Creating a virtual Windows workstation

This tutorial shows how to create a virtual workstation in Google Cloud that runs Windows Server 2016 and that has a virtual display. A virtual machine (VM) with a virtual display is ideal if you need to run applications that require a display device, but do not require the full power or cost of a GPU.

To create a Linux workstation, see Creating a virtual Linux workstation.

After you create the virtual workstation, you learn how to remotely access it using Teradici PC-over-IP (PCoIP), a remote desktop protocol that's widely used in industries such as media and entertainment, architectural visualization, finance, government, and healthcare. PCoIP offers features essential to workloads that require color accuracy and support for lossless display.

Objectives

  • Create a Compute Engine instance. This instance serves as the foundation for a virtual workstation.
  • Install Teradici Cloud Access Software on the virtual workstation.
  • Connect to the virtual workstation using a PCoIP software client or Zero Client, a type of hardware endpoint.

Costs

This tutorial uses the following billable components of Google Cloud:

You can use the Pricing Calculator to generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage. As of the time of writing, the approximate cost for a typical workstation configuration illustrated in this tutorial is $0.46 per hour.

The resources that make up the virtual workstation and the factors that affect cost in this tutorial are:

Internet egress represents data that streams from your virtual workstation to your local display client and is billed at internet egress rates. Variables that affect data egress during a PCoIP session are bandwidth, screen resolution, number of display monitors, applications used, and the type of activity on each monitor. The cost for the virtual workstation configuration that you create in this tutorial is based on an average usage of 10 Mbps. Teradici's Session Planning Guide can help you understand different workload requirements.

You also need a Teradici Cloud Access Software license. If you don't already have a license, you can sign up for a trial license, or contact your Teradici representative. You will be provided with a 30-day trial registration code to use for this virtual workstation.

Before you begin

This tutorial uses gcloud and gsutil commands, which you can run from a Cloud Shell instance launched from the Google Cloud Console. If you want to use gcloud and gsutil on your local workstation, install the Cloud SDK.

The tutorial shows you how to run commands in Cloud Shell; if you use the Cloud SDK on your workstation, adjust the instructions accordingly.

  1. Sign in to your Google Account.

    If you don't already have one, sign up for a new account.

  2. In the Cloud Console, on the project selector page, select or create a Cloud project.

    Go to the project selector page

  3. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Google Cloud project. Learn how to confirm billing is enabled for your project.

  4. Enable the Compute Engine API.

    Enable the API

In addition, make sure you have the following:

  • A Cloud project with quota for 4 vCPUs in your selected zone.
  • A Google Chrome browser to access the Cloud Console.
  • The Chrome RDP for Google Cloud Chrome extension for initial access to your virtual workstation.
  • A Teradici Zero Client or the latest Teradici software client for Windows, Mac, or Linux to access the virtual workstation.
  • A Teradici Cloud Access Software license. You can get a trial license as described earlier under Costs.

Architecture

The following diagram shows the components that are used in this tutorial to deploy a single virtual workstation. Optional components shown in the diagram include different ways to connect to your virtual workstation, object and shared storage, and an additional VM instance for serving third-party licenses.

Architecture of the virtual workstation infrastructure.

Creating the virtual workstation

Teradici Standard Agent, which you install on your virtual workstation later in this tutorial, requires you to enable IP forwarding and to allow HTTPS server traffic when you create the virtual workstation.

  1. Open Cloud Shell.

    Go to Cloud Shell

  2. In Cloud Shell, set the zone that you want to use later to create your virtual workstastion:

    gcloud config set compute/zone zone
    

    Replace zone with the name of the zone you're using, such as us-west2-b.

  3. Create the Compute Engine instance for the virtual workstation:

    gcloud compute instances create instance-name \
        --machine-type=machine-type \
        --enable-display-device \
        --can-ip-forward \
        --tags=https-server \
        --image-project=image-project \
        --image-family=image-family \
        --boot-disk-size=size \
        --boot-disk-type=boot-disk-type
    

    Replace the following:

    • instance-name: The name of your instance.
    • machine-type: Either a predefined machine type or a custom machine type using the format custom-number-of-cpus-number-of-mb.
    • image-project: The image project of that image family.
    • image-family: An optional flag that specifies which image family this image belongs to.
    • size. The size of the boot disk in GB.
    • boot-disk-type. Either pd-standard or pd-ssd.

    For example:

    gcloud compute instances create test-vws \
        --machine-type=n1-standard-4 \
        --enable-display-device \
        --can-ip-forward \
        --tags=https-server \
        --image-project=windows-cloud \
        --image-family=windows-2016 \
        --boot-disk-size=50 \
        --boot-disk-type=pd-standard
    

    After the virtual workstation is created, the machine status is displayed. The output is similar to the following:

    Created https://www.googleapis.com/compute/v1/projects/PROJECT/zones/ZONE/instances/test-vws.
    NAME      ZONE        MACHINE_TYPE   PREEMPTIBLE  INTERNAL_IP  EXTERNAL_IP   STATUS
    test-vws  us-west2-b  n1-standard-4               10.168.0.1   203.0.113.1  RUNNING
    

    The virtual workstation is created in your project's default VPC network. If you want to create your virtual workstation in a different VPC network, add the following flag to the command:

    --network=network
    

    Replace network with the name of the network to use.

  4. Make a note of the virtual workstation's external IP address in the listing. You will use it later in the tutorial.

    You can retrieve the external IP address of your virtual workstation at any time using the Cloud Console.

Creating a Windows password

You use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to access the Windows virtual workstation in order to install Teradici Standard Agent host software. To sign in with RDP, you need to create a Windows password for your user.

  1. Go to the Compute Engine page of the Cloud Console:

    Go to the Compute Engine page

  2. Under the Connect column of your virtual workstation instance, select Set Windows password in the list:

    Setting the Windows password in the Cloud Console.

    You are prompted to verify your username, and you see a warning about loss of access to encrypted data by resetting your password. You can ignore this warning, because this is a new disk and because there is no user data on your virtual workstation.

  3. When your Windows password is displayed, copy the password and then click Close.

    You'll use this password in the next step to sign in to your virtual workstation using the RDP client. Keep this password in a secure location.

Signing in to your virtual workstation

After you create the virtual workstation, you sign in to the machine so that you can configure it.

  1. Go to the Compute Engine page of the Cloud Console:

    Go to the Compute Engine page

  2. Click the RDP button next to your virtual workstation instance.

  3. If you haven't installed the Chrome RDP for Google Cloud extension, install it, and then click the RDP button again.

  4. When you're prompted to enter your credentials, leave the Domain field blank and enter the password you generated earlier:

    Connecting to the Windows virtual workstation and entering a password.

  5. If you see the following certificate warning, ignore it and click Continue:

    Windows connection certificate warning.

    The virtual workstation desktop appears. Wait for Windows Server Manager to finish launching before you continue to the next step. When Server Manager is ready, you see the following:

    Windows Server Manager displayed in the virtual workstation.

Configuring Internet Explorer Enhanced Security

The default Windows Server&nsbp;2016 image has default security settings that prevent you from downloading files from the internet. To download Teradici Standard Agent, you need to disable these security features.

  1. On your virtual workstation, in the left-hand side of Server Manager, click Local Server.
  2. Next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration, click On.
  3. In the dialog, turn off Enhanced Security for both Administrators and Users:

    Enhanced Security dialog.

  4. Close both the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration window and Server Manager window.

Installing Teradici Cloud Access Software

Teradici Cloud Access Software provides an agent that runs on your virtual workstation, delivering the desktop to your hardware or software client.

  1. On your virtual workstation, open Internet Explorer and download Teradici Standard Agent for Windows software.
  2. Complete the agent installation process and choose the option to run the downloaded agent executable. Follow the prompts to install the agent in the default location.

Registering Teradici Standard Agent

When the installation process is complete, you're prompted for a registration code.

  1. Enter the registration code you got from Teradici:

    Registering the Teradici code.

  2. After you've entered the registration code, reboot the Windows instance.

Creating a firewall rule

The PCoIP client communicates with your virtual workstation using several ports. You must set firewall rules that allow traffic to and from your virtual workstation.

  • In Cloud Shell (not on the virtual workstation), create a firewall rule that opens the required ports:

    gcloud compute firewall-rules create allow-teradici \
        --allow tcp:443,tcp:4172,udp:4172,tcp:60443
    

Signing in to your virtual workstation using PCoIP

  1. On your local computer, go to the PCoIP Clients section on the Teradici support page, and then download, install, and launch Teradici PCoIP Client for your operating system.
  2. Select New Connection.
  3. In the Host Address field, enter the external IP address of your virtual workstation. If you want, you can enter a name for the connection.

    Assigning an external IP address to the virtual workstation.

  4. When you've connected, authenticate by entering the username and password that you created earlier for the virtual workstation:

    Entering the username and password for accessing the virtual workstation.

  5. If you're prompted to select a desktop to run, select the one that you just created:

    Connecting to the virtual workstation.

  6. Click Connect.

    In a few seconds, you see your Windows desktop:

    Windows desktop showing in the virtual workstation.

Testing your virtual workstation

After you've deployed your virtual workstation, you can test performance and interactivity using a number of tools:

  • Install Google Chrome on the virtual workstation to browse your favorite sites or play YouTube videos.
  • Install the Teradici Session Statistics Viewer to examine bandwidth usage, latency, and other desktop streaming metrics.
  • Learn more about configuring the Teradici Standard Agent for Windows.
  • Install applications and test their behavior and performance.

Troubleshooting

This section lists issues you might encounter when you set up or connect to the workstation.

Audio does not work

Issue: You do not hear any sound from your Windows virtual workstation.

Solution: Because of how Teradici Standard Agent works, you might need to manually enable the Windows Audio Service on your instance.

  1. Sign in to the Windows instance, and then click Start > Control Panel > Hardware > Sound to open the Sound Control Panel.

    Error message showing Windows Audio Service not enabled.

  2. Click Yes. Windows verifies that the audio driver is working:

    Windows Sound dialog showing Teradici virtual audio driver.

    If sound is working, you hear sound from your Windows virtual workstation.

Unable to connect to the virtual workstation

Issue: You are using Zero Client, and you're unable to connect to your virtual workstation.

Solution: Ensure that your Zero Client has firmware version 6.1 or later installed before you connect to the virtual workstation. For more information, contact your local Teradici representative.

Cleaning up

After you've finished the tutorial, clean up the resources you created on Google Cloud so you won't be billed for them in the future.

Stopping your virtual workstation

Stopped virtual workstations incur costs for persistent disk usage, but they can be restarted at any time. To stop your virtual workstation, run the following command in Cloud Shell:

gcloud compute instances stop test-vws

Delete the project

  1. In the Cloud Console, go to the Manage resources page.

    Go to the Manage resources page

  2. In the project list, select the project that you want to delete and then click Delete .
  3. In the dialog, type the project ID and then click Shut down to delete the project.

Delete all the components

  1. Delete the virtual workstation.
  2. Delete the firewall rule.

What's next