Building a virtual desktop is simply a matter of installing the Windows operating system. Right? Slow down… although this will work, it won’t give you the best performance and scalability. One of the items that many people mistakenly forget to accomplish is to optimize the base operating system. This is the 7th mistake out of the top 10 mistakes made with virtual desktops:
Most people spend time creating a customized standard operating environment for their desktop operating systems. This often involves specific location settings, default application settings, and desktop descriptions. However, when delivering an operating system into a virtual desktop, many organizations do not go far enough to optimize the desktop for the virtualized environment. Whether the desktop is a hosted VM-based VDI desktop, a local streamed desktop or a hosted shared desktop, certain optimizations allow the hardware to focus on user-related tasks as opposed to extraneous system-related tasks. The following are examples of virtual desktop optimizations:
- Disable Last Access Timestamp: Each time a file is accessed within an operating system, a time stamp is updated to identify when that file was last accessed. Booting up an operating system accesses hundreds and thousands of files, all of which must be updated. Each action requires disk and CPU time that would be better used for user-related tasks. Also, if Provisioning services is used to deliver the desktop image, those changes are removed when the desktop is rebooted.
- Disable Screen Saver: Utilizing a graphical screen saver consumes precious memory and CPU cycles when the user is not even using the desktop. Those processes should be freed and used by other users. If screen savers are required for security purposes, then simply blanking the screen should be invoked as this does not impact the memory and CPU consumption.
- Disable Unneeded Features: Windows 7 contains many valuable components like Media Center, Windows DVD Maker, Tablet PC Components, and Games. These applications are memory, CPU and graphics intensive and are often not required in most organizations. If these components are made available to users, they will be used. It is advisable to remove unneeded services before deploying the first images.
These are only a few recommendations, but it is obvious that optimizations have a major impact on the virtual desktop environment. I’ve started building a list of optimizations for virtual Windows 7 desktops, which can be found in the Windows 7 – Optimizations section of this site. If you are looking to optimize Windows XP, then you can find that in the Windows XP Optimization document.
Stay tuned for more.
Daniel – Lead Architect