Last week Damion (a student on a vSphere course) mentioned an issue with the View Client. His client is a secondary school and uses View to provide a secured desktop to students. The View desktop is well controlled and locked down, as you’d expect for a school. One of the school policies is to control access to social networking sites, without this control students would spend all their time on Facebook and never complete their assigned work. There is an ongoing cat and mouse game between the students at the school and the IT department, as fast as one hole is closed the students find or make a new one. I know from my own children how important Facebook access is to teenagers. On a side note you have to admire the creativity of a young mind and I was surprised that it tended to be the girls who came up with the most complicated exploits to get to Facebook.
One hole that Damion hasn’t yet properly plugged is with the re-purposed PCs. These Windows PCs were re-used as View clients, locked down to launch only the View client when they are started. Re-purposed PCs are a common way to defer the cost of buying thin clients into subsequent years or avoid it altogether. The issue here is that the View client’s help button and help menu launches the system default web browser to access the help web page. Students quickly learned to use this to get access to Facebook. Damion wasn’t the first to find out about the issue, there’s a VMware communities thread about the issue in the View 4.6 client as well as an older thread relating to the View 4.0 client which talks about hacking a dll to remove the button. There has to be a better solution, one that doesn’t compromise the supportability of the View Client.
My solution is a little Visual Basic 6 application called NoBrowser.exe that can launch in place of the default browser. The application can display a help test file or, if the file doesn’t exist, silently close. Being written in VB6 it doesn’t need any runtime libraries and is very small. There is an installer that sets the one registry entry required to make NoBrowser launch in place of a web browser, NoBrowser resets this registry entry every time it’s run.
NoBrowser is provided free to use with no warranty or support, use it for your own benefit and at your own risk. If there are improvements you’d like to see then please email me and I’ll see whether I can help. If you use NoBrowser please comment this post, let me know the effort was worthwhile.
NoBrowserSetup can be downloaded from here.
© 2011, Alastair. All rights reserved.