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Create a Platform Layer (VMware Horizon for vSphere)

In this article:

Prepare a new Platform Layer

Deploy a Packaging Machine

Create a Platform Layer (VMware Horizon for vSphere)

Verify the Layer and shut down the Packaging Machine

Finalize the Layer

A Platform Layer includes the platform software and settings required to deploy images in your environment. For example, a Platform Layer for publishing to VMware Horizon in vSphere with XenDesktop as the broker would include the vmTools and other platform-related software.

This article explains the next steps to create a Platform Layer, based on your connector and platform choices. If you need more information than is included here, check these other Unidesk sources: Layer essentials (Unidesk Learning Center) and the Unidesk Forum.

A Platform Layer should include the platform software and settings required to deploy images in your environment, given your choice of hypervisor, provisioning service, and connection broker.

You can create two kinds of Platform Layers:

  • Platform Layers for publishing Layered Images (Required) - A Platform Layer for publishing is used in Image Templates to ensure that your published Layered Images include the software and settings required to run flawlessly in your environment.

  • Platform Layers for packaging Layers (Required in some cases) - A Platform Layer for packaging is used for creating App Layers and OS Layer Versions in your hypervisor environment. This Layer includes the hypervisor software and settings required to easily install the app or OS update on a VM in the selected hypervisor.

Prerequisites

When creating a Platform Layer, the software installers for your platform must be available in a location that's accessible to the Packaging Machine VM where you are going to create the Layer. As summarized in the following table, the prerequisites vary based on the type of Platform Layer you choose to create.

Type of Platform Layer Prerequisites
Publishing Layered Images

Software installers, and settings you use for your:

  • Hypervisor
  • Provisioning service
  • Connection broker
Packaging Layers

The software and settings for your:

  • Hypervisor

For example, your hypervisor installer and settings.

Note: You only need a Platform Layer for packaging Layers if you are creating your Layers on a different hypervisor than the one from which you imported your OS image.

VMware Horizon View Composer prerequisites

When creating a Platform Layer for publishing images to a Horizon View environment, you need:

  • An OS Layer

  • Network access to Unidesk Tools

    Access from the Platform Layer Packaging Machine VM to the Unidesk Tools download (available on the Unidesk Download page).

  • VMware View Agent installed on the Platform layer

    The VMware View Agent installer for the Windows OS you are using must be installed on the Platform Layer.

  • Unidesk Agent and PowerShell Snap-in, if using a Script as part of the Connector Configuration

    As part of the Connector Configuration, if you include a script to run on the newly published Layered Image, you will need the Unidesk Agent and PowerShell Snap-in installed and running.

  • VMware Horizon View Composer resource information

    The Horizon View info listed in this VMware Horizon for vSphere Connector Configuration topic.

  • vSphere resource information

    The vSphere info listed in vSphere Connector Configuration.

  • vSphere software and settings

    Access to the vSphere software to install on the layer.

Prepare a new Platform Layer

To create a Platform Layer you prepare the layer using the Create Platform Layer wizard, deploy a Packaging Machine in your environment, install the tools and configure the settings for Horizon View, and finalize the Layer.

  1. Select Layers > Platform Layers and select Create Platform Layer in the Action bar. This opens the Create Platform Layer wizard.

  2. In the Layer Details tab, enter a Layer Name and Version, both required values. Optionally, you can also enter other values. For details, see more about these values below.

  3. In the OS Layer tab, select the OS Layer you want to associate with this Platform Layer.

  4. In the Connector tab, choose a Connector Configuration for the platform where you are creating this layer. If the configuration you need isn't listed, add a New Connector Configuration and select it from this list.

    Example: If you are creating the layer in your vSphere environment, select the vSphere connector with the information needed to access the temporary storage location where you will package this layer.

  5. In the Recipe Associations tab, select all of the platforms to which you will be publishing the Layered Image.

    Example: If you want to use this Platform Layer to publish Layered Images to both vSphere and Azure, select both environments.

  6. In the Packaging Disk tab, enter a file name for the Packaging Disk, and select the disk format. This disk will be used for the Packaging Machine (the VM) where you will install the tools, as described in the next two sections.

  7. In the Icon Assignment tab, select an icon to assign to the layer. This icon represents the layer in the Layers Module.

    • To use an existing image, select an image in the image box.
    • To import a new image, click Browse and select an image in PNG or JPG format.
  8. In the Confirm and Complete tab, review the details of the App Layer, enter a comment if required, and click Create Layer. Any comments you enter will appear in the Information view Audit History.

  9. Expand the Tasks bar at the bottom of the UI, and double-click the Packaging Disk task to show the full task description.

    Once the Packaging Disk has been created, the Task bar displays the location of the Packaging Disk in your environment.

Next, you can deploy the Packaging Machine for your Layer.

Deploy a Packaging Machine

The Packaging Machine is a virtual machine where you install the tools for your selected environment.

Note: The Packaging Machine is a temporary VM that will be deleted once the new Platform Layer has been finalized.

Log into the Packaging Machine

The Task Description (example shown in the last step above) contains the location of the Packaging Machine in your environment.

  1. Log into your vSphere web client.
  2. Back in the Unidesk Management Console, use the instructions in the expanded Packaging Disk Task shown below to navigate to the Packaging Machine.

  3. Power on the Packaging Machine.

Install the required platform tools

This section explains how to install the platform software to be used by the Platform Layer. The platform software to install includes the provisioning server software and/or connection broker software that your Layered Images will need to run in the target environment.

Platform software to install

You need the installers for your hypervisor, provisioning service, and connection broker.

If you are using a supported Unidesk Connector to connect to your environment, you will install the provisioning service and/or connection broker software on the Packaging Machine that Unidesk created in that environment. Otherwise, you will be installing the software on a VM in your hypervisor of choice, moving the VM to the Unidesk network file share, from which you can import the VM into Unidesk.

Keep in mind that the state of the software before you finalize the layer is what the image will use.

  1. Remote log in to the Packaging Machine you created. Be sure to log in using the User account you used to create the OS.

  2. Install the tools that your Layered Image will need to run on vSphere and in PVS, along with any drivers, boot-level applications, or files needed.

    If a software installation requires a system restart, restart it manually. The Packaging Machine does not restart automatically.

  3. Make sure the Packaging Machine is in the state you want it to be in when the image is booted:

    • If the tools you install require any post-installation setup or registration, complete those steps now.
    • Remove any settings, configurations, files, mapped drives, or applications that you do not want to include on the Packaging Machine.

Next, you'll need to shut down the Packaging Machine and verify that the Platform Layer is ready to finalize.

Verify the Layer and shut down the Packaging Machine

Once the tools are installed on the Packaging Machine, the next step is to verify that the Layer is ready to finalize. At this point, any required post-installation processing needs to be completed. For example, a reboot may be required, or a Microsoft NGen process may need to complete.

To verify that any outstanding processes are complete, you can run the Shutdown For Finalize tool (icon below), which appears on the Packaging Machine's desktop.

To use the Shutdown For Finalize tool:

  1. If you are not logged into the Packaging Machine, remote log in as the user who created the machine.
  2. Double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon. A command line window displays messages detailing the layer verification process.
  3. If there is an outstanding operation that must be completed before the Layer can be finalized, you are prompted to complete the process. For example, if a Microsoft NGen operation needs to complete, you may be able to expedite the NGen operation, as detailed below.
  4. Once any pending operations are complete, double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon again. This shuts down the Packaging Machine.

The Layer is now ready to finalize.

Layer integrity messages you may see during the finalization process

Layer integrity messages let you know what queued tasks must be completed before a Layer is finalized.

The new Layer or Version can only be finalized when the following conditions have been addressed:

    • A reboot is pending to update drivers on the boot disk - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
    • A post-installation reboot is pending - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
    • An MSI install operation is in progress - please check the Packaging Machine.
    • A Microsoft NGen operation is in progress in the background.

      Note: If a Microsoft NGen operation is in progress, you may be able to expedite it, as described in the next section.

Expediting a Microsoft NGen operation

NGen is the Microsoft Native Image Generator. It is part of the .NET system, and basically re-compiles .NET byte code into native images and constructs the registry entries to manage them. Windows will decide when to run NGen, based on what is being installed and what Windows detects in the configuration. When NGen is running, you must let it complete. An interrupted NGen operation can leave you with non-functioning .NET assemblies or other problems in the .NET system.

You have the choice of waiting for the NGen to complete in the background, or you can force the NGen to the foreground. You can also check the status of the NGen operation, as described below. However, every time you check the queue status, you are creating foreground activity, which might cause the background processing to temporarily pause.

Forcing the NGen to the foreground will allow you to view the progress and once the output has completed, you should be able to finalize the layer.

  1. Force an NGen operation to the foreground.

    Normally, NGen is a background operation and will pause if there is foreground activity. Bringing the task into the foreground can help the task to complete as quickly as possible. To do this:

    1. Open a command prompt as Administrator.

    2. Go to the Microsoft .NET Framework directory for the version currently in use:

      cd C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\FrameworkNN\vX.X.XXXXX
    3. Enter the NGen command to execute the queued items:

      ngen update /force

      This brings the NGen task to the foreground in the command prompt, and lists the assemblies being compiled.

      Note: It’s okay if you see several compilation failed messages!

    4. Look in the Task Manager to see if an instance of MSCORSVW.EXE is running. If it is, you must allow it to complete, or re-run ngen update /force. Do not reboot to stop the task. You must allow it to complete.
  2. Check the status of an NGen operation

    1. Open a command prompt as Administrator.

    2. Check status by running this command:

      ngen queue status
    3. When you receive the following status, the NGen is complete, and you can finalize the Layer.

      The .NET Runtime Optimization Service is stopped

Finalize the Layer

Once the Packaging Machine is created, the software is installed and ready to finalize, and you have shut down the machine, you'll need to finalize the Layer.

Note: When you finalize a Layer, Unidesk may delete the Packaging Machine so as not to incur extra cost for storage.

When the Layer has been verified and is ready to finalize:

  1. Return to the Unidesk Management Console.
  2. Select Layers >App Layers, and then the layer you just prepared.
  3. Select Finalize in the Action bar.
  4. Monitor the Task bar to verify that the action completes successfully and that the Layer is deployable.