Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Building a VMware View Thin Client using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

I wrote a how to on building a VMware View PCIOP thin client on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and learned a bit about the process and the View PCIOP client.

With simplicity in mind I started with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server with no package selection.  I ran through some tutorials on getting autologin working and starting a GUI application from the command line.  I was able to launch the VMware View application but I could not get it to work full screen.

Starting the application in this slim-est of environments just didn't work.  I tried a few ways to work around this, including determining via xrandr the geometry of the desktop and passing it to the vmware-view.bin executable as a command line argument.

It didn't help that the VMware View PCIOP client comes with zero documentation.  I finally found a PDF that detailed the command line options.  I saved the PDF to my Google Docs for safe keeping.  I also noticed that vmware-view is a wrapper script, all command line arguments passed to vmware-view are dropped.  Use vmware-view.bin to pass arguments.

The VMware View PCIOP client didn't full screen.  I think it must need a window manager in order to full screen.  I don't know why.

Note: the VMware View Open Client operates in full screen mode just fine without a window manager.  I was able to call it from .xinitrc ala /usr/bin/vmware-view --serverURL=<URL> --fullscreen

In the end I gave up on my "slim" environment and opted for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop.  From Ubuntu Desktop I had all the components I needed to get the View client running in full screen mode.  I modified GDM to autologin a non-privileged user account and removed all the menus and start up items from Gnome.  I created one start up item, my vmware-view client.

I could try to winnow the packages to just the base few needed.  I'm guessing GDM and Compiz are all that's needed.  But Ubuntu has so many dependencies I figured I would end up installing nearly the entire "Ubuntu Desktop" anyway.

  1. Marseglia, Michael.  "Build a VMware View Thin Client." n.p. Web. 7 March 2012. <>
  2. "Using VMware View Client for Linux." VMware, Inc. Dec 2011. PDF. 7 March 2012. <>
  3. natrinicle. "Setting Up Ubuntu as a Kiosk Web Appliance." instructables. n.d. Web. 7 Mar 2012.<>
  4. "Configuration." The Gnome Project. n.d. Web. 7 March 2012.
  5. "Sessions Preferences" The Gnome Project. n.d. Web. 7 March 2012.  <>
  6. "Setting Session Defaults" The Gnome Project. n.d. Web. 7 March 2012. <>
  7. k.dejong. "CustomXSession." n. p. 08 Apr 2011. Web. 7 Mar 2012. <>
  8. d2globalinc. "HOWTO: Disable or Enable Gnome Session Startup Applications from Command Line." n. p., 11 Feb 2009. Web. 7 Mar 2012. <>

1 comment:

  1. Try ratpoison or awsomewm; both are non-overlapping window managers, and by default will full-screen the app. (ratpoison uses screen-like keybindings with ctrl-t instead of ctrl-a :) )