Saturday, June 1, 2013

VMware View Problems with 64-bit Windows 7 Virtual Desktop

We've been growing our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) quite a bit lately, and as a result I've taken ownership of a shiny new Windows 7 64-bit virtual desktop.  Unlike the 32-bit Win7 VM I used before, though, this one has been giving me trouble.

The trouble starts when I am trying to reconnect to the already booted VM from a machine other than the last one I was on.  Specifically, I use Windows 8 64-bit at work on a Dell tower with 4 monitors (two dual-monitor graphics cards).  I use my VDI VM all the time from that machine on all four monitors.  I also have a Macbook Pro (MBP) that I take to meetings and use outside the office.  

Sometimes (not always) when I re-connect to my VM from my MBP I get a black screen with a mouse cursor and nothing else.  After waiting a minute, I either disconnect or quit the View application and re-launch. Reconnecting the second time gives me an error indicating that desktop resources  are busy.  When this happens I cannot even connect via RDP, let alone through the usual way via the View broker. I attempt to restart the guest OS through vCenter but it never actually reboots unless I power cycle the VM in vCenter.  

I worked with VMware Support but unfortunately haven't been able to fully solve the problem.  The View support folks have looked thoroughly at our setup and don't see anything that could be causing problems.  They handed me off to another group that was able to analyze a crash dump of my VM after the problem occurred, but they could only tell me that it appeared the VM was trying to use 3D rendering services of some sort (if I remember correctly).  

As a workaround, I now re-size my View window on my desktop before disconnecting so it is intentionally smaller than the laptop from which I usually connect.  This seems to have helped but it's rather frustrating.  No other users have reported having the same issue, but there are currently no other VDI users with more than 2 screens.  I should also point out that I've observed the same behavior when I connect from my home Windows 7 machine.  It doesn't seem to matter if I'm connecting to the internal View servers that only use AD authentication or if I use the Secure Gateway View server that requires 2-factor authentication and tunnels secure PCoIP. 

Based on all the evidence it seems my problem is related to having 4 monitors, but VMware support has been unable to identify the root cause and neither have I.  If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. Hit me up on Twitter (@swackhap).

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