VMware Horizon – Install and Setup Desktop Recording Server & Agent

Release date: October 4th 2021

Welcome to my VMware Horizon series. In this sub-section I will describe how I installed and configured the VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Server and Agent. VMware’s official documentation about this feature is available here: Using VMware Horizon Desktop Recording. This feature was previously a Fling but has now been incorporated with VMware Horizon and is available for download from VMware Customer Connect. To setup this feature I have identified the following tasks that has to be completed:

  • Install VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Server
  • Change the default Administrator password
  • Adjust storage location
  • Configure LDAP and domain user permissions
  • Replace self-signed certificate with AD CA signed certificate
  • Install VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Agent
  • Testing

Install VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Server

Before I start my installation, I adhere to the the following prerequisites for my Desktop Recording server:

First, I create a VM, install a domain joined MS Windows server. I give the server a static IPv4 address and log on with a user that has local administrative permissions. I finally download the installation media and launch the setup wizard, Next…

Accept the License Agreement, Next…

The default destination folder looks good, Next…

Don’t wan’t to change anything, Install…

The installation is now finished. As we can see, the installation created a default password for the Administrator user, this I will be changing below, Finish…

Configuration

To start the configuration, I log into my server, launch a browser and open the Administrator GUI: https://localhost:9443 I log in with the default Administrator password provided by the installer above: “Recording123

Change default Administrator password

From the Administrator drop-down box I select “Service Settings“. I start out by changing the Local Administrator Account’s password and adhere to the password requirements.

Change storage location

During the installation above, I didn’t have the ability to specify a separate file location for my recordings. I wanted these to be put on my D:\ partition, therefore I will change this below. I start by selecting “Service Settings” from the Administrator drop-down box.

Under “Server Settings”, I click “EDIT DEPLOYMENT“…

The Horizon Session Recording Setup wizard launches, Next…

Configure manually, Next…

I will leave the Database setup as is, Next…

Under “Storage Location” I specify my custom location, click TEST PATH, Next…

SAVE CONFIGURATION…

Configure LDAP

As it is quite simple to integrate the VMware Horizon Desktop Recording server with MS Active Directory using LDAP, I will be doing this. I have created two user groups for this purpose, one Administrative group and one Viewers group. To connect to my MS Active Directory I use my LDAP Bind user and define the necessary info below, I click “TEST CONFIGURATION” to verify that there aren’t any typos. Once done, SAVE…

To find the correct LDAP Search base, I use the following commands:

Find a User Base DN:
dsquery user -name <known username>
   Example: dsquery user -name "Horizon LDAP"
   Result: CN=Horizon LDAP,OU=Service-Accounts,OU=Horizon,DC=ad,DC=admin,DC=frelab,DC=net

Find a Group Base DN:
dsquery group -name <known group name>
   Example: dsquery group -name "Horizon Recording Server Viewers"
   Result: CN=Horizon Recording Server Viewers,OU=Groups,OU=Horizon,DC=ad,DC=admin,DC=frelab,DC=net

Open Windows Firewall Port

I will need to open TCP 9443 in order to allow communications from the Desktop Recording Agents. Therefore I create a rule to allow this in Windows Firewall MMC. I also make sure this port is open in the firewall between the Desktop Recording Agents and the Desktop Recording Server.

Replace self-signed certificate

The VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Server comes with a self-signed certificate when you install it. This is quite easy to change to a Domain CA signed certificate. As I already have a template which I used with my VMware Connection servers, I will be reusing this for the recording server. The documentation from VMware is informative about the certificate replacing procedure. Below I will show how I did this in my setup.

As we can see the self-signed certificate causes errors when trying to reach the server URL. I run “certlm.msc” and rename the self-signed certificate.

Next, I launch the “Request New Certificate” wizard…

I configure the certificate with Common Name and DNS info. I also provide the Friendly Name: “HorizonSessionRecordingServer”

Once done, I click Enroll and Finish…

I now have my AD CA signed certificate in place with the correct friendly name. I restart the “VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Server” service and verify that URL is resolvable without certificate errors. When I look at the certificate more closely, I verify that it is in perfect working order.

Install VMware Desktop Recording Agent

Before I start the installation of the Desktop Recording Agent, I review the prerequisites and make sure I adhere to these

Manual installation

To do a manual Desktop Recording Agent installation, I first download the executable from MyVMware. Next, I launch the VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Agent Setup Wizard, Next…

I accept the License Agreement , Next…

The proposed destination folder looks good, Next…

I enter the Server Address, Username and Password. As this will be a VMware Horizon template vm, I select “This machine is a template“, before I click “Register

I click Install and Finish to complete the installation

Deploy using MDT

As I no longer do manual maintenance of my VMware Horizon templates, I will add the VMware Horizon Desktop Recording Agent to my WDS/MDT setup, as a silent install application and add this to my task sequences, as show below.

Command line:

HorizonDesktopRecordingAgent-1.0.14.exe /qb SERVERADDRESSPROP=https://hz-rec-01.ad.admin.frelab.net:9443

As the VMware Desktop Recording Agent needs the Horizon Agent to be installed beforehand, I put the installation after the Horizon Agent in my task sequence.

That concludes this session about VMware Horizon Desktop Recording feature. Although I’m a little in doubt about the actual usefulness of this for many of my customers, it is nice to have done the setup in my Lab. I hope this is useful for those of you out there that are wondering about how to setup this.

Using VMware Horizon 2106 Desktop Recording

VMware Horizon planning, deployment etc.

Disclaimer: Every tips/tricks/posting I have published here, is tried and tested in different it-solutions. It is not guaranteed to work everywhere, but is meant as a tip for other users out there. Remember, Google is your friend and don’t be afraid to steal with pride! Feel free to comment below as needed.

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