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Using Full Screen Switch Mode

Using Full Screen Switch Mode

Full screen switch mode is a run-time option for the VMware Workstation program. When VMware Workstation is running in full screen switch mode, the user has no access to the VMware Workstation user interface. The user cannot create, reconfigure or launch virtual machines. A system administrator performs these functions.

When VMware Workstation is running in full screen switch mode, one or more virtual machines may be running and you can use hot keys to switch from one to another. You may also provide hot key access to the host operating system.

Creating a Virtual Machine for Use in Full Screen Switch Mode

Creating a Virtual Machine for Use in Full Screen Switch Mode

To create new virtual machines, you must run VMware Workstation in standard mode. The instructions in this section assume that you are creating the virtual machines on a separate administrative computer. However you may, if you prefer, create the virtual machines directly on the user's computer.

Create the new virtual machine following the instructions in Creating a New Virtual Machine. Be sure to make the following choices:

  • In step 6, select Custom to perform a custom installation.
  • In step 8, make a note of the folder in which you create the virtual machine. You must copy all the files in this folder to the user's computer after you finish creating and configuring the virtual machine.
  • In step 12, specify the desired size for the virtual disk and select Allocate all disk space now. This selection is not required, but it is strongly recommended. If you do not make this selection and the host computer's hard disk runs out of space for a growing virtual disk file, the user sees no warning message and does not know what is causing the problem in the virtual machine.

Make all needed configuration settings before you configure the user's computer to launch VMware Workstation when the computer starts. You cannot change virtual machine settings using the virtual machine settings editor when VMware Workstation is running in full screen switch mode. You may find it most convenient to finish configuring the virtual machine and to install the guest operating system and application software before you move the virtual machine to the user's computer.

Moving a Virtual Machine to the User's Computer

Moving a Virtual Machine to the User's Computer

The easiest way to move the virtual machine to the user's computer is to use a network connection to copy all the files in the virtual machine directory to a directory on the user's computer. You may also move it using a DVD or other removable media large enough to store the files.

Each virtual machine should be in its own directory.

Setting Configuration Options on the User's Computer

Setting Configuration Options on the User's Computer

Global configuration settings are made in the VMware Workstation global configuration file, created by default as C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Workstation\config.ini. You can edit this file with a text editor. You should set permissions on this file so the user cannot change it.

Local configuration settings are made in the configuration file for a particular virtual machine. The local configuration file is in the virtual machine's directory; the filename has a .vmx extension.

The format for an entry in either configuration file is

option = "value"

Entries in the configuration files can appear in any order.

The hot key entries described in this section require you to enter a virtual key code as part of the value for an option. Virtual key codes are entered in hexadecimal format — as a hexadecimal number preceded by 0x. For example, to use the virtual key code of 5A as a value, type 0x5A.

Microsoft provides a reference list of virtual key codes on the MSDN Web site. At the time this manual was written, the reference list was at msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/winui/WinUI/WindowsUserInterface/UserInput/VirtualKeyCodes.asp.

The hot key entries also include modifier keys. The modifier keys are Ctrl, Alt and Shift, or a combination of those keys.

 Modifier key
 Value
 No modifier
 0x0
 Alt
 0x1
 Ctrl
 0x2
 Shift
 0x4
 Ctrl-Alt
 0x3
 Alt-Shift
 0x5
 Ctrl-Shift
 0x6
 Ctrl-Alt-Shift
 0x7

When listing a key plus a modifier, type the virtual key code for the key followed by a comma, then type the value for the modifier key or keys. For example, the value entry for Ctrl-Shift-F1 is 0x70,0x6.

Note: Keep the following limitations in mind when defining cycle keys and switch keys:

  • Do not use the Pause key with the Ctrl key. You may use the Pause key with other modifier keys.
  • If you use F12, you must use one or more modifier keys. You cannot use F12 alone.
  • You cannot use combinations that include only the Shift, Ctrl and Alt keys. These keys may be used only as modifiers in combination with some other key.
Hot Key for Cycling Through Virtual Machines and the Host Computer

Hot Key for Cycling Through Virtual Machines and the Host Computer

You can specify a hot key or hot key combination for cycling through the available virtual machines on a host computer. Each time you press the specified hot key, the screen displays the next virtual machine in order. You may also include the host operating system in the cycle.

If any particular virtual machine is not running, it is skipped.

If only one virtual machine is running and the host operating system is not included in the cycle, pressing the hot key has no effect.

The hot key for cycling through virtual machines is defined in the global configuration file (config.ini).

Two options control cycling.

FullScreenSwitch.cycleKey
The value of this option defines the hot key. It is specified as <key>,<modifier>. There is no default.

For example, to use the Pause key with no modifier to cycle through virtual machines, add the following line to the config.ini file, or modify its value if the option is already listed.

FullScreenSwitch.cycleKey = "0x13,0x0"

FullScreenSwitch.cycleHost
The value of this option determines whether the host operating system is included in the cycle. Possible values are true and false. The default value is false.

For example, to include the host operating system in the cycle, add the following line to the config.ini file, or modify its value if the option is already listed:

FullScreenSwitch.cycleHost = "TRUE"

Hot Keys for Switching Directly to Virtual Machines and the Host Computer

Hot Keys for Switching Directly to Virtual Machines and the Host Computer

You can specify a hot key or hot key combination for switching directly to any available virtual machine on a host computer. Each time you press the specified hot key, the screen display switches to that of the specified virtual machine. You may also specify a hot key for switching directly to the host operating system.

If any particular virtual machine is not running, pressing the hot key for that virtual machine has no effect.

You define the hot key used to switch to a virtual machine by adding a line to the target virtual machine's configuration (.vmx) file. The value of this option defines the hot key. It is specified as <key>,<modifier>. There is no default.

For example, to use Ctrl-Shift-F1 to switch to a particular virtual machine, add the following line to that virtual machine's .vmx file, or modify its value if the option is already listed.

FullScreenSwitch.directKey = "0x70,0x6"

You define the hot key used to switch to the host operating system by adding a line to the global configuration file (config.ini). The value of this option defines the hot key. It is specified as <key>,<modifier>. There is no default.

For example, to use Ctrl-Shift-F9 to switch to the host operating system, add the following line to the config.ini file, or modify its value if the option is already listed.

FullScreenSwitch.hostDirectKey = "0x78,0x6"

Other Entries in the Global Configuration File

Other Entries in the Global Configuration File

The following entries in the global configuration file (config.ini) are optional. They enable you to control certain functions of the virtual machine that are important in work environments where virtual machines need to be isolated from each other and from the host computer.

Isolation.tools.copy.enable
The value of this option determines whether data in one virtual machine or the host operating system can be copied in a way that allows it to be transferred to another virtual machine or to the host operating system. Possible values are true (such copying is allowed) and false (such copying is not allowed). The default value is true. The setting for this option should be the same as the setting for Isolation.tools.paste.enable (below).

Isolation.tools.paste.enable
The value of this option determines whether data copied in one virtual machine or the host operating system can be pasted into another virtual machine or the host operating system. Possible values are true (such pasting is allowed) and false (such pasting is not allowed). The default value is true. The setting for this option should be the same as the setting for Isolation.tools.copy.enable (above).

Isolation.tools.HGFS.disable
The value of this option determines whether virtual machines can be configured with shared folders, for sharing files among virtual machines and with the host computer. Possible values are true (shared folders are disabled) and false (shared folders are enabled). The default value is false.

The following entries are required in the global configuration file (config.ini) and must not be changed:

mks.ctlAltDel.ignore = "TRUE"

mks.fullscreen.allowScreenSaver = "TRUE"

fullScreenSwitch.onSeparateDesktop = "TRUE"

msg.autoAnswer = "TRUE"

Starting and Stopping Virtual Machines on the User's Computer

Starting and Stopping Virtual Machines on the User's Computer

Use the vmware-fullscreen command to run VMware Workstation in full screen switch mode and to start and stop virtual machines on a user's computer. The command can pass certain information to the virtual machine when it starts.

As administrator, you must decide how to issue the command. For example, you may use a custom application or script running on the host operating system to issue one or more vmware-fullscreen commands. Or you can include the command to start a virtual machine in a shortcut in the host operating system's startup group, so the virtual machine starts automatically when the user logs on to the host computer.

The vmware-fullscreen command must be issued once for each virtual machine you want to start or stop.

vmware-fullscreen -poweron [-s variable=value]
[-name=<alias>] [-directkey=<keyspec>] [-fullscreen]
"<config-file>"
When you use the optional switches shown here, the -poweron switch is required and must be the first switch after the vmware-fullscreen command. Provide the full path to the virtual machine's configuration (.vmx) file at the end of the command line. The complete command must be entered on one line.

Use the -s switch to pass a variable name and value to be used in configuring the virtual machine. You may include multiple variable=value pairs in the command. Each variable=value pair must be preceded by -s.

Use -name=<alias> to give a name to the virtual machine. You can the use that alias in -switchto and -poweroff commands.

Use -directkey=<keyspec> to specify the virtual machine's direct-switch key. If a direct-switch key is specified in the virtual machine's configuration file, the one specified on the command line overrides the one in the configuration file.

For example, to start a virtual machine and specify that its direct-switch key combination is Ctrl-Shift-F1, use the following command:

vmware-fullscreen -poweron -directkey=0x70,0x6 "<config-file>"

The complete command must be entered on one line.

Use -fullscreen to start a virtual machine and go straight to full screen switch mode. The virtual machine takes over the display immediately, instead of running invisibly until the user switches to it later.

Starting a Virtual Machine

Starting a Virtual Machine

vmware-fullscreen -poweron "<config-file>"
Use this command to power on the virtual machine without passing any additional information to the virtual machine. Provide the full path to the virtual machine's configuration (.vmx) file.

The user sees no immediate indication that the virtual machine has started, but the user can switch to the virtual machine with its direct-switch key or with the cycle key.

Stopping a Virtual Machine

Stopping a Virtual Machine

vmware-fullscreen -poweroff "<config-file>"
vmware-fullscreen -poweroff <alias>
Use this command to shut down the specified virtual machine. You can specify the path to the configuration (.vmx) file, or you can specify the alias if you used -name= when you started the virtual machine.

Stopping All Virtual Machines

Stopping All Virtual Machines

vmware-fullscreen -exit
Use this command to power off all virtual machines cleanly. VMware Workstation exits as soon as all the virtual machines have powered off.

Switching Among Virtual Machines and the Host

Switching Among Virtual Machines and the Host

vmware-fullscreen -switchto "<config-file>"
vmware-fullscreen -switchto <alias>
vmware-fullscreen -switchto host
vmware-fullscreen -switchto next
Use this command to switch to the specified virtual machine, to the host operating system, or to the next machine (virtual machine or host) in the cycling order. A virtual machine must already be powered on before you can switch to it. When specifying a virtual machine, you can specify the path to the configuration (.vmx) file, or you can specify the alias if you used -name= when you started the virtual machine.

Checking the Status of VMware Workstation

Checking the Status of VMware Workstation

vmware-fullscreen -query
This command tells you if VMware Workstation is already running in full screen switch mode. If it is, the response to this command also reports its process ID and window handle.

The vmware-fullscreen Log File

The vmware-fullscreen Log File

The vmware-fullscreen program writes to a log file. This log file records errors reported by vmware-fullscreen itself as it starts, stops and passes other commands to VMware Workstation. It is separate from the vmware.log file, which stores information on the running virtual machines.

The name of the vmware-fullscreen log file is vmware-<username>-<pid>.log. By default, the vmware-fullscreen log file is in the temp directory for the user logged on to the host computer. This location may be specified in the TEMP environment variable; by default, the location is C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp.

The administrator can specify a different location for this log file by adding the following line to the VMware Workstation global configuration file (config.ini):

fullScreenSwitch.log.filename="<path>"

It is best to use a full path. If you use a relative path, the location is relative to the directory that is active when the vmware-fullscreen command is issued for the first time after the host computer reboots.

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