VMware Horizon – Using a Raspberry Pi Thin Client

In November 2017 VMware released VMware Horizon Client 4.6 with the welcome inclusion of Raspberry Pi 3 support.
Follow this guide to configure a Pi with ThinLinX as a fully-featured Horizon client!

Yes, as of 4.6 the Horizon Client for Linux now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, running ThinLinX OS (TLXOS) or Stratodesk NoTouch OS, to provide a low-cost, highly portable thin client solution for VMware Horizon environments- with full Blast Extreme and PCoIP support no less.

Always on the lookout for interesting use cases for the Pi, I thought I’d give this a go. So, here follows a step-by-step guide to setting up a Raspberry Pi as a VMware Horizon client.

Settle in as there’s a bit to go through, and I apologize in advance for the slightly ‘less than crisp’ screens of my Pi console as I had to resort to taking pics of the screen.  Hopefully all is clear however.  Let’s get on with it.

Raspberry Pi build

For this guide we’ll use TLXOS. You’ll need:
– A Raspberry Pi (obviously)
– Keyboard
– Mouse
– Micro SD card for the OS (and the ability to write an image to said card)
– PC or device on the same network as your Pi, for management.

All good? Okay let’s head to the ThinLinX download site at https://thinlinx.com/download/ to download the Raspberry Pi TLXOS installer, and also the TMS management software- we’ll need this to patch the TLXOS install for Blast and PCoIP support later.

Pop your micro SD into your PC (or into your card reader and THEN into your PC), and launch the installer.
TLXOS doesn’t mess around, immediately asking if you’re ready to write the image to your SD card.

Hit Yes (if you ARE ready obviously, hit No if you’re not ready and the kettle’s still boiling or whatever) to begin extracting the image.

Once extracted Win32 Disk Imager will appear, pointing the extracted image file to your SD device.

Hit Write and you’ll be warned that the device could be corrupted by writing a new image to it, standard stuff and needless to say the SD card will be completely overwritten. If you’re happy to crack on, hit Yes and the image will write to the card. Starting to get real now isn’t it? What a time to be alive!

Write Successful! Excellent. Let’s continue. You may see the following message after the image has been written to the card, if so it’s safe to ignore and hit Close.

Okay now whip your SD card out of your PC, pop it into your Pi, and boot it up.
You should see the TLXOS splash screen:

The initial boot will take a few minutes. You’ll then see a web browser, and a message that reads “This device is unlicensed. Unless you use TMS to license it within the next four minutes, it will reboot into maintenance mode”.

Now this is some straight-up Mission Impossible stuff right?? But it’s okay. The download of TLXOS includes a 30 day eval license and will automatically register if the Pi is connected to the internet, so let’s connect the Pi up to the internet. If using a wired connection with DHCP and no proxy then chances are you are already connected and registered, in which case you wouldn’t see the above. However, if like me your Pi isn’t set up as above (I’m going wireless, for example) then we’d best set up the internet connection sharpish- who knows how much of the 4 minutes you’ve used up reading this waffle??!
So close the web browser and you’ll bring up a dialog box as below. Click Configure.

Select the Network tab and configure the network however you need to, to give your Pi access to the internet.

Once done your Pi will be on the net, it’ll register with ThinLinX and activate the trial license.  Happy days. Your Pi will also now be manageable from the TMS software, which we will now install!

Management Software

Head back to the TMS installer you downloaded earlier, you’ll want to install this on a device on the same network as the Pi itself. This is a simple enough install, double-click the installer to launch the wizard.

No rocket science here, click Next

Accept the EULA and hit Next

Decide whether you want to create a desktop icon.  Take your time with this step this is a big decision.  When you’re done, hit Next

Review your choices and hit Install, to install.

Check the box to Launch the software, and click Finish.  You’re now done with this step.

Patch the TLXOS install

In the current version of TLXOS only the VMware Open View Client is included, which means that PCoIP and Blast can’t be used out of the box. Until the next TLXOS release where the full client will be included, we’ll need to install a hotfix to get full functionality. Luckily this is fairly painless.
On first launch you’ll be prompted to set some preferences, for now it’s fine to accept the defaults.

You should see your Pi in the TMS management pane, if not, make sure the ‘Discover’ option is active and reboot the Pi. This should be enough for it to pop up, if not make sure your management device and the Pi are on the same network.  Hit the green Download button.

Okay the message, select your desired download source, then scroll to the bottom of the list and select Hotfix for 4.4.0 – Horizon Client 4.6.0 and click OK to kick off the download.
Once complete you’ll see the following message:

Now let’s install it to your Pi.  With your Pi highlighted, select Device > Install Hotfix.

Make sure the Horizon Client hotfix is selected, and click OK to install the hotfix

You can follow the progress of the install in the Status column so keep an eye on it.  Once the install is complete, you’ll see the following message on your Pi console stating that it needs to reboot to commit the changes, so go ahead and let it reboot.

Boom!  Just like that you have a fully functional Horizon Client installed on your Pi.  Next, to configure TLXOS to use it.

TLXOS Configuration

Okay so now we have the Horizon client on your Pi, we can use TMS to tell TLXOS to use it.

So in TMS, with your Pi selected, click Mode and change the ‘Mode’ to Horizon (VMware).
The ‘Submode’ drop-down will allow you to select the protocol used to connect, either Blast, PCoIP or RDP.

Now in here you can also configure as much or as little of the details of your Horizon connection as you wish, in order to make the connection as ‘Zero-touch’ as possible.  So you could set the server, and also the user details to automatically login.  For the purposes of this though let’s stick with just the server name, and we’ll see how it plays out.

Once you’ve set all you’re going to set hit OK, and confirm the changes by hitting OK, then Yes on the pop-up shown below. We’re sure, let’s do this.

Now you’re Pi should be all good to go, let’s reboot it and see what happens!!

Horizon Client Configuration

So the first time TLXOS launches the Horizon client you’ll need to accept the EULA

Then, as we entered the server name into the config via TMS previously, the Client will launch with our server connection ready to go.  If you configured your client to auto-login then it would take you straight to your available applications and desktops but since we’re here, let’s go ahead and launch our connection.

We now need to enter our credentials:

Now we’re cooking, barring any typos you should now authenticate and be presented with your entitled applications and desktops!

There’s nothing left to do but launch the desktop and cross your fingers…..

…Boom!  There you have it, your Horizon desktop on your Raspberry Pi at last

As always, hope this was helpful.  Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.


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