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I’ve been experimenting with a VMware View-powered VDI setup recently.  Having come across a few interesting things and tried some particularly odd things, I decided a few posts here were in order!

Most of our normal desktop apps make use of office printers installed on the individual PCs rather than on a printserver.  One feature of VMware View is that it has a ThinPrint-derived component that dynamically brings the underlying physical machine’s printers into the virtual machine that you connect to without any need to worry about drivers being present in there.  There is an odd side effect of how this works best illustrated with some pics.  All machines are Windows 7 but the VM screenshots look old-school thanks to the VMware OS Optimisation Tool used during the creation of its base images.

Here are the physical machine’s printers; and no, we don’t have many this crazy:
Kiosk-AllPrintersBut here is how they appear having been pulled into one of the VDI’s VMs:
VM-DevicesAndPrinters
The issue being that you only see one printer in “Devices and Printers” and its name reflects the default printer.  Notice that right-clicking the printer reveals each option has a sub-menu containing all the printers.  Notice too that each printer name is suffixed with “#:” followed by an incremented number.  So why’s this grouping of printers happening?  It’s because they are all sharing the same driver and port.

Here you can see the common ThinPrint driver (“TP Output Gateway”) they are all using:
VM-SharedDriver

And here the shared port (“TPVM:”):
VM-SharedPort

It seems you can’t disable this grouping behaviour in the “Devices and Printers” applet.  You can though add a traditional “Printers” folder icon to your desktop with a registry hack detailed in a KB article here.  End result here:
VM-PrintersNamespace

I’ve read some things that suggest this hack doesn’t work in all newer versions of Windows.  I’ve not tried it myself as we only have Windows 7 in this particular environment.

In the next post, there’ll be some particularly-juicy WMI to look forward to…

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