Monday, September 16, 2013

Browser Optimization for VMware View 5.x for End User Computing Environment

If you are new to this topic then I advice you to please first refer VMware Horizon View Optimization Guide first and then also note that I don't work for mozilla or firefox browser. :)
Following are the view implementations that you want to have on your base image. This Will greatly save on bandwidth of the browser, my estimation is atleast 20% but hey you are the one who will run a benchmark and will let me know the results...
  • Use AdBlock Plus addon and place the icon in the traybar of the firefox in case users want to add some exceptions. Disable non intrusive ads too since adblock accepts payment from bigwigs like google to be added to their non intrusive ad list which appear during search. So on every search you are saving around 20% of the bandwidth used to display that webpage. Use all the following features except typo protection.
    https://adblockplus.org/en/features
  • Use AdBlock Element Hider add on and inform users on how to use it if you can pull this off.
  • Install flashblock add on which will block all the flash on a page and displays an icon instead upon clicking that alone you can make the flash load. It will be useful on almost every site where users visit that site for something else and they care less about the flash ads or animation or promotions on it.
  • Install Black Youtube Theme if your business is into content creation or users need to access youtube some or all the time. It will help their eyes and also since the background is going to be black (only for black color the pixels of a monitor are turned off ) so now the youtube page layout itself will save you atleast 50% of the bandwidth (not the video of course).
  • Leave the default behavior of the firefox to download pdf unchanged rather than opening them in the browser itself since after reading the pdf if the users want to download it then it may have to re download the pdf from the website to the desktop all over again inspite of it being available in the browser already.
    Users may not like their pdfs being downloaded to a directory and then they having to go there to open it everytime. You can circumvent this by making the firefox to open the pdfs in adobe reader when they click on a pdf file.
  • Enable or Disable hardware acceleration in the browser based on your preference. I would disable it by default if the users daily task doesnt involve too much of multimedia task on the web itself. The difference is negligible but still very efficient.
  • Brain-Hack Of Firefox :
    In the address bar "about:config" and enter the world of firefox interiors.
    browser.tabs.animate => False
    network.http.pipelining => True
    network.http.proxy.pipelining => True
    network.http.pipelining.maxrequests => 8
    network.dns.disableIPv6 => True
    content.notify.backoffcount => 5
    config.trim_on_minimize => True
    plugin.expose_full_path => True
    ui.submenuDelay => 0
    javascript.options.jit.chrome => True
    javascript.options.jit.content => True
    browser.download.manager.scanWhenDone => False
    If you are interested to now what all this will do (well as an admin you should be interested to know) then please refer the following.
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/About:config_entries
After going through the article please don't blame if I recommend you to make the firefox as the default browser since it will let you customize in a way that best suits your business or personal needs to give you a most efficient usage of your bandwidth by a browser and if you are using html blast or planning to use, then I must say you should give it a try.
If you think your job is done here, hey there are always areas of improvement and you want to make sure that your users dont get prompts about updates of addons, browser and other configs that you have changed or added. So, please go through https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-stop-firefox-automatically-making-connections and trust me it will be worth it. You might want to stop all these updates and want to do it only when you refresh, recompose a desktop and that makes sense too since in cases of persistent desktops the user's addons on his browser might get updated where as the parent VM's firefox addons are still the same and here you might start to see 2 different destinations of bandwidth consumption since adblock ver.x might send a page to the user's desktop with certain ads blocked but the updated adblock add on on the user's desktop might want to block an additional add too.
The best thing would be to install firefox on your desktop/laptop or whatever that you are using and do all these changes and see how it goes with your business applications and sites. If needed make certain changes and when you feel like a king of the firefox customization and configuration or get some confidence then you can implement it in a view environment. Just imagine an IE sending a webpage as it is to the user from your parent VM and a firefox sending the same webpage with ads, trackers, flash blocked (not removed) and all those great about:config optimization; you will definitely save on some bandwidth. You may also look at many other addons to optimize it further like 'no script security suite' which blocks all the untrusted scripts from a webpage. You can preconfigure your parent VM browser addons to exclude your business webapps or other websites which may seem necessary.