How To Guy

Every Admin Should ThinApp the vSphere Client

VMware Lab's ThinApped vSphere client allows running the client without installing it.

Every VMware admin knows that to use the vSphere Client, you have to install it. That takes time. What if you could just run vSphere with no install? And what if you could even keep vSphere on a USB key?

I talked about VMware's Flings before (here and here). Quick summary: Flings are free and unsupported tools that VMware engineers write and offer to the virtualization world on the VMware site. Since I wrote those blogs, VMware has redone its VMware Labs and added new flings.

One of the newest flings, ThinApped vSphere Client, is something that I tried to do a long time ago and just couldn't get to work. I am sure that the VMware engineers knew the "secret sauce" needed to make this happen. What's cool is that you aren't required to license ThinApp just to use it! Here's what it does:

  • Run the vSphere Client without installing it
  • Save time on an install
  • Run different versions of it on the same computer
  • Run the vSphere Client directly from a USB key (making it portable) or from a network share

I downloaded the 65MB ThinApped vSphere Client, unzipped the client and saw the single EXE file for the vSphere Client. I ran it and, without any install, I got the usual login screen (see Fig. 1).

ThinApped vSphere Client login

Figure 1. Running the vSphere Client from the downloaded EXE gets you here. That's right, no installation necessary and you get right to the login. (Click image to view larger version.)

After logging in to my vCenter server...tah-dah! It was the vSphere Client (see Fig. 2). In fact, it looked identical to the installed version of the vSphere Client (but that's the point).

ThinApped vSphere Client login

Figure 2. It looks like the vSphere Client, except it's ThinApped. (Click image to view larger version.)

The only difference you'll see (besides not having to install it) is the tiny window at the bottom of the screen that briefly appears saying that it is a ThinApp packaged, licensed to VMware Labs (see Fig. 3).

A Fling from VMware Labs

Figure 3. Look quickly or you'll miss this clue that it's a fling from VMware Labs.

You should note a few things:

  • VMware will have to provide a new version of this for each update to vSphere. Right now, this ThinApped vSphere client is for vSphere 4.1 but doesn't support Update 1.
  • If you want to add plugins to your vSphere Client (like Update Manager), I don't believe that those would work with the ThinApped vSphere client
    This only works on a Windows system that has .NET installed (works fine on the latest Windows 7, but may not work on a stock install of XP).

In summary, the ThinApped vSphere client is an excellent idea and may be very helpful to a lot of VMware admins. It seems like this is something we should have had a long time ago, but I am thankful to have it now. I hope that VMware will continue to improve on this idea and include it as part of supported vSphere distributions in the future.

Try it yourself by downloading the ThinApped vSphere Client here.

About the Author

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to VirtualizationSoftware.com.

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