In response to COVID 19, VMware has extended their VMware Horizon 7 trial offering up to 90 days and includes 100 users. This includes both VMware Horizon 7 On-Premise, as well as VMware Cloud on AWS.
This is great if you’re planning or about to implement and deploy VMware Horizon 7.
In it’s simplest form, Horizon 7 allows an organization to virtualize their end user computing. No more computers, no more desktops, only Zero clients and software clients. Not only does this streamline the end user computing experience, but it enables a beautiful remote access solution as well.
And Horizon isn’t limited to VDI… You can install the VMware Horizon Agent on a Physical PC so you can use VDI technologies like Blast Extreme to remote in to physical desktops at your office. It makes the perfect remote access solution. Give it a try today with an evaluation license!
I see quite a bit of traffic come in on a regular basis pertaining to issues with VMware Horizon View. A lot of these visitors either are looking for help in setting something up or are experiencing an issue I’ve dealt with. While my posts usually help these people do specific things or troubleshoot specific issues, one of the biggest issues that comes up is when users experience a VMware Horizon blank screen (or black).
This can be caused by a number of different things. I wanted to take this opportunity to go over some of the most common issues that cause this and make a master guide for troubleshooting and fixing the VMware Horizon blank screen.
Horizon Blank Screen Causes
There’s a number of different causes of a blank or black screen when connecting and establishing a VDI session to Horizon View. Click on the item below to jump to that section of the post.
Now that we have a list, let’s dive in to each of these individually. Some of these will require you to do your own research and will only guide you, while other sections will include the full fix for the issue.
VMware Tools and Horizon Agent Installation Order
When deploying the VMware Horizon View agent, you are required to install the agent, along with VMware tools in a specific order. Failing to do so can cause problems, including a blank screen screen.
The installation order:
Install GPU/vGPU drivers (if needed)
Install VMware Tools Agent
Install the VMware Horizon Agent
Install the VMware User Environment Manager Agent (if needed)
Install the VMware App Volumes Agent (if needed)
It is important to also consider this when upgrading the agents as well.
Network ports are blocked (Computer Firewall, Network Firewall)
For the VMware Horizon agent to function properly, ports must be accesible through your firewall, whether it’s the firewall on the VM guest, client computer, or network firewall.
The following ports are required for the VMware Horizon Agent when connecting directly to a View Connection Server.
Horizon Connection Server
Login, authentication, and connection to the VMware Connection Server.
RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)
Client Shared Drive redirection (CDR) and Multi-media redirection (MMR).
USB Redirection (Optional), can be incorporated in to the Blast Extreme connection.
Network Ports Required for VMware Horizon View to View Connection Server
The following ports are required for the VMware Horizon Agent when connecting through a VMware Unified Access Gateway (UAG).
Unified Access Gateway
Login, authentication, and connection to the Unified Access Gateway. This port/connection can also carry tunneled RDP, client drive redirection, and USB redirection traffic.
PCoIP via PCoIP Secure Gateway
PCoIP via PCoIP Secure Gateway
Optional for Login traffic. Blast Extreme will attempt a UDP login if there are issues establishing a TCP connection.
Blast Extreme via Blast Secure Gateway (High Performance connection)
Blast Extreme via Blast Secure Gateway (Adaptive performance connection)
Blast Extreme via UAG port sharing.
Network Ports Required for VMware Horizon View to VMware Unified Access Gateway (UAG)
You’ll notice the ports that are required for Blast Extreme and PCoIP. If these are not open you can experience a blank screen when connecting to the VMware Horizon VDI Guest VM.
While VMware Horizon View usually uses IP address for connectivity between the View Connection Server, guest VM, and client, I have seen times where DNS issues have stopped certain components from functioning properly.
It’s always a good idea to verify that DNS is functioning. DNS (forward and reverse) is required for VMware Horizon Linux guests VMs.
Incorrectly configured Unified Access Gateway
A big offender when it comes to blank screens is an incorrectly configured VMWare Unified Access Gateway.
Sometimes, first-time UAG users will incorrectly configure the View Connection server and UAG.
When configuring a UAG, you must disable both “Blast Secure Gateway”, and “PCoIP Secure Gateway” on the View Connection Server, as the UAG will be handling this. See below.
Another regular issue is when admins misconfigure the UAG itself. There are a number of key things that must be configured properly. These are the values that should be populated on the UAG under Horizon Settings.
Connection Server URL
Connection Server URL Thumbprint
sha1=SSLTHUMPRINT (Thumbprint of the SSL certificate your View Connection Server is using)
PCOIP External URL
Blast External URL
Tunnel External URL
You must also have a valid SSL certificate installed under “TLS Server Certificate Settings”. I’d recommend applying it to both the admin and internal interface. This is a certificate that must match the FQDN (internal and external) of your UAG appliance.
Once you’re good, you’re green!
You should always see green lights, all protocols should work, and the connections should run smooth. If not, troubleshoot.
GPU Driver Issue
When using a GPU with your VM for 3D graphics, make sure you adhere to the requirements of the GPU vendor, along with the VMware requirements.
Some vendors have display count, resolution, and other limits that when reached, cause Blast Extreme to fail.
An incorrectly installed driver can also cause issues. Make sure that there are no issues with the drivers in the “Device Manager”.
Make sure that if you are running 64-bit Windows in the VM then you install and use the 64-bit Horizon Agent.
You may experience issues with the “VMware Horizon Indirect Display Driver”. Some users have reported an error on this driver and issues loading it, resulting in a blank screen. To do this, I’d recommend forcibly uninstalling the driver and re-installing the Horizon Agent.
To forcibly remove the “VMware Horizon Indirect Display Driver”:
Open “Device Manager”
Right click on the “VMware Horizon Indirect Display Driver” and open “Properties”
On the “Driver” tab, select “Uninstall”
Check the box for “Delete the driver software for this device”.
Now proceed to uninstall and reinstall the Horizon View Agent.
On a final note, when running the Horizon Agent on Horizon for Linux, make sure that forward and reverse DNS entries exist, and that DNS is functioning on the network where the Linux VM resides.
Video Settings (Video Memory (VRAM), Resolution, Number of Displays)
When experiencing video display issues or blank screens on VMware Horizon View, these could be associated with the guest VM’s memory, video memory (VRAM), display resolution, and number of displays.
Make sure you are adhering to the specifications put forth by VMware. Please see the following links for more information.
When troubleshooting blank screens with VMware Horizon, you need to try to identify if it’s specific to the guest VM, or if it’s associated with the connection protocol you’re using (and the route it takes whether through a Connection Server, or UAG).
Always try different protocols to see if the issue is associated with all, or one. Then try establishing connections and find if it’s isolated direct to the Connection Server, or through the UAG.
If the issue is with a specific protocol, you can view the protocol log files. If the issue is with the UAG, you can troubleshoot the UAG.
Log files can be found in the following directory:
HTTPS Proxy and redirection issues
If you are connecting through a network that does passive HTTPS scanning or that uses a proxy server, you may experience issues with inability to connect, or blank screens.
It never stops surprising me how old some of the VMware Horizon View environments are that some businesses are running. VMware regularly updates, and releases new versions of VMware Horizon View that resolve known issues and bugs in the software.
While it may be difficult, simply upgrading your VMware Horizon environment (VMware vSphere, View Connection Server, VMware Tools, VMware Horizon Agent) can resolve your issues.
Blank Screen connecting to Physical PC running Horizon Agent
On a few occasions I’ve had readers reach out to inform me that they are experiencing these issues. Most recently a reader by the name of “Sascha” reached out and reported issues with audio, particularly the microphone not functioning or being redirected from the VMware Horizon View Client to the Physical PC.
In Sascha’s case (along with the other readers), we troubleshot the issue and realized that in each and every case the problem was due to the use of a Windows 10 Profesional license being used. As per the VMware Horizon release notes, a Windows 10 Enterprise license must be used when installing the Horizon Agent on a Physical PC.
Once Sascha and the other users upgrades or installed a Windows 10 Enterprise license, the issues stopped immediately.
This is another reminder that you need an Windows 10 Enterprise license when installing the Horizon Agent on a Physical PC.
I’ve noticed in a few situations where an ESXi host is marked as “unresponsive” or “disconnected” inside of vCenter due to issues occurring on that host (or connected hardware). This recently happened again with a customer and is why I’m writing this article at this very moment.
In these situations, usually all normal means of managing, connecting, or troubleshooting the host are unavailable. Usually in cases like this ESXi administrators would simply reset the host.
However, I’ve found hosts can often be rescued without requiring an ungraceful restart or reset.
In these situations, it can be observed that:
The ESXi host is in a unresponsive to disconnected state to vCenter Server.
Connecting to the ESXi host directly does not work as it either doesn’t acknowledge HTTPS requests, or comes up with an error.
Accessing the console of the ESXi host isn’t possible as it appears frozen.
While the ESXi host is unresponsive, the virtual machines are still online and available on the network.
In the few situations I’ve noticed this occurring, troubleshooting is possible but requires patience. Consider the following:
When trying to access the ESXi console, give it time after hitting enter or selecting a value. If there’s issues on the host such as commands pending, tasks pending, or memory issues, the console may actually respond if you give it 30 seconds to 5 minutes after selecting an item.
With the above in mind, attempt to enable console access (preferably console and not SSH). The logins may take some time (30 seconds to 5 minutes after typing in the password), but you might be able to gain troubleshooting access.
Check the SAN, NAS, and any shared storage… In one instance, there were issues with a SAN and datastore that froze 2 VMs. The Queued commands to the SAN caused the ESXi host to become unresponsive.
There may be memory issues with the ESXi instance. The VMs are fine, however an agent, driver, or piece of software may be causing the hypervisor layer to become unresponsive.
If there are storage issues, do what you can. In one of the cases above, we had to access the ESXi console, issue a “kill -9” to the VM, and then restart the SAN. We later found out there was issues with the SAN and corrupted virtual machines. The moment the SAN was restarted, the ESXi host became responsive, connected to the vCenter server and could be managed.
In another instance, on an older version of ESXi there was an HPE agentless management driver/service that was consuming the ESXi hosts memory continuously causing the memory to overflow, the host to fill the swap and become unresponsive. Eventually after gracefully shutting down the VMs, I was able to access the console, kill the service, and the host become responsive.
It’s official, VMware vSphere 7 is here. VMware has put together tons of content for the launch of the new version.
First and foremost, check out their blog at https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/vsphere-7. This page will have tons of information on the launch and will host some important materials in one place for you to access. They also have a neat YouTube playlist here showcasing vSphere 7.
Lately, I’ve been playing with video editing and encoding as a new hobby. It requires a powerful system for the production process for both editing, and encoding. While CPU power isn’t necessarily important, the CPU instruction sets and your GPU play a key part with editing and encoding.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been attempting to use my desktop rig with a couple of Nvidia GeForce cards and I’ve been struggling to be able to edit in real time, as well as encode completed video productions in a reasonable amount of time.
On my physical desktop rig, even with two GPUs it struggles to allow me to preview in realtime the edits I’ve done on a project. The preview window is jolty with loss frames, and it’s hard to know what you’re doing. Also, when producing and encoding a finalized video project, it would take forever to complete even a small 5 minute video at 1080p.
When I first loaded this up on my VDI environment, the software instantly detected the Nvidia GRID card, and asked me if it could use it. From that point on the preview window was fluid, transitions and add-ins were rendered on the fly during previewing, and the final production encoding was literally over 20 times faster using 1080p. Keep in mind this VM only has one Nvidia K180q profile attached to it, so I’m only using less than 25% of the cards full capability.
Other benefits to video editing and encoding on VDI
There’s some other benefits that can be realized when doing video editing and encoding inside of a VDI environment:
Ability to connect remotely and work anywhere
Ability to work anywhere with a high performance system
High speed video storage on demand (since it’s all remote)
It can become part of your normal backup solution
This is just another great use case scenario for VDI. Whether it’s for the video professional, or a large organization.
It’s finally here! VMware has released the alpha (test) of the vSphere Mobile Client for Android Devices. This will allow you to manage your vSphere instance via your Android mobile device.
Some of you may remember the vSphere Mobile Watchlist app for android. It was great because it allowed you to manage your vSphere environment (and I still use it), but one day it was abruptly removed from the Google Play store and no longer available. However, those that had it installed could keep using it.
This new version of the vSphere Mobile Client is only available for Android as of the time of this post.
Then simply follow the instruction after the opt-in and download it for your device.
Using the vSphere Mobile Client for Android
The app is a slick but simple one. Since it’s alpha, functionality is limited, but gives you the ability shutdown, restart, view performance and do a couple other things.
Bugs and Annoyances
Shortly after using the app, I noticed that I couldn’t log in subsequent tries due to an “incorrect user name or password”. I know I was typing it right, so I’m assuming this is a bug. To resolve this, you have to delete the app cache, then you will be able to log in properly.
Unfortunately the app also doesn’t allow you to save your password, like the previous watchlist app.
See below for some screenshots:
All in all, it’s pretty exciting that VMware is finally working on an official mobile app. I still use watchlist almost daily, so I see tremendous value in this!
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the new app!
Since I’ve installed and configured my Nvidia GRID K1, I’ve been wanting to do a graphics quality demo video. I finally had some time to put a demo together.
I wanted to highlight what type of graphics can be achieved in a VDI environment. Even using an old Nvidia GRID K1 card, we can still achieve amazing graphical performance in a virtual desktop environment.
This demo outlines 3D accelerated graphics provided by vGPU.
Please see below for the video:
VMware Horizon View 7.8
NVidia GRID K1
GRID vGPU Profile: GRID K180q
HPE ML310e Gen8 V2
ESXi 6.5 U2
Virtual Desktop: Windows 10 Enterprise
Game: Steam – Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO)
Resolution of the Virtual Desktop is set to 1024×768
Blast Extreme is the protocol used
Graphics on game are set to max
Motion is smooth in person, screen recorder caused some jitter
This video was then edited on that VM using CyberLink PowerDirector
We’ve all been in the situation where we need to install a driver, vib file, or check “esxtop”. Many advanced administration tasks on ESXi need to be performed via shell access, and to do this you either need a console on the physical ESXi host, an SSH session, or use the Remote vCLI.
In this blog post, I’m going to be providing a quick “How to” enable SSH on an ESXi host in your VMware Infrastructure using the vCenter flash-based web administration interface. This will allow you to perform the tasks above, as well as use the “esxcli” command which is frequently needed.
This method should work on all vCenter versions up to 6.7, and ESXi versions up to 6.7.
How to Enable SSH on an ESXi Host Server
Log on to your vCenter server.
On the left hand “Navigator” pane, select the ESXi host.
On the right hand pane, select the “Configure” tab, then “Security Profile” under “System.
Scroll down and look for “Services” further to the right and select “Edit”.
In the “Edit Security Profile” window, select and highlight “SSH” and then click “Start”.
This method can also be used to stop, restart, and change the startup policy to enable or disable SSH starting on boot.
Congratulations, you can now SSH in to your ESXi host!
VMware Horizon is great at providing an end user computing solution for your business, a byproduct of which is an amazing remote access system. With any type of access, especially remote, comes numerous security challenges. DUO Security’s MFA solution is great at provided multi-factor authentication for your environment, and fully supports VMware Horizon View.
In this guide, I’ll be providing a quick how to guide on how to get setup and configured with DUO MFA on your Horizon Server to authenticate View clients.
Here’s a video of DUO on VMware Horizon View in action! Scroll down for instructions on how to set it up!
Enabling DUO MFA on VMWare View will require further authentication from your users via one of the following means:
DUO Push (Push auth request to mobile app)
Phone call (On user’s pre-configured phone number)
SMS Passcode (Texted to users pre-configured phone number)
VMware Horizon View Connection Server (Configured and working)
VMware View Client (for testing)
DUO Authentication Proxy installed, configured, and running (integrated with Active Directory)
Completed DUO Auth Proxy config along with “[ad_client]” as primary authentication.
Please Note: For this guide, we’re going to assume that you already have a Duo Authentication Proxy installed and fully configured on your network. The authentication proxy server acts as a RADIUS server that your VMware Horizon View Connection Server will use to authenticate users against.
The instructions will be performed in multiple steps. This includes adding the application to your DUO account, configuring the DUO Authentication Proxy, and finally configuring the VMware View Connection Server.
Add the application to your DUO account
Log on to your DUO account, on the left pane, select “Applications”.
Click on the Blue button “Protect an Application”.
Using the search, look for “VMware View”, and then select “Protect this Application”.
Record the 3 fields labelled “Integration key”, “Security key”, and “API hostname”. You’ll need these later on your authentication proxy.
Feel free to modify the Global Policy to the settings you require. You can always change and modify these later.
Under Settings, we’ll give it a friendly name, choose “Simple” for “Username normalization”, and optionally configure the “Permitted Groups”. Select “Save”.
Configure the DUO Authentication Proxy
Log on to the server that is running your DUO Authentication Proxy.
Open the file explorer and navigate to the following directory.
Using the values from the “Protect an Application”, replace the “ikey” with your “integration key”, “skey” with your “secret key”, and “api_host” with the API hostname that was provided. Additionally “radius_ip_1” should be set to your View Connection Server IP, and “radius_secret_1” is a secret passphrase shared only by DUO and the View connection server.
Save the file.
Restart the DUO Authentication Proxy either using Services (services.msc), or run the following from a command prompt:
net stop DuoAuthProxy & net start DuoAuthProxy
Configure the VMware View Connection Server
Log on to your server that runs your VMware View Connection Server.
Open the VMware Horizon 7 Administrator web interface and log on.
On the left hand side, under “Inventory”, expand “View Configuration” and select “Servers”.
On the right hand side in the “Servers” pane, click on the “Connection Servers” tab, then select your server, and click “Edit”.
On the “Edit Connection Server Settings” window, click on the “Authentication” tab.
Scroll down to the “Advanced Authentication” section, and change the “2-factor authentication” drop down, to “RADIUS”. Check both check boxes for “Enforce 2-factor and Windows user name matching”, and “Use the same user name and password for RADIUS and Windows Authentication”.
Below the check boxes you will see “Authenticator”. Open the drop down, and select “Create New Authenticator”.
In the “Add RADIUS Authenticator” window, give it a friendly name, friendly description, and populate the fields as specified in the screenshot below. You’ll be using the shared RADIUS/DUO secret we created above in the config file for the proxy auth.
Please Note that I changed the default RADIUS port in my config to 1813.
Click “Ok”, then make sure the newly created authenticator is select in the drop down. Proceed to click “Ok” on the remaining windows, and close out of the web interface.
You have now completely implemented DUO MFA on your Horizon deployment. Now when users attempt to log on to your VMware View Connection server, after entering their credentials they will be prompted for a second factor of authentication as pictured below.
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