January 20

Boot to USB with ChromeBook and Neverware CloudReady

I’ve been doing some experimenting with Droplet Computing, and I had a need to trash a cheap Chromebook I have (XMA Vigilen 360c) , to boot from Neverware’s CloudReady Home Edition of ChromeOS. It’s a long story – why I wanted to do that – but this article is about how got that far.

As you probably know Chromebook’s represent one of the most hardened, restricted and secured OSes to be found on a laptop out of the box. So unlike a generic Windows PC where a couple of keystrokes and you’re away with Chromebook it’s not straight forward

What’s meant to happen is you press and hold [ESC]+Refresh/F3 on the keyboard whilst holding the power

This allow you to enter a Recovery Mode and then use [Ctrl+L] to get into a boot menu. The trouble is my Chromebook didn’t ship with the now legacy firmware/BIOS to allow booting from a memory stick. So when I pressed [Ctrl+L] all I got is nasty BIOS-style beeps…

So to USB Boot to work, I had basically change the Firmware/BIOS to make it boot from USB… There involved three main steps

  1. Make the CloudReady USB Installer/Boot Drive – https://guide.neverware.com/build-installer/working-mac-os/#install-and-launch-the-chromebook-recovery-utility
  2. Get into Developer Mode – https://medium.com/@dihuta/turn-on-developer-mode-on-chromebook-bd8a05c31bf9[Ctrl+D] at the prompt to go into developer mode, and once developer mode is enabled, you always have to press [Ctrl+D] at the prompt
  3. Use MrChromebook.tech Firmware Script –  https://mrchromebox.tech/#fwscript

I had some trouble running MrChromebook’s script – I had to run it as two separate commands, rather than as one single string like so:

curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh

sudo bash firmware-util.sh

Once the script runs I was able to run choose 1 to install the older RW_Legacy Firmware to allow USB booting

After applying the Firmware Utility Script, [Ctrl+L] allowed me to boot to my USB stick holding Neverware CloudReady.

 

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January 15

Happy New Integration Guide: VMware Horizon, App Volues and UEM/DEM

Happy New Year! 

Happy New Integration Guide!

Late last year I spent time showing how Droplet Computing can run in the context of VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop as well as VMware Horizon Application Pools. I went on to show how you can leverage VMwareApp Volumes to deploy our software to a virtualized environment and use VMware  User/Dynamic Environment Management. It was nice to refresh my knowledge of VMware EUC offering as its been some time since I wrote my book about VMware VIew (that was back in version 4/5!). I was suitably impressed by the Instant Clones option which is a marked improvement on Linked Clones of old….

You can read our integration guide here:

https://www.dropletcomputing.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/VMware-Horizon-Integration-Guide.pdf

 

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December 10

Bizzy Little Bee…

I’ve been a bizzy little bee of late, in fact, everyone has at Droplet Computing – and I’ve been neglectful in reflecting that here on my personal blog. So this blog is a really a big summary of what’s been going down at Chez Droplet.

As you probably guess I’ve been bizzy on the documentation front – writing a number of integration guides that explain how we work in harmony with common strategic application delivery technologies. So we have integration guides on:

Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon AppStream

Citrix Virtual Applications and Desktops

Other integration guides are due – today I submitted by guide to VMware Horizon View, VMware App Volumes and VMware User Environment Manager (aka Dynamic Environment Manager) for “peer review” before being thoroughly proof-read (thanks Janine!). A sneak preview of that was recently released in this blogpost wot I wrote:

https://www.dropletcomputing.com/2019/11/18/integrating-droplet-computing-containers-with-vmware-app-volumes-uem-and-jmp/

On the cards in the New Year there will be guides on Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop, FSLogix, and Liquidware’s FlexApp and Profile Unity and I think my CTO will probably write up his experiences of integrating with iGEL sometime soon.

My CTO, Peter has been busy refreshing all our admin guides to be OS-specific – rather than one admin guide to rule them all – as this was getting a tad unwieldy. These Droplet Computing Application getting started admin guides can all be found here:

https://www.dropletcomputing.com/product-guides-documentation/ along with their respective videos authored by yours truly – https://www.dropletcomputing.com/videos/

And Finally… to round off an eventful 5 months since I joined Droplet Computing as their Chief Technologist… we have a new release which we have imaginatively called 1.2 – packed with a whole host of lovely enterprise features:

Droplet Computing launches DCA v1.2 with new features designed for the enterprise

So that’s about it from me for now. All that remains is to wish you all a very merry xmas and peaceful new year…. 🙂

 

 

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November 12

Delivering Droplet Computing containers with Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly XenApp)

It’s been a long, long while since I looked at anything Citrix based. It feels really odd saying that because, before VMware came along, I was a Citrix Certified Instructor (CCI) and a Citrix Certified Enterprise Admin (CCEA). I first got into Citrix on the tail end of NT4 Terminal Services Edition (available from Q4 1999 to the end of 2003) and MetaFrame 1.8 (1998 to 2001 when it because MetaFrame XP) and stuck with it until around the Presentation Server 4.5 days (launched in 2007). At the time I wanted to keep both Citrix and VMware on my resume, but once agencies and other sources of my freelance work knew I was VMware certified, it seemed like no one wanted to punt me out for Citrix-based courses. The market kind of dictated my career direction to some extent. So, it was nice to hit citrix.com this week and download the binaries to check out what they now call “Citrix Virtual Apps and Virtual Desktops”, or the products formally known as “XenApp and XenDesktop”.

Read On….

 

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November 1

Droplet Computing Videos

Some handy video links!

Installing Droplet Computing to Windows 10:

Installing Droplet Computing to Apple Mac:

Installing Droplet Computing to Ubuntu Linux:

Installing Droplet Computing to Redhat Enterprise8 Desktop:

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October 11

Droplet Computing containers on Amazon AppStream

Amazon WorkSpaces was a doddle to get up and running as I am very familiar with VDI and workspace concepts. I’d not touched AppStream before, so I needed a bit of primer. I found this video by Thorr Giddings to be excellent. To the point and, for someone with quite a bit of experience, I was able to pause the video at the various steps and get the process down. The best 8 mins of my time this week!

In case you don’t know, Amazon AppStream is a fully managed application streaming service. You centrally manage your desktop applications on AppStream and securely deliver them to any computer. You can easily scale to any number of users across the globe without acquiring, provisioning, and operating hardware or infrastructure. AppStream is built on AWS, so you benefit from a data center and network architecture designed for the most security-sensitive organizations. Each user has a fluid and responsive experience with your applications, including GPU-intensive 3D design and engineering ones, because your applications run on virtual machines (VMs) optimized for specific use cases and each streaming session automatically adjusts to network conditions.

Read on…

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October 2

Droplet Computing containers on Amazon WorkSpaces

This week I spent time working with Amazon WorkSpaces. In case you don’t know, Amazon WorkSpaces is a managed, secure cloud desktop service. You can use Amazon WorkSpaces to provision either Windows or Linux desktops in just a few minutes and quickly scale to provide thousands of desktops to workers across the globe. You can pay either monthly or hourly, just for the WorkSpaces you launch, which helps you save money when compared to traditional desktops and on-premises VDI solutions. Amazon WorkSpaces helps you eliminate the complexity in managing hardware inventory, OS versions and patches, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which helps simplify your desktop delivery strategy. With Amazon WorkSpaces, your users get a fast, responsive desktop of their choice that they can access anywhere, anytime, from any supported device.

Read on…

 

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September 17

Droplet Computing Inception

Well, it’s just gone past a month since I joined Droplet Computing, and I’ve been busy, busy, busy, as well as you would expect when you start with a new company. As you might suspect, I’ve been quite “internally focused” (which sounds like some sort of medical examination!). But I’ve been trying to hold true to my goal of making Friday my geek-out day where I just get some technical playtime. I’ve been considering renaming Geek-Out Day as Michelle’s Mad Half Hour. You never know, it might catch on.

Read On…. 

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August 14

Ubuntu and Screen Resolutions

I recently had a need to install Ubuntu to a physical box (I know what a concept!) and I connect it remotely using VNC Viewer from RealVNC. One thing I noticed was how poor the screen resolution was on my 27″ wide-screen. I assumed I’d just need to crank up the resolution relative to my screens capabilities. The trouble was that there were only 3 resolution modes available.

1024×768 (4:3)

800×600 (4:3)

848×480 (16:9)

I must admit my first thought was perhaps this was an issue with my graphic controller not being discovered. Actually, it turns out that Ubuntu doesn’t ship with many resolution modes.

To add additional resolution modes open a terminal………

1.) Type the command to retrieve the display mode:

xrandr

This should give us an output like so:

Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1024 x 768, maximum 4096 x 4096
VGA-1 connected primary 1024×768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 0mm x 0mm
1024×768 60.00*
800×600 60.32 56.25
848×480 60.00
640×480 59.94

Make a note of the video type in this case VGA-1.

2.) Next, we need to retrieve the configuration settings for creating a new resolution mode for example 1920×1080:

cvt 1920 1080

This should give us an output like so:

# 1920×1080 59.96 Hz (CVT 2.07M9) hsync: 67.16 kHz; pclk: 173.00 MHz
Modeline “1920x1080_60.00” 173.00 1920 2048 2248 2576 1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync

3.) Next, we can use xrandr to define the parameters of a new display mode, copying and pasting the parameters retrieved from the cvt command:

sudo xrandr –newmode “1920x1080_60.00” 173.00 1920 2048 2248 2576 1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync

4.)  Finally, we can use xrandr to add and activate the newly created mode:

sudo xrandr –addmode VGA-1 “1920x1080_60.00”

 

RESULT! 

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August 9

Rockpools of ShadowXP

Well, I’ve just completed my first full week here at Droplet Computing – and I’m loving every moment.

There are so many things I could blog about right now, but I’m opting to do a blog post a week – mainly so I don’t fire everything off in a hailstorm only to dry up months later. But also because I’m drinking from the firehose (more Silicon Valley-speak) at the moment. Blogging isn’t really what I’m here for, and there’s other “real” work that must take a priority. I have a very healthy to-do list that needs focusing on – I’ve got a security guide to write for a government based deal, and partner enablement collateral to update and improve, as well as QA testing.

But anyway, I thought I would start off with discussing a pretty critical use-case that I’m already seeing out there with customers – and what my colleagues are seeing in terms of engagements with partners and their customers.

The blogpost titles need a bit of explanation.

The metaphor of the “rockpool” came from a customer who we need to buy a beer sometime (many beers!). I think it’s a wonderful metaphor for what is beginning to become a concrete fact. Many organizations have had programs to decommission Windows XP from their estate, but the rapidly retreating tide of Windows XP has left behind significant rockpools of Windows XP. Often Senior Management has little or no visibility of this fact. That isn’t down to not knowing their environments, but more to do with how impossible it is to keep a handle on the vast expanse of technologies at use in various parts of a sprawling organization. There’s also a kind of reluctance to admit to Senior Management that these rockpools of Windows XP exist. Ironically, these rockpools form a small percentage of the environment, but in a company of 25K, 50K, 75K or 100K that small percentage actually represents a significant thorn in the paw of IT strategy to get off legacy Windows, and onto Windows10.

This is also something our technology partners are seeing as well. Those partners have major projects to roll out new EUC projects that are based around the more “workspace” approach. Those of us who have been in the space for a while will know that the “one-portal-to-rule-them-all” concept is not new… But old ideas that once gained little traction in the past can come along a decade later and be successful. Bottom-line is there are often few really new innovative ideas in our industry, just concepts that have been knocking around for some time, whose time has now come. Of course, many of these new projects are geared up to automate logins and fulfilments for cloud-native applications, and the kind of apps found present in a Windows10 environment. Trouble is, that does not help any accounts department still using macros in Microsoft Excel 2010. It’s in this way that Droplet Computing complements (never ever, competes!) the Workspace model, which is really the future of EUC delivery for the conceivable future. IMHO.

So far, so legacy. The other big opportunity I’m seeing is on the horizon. Hopefully, not too distant – and that’s getting Droplet Computing on ChromeOS. I saw a news article recently how the education sector has been moving away significantly from Windows to adopt Chomebooks and Pixelbooks. There’s some (but not much) evidence of that happening in the public sector as authorities try to squeeze the very last from budgets that are already under pressure. The bottom line here is people who must upgrade (because of Windows XP and also Windows7), but don’t have the budget to do so will creatively find other solutions. Necessity is the Mother of virtue after all. Again, the problem here is getting legacy applications on to those devices, without having to resort to constructing a big VDI solution (load-balancers, DMZ navigation, storage, image build optimization etc., etc.) to run a couple of poxy but important legacy apps. I’ll blog more about Google’s Project Crostini in future, once I’ve got my hands dirty.

That leads me to “Shadow XP”. To be fair this is my feeble attempt at clickbait marketerism (did it work?!?  ). We have all heard over the years about Shadow IT. The situation where developers and middle-managers whip out their credit card to dial-up resources from the public cloud. The reasons for that are well documented elsewhere, but the result is the same. It creates a kind of stealthy IT infrastructure that is not detectable on the Senior Management radar. Put simply, you don’t know, what you don’t know. And what you can’t see, doesn’t exist until it comes along and bites you on the bum. In the world of Shadow IT, this is usually a financial ceiling being triggered. In the world of Shadow XP that is an unexpected security breach caused by an operating system you believed had been expunged from your organization years ago. I accept that you, my friend, have absolutely not one drop of Shadow XP remaining in your environment, and like the Trojan’s you have nothing to fear about the wooden horse that appeared within the walls of your fortress this morning.

Dismiss Shadow XP as FUD and “Fake IT News” if you like, but it’s better to be safe than to be sorry after the fact…

 

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