VMware Horizon 2006: Master RDS Host

Last Modified: Aug 16, 2020 @ 5:49 am


Use this post to build a Windows Server Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) that will be used as the source image for additional cloned Remote Desktop Session Hosts. Or you can build each Remote Desktop Session Host manually using the steps detailed in this post. Virtual Desktop is detailed in a separate article.

This post applies to all VMware Horizon versions 2006 (aka 8.0) and newer.

Change Log

  • 2020 Aug 14 – updated entire article for Horizon 2006 (aka 8.0)


  • The session host pools will use the same hardware specs (e.g. vCPUs, memory size, network label) specified on the master session host. Adjust accordingly.
  • Set the vCPUs to 8. Two is the minimum. See VMware whitepaper for more information.
  • Typical memory for an 8 vCPU session host is 24 – 48 GB (e.g. 32 GB).
  • For New Hard disk, consider setting Thin provision. And increase the size so it can store the locally cached profiles (C:\Users).
  • The session host should be configured with a VMXNET 3 network adapter.
  • When building the master session host, you will probably boot from an ISO. When you are ready to create the pool (RDS farm), ensure the CD/DVD drive points to Client Device, and is not Connected. The important part is to make sure ISO file is not configured.
  • There’s no need for the Floppy drive so remove it.
  • If you have any Serial ports, remove them.

NIC Hotplug – Disable

  1. Users could use the systray icon to Eject the Ethernet Adapter. Obviously this is bad.
  2. To disable this functionality, power off the virtual machine.
  3. Once powered off, right-click the virtual machine, and click Edit Settings.
  4. On the VM Options tab, expand Advanced, and then click Edit Configuration.
  5. Click Add Configuration Params.
  6. On the left, enter devices.hotplug. On the right, enter false.
  7. Then click OK a couple times to close the windows.
  8. The VM can then be powered on.

VMware Tools

See VMware Product Interoperability Matrices for supported versions of VMware Tools with different versions of Horizon Agent.

VMware Tools includes the Shared Folders feature, which prevents roaming profiles from being deleted properly. When installing VMware Tools, make sure you deselect Shared Folders so it is not installed.

After installing VMware Tools, open Registry Editor and go to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\NetworkProvider\Order. Look in the ProviderOrder value on the right, and ensure that vmhgfs is not listed. If it is, remove it.


Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Config

  1. In Server Manager, switch to the Local Server page.
  2. On the far right, click the link for On next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration.
  3. Click Off for both Administrators and Users. Click OK.

Windows Update

Whenever you deploy a virtual machine from a template and SysPrep is executed during the cloning process, all Windows Update settings are reset. You must reconfigure Windows Update on every new virtual machine (or use group policy).

  1. In Server Manager, click Local Server on the left. Then on the right, click the link for Last checked for updates.
  2. If Windows Server 2016 or 2019, click Advanced Options.

    • In Windows Server 2012 R2, on the left, click Change settings.
  3. If Windows Server 2016 or 2019, check the box next to Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows, and then click the back button. Then click Check for Updates.

    • If Windows Server 2012 R2, check the box next to Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows, and click OK.
  4. Windows Update will automatically start checking for updates.
  5. Install any updates it recommends.

Local Administrators Group

Add your Horizon Admins group to the local Administrators group.

  1. In Server Manager, open the Tools menu, and click Computer Management. Or launch it by right-clicking the Start Button.
  2. Add the Horizon Admins group to the local Administrators group.

C: Drive Permissions

The default permissions allow users to store files on the C: drive in places other than their profile.

  1. Open the Properties dialog box for C:\.
  2. On the Security tab, click Advanced.
  3. Highlight the line containing Users with Create Folders permission, and click Remove.
  4. Highlight the line containing Users with Create Files permission, and click Remove.
  5. Click OK to close the Advanced Security Settings window.
  6. Click Yes to confirm the permissions change.
  7. If you see any of these Error Applying Security windows, click Continue.
  8. Click OK to close the C: drive properties.


Install/Upgrade VMware Horizon Agent

To install Horizon Agent on Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), do the following:

  1. Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2012 R2 are supported.
  2. VMware Tools – Only install Horizon Agent after you install VMware Tools.
    1. If you need to update VMware Tools, uninstall Horizon Agent, upgrade VMware Tools, and then reinstall Horizon Agent.
    2. See VMware Product Interoperability Matrices for supported versions of VMware Tools with different versions of Horizon Agent.
    3. If VMware Tools 11.x, VMware recommends running the following: (source = VMware 78434 Performance issues for Horizon 7 when using VMware VMTools 11.x)
  3. Download Horizon Agent 2006.
  4. Run the downloaded VMware-Horizon-Agent-x86_64-8.0.0.exe.
  5. If you want the URL Content Redirection feature, then you must run the Agent installer with the the following switches: /v URL_FILTERING_ENABLED=1
  6. In the Welcome to the Installation Wizard for VMware Horizon Agent page, click Next.
  7. In the License Agreement page, select I accept the terms, and click Next.
  8. In Desktop OS Configuration page, select RDS Mode and click Next.

    1. Click OK to install the role.
    2. Restart the machine.
    3. After restart, login, and re-run the Agent installer.
  9. In the Network protocol configuration page, select IPv4, and click Next.
  10. In the Custom Setup page, several features are disabled by default. Feel free to enable them.
    1. USB Redirection is an option.
    2. For Instant Clone RDS Farms, select VMware Horizon Instant Clone Agent. For Manual RDS Farms (no Instant Clone), don’t select the Instant Clone Agent.
    3. VMware Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business is an option. See Configure Skype for Business at VMware Docs for details.
    4. Scanner Redirection is an option. Note: Scanner Redirection will impact host density.
    5. Serial Port Redirection is an option.
    6. There’s an option for Horizon Performance Tracker, which adds a program to the Agent machine that can show the user performance of the remote session. You can publish the Tracker.

    7. For unauthenticated users, there’s a Hybrid Logon option.
  11. Click Next when done making selections.
  12. Click OK to acknowledge the USB redirection message.
  13. If you see the Register with Horizon Connection Server page, enter the name of a Horizon Connection Server, and click Next. You only see this page if you deselected both View Composer Agent and Instant Clone Agent features. Registration is necessary for Manual RDS Farms (no Instant Clones).
  14. In the Ready to Install the Program page, click Install.
  15. In the Installer Completed page, click Finish.
  16. Click Yes to restart the server.
  17. If you want to know what features were selected during installation, look in HKLM\Software\VMware, Inc.\Installer\Features_HorizonAgent. Or look in the installation log files as detailed at Paul Grevink View Agent, what is installed?

  18. To verify installation of the URL Content Redirection feature, check for the presence of C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Agent\bin\UrlRedirection.
  19. There’s also an IE add-on.
  20. URL Content Redirection is configured using group policy.

Install/Upgrade Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) Agent

All editions of Horizon 2006 are entitled to Dynamic Environment Management (DEM).

  • Horizon Standard Edition and Horizon Advanced Edition are entitled to DEM Standard Edition, which only has personalization features that replace Persona. If you are using FSLogix Profile Containers for profiles, they you probably don’t need DEM Standard Edition.
  • Horizon Enterprise Edition is entitled to DEM Enterprise Edition, which has all DEM features, including Smart Policies, Privilege Elevation, etc.

To install DEM Agent:

  1. Make sure Prevent access to registry editing tools is not enabled in any GPO since this setting prevents the FlexEngine from operating properly.
  2. Based on your entitlement, download either DEM 2006 Standard Edition, or DEM 2006 Enterprise Edition.

  3. Run the extracted VMware Dynamic Environment Manager Enterprise 10.0 x64.msi.
  4. In the Welcome to the VMware Dynamic Environment Manager Enterprise Setup Wizard page, click Next.
  5. In the End-User License Agreement page, check the box next to I accept the terms, and click Next.
  6. In the Destination Folder page, click Next.
  7. In Choose Setup Type page, click Custom.
  8. In the Custom Setup page, click Next. Note: the DEM Management Console is typically installed on an administrator’s machine.
  9. In the Choose License File page, if installing on a Horizon Agent, then no license file is needed.
  10. In the Ready to install VMware Dynamic Environment Manager Enterprise page, click Install.
  11. In the Completed the VMware Dynamic Environment Manager Enterprise Setup Wizard page, click Finish.
  12. If you have PCoIP Zero Clients that map USB devices (e.g. USB drives), then you might have to set the following registry value. (Source = VMware 2151440 Smart card SSO fails when you use User Environment Manager with a zero client)
    • HKLM\Software\VMware, Inc.\VMware VDM\Agent\USB
      • UemFlags (DWORD) = 1
  13. DEM is enabled using Group Policy and configured using the DEM Management Console.

Logon Monitoring

By default, in services.msc, the VMware Horizon View Logon Monitor service is not running. Set it to Automatic and start it.

The logon logs are stored at C:\programdata\VMware\VMware Logon Monitor\Logs on each Horizon Agent.

Inside each session log file are logon time statistics.

Remote Desktop Licensing Configuration

The only way to configure Remote Desktop Licensing in Windows Server 2012 and newer is using group policy (local group policy or domain group policy).

  1. For local group policy, run gpedit.msc.
  2. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Licensing.
  3. Double-click Use the specified Remote Desktop license servers. Change it to Enabled, and enter the names of the Remote Desktop Licensing Servers. Click OK.
  4. Double-click Set the Remote Desktop licensing mode. Change it to Enabled, and select Per User. Click OK.
  5. In Server Manager, open the Tools menu, expand Remote Desktop Services, and click RD Licensing Diagnoser. If you don’t see this option, then install it as a Windows Feature under RSAT.
  6. The Diagnoser should find the license server and indicate the licensing mode. It’s OK if there are no licenses installed on the Remote Desktop License Server.


VMware Tech Zone Antivirus Considerations in a VMware Horizon Environment contains exclusions for Horizon View, App Volumes, Dynamic Environment Manager, ThinApp, etc.

Install antivirus using your normal procedure. Instructions vary for each Antivirus product.

Microsoft’s virus scanning recommendations (e.g. exclude group policy files) – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/822158.

Carbon Black

Interoperability of VMware Carbon Black and Horizon (79180)


Symantec links:

Trend Micro

Trend Micro Links:


Sophos Endpoint Security and Control: Best Practice for running Sophos on virtual systems: we’ve amassed the following practical information about how you can optimize our software to work with this technology.

Sophos Endpoint Security and Control: Installation and configuration considerations for Sophos Anti-Virus on a Remote Desktop Services server: It maybe desirable to disable the Sophos AutoUpdate shield icon

Sophos Endpoint Security and Control: How to include current version of Sophos in a disk image for cloned virtual machines: This procedure will make sure that the produced target/cloned computers:

  • Get their distinct identity with Enterprise Console, under which they can be subsequently managed.
  • Have the desired version of Sophos Anti-Virus already installed and configured on the created image.

Palo Alto Traps

  • Install Traps Agent for Windows:
    • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) installation—Intended for non-persistent endpoints that replicate (also referred to as spawn) from a golden image which has Traps installed.
    • Temporary session—Intended for either physical or virtual endpoints (such as a Remote Desktop Server) that repeatedly revert to a snapshot (or image) on which Traps is not installed.

Windows Defender Antivirus

Configuring Microsoft Defender Antivirus for non-persistent VDI machines – Microsoft Blog

Deployment guide for Windows Defender Antivirus in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment – Microsoft Docs

Onboarding and servicing non-persistent VDI machines with Microsoft Defender ATP


CTX232722 Unable to launch application with Cylance Memory Protection Enabled. Cylance must be run in compatibility mode in order to the VDA and Cylance to run on the same machine. See the article for detailed instructions.

Install Applications

Install applications that will be executed on these machines.

VMware Tech Zone Best Practices for Delivering Microsoft Office 365 In VMware Horizon 7 with Published Applications describes how to install Office365 ProPlus Click-to-run with Shared Computer Activation.

VMware OS Optimization Tool

  1. See VMware Windows Operating System Optimization Tool Guide for details on this tool.
  2. Download the VMware OS Optimization Tool VMware fling.
  3. Run the extracted VMwareOSOptimizationTool.exe.
  4. Go to the Public Templates tab and download or update your templates.
  5. On the Optimize tab, choose a template.
  6. Then click Analyze on the bottom of the window.
  7. On the Optimize tab, review the optimizations, and make changes as desired. Then on the bottom left, click Optimize.
  8. The History tab lets you rollback the optimizations.

Seal and Snapshot

  1. Go to the properties of the C: drive, and run Disk Cleanup.
  2. On the Tools tab, click Optimize to defrag the drive.
  3. Run slmgr.vbs /dlv and make sure it is licensed with KMS and has at least one rearm remaining.
  4. Run Delprof2 to clean up local profiles. Get it from http://helgeklein.com/download/.
  5. Make sure the master session host is configured for DHCP.
  6. Session hosts commonly have DHCP reservations.

  7. Run antivirus sealing tasks. For example:
    1. Symantec: Run a full scan and then run the Virtual Image Exception tool – http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=TECH173650
    2. Symantec: run the ClientSideClonePrepTool –http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=HOWTO54706
  8. Base Image Script Framework (BIS-F) automates many image sealing tasks. The script is configurable using Group Policy.
  9. Shutdown the master session host.
  10. Edit the Settings of the master virtual machine, and disconnect the CD-ROM. Make sure no ISO is configured in the virtual machine.
  11. If Instant Clones, take a snapshot of the master session host.

  12. Use can now use Horizon Console to create RDS Farms.

Full Clone Post-Cloning Tasks

If you use vCenter to clone the machine instead of using Horizon Instant Clones, then after the machine is cloned, do the following on the cloned machine:

  1. Static IP – Configure a static IP address (or DHCP reservation).
  2. Windows Update – Run Windows Update. SysPrep always disables Windows Update so you must run it at least once to re-enable it.
  3. Join domain – Join the machine to the domain if SysPrep didn’t do it for you.
  4. Active Directory OU – Move the Active Directory computer object to the correct OU.
  5. Horizon Agent – uninstall the Horizon Agent and reinstall it so it registers with a Horizon Connection Server.
  6. Antivirus – Re-configure antivirus. Instructions vary based for each product. Go to the antivirus vendor’s website and search for a cloning procedure.
  7. Firewall rules – Add the new machine to any firewall rules (PCoIP, Blast) between the Horizon Security Server and Horizon Agents.
  8. Horizon Console – In Horizon Console, add the new machine to a Remote Desktop Services farm.

Related Pages

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