I recently ran into an issue when deploying virtual desktops out to some of our end users. VMware states that printers should “just work” using the thin print drivers included with the VMware View agent. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. This is especially true when using multifunction printers. Some would ask, why not just let the end users install the drivers? Well in my environment, the non-persistent linked clones refresh after every log off. The only things captured at log off is a users persona data – such as pinned programs, documents, desktop background, etc. Installing the printer drivers every time a user logs on to a different VM is definitely not a viable option.

So – what’s the best course of action? I find that installing the device drivers for any possible printer that may be plugged into one of your virtual desktops is the best course of action. That is, install the device drivers on your “gold image.” Sounds like a lot of work, but it isn’t terribly difficult!

Microsoft has a great utility called pnputil.exe built right into Windows 7. We’re going to use this utility to import and install the drivers into the trusted driver store within Windows.

Here are the steps:

  • Download the drivers for any device you need to install – printers, scanners, faxes, etc. Be sure to download the device drivers for the correct version of Windows you are running – 32-bit or 64-bit.
  • Save these drivers somewhere on your gold image where you can unzip them and access them easily. I chose the desktop.
  • Open up a command prompt as Administrator.
  • Run the following command:
  • pnputil.exe -i -a C:\temp\myprintdriver.inf

  • Of course be sure you change the C:\temp location to the actual location where you have unzipped the print drivers.

That’s it! Just run that command for every printer that any end user may plug into their zero client. Then re-compose your desktop pools with this updated image. The print drivers will then be installed by default in all of your non-persistent linked clones. All of your printers will be plug and play and just work!

If you have any questions feel free to post below! Microsoft has a nice KB article about pnputil.exe. If you would like to read more about this utility you can find that information here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff800798.aspx