Recently I’ve been introduced to and have been rolling out DevonIT’s VDI Blaster at one of Xtravirt’s customer sites to temporarily enable VDI connectivity whilst still having the ability to boot back into the normal OS should any problems arise. So I thought I would do a blog posting on my experiences with the solution and how I did it.
DevonIT marketing state: “VDI Blaster™ can be used without taking the risk to erase your existing Windows installation. To install VDI Blaster™, just execute the installer on the PC you want to repurpose. After installation, the PC reboots by default in thin client mode, running Devon IT’s Terminal Operating System (DeTOS™).” When I initially heard what the product did I was a little sceptical, especially seeing as it only costs $29.99 (£22) per licence. But I was keen to give it a try and see if it was as easy as they stated.
We also decided to use their Echo Thin Client Management Software to allow us to control what the users saw once they booted into the DeTOS and to make sure all they saw was a kiosk view with the logon page to the VDI environment.
Before I did the installation I found a fairly good overview video for the product on YouTube (below) although it’s unfortunate they don’t actually show the screen but rather zoom in partially with the camera so you can’t see it very clearly.
Echo Management Server
For the installation of the Echo Management Server it was quite straight forward as all that needed to be done was to download the Virtual Appliance and import it into my virtual infrastructure. Once imported all that needed to be done was to set an administrator password, give it geographical settings,DNS settings, a static IP address and then set a custom DNS setting to allow machines to obviously resolve the ws-broker name of the Echo server.
VDI Blaster Thinclient
The installation of the Thinclient software is extremely simple and is essentially a next, next, next finish installation.
Once the machine reboots you will now have the dual boot option of your unaltered original OS or the new Devon IT DeTOS for VDI Blaster
Management and customisation
As mentioned we also purchased the Echo Thin Client Management Software so we could manage the VDI blaster desktops and also push out a customised profile.
- To connect to the administration page you will need to browse to the name or ip you assigned the management server via an internet browser. Once in you will need to add your licences to the management server to allow terminals to connect and be managed by the management server by clicking on the Maintenance tab on the left and then clicking on Manage Licences and inserting your licence key/s.
We created our customised profile with the URL to our VDI web interface automatically in the browser so that it opened up in kiosk mode on device bootup.
- To do this you first need to create the connection settings or else you will need to go edit your profile once you have created the connection.You create the connection by going to the connections section of the Echo Administration page
- Select Firefox as the protocol,set the URL to the VDI web interface for your VDI environment,give the connection a name and description and tick the box for the autostart of the page upon the device bootup. You can also specify a proxy server if there is one and the kiosk mode settings you want
Once the connection has been created you can now create a profile that you can then apply to any client that connects to the management server
To create a profile:
- Click on the Profiles tab on the left
- Give the profile a name and description and select if you want it to be the default profile for all your terminals or selected terminals. Then expand the connection dropdown and select your newly created connection
- You can add additional settings like terminal settings,assign certificates and apply a specific disk image that you either downloaded or one you created yourself.
Now that the profile is created, when a terminal boots up it will get the applied settings and the connection from the assigned profile and go straight to the VDI web interface.
The software does what it says it does and the installation and configuration is really simple. For me personally I think it works perfectly as a small interim solution in your migration to a full VDI deployment as it allows you to let the user boot into their old machine if there are any problems thereby allowing them to carry on with their job and is also a great way of possibly using old hardware as a VDI terminal if you can’t afford to buy dedicated thin client hardware(Which DevonIT do also sell)