Configuring Roaming Profiles w/RDS Hosts in Horizon View 6

RDSOne of the new and best features in the recently released VMware Horizon View 6 was the support of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) hosts for application delivery. This has long been something Citrix has supported both in its MetaFrame/Presentation Server/XenApp/XenDesktop products over the years and something View administrators have been clamoring for. Now with the ability to publish a single application to user without the need to lunch a full desktop is in our hands and brings back a little history for me.

The one thing View administrators have gotten good at dealing with over the years is how to manage the user data or “Persona” for their users. Whether leveraging native folder redirection in Windows, Persona Manager from VMware, or a 3rd party product from Liquidware Labs or AppSense to do the job. Now with RDS, we just have one more profile to add to the list.

Managing RDS (or TS profiles from the last time I worked with it) is a pretty simple process as it leverages Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy Objects (GPOs) to control and manage the settings. In the Horizon View world much hasn’t changed other than VMware has provided a set of ADMX files to import to control/manage the behavior. One thing of note from the VMware documentation is the VMware settings are the preferred deployment strategy:

As a best practice, configure the group policies that are provided in the View ADMX files rather than the corresponding Microsoft group policies. The View group policies are certified to support your View deployment.

To begin testing in my lab environment I had a few prerequisites to get out of the way:

  • Downloaded the View GPU bundle zip file (the ADM/ADMX files are no longer located on a Connection Broker server)
  • Imported the ADMX files to the C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions folder on my Domain Controller
  • Created an Active Directory OU (RDS_Hosts) to house my two RDS hosts, TS01-v6 and TS02-v6
  • Created a User Group named RDSH Users and placed a few users accounts in the group

With the housekeeping work taken care of, lets get down to some actual work. Within Group Policy Management Editor open I created a new GPO named RDS_Host_Policy (super technical I know) and linked the policy to the RDS_Hosts OU created above. With the ADMX properly imported if you browse to the following you will see the Remote Desktop Session Host node:

Computer Configuration –> Policies –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Horizon View RDSH Services

Under Remote Desktop Session Host  you will see eight additional nodes for configuration (with links to the settings under each per VMware documentation):

In a production deployment pay close attention to all the setting that are available to you in the various nodes. For this post we are going to focus mainly on the Profiles node a more specifically the following setting, Set Path for Remote Desktop Services Roaming User Profile.

    This will allow me to redirect my roaming profile to a share (RDS_Profiles$) that is hosted on my lab file server (FS01):

RDSH_Profiles

      A word on the folder permissions, follow

THIS

    Microsoft KB article to get the required NTFS and SMB permissions configured. Below is a summary:

NTFS Folder PermissionsNTFS_Perms

SMB Folder Permissions

SMB_Perms

With the share in place it was time to give it a test. In my Horizon View 6 lab I am currently publishing the all important Calculator app as well as Internet Explorer:

RDSH_Apps

After launching each of the apps a few times and making some changes (home page, etc) I checked my profile share to make sure all checked out OK:

RDSH_Profile

Everything checked out and I am good to go!

Thanks for reading,

-Jason