Browser support for the OxCloud vCloud director console.

Firstly we need to be clear, pretty much any browser will work with the general cloud interface, assuming it supports flash and Java. The problems start when we get to opening the console of a vApp or VM.

This console uses a version of the VMware console plugin that has been supplied for the web interface for vSphere for a while now. It comes in two flavours – a Windows executable and a Linux version. Underneath all this though it’s a Java and flash application with all the joy that brings.

A summary of our findings is shown in the table below, we’d tried to test more recent browsers than are listed by VMware.  Where things are listed as not working this typically means that they either have never worked for us , or are so unreliable that we would not consider using them.

OS Browser Supported ? Tested ? Works ?
Windows XP – 32bit IE7 Yes Yes Yes
IE8 Yes Yes Yes
FireFox 10 Yes Yes Yes
Windows 7 – 32bit IE8 Yes Yes Yes
IE9 Yes Yes Yes
FireFox 10 Yes Yes Yes
Windows XP – 64bit IE7 Yes* Yes Yes
IE8 Yes* Yes Yes
FireFox 10 Yes* Yes Yes
Windows 7 – 64bit IE8 Yes* Yes No
IE9 Yes* Yes No
FireFox 10 Yes* Yes No
Centos 6.3 – 32 bit FireFox 11 No Yes Yes
FireFox 13 No Yes Yes
Ubuntu 11.10 – 32 bit FireFox 15 No Yes Yes

*32 bit version only supported.

The official line :

VMware knowledge-base article

When 32 is greater than 64!

Officially the console is only supported with 32bit browsers, even on 64 bit OS’s. Unofficially your milage may vary, which is a phrase I’ll be using a fair bit when talking about this topic.

On Windows 32bit, IE upto and including IE9 and Firefox up to and including 10.01 work fairly reliably, however Firefox can produce an interesting side effect whereby it only works in full screen mode, especially on versions after 10. OnWindows 64bit  most of the time we have had problems, typically consoles not connecting. We have also found that connecting a console from a 32bit systems whilst a 64 bit is connected can “wake up” the 64bit console connection, at which point this will work until it is disconnected.

This seems to vary from update to update, so recently, people in the office who had working installs were cursing the update to Firefox 13 which meant that only full screen mode worked., even on 32 bit Windows. Hopefully a future update will fix this, but in this time of auto-updating web browsers against vulnerabilities, it would be nice to see a more stable interface.

VMware tools and the console.

VMware tools play an increasing role in cloud director, as they are the mechanism by which vApp guest customisation happens, enabling IP reconfiguration and the like. However another area of weakness for the console, especially for linux guests seems to be the VMware  tools integration.  Even with the latest tools installed and running, its often the case that this has no effect on the console, leaving the user with a very small useable screen area and no support for mouse swapping between windows. I’ll be investigating this further and reporting back in a future post

The good news is that browser support has improved a little in the latest release. Watch our blog for more information when we upgrade.


UPDATE : April 2013

We’ve had reports that recent versions of Firefox ESR (version 17.0.x) also only work if you full screen the console. This certainly seems to be the case on a short test within the team.

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