I posted an earlier lab on installing XenDesktop 5 within VMware Workstation 8. But the number 1 search term that comes up for this post is “How to install Citrix VDI-in-a-Box in VMware Workstation.” I kind of take it for granted that if XenDesktop will run in VMware Workstation then the lighter VDI-in-a-Box should be a shoe in. But, since the question gets raised and I’ve never deployed the lighter VDI solution this a good source for a lab and post.

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VDI in a Box is a much simpler solution than XenDesktop. In order to Run XenDesktop 5 Quick Deploy in a vSphere environment you need at least 4 Windows servers. In VDI in a Box you only need your ESXi server, the Citrix vdiManager appliance and your client image (Windows XP or 7) to have a complete solution. My laptop is pretty robust. I have 16GB of Ram and a quad core i7 processor. But my guess was that you could probably do this lab on a workstation with only 8GB. Also, the vdiManager is 32-bit so Intel-VT shouldn’t be needed. The instructions for installing VDI-in-a-Box can be found here on the Citrix website.

I went a very simple route for the design of this lab. I created an ESXi server with 4 CPU’s and 4GB of RAM. I bridged the network work adapter so I could access the VDI environment from any machine in my lab. The below snapshot are the VM settings for my ESXi server.

Figure 1 ESXi Virtual Machine Settings

After importing the vdiManager OVA my virtualized ESXi server should memory utilization at 1.2GB which is kind of high and is more than likely a result of VMware tools not being installed on the Linux appliance. I choose to use an XP image because I had one handy to import. This is where I enjoy the features of Workstation 8. I just added the virtualized ESXi to my list of managed hosts in Workstation and I was able to just upload the image directly from VMware Workstation.

The installation of VDI-in-a-Box is much simpler than the installation of XenDesktop. Using an OVA appliance and just a configuration screen makes it a no brainer installed in comparison. The setup for configuring the image and setup are guided and worked well. I configured a pool of 10 potential desktop with 1 desktop powered on. I went low for memory requirements at 512MB per VDI session.

Here’s a sample of the guest settings for the first VDI session Citrix configured after completion of the image deployment.

Figure 2 VDI Workstation in ESXi

This lab was fast, easy and not very intensive. If you have a system with 8GB of RAM it should work well. The one problem you may run into performance wise would be running more than one VDI session. My system capped out at 9GB of used RAM during this lab but keep in mind I had all of my regular productivity applications opened and created this post as well while preforming the lab. Here’s a snapshot of my virtual ESXi server summary while running the lab with two VDI images running along with the vdiManager.

I love to answer any questions on this lab or take comments.

Update 07/14/12: I recorded a video for the lab that can be found you YouTube

Installing Citrix VDI-in-a-Box in VMWare Workstation 8
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