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Standalone VMRC (VM Remote Console) vSphere 5.5 Update 2b

The VMRC (VM Remote Console) has gone through several transitions from initially being available as a standalone Windows application to an integrated browser based plugin with the release of the vSphere Web Client. In the latest vSphere 5.5 Update 2b release, a new standalone VMRC has been re-introduced to provide an alternative way to launch a VM console. The reason for this is due to the deprecated and eventual removal of NPAPI (Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface) based plugin support from all modern web browsers which the current VMRC implementation leverages. Here is a quick excerpt from the vSphere 5.5 Update 2b release notes:

Inability to open virtual machine console using Google Chrome browser when NPAPI support is deprecated
When the NPAPI support in Google Chrome is deprecated, the virtual machine console provided in the vSphere Client Integration Plugin might no longer function when the Chrome browser is updated. As a result, you might be unable to open the virtual machine console using the Google Chrome browser and you might not be able to connect to devices.

UPDATE (10/21/14) – Looks like the standalone VMRC has just been made available and you can now download it by either following the link in the vSphere Web Client if you are on vSphere 5.5 Update 2b OR simply by going to http://www.vmware.com/go/download-vmrc

UPDATE (10/12/14) – It looks like the standalone VMRC is currently not available for download just yet. You can continue using the existing methods to connect to your VM Console, the new Standalone VMRC is NOT required but the links have been put in place to proactively get ready for NPAPI deprecation (more details below). You can subscribe to VMware KB 2091284 which will be updated when the download is available.

UPDATE (05/31/15) – If you are connecting directly to an ESXi host you can either use the vSphere API to query for the VM MoRef ID or you can easily pull it by running the following command directly in the ESXi Shell:

vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

The deprecation of NPAPI support is nothing new and has actually been communicated by all major web browsers for quite some time now. To ensure that VMware customers are not affected when this change goes into effect, a new standalone VMRC is being introduced to preempt the upcoming change and provides a new way of  launching a VM console using the vSphere Web Client as seen in the screenshot below.

vmrc
To be able to open a VM Console using the new standalone VMRC, you will of course need to have it installed first. You can find the link to the download on VMware.com but there is also a direct link provided on the VM Summary page in the vSphere Web Client. In addition to the new standalone VMRC, you will still be able to use the existing method as well as the HTML5 based VM console. The HTML5 console continues to work if you do not have CIP (Client Integration Package) installed on your Windows system or if you are running on a Mac OS X system. I am sure many of you are probably asking when will there be Mac OS X version of VMRC? I know I definitely am 🙂 The good news is that this is being worked on and hopefully we will see a Mac OS X version in the very near future.

Furthermore, the new standalone VMRC also includes some nice enhancements that I know some of you have been asking for, especially those that have used the previous standalone VMRC application. The new VMRC can now be directly launched using the following two URI methods:

vmrc://[USERNAME]@[VC]/?moid=[VM-MOREF-ID]
vmrc://clone:[VC-TICKET]@[VC]/?moid=[VM-MOREF-ID]

Here is a screenshot of the standalone VMRC application:

vmrc-0
The first method accepts basic authentication using username/password, the vCenter Server address and the VM. Here is an example of what that would look like:

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Remote Console\vmrc.exe vmrc://root@reflex.primp-industries.com/?moid=vm-37

The second method accepts a vCenter Server session ticket which you can generate by using vSphere API acquireCloneTicket() method. A quick way to test this example is by using the vSphere MOB and making a call to acquireCloneTicket using the following URL https://[VCENTER-SERVER]/mob/?moid=SessionManager&method=acquireCloneTicket and then specifying the ticket as seen in the example below.

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Remote Console\vmrc.exe vmrc://clone:cst-VCT-5244c230-f59b-75c4-f4e9-4205d1918497–tp-DF-A9-72-7B-32-15-48-44-E0-E1-01-6D-F5-DB-59-E4-AC-35-F1-DA@reflex.primp-industries.com/?moid=vm-37

With the new URI handler, you can automatically associate it with the standalone VMRC application which means you can type this into a browser or into a Windows explorer and it will automatically launch VMRC. The other nice thing about the new standalone VMRC is if you would like to reduce the complexity of getting a regular use connected to their desktop, you can easily use the standalone VMRC and dynamically generating a link for your end users to access their VMs without ever exposing them to the underlying vSphere infrastructure. I suspect there will be some really interesting use cases for the new standalone VMRC and the VMRC team will continue to iterate to make it better based on customer feedback.

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