Creating VMware Server 2.0 Desktop and Web Shortcuts

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The preceding chapters covered the process of logging into the VI Web Access interface before launching the VMware Remote Console in order to interact with a guest operating system. In fact, this can be made more efficient through the use of web and desktop shortcuts to virtual machines such that a user can access a virtual machine console simply by clicking on a desktop icon or link on a web page or email message. In the case of web shortcuts, the shortcut can be configured to provide access solely to the selected virtual machine's console, the consoles of all virtual machines in the inventory for which the user has permissions, or even the entire VI Web Access interface.

Creating a Virtual Machine Desktop Shortcut

Virtual machine desktop shortcuts are generated from within the VI Web Access management interface. The VI Web Access interface is accessed by starting a web browser and navigating to the appropriate URL. For example, assuming that the default access ports were configured during installation of VMware, HTTP access may be gained using the following URL:

  • http://hostname:8222

Similarly, HTTPS access requires the following URL:

  • https://hostname:8333

where hostname is replaced either by the host name or IP address of the system on which VMware Server is running. If VMware Server is on the local machine, localhost or the 127.0.0.1 TCP/IP loopback address will also suffice. Upon successful connection, a screen will appear requesting the login and password credentials of an authorized administrator account.

Before creating shortcuts to virtual machines, it is a prerequisite that the VMware Remote Console plug-in be installed in the web browser. For details on installing the VMware Remote Console plug-in refer to the Installing and Using the VMware Remote Console Plug-in chapter.

Having logged into VI Web Access, begin by selecting the virtual machine in the Inventory panel for which the desktop shortcut is to be created. After the workspace panel has updated to reflect the selected virtual machine, select the Generate virtual machine shortcut link from the Command section of the Summary page. Once selected, the dialog illustrated in the following figure will appear within the browser window:


Generating a VMware Server 2.0 Virtual Machine Desktop Shortcut


To create a desktop shortcut, click on the Install Desktop Shortcut to <virtual machine> link. At this point a warning dialog will appear announcing that a web page is requesting permission to create a desktop shortcut to launch a VMware Remote Console session. Click on Create Shortcut to allow this action to be performed. Once the shortcut has been created, it will appear on the desktop as follows:


A desktop shortcut to the remote console of a virtual machine


Double clicking on the desktop icon will display the VMware Remote Console window together with an authentication dialog into which must be entered the credentials of a user with appropriate permissions and privileges to access the virtual machine:


Logging into the VMware Remote console from a shortcut


After a successful login, the console window will update to display the desktop or command line interface of the selected virtual machine, just as if the console were launched from with the VI Web Access interface.


Creating a Web Shortcut

Web shortcuts involve the generation of a URL which can be used to access the VMware Remote Consoles of one or more virtual machines and also various aspects of the VI Web Access interface. The level of access provided through the URL is defined at the point that the link is generated from within VI Web Access. Once generated, the URL may be used in the same way that any other URL may be used. For example, it could be pasted into an email message or added to a web page on an intranet to provide a convenient access point for employees.

The mechanism for generating web shortcuts is similar to that for desktop shortcuts. The process begins by logging into the VI Web Access interface and selecting the required virtual machine from the Inventory panel. Within the workspace clicking on the Generate virtual machine shortcut link from the Commands section of the Summary page displays the shortcut generation dialog which is already populated with a URL based on default settings which limit the view to the remote console only and to a single virtual machine. To alter these default settings, click on the Customize Web Shortcut option to display additional options as illustrated in the following figure:


Configuring VMware Remote Console web shortcut options


The options provided for the web shortcut are as follows:

  • Limit workspace view to the console - Provides access solely to the Console tab of the virtual machine's VI Web Access workspace area. All other tabs such as Events, Permissions, Tasks and Summary are removed.
  • Limit view to a single virtual machine - Removes the Inventory panel so that only the virtual machine for which the web shortcut was created can be accessed.
  • Obfuscate this URL - Generates a URL which is obfuscated to hide information that might otherwise allow a user to deduce the URLs for other virtual machines for which they would not ordinarily have access.

As each option is selected or deselected, the URL displayed in the dialog updates in real-time to reflect the latest configuration settings. Once the configuration is complete, double click on the URL and copy and paste it to a suitable location.


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