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  • Writer's pictureChris Keim

ThinKiosk - Turn Your Old Hardware into a Windows Thin Device for Free!

During all my VDI roll-outs, at the end of building the infrastructure and training the customer with client deployment techniques, there is always the question on how to make create the best endpoint experience for the user.  There are several different ways of course, depending on what functionality the end-user needs.  But, in regards to your basic task worker, where all they need is a connection to their virtual desktop, and they want to utilize their current endpoint devices, I usually would recommend a homebrew solution that I created. My solution involved setting up Internet Explorer in kiosk mode and setting that to the user interface instead of explorer.exe and a list of registry/group policy modifications that limit what the end-user can do on their endpoint and give them access to their virtual desktop.  My solution was OK at best for customers who wanted a free solution and did not want to go the Linux route as this had several disadvantages as well.

Now, some very smart person named Andrew Morgan created an application that is meant to replace the default shell explorer.exe  This new shell brings the user straight to the Citrix Web Interface for login to access their virtual desktop.  The reasons why I am very impressed with this shell:

  • Session and power state control - Restart, Shutdown, Logoff

  • User session options - Display settings, Keyboard settings, Mouse settings, Volume settings

  • Administrator options

This gives users the basic control necessary for a positive end-user experience, without giving them unneeded access.  A nice feature of what feature is displayed to the user either by Group Policy or registry editing.  Below is how I setup ThinKiosk:

  1. Created a new VM to gain a better vantage of a typical customer aging endpoint device - Windows XP x86, 512MB RAM, 10GB hard drive

  2. After I logged into the VM for the first time, I installed the following - Internet Explorer 8, Adobe Flash Player, Citrix Receiver, ThinKiosk

  3. Create a user and set that user to auto-login - In a command prompt type "Control userpasswords2", Complete the autologin configuration

  4. I then modified the shell for the auto-login user account to point to ThinKiosk.exe - Navigate to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon, Created a new string named "Shell", Set the data value to "C:\Program Files\ThinKiosk\ThinKiosk.exe", You can also set this through Group Policy -

  5. Created the following registry keys (you can create these through Group Policy Preferences). Create the following key: HKCU\Software\ThinKiosk. Create a new value Name = "URL", Type = REG_SZ, Value = the URL to your Citrix Web Interface. Create a new value Name = "SHOWADMINMENU", Type = REG_DWORD, Value = 1 or 0. Create a new value Name = "SHOWLOGOFF", Type = REG_DWORD, Value = 1 or 0. Create a new value Name = "WINDOWMODE", Type = REG_DWORD, Value = 1 or 0. Create a new value Name = "WINDOWMODEPERCENT", Type = REG_SZ, Value = 1 or 0. The above settings can also be made through group policy, in which there is an ADM file that you can download from the ThinKiosk site.

  6. Configure the following group policy settings - Local Computer Policy\User Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Ctrl+Alt+Del Options - Remove change password - Enabled, Remote lock computer - Enabled, Remote task manager - Enabled.

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