Linux Desktop for VMware Administration

By | 23 April 2014

I recently replaced my daughters aging Toshiba laptop with a used MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro was much faster and she reallylikes working in OS X so it was a great fit for her needs. With the freeing up of the old Toshiba, I thought I’d install a recent Linux distro and see if the vSphere web client and the vCO Java client worked well enough to use regularly. I had problems in the past with my Fedora 17-19 desktops due to Flash and Java incompatabilities but I figured I’d give it a shot.
Since Ubuntu had a new LTS release this week I decided to give Trusty a spin. I am not a fan of Unity or Gnome 3 so I grabbed an xubuntu (XFCE desktop) iso and installed it on my newly aquired old laptop. Not suprising, the laptop has been runing very stable and feels very snappy under XFCE. I am not an Ubuntu/debian guy so I did some quick Googling and found out how to get some of the needed packagesinstalled. Coming from a Fedora/CentOS/RHEL worls, I can never remember the package names under Ubuntu/deban. Here is what I ran to get Java, Silverlight and Flash:

sudo apt-get install icedtea-7-plugin openjdk-7-jre
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight
sudo pipelight-plugin --enable widevine
sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree
sudo update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --install

With that done, I installed some other things I wanted like Chrome, VLC, Eclipse, etc. They are not needed (neither is Silverlight) but I like to have them available.

Once everything was installed to my liking, I decided to fire up the vSphere web client. Much to my suprise, it worked perfectly. I could even open a remote VM console via Chrome! With that working, I decided to connect to vCO and give it a try. vCO is a Java app that has worked in Linux in the past for me and I was happy to see that is still works without issue under IcedTea.

The laptop is kinda old but its not too slow. It has 4 GB RAM so I could install a Windows 7 VM for the times I need PowerCLI or have to fire up the old C# client. The only real issue I have with it is the awful resolution on the cheap LCD. It does have a VGA port and I do have a 27″ monitor, so that could always work.

If you are thinking of trying Linux as a primary desktop for day to day admin work, it may be the right choice. I think I’ll be keeping this one around!

Please note: I am a VMware employee but this is not a VMware blog. My postings are my own and don’t necessarily represent VMware’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

4 thoughts on “Linux Desktop for VMware Administration

  1. DMonTech

    I have been using Linux as my primary desktop for over 10 years. I do have to work with vCenter 5.5 now and have run into some issues.

    Issue 1: np-vmwar-vmrc plugin not registaring in chrome.

    In chrome I go to my VMware vSphere Web Client page. I see the prompt for “Download the Client Integration Plug-in”, download the bundle and install it.
    I can show the plugin .so files in /opt/google/chrome where my other plugins reside like Widevine, Chrome PDF Viewer and Adobe Flash Player (PepperFlash).

    However it never shows up in chrome://plugins.

    Question: How did you install the intigration plugin for chrome?

    Issue 2: VMwave vCenter 5.5 requires flash version greater that 11.5

    Since Adobe dropped support for flash on linux 11.2 is the highest native version. Installing “pipelight” as you have listed in your instructions and doing a
    $ sudo pipelight-plugin –enable flash
    will allow firefox to run flash 13. However there is the issue of installing the Intigration client.

    vCenter detects the flash and is ok but the download now points to the .exe version because the plug in is essentially running in “linux-wine”.

    The work around I had to do was load up the web client in chrome.
    Use the download to get the .bundle file.
    Install the bundle
    and then run firefox agian.

    At present firefox is working for 5.5 but Chrome is not (See issue #1).

    Do you still have Chrome + the Intigration client working on your Linux workstation? If so how did you install the intigration client and where do you have the plug in residing? (Does it show up in chrome://plugins?)

    Reply
    1. Chris Post author

      I have been using Firefox but when I get a chance I’ll take a look and see what shows up in Chrome.

      Reply
  2. DMonTech

    Update: Chrome does work it just always prompts at the bottom for the intigration client. For what ever reason it doesn’t list under chrome://plugins or chrome:extensions.

    Running in pipelight under firefox works except I cannot type.

    Do you know if VMware is looking to move their web client to HTML5? That would be much nicer.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: New Fedora 21 and ESXi Host in the homelab | Chris's Blog

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