" -Headers $Headers -ContentType "application/json" -UseBasicParsing | Format-Table -Property displayname, baseimage, snapshot, enabled, health, isProvisioningEnabled

Write-Output $HZReachFarms

#API Call to fetch the consolidated (as many pods you have) Horizon desktop pool information##
$HZReachPools = Invoke-RestMethod -Method Get -uri "$HZReachServer/api/pools" -Headers $Headers -ContentType "application/json" -UseBasicParsing | Format-Table -Property displayname, baseimage, snapshot, enabled, healthDetail, isProvisioningEnabled

Write-Output $HZReachPools

GitHub scripts/HorizonReach-Farms-Pools-Info at master · askaresh/scripts (github.com)

Observations:

  • Farm Output:
  • Desktop Pool Output:
  • The following information (Display Name, Snapshot, Base Image, Health, Provisioning Mode) is pulled using the above scripts. I was much interested to see the snapshot versions of each Farms/Pools along with Health and provisioning status. Feel free to extract whatever details you are looking for there are plenty of other properties.

I hope you will find this script useful to fetch helpful information from Horizon Reach. A small request if you further enhance the script or make it more creative, I hope you can share it back with me?

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Explorer.exe keeps crashing every 3 seconds in Windows 10

19 Oct

It was patch Tuesday time, and we were implementing the Windows 10 1909 Oct October 12, 2021—KB5006667 (OS Build 18363.1854) patch to our base images which are used for VMware Horizon VDI. During our validations, we started noticing the strange behaviour of Explorer.exe crashing and desktop becoming completely unusable.

Update 16th Nov 2021 – The explorer.exe crashing issue is now resolved in November 9, 2021—KB5007189 (OS Build 18362.1916) (microsoft.com)

Issue

The Windows explorer.exe keeps crashing within the virtual desktop of Windows 10 1909. The virtual desktop is entirely unusable. The only way to see the Event Viewer or anything is by using Horizon Client – Options – Send Ctrl + Alt + Del command within the virtual desktop and then opening up the Task Manager.

Cause

Provided by Microsoft – The explorer is trying to update feeds content, and there is a NULL value due to this bug that is causing explorer to crash.

Resolution

We tried performing various steps of un-install and re-installing the patch etc.. However, nothing worked, and we ended up working with Microsoft and seemed like it was a known issue, and they provided us with the following fix:

Option 1 – Registry – Disable News and Interest

Open regedit.exe on the golden image or

 Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds\
 REG_DWORD name: ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode
 Value: 2

Option 2 – GPO – Disable News and Interest

To access the policy for news and interests on the taskbar, on a device that has installed Administrative Templates (.admx) for Windows 10 October 2020 Update (20H2) – v2.0 ADMX file Feeds.admx is newly added, and we can retrieve it from the below .admx file:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > News and interests > News and interests on the taskbar > Select Disabled

Note – I suspect this fix might be applicable to other Windows 10 versions.

I hope you will find these steps helpful to resolve explorer.exe crashing issue and don’t have to go down the path of troubleshooting the issue.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari



VMware EUC stack upgrade – Legacy? or Modernizing? or Middleground?

14 Sep

It was that time of the year to perform a VMware End-User Computing (EUC) stack upgrade on the environment, and I thought of sharing the overall thought process and decisions made along the way. It will be interesting to share with others who might be in a similar situation or process of developing their upgrade/migration strategies. In this post, we shall take a look into these topics:

  • Current versions of the VMware EUC Stack
  • What version numbers did we upgrade/migrated to?
  • Why did we migrate to these versions?
  • Wishlist (Someone Listening?)
  • Valuable links to reference during upgrade/migration

Current versions of the VMware EUC Stack

  • VMware Horizon 7.11 (Connection Server/Agents)
  • VMware Horizon Client 5.5
  • VMware App Volumes 2.18.1.x Manager/VMware App Volumes 2.18.5 Agent version
  • VMware Workspace ONE Access 20.01/Connector 1903 (Not in scope for the upgrade)
  • VMware Dynamic Environment Manager 9.10
  • VMware Unified Access Gateway 3.10

What versions numbers did we upgrade/migrated to?

  • VMware Horizon 7.13.1 (Connection Server/Agents)
  • VMware Horizon Client 5.5.2
  • VMware App Volumes 2.18.10.10 (Manager/Agents)
  • VMware Dynamic Environment Manager 2103
  • VMware Unified Access Gateway 2103.1

Why did we migrate to these versions?

The obvious question everyone might ask is the latest versions are Horizon 8.x and App Volumes 4.x why are you picking older versions for the upgrade? The short answer is the limitations and trade-off, and the following matrix tries to uncover in more detail.

Note – Not all customers might fall under the limitation category, or the limiting feature/functionality could be different in your case. By no means this should be your defacto reasons. Make sure to evaluate your situation and create a matrix to make a data-driven decision. If the project is greenfield/no-limitations applied, it’s a no-brainer to opt for the latest product releases.

ProductUpgrade DecisionVerison of Choice
VMware Horizon++ We had all the boxes ticked from a feature/functionality standpoint to be able to upgrade/migrate to Horizon 8.x version. (Instant Clones, Printing, UAG etc.). Infact everything worked well in the development environment
++ The latest vROPS Horizon Adapter 1.2/Horizon 8.x version doesn’t include the built-in Horizon reports. We use the reporting feature for all sorts of custom reporting on Horizon PODs. The older version of vROPS Horizon Adapter 6.7.1/Horizon 7.x has all the existing metrics and reporting available but doesn’t include support for Horizon 8.x on the support matrix
++ The no reporting on the Horizon Adapter 1.2 + limited metrics on RDSH limited our ability to move to the latest version of Horizon 8.x. Once the built-in reports\metrics and guidance is made available, we shall jump onto the latest version (n-1)
Horizon 7.13.1
VMware App Volumes++ Lack of Writable Volumes (UIA+Profile and UIA) migrations from 2.18.x to 4.x. Need official guidance or tool/script/guidance to upgrade all the wrtiable of the 2.18.x environment to 4.x. I am sure alot of enterprise customers will have plenty of Writable Volumes to migrate and don’t have the flexibility to start from scratch on a new version
++ VMware AppStack Migration fling is the perfect migration utility to migrate AppStacks 2.18.x to 4.x need something similar for Writable Volumes
App Volumes 2.18.10.10
VMware Dynamic Environment Manager++ This was the only piece of software that didn’t have interoperability or upgrade complexity. The obvious choice was to upgrade to the latest (n-1)DEM 2103
VMware Unified Access Gateway++ The appliance has no interoperability issues with Horizon 7.13.1 or upgrade complexity. The obvious choice was to upgrade to the latest (n-1)UAG 2103.1
Upgrade Decision Matrix

The above stack provides us with the required General Availability support until Q2 FY2022 and beyond.

Wishlist

I am looking forward to vROPS Horizon Adapter XX to include the built-in Horizon Reports/Additional Metrics for RDSH in the new version or provide detailed guidance on creating meaningful reports in future releases. Additionally, the App Volumes team releases tools and advice on migrating 4000’s+ Writable Volumes from 2.18.x to 4.x. Once the above is released, I plan to upgrade to the branch of Horizon 8.x and App Volumes 4.x releases version numbers.

Valuable links to reference during upgrades

Here is the cheat sheet for all the useful links to review and formulate an upgrade plan:

DescriptionLinks
VMware Product Interoperability MatrixProduct Interoperability Matrix (vmware.com)
Product DocumentationVMware Horizon Documentation
VMware App Volumes Documentation
VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (Formerly Known as VMware User Environment Manager) Documentation
Techzone Migrating Legacy Horizon Components to Modern Alternatives

View Composer –> Instant Clones
Security Server –> UAG
Persona –> DEM
Persistent Disk – FSLogix
Modernizing VDI for a New Horizon | VMware
App Volumes Upgrade considerationsVMware App Volumes 4 Installation and Upgrade Considerations | VMware
Fling Migrate App Volumes AppStack from 2.18.x to 4.xApp Volumes Migration Utility | VMware Flings
Supported Windows 10 versions based on Horizon AgentSupported versions of Windows 10 on Horizon Agent Including All VDI Clones (Full Clones, Instant Clones, and Linked Clones on Horizon 7) (2149393) (vmware.com)
VMware EUC Stack Agent OrderAgent installation order for Horizon View, Dynamic Environment Manager, and App Volumes (2118048) (vmware.com)
Supported Windows 10 versions based on App Volumes AgentVMware App Volumes and Microsoft Windows 10 Support
VMware Product Lifecycle – End of LifeProduct Lifecycle Matrix (vmware.com)
Reference Material

I hope you will find the above information useful in your enterprise upgrade/migrate strategy for VMware EUC Stack. I would love to hear your strategy and similar situations limiting your ability to migrate to the latest and greatest versions.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

VMware App Volumes upgrade from 2.18.1 to 2.18.10 – Startup Failure – Unable to start App Volumes Manager

13 Sep

While upgrading from VMware App Volumes 2.18.1 to 2.18.10.10 version, the upgrade installer completes successfully. However, when you load the App Volumes Manager portal, you get the following error message – Startup Failure – Unable to start App Volumes Manager – Migrations are pending. To resolve this issue, run bin/rails db:migrate RAILS_ENV=production

Startup Failure

Cause

Upon quickly checking the App Volumes computer account (<Domain>\<MachineName>$ within SQL Server was missing the db_onwer permissions. Obviously, that caused the above error post-migration.

Note – This is a very corner case and not expected to see along on most of the App Volumes Migration/Upgrade scenarios. If you did come across one now you know how to remediate.

Resolution

Step 1 – Adding the missing db_owner permission back to the App Volumes Manager computer security account within SQL Server Management Studio

Step 2 – As the db:migration didn’t complete during the upgrade, we need to re-run the following command on the App Volumes Manager server. Open the CMD and change directory to the following path – C:\Program Files (x86)\CloudVolumes\Manager\ruby\bin and run the following command:

bundle exec rake db:migrate RAILS_ENV=production

You should see the following output:

Command Output

Step 3 – Restart the App Volumes Manager service, and now you will see the login page of the App Volumes Manager.

The mystery remains how did that permission go missing as the additional App Volumes Manager account had retained the db_owner role. But none the less the above steps came in handy with help from VMware support – Suman Rout luckily, has seen a similar issue before.

Lesson Learnt

  • Create a pre-upgrade task item on checking to making sure all the App Volumes Manager computer accounts within the SQL Server have the db_owner permissions.

I hope you will find these steps helpful to resolve missing SQL permissions causing upgrade issues during the App Volumes migration from 2.18.x to 2.18.10.10.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari