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Automatically Returning to a Snapshot with a Restricted User Interface

You can combine a restricted user interface with a snapshot to ensure that users' virtual machines always start in the same state. Typically, users running a virtual machine with a restricted user interface can power it on and off only, and the virtual machine boots when powered on. When the virtual machine has a snapshot set and is configured to return to that snapshot when powered off, the user can only start and power off the virtual machine. The virtual machine always starts from the snapshot.

Since you can restrict the user interface only on Windows hosts, this combination works only with virtual machines running on Windows hosts.

To set up a virtual machine with restricted user interface and a snapshot as described above, take the following steps:

1. Power on the virtual machine and be sure it is in the state you want, then take the snapshot.

2. Configure the virtual machine to return to the snapshot any time it is powered off. To do so, choose VM > Settings > Options > Snapshots and select After powering off and Revert to snapshot.

3. With the virtual machine powered off, restrict the user interface. Close the VMware Workstation window, then open the virtual machine's configuration file (.vmx file) in Notepad or another text editor. Add the following line anywhere in the file.
gui.restricted = "true"

4. You may wish to set file permissions on the configuration file to give normal users of the system only read access to the file, so they cannot manually modify the configuration.

5. For the convenience of users, create a shortcut to the configuration file on the desktop and give it an appropriate name.

The user runs this virtual machine by double-clicking the shortcut to the configuration file. The virtual machine starts at the snapshot, with the user interface restricted — with no toolbar and no access to the Power menu or the virtual machine settings editor.

When the user is finished working with this virtual machine, he or she closes it by choosing File > Close. The virtual machine powers off, and the next time a user powers it on, it returns to the snapshot.

To remove the restriction on the interface, take the following steps.

1. Power off the virtual machine and close the VMware Workstation window.

2. Open the configuration file (.vmx) file and do one of the following:

  • Set gui.restricted = "false".
  • Remove or comment out the gui.restricted = "true" line.
  • Save the changes to the configuration file and close it.

    3. Start the virtual machine by double-clicking the shortcut. The virtual machine starts at the snapshot, and the interface is not restricted.

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