FSLogix and Horizon: Quick and dirty setup

To be honest with you this is not a comprehensive guide on how to setup FSLogix. This a quick step by step list of task you have to to to get a profile management solution for your Instant clones or any other non-persistent virtual desktops up and running.

I would say the difficulty of the setup is a bit easier compared to our VMware Dynamic Environment Manager – mostly because the management is all done in GPO, you don’t need to deal with configuration share and you don’t need to install any management console.

What is FSLogix?

I will borrow the definition from Microsoft’s official documentation page:

FSLogix is a set of solutions that enhance, enable, and simplify non-persistent Windows computing environments. FSLogix solutions are appropriate for Virtual environments in both public and private clouds. FSLogix solutions may also be used to create more portable computing sessions when using physical devices.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/fslogix/overview

If I should define it by my words, I would say it’s a user profile management solution, which stores all user data on a separately mounted VDH disk. I would even compare it to our older technology (persistent disk) or AppVolumes Writable Volume and say it’s the same thing on steroids.

(I know comparing it to Writable Volume is not accurate as this technology was primarily made for other function – to capture user-installed applications)

But can’t we do the same thing with Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM)? It depends. 🙂

How FSLogix fits to Horizon JMP stack?

I think our technical marketing did a great job visualizing it and I will shamelessly steal that picture.

What you see it, that FSLogix nicely fits into the stack. It does what it’s made for – secure the persistency of user data and configurations. But in combination with DEM+AppVolumes (aka JMP), you will unlock the best user experience as you can use Writable Volumes to capture user-installed applications, use DEM to pre-configure apps and also to allow users to install their apps by elevating the privileges.

Long story short: Both solutions FSLogix / DEM+AppVolumes can run independently. Maybe you don’t want to pay for DEM a use the “free” FSLogix. But the most power is in the combination.

By the way, if you want to learn FSLogix, not in the quick and dirty way I suggest you go to our VMware Techzone, where we have much more details: https://techzone.vmware.com/resource/integrating-fslogix-profile-containers-vmware-horizon-just-time-management-platform-jmp#overview_1

Let’s get it up and running

Get your copy of FSLogix: https://aka.ms/fslogix_download (of course if you are entitled to use it).

Installing this piece of software is mostly the same as installing our DEM.

  1. Install agent to your master image
  2. Prepare file share, where VHD will be stored
  3. Configure group policies

Step #1: Install the agent

This is pretty straightforward. You run the installer and click next, next, next, finish.

If you did everything correctly you should see “Microsoft FSLogix Apps” in the Programs and Features.

Step #2: Prepare the file share

Nothing complicated here as well. Just keep an eye on share permissions and NTFS permissions.

You want to create a folder on your file server (it can be anything):

Share it to all Authenticated Users with the ability to Change.

NTFS permissions can be a bit tricky, but what you want is Domain users to be able to create a folder in root and then to have access to what they’ve create + admins to have full access, so:

  • CREATOR OWNER = Modify – Subfolders and files only
  • Domain Admins = Full Control – This folder, subfolders and files
  • Domain Users = Modify – This folder only

That’s it file share is ready to go.

Step #3: Group policies

Group policies is something I really like about FSLogix and mostly it’s the fact, that GPO are linked to Computer object and not to a User object. Because in my typical POC project I have a dedicated OU for virtual desktops and it’s way easier to hook up FSLogix than DEM.

Start with importing ADMX templates to the domain. If you work (as I am in my lab) on a domain controller directly copy the ADMX and ADML files to

  • ADMX to %windir%\PolicyDefinitions
  • ADML to %windir%\PolicyDefinitions\en-US

Now you can create new GPO and link it to the OU where your virtual desktops will live.

We need to configure at least two policies.

Enable the Profile Container.

And define where it should store the VHD (the share we created earlier).

Conclusion

Let’s test if it actually works. If I log in for the first time, you can see I am getting machine (fslogix-1) and I created a file on my desktop and changed notepad settings (change the font size).

I logged off and logged back in, got a different machine (fslogix-2), but sure enough, I have my file on the desktop, and settings are also persisted.

If I take a look at the file share, I can see that the VDH file is nicely sitting there.

I believe FSLogix should be a standard tool you know, when you design Horizon virtual desktop and hopefully this helped you to understand how to get it up and running and test it.