Streaming Non-Persistent Virtual Desktops with Amazon AppStream 2.0 – Create the Stack!

To this point in our AppStream deployment, we’ve created an image and built a streaming instance fleet. In this post, we’ll cover the steps necessary to create the AppStream stack, assign users, and test access.

Remember from the first post that a stack is the means by which streamed desktops and applications are made available to users. A stack is connected to a fleet and then assigned to users. In addition to user assignment, stacks allow you to setup certain experience settings such as application settings persistence, and to enable/disable items such as the clipboard, file transfer, and printing to a local device.

Create the Stack

  1. Login to the AWS Management Console and launch the AppStream service dashboard. Click Stacks | Create Stack

2. On the Stack Details page, specify the following and click Next

  • Name
  • Display Name
  • Description
  • Fleet – select the fleet to associate with the stack
  • Add relevant Tags

3. On the Enable Storage page, you can enable S3 for use as a home folder for persistent storage of user files. You can also integrate AppStream with Google Drive for G Suite and OneDrive for Business. In this example, S3 is enabled by checking the Enable Home Folders option. The S3 bucket is created automatically. Click Next to continue.

4. The User Settings page has several options to configure. Make your choices and click Review to continue.

  • Clipboard, file transfer, print to local device, and authentication permissions
    • Use these settings to control how the user can interact between their local device and resources and AppStream. If you must disable the clipboard, file transfer, or print to local device for security reasons, you can accomplish that here. These options are enabled by default.
    • The Active Directory options are more relevant should the AppStream instance be joined to an AD domain (not the case in this example). What’s odd perhaps is that even if you are not joining your streaming instances to a domain, one of the AD options must be enabled to continue….
  • Application settings persistence
    • Enable application settings persistence – enable this option to save user application and Windows profile settings to an S3 bucket. The settings are saved at logoff and applied at logon.
    • Settings group – this is a setting you need to pay attention to. If a user has access to multiple stacks, is running a Windows OS version supporting the same profile version, AND you want the same application settings to persist between stacks, the Settings group setting of those stacks must match. If you deployed multiple Windows 2019-based Stacks and wanted the application settings to persist between those stacks, you may create a Settings group called “Windows2019” as shown below. The Settings group defaults to the stack name and is an option easy to overlook.

5. On the Review page, verify the settings are correct and click Create.

6. When the Status of the Stack reads Active, it can be assigned to users.

Create a User and Assign a Stack

In the next post, we’ll integrate AppStream with Okta but here, we’re going to first step through the creation of an AppStream User Pool.

7. To create a user within the AppStream service dashboard, click User Pool | Create User

8. On the Create User page, enter the users Email, and then First and Last name. Click Create User.

9. Once the user is created, select the user and then click Actions | Assign stack

10. On the Assign stack page, select the Stack that the user should access and click Assign stack.

11. Shown below is an example of the email the user will receive assuming the Send email notification to user option is selected. The link will get you to the AppStream login URL as well as providing the user with a temporary password. After logging in with the temporary password, the user will be prompted to change it.

Streaming Applications

12. Once the credentials are entered, the user will see the resources that have been published through the stack. In this example, we published a desktop, thus we see the Command Prompt application that had to be published as well as the Desktop icon.

In this case, because we chose “Desktop” as the Stream View, a full desktop will launch regardless of which icon is used to start the streaming session.

13. Because our fleet was configured as an “On-Demand” fleet type, we’ll have to wait up to a couple minutes for our instance to be available.

14. Use the applications available on the desktop…..notice the CMD Prompt text is green as that’s what we set using the Template user as we built the image. You can also change application settings to test application persistence.

15. To terminate the streaming session, go to the top right corner of the screen, click the username and then Logout. Click Logout again to confirm you want to end the streaming session.

Next Steps

Now you know the basics of Amazon AppStream. We’ve covered creating an Image, building a Fleet, and creating a stack. On the next post, we’ll look at integrating AppStream and Okta and I’d like to dig into integrating AppStream and Liquidware though that one may take some time to map out and post. I hope these first few posts have helped you understand the basics of AppStream and how it can enable you to address some business challenges.

Stay tuned for more and thanks for reading!

P.S.

You may find this links helpful as you explore AppStream:

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