Virtual Desktop Environment (VDI)



Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) refers to the process of running a user desktop inside a virtual machine that lives on a server in the datacenter. It’s a powerful form of desktop virtualization because allows users the freedom to access virtual desktops anytime, from anywhere, on almost any device.  VMware View is a VDI solution used at Iowa State.  VDI works on or off-campus (with VPN) and can be used from almost any device including smart phones and iPads.

Biology IT provides a single virtual Windows desktop environment (also known as a VDI pool) with many ISU and biological software pre-installed for faculty, staff, and students to use. Additionally, for fall 2020, there are two NREM pools.

Pool Details

  • Non-persistent - Settings and data is NOT saved after logoff
  • Windows 10 Enterprise 64 bit
  • 2.5 GHz with 4 vCPU cores and 16 GB RAM
  • Free to use for all Biology IT supported faculty, staff, and students and students enrolled in Biol 256L, Bio 313L, BCB 444/544 and other courses

Software Installed

A full list of software available is available - Biology VDI - All Software and other information can be found at   We are continuing to add and upgrade software as it becomes available or as it is requested.  To request software to install on a VDI, email  

A short, non-exhaustive list of common software is below:

  • Microsoft Office 2016 32 bit
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign 2018
  • Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome
  • ArcGIS 10.6.1
  • SAS 9.4 TS1M5 and JMP 14.1
  • R 3.5.1 and R Studio
  • SigmaPlot 14
  • MATLAB 2017b 
  • FIJI/ImageJ, SnapGene, Cytoscape, ImageLab, LabScribe3, VisionWorks
  • Zeiss ZEN Lite Blue and Black

File Storage

There are a few file storage options for you to store and access data on campus servers or cloud providers.

  • R:\ - LSS network storage where you can store your lab’s research data
  • Z:\ - My Files network storage for personal storage (up to 10 GB)
  • CyBox, Google Drive, other cloud storage providers 
  • Your local computer (VMware Horizon Client only) 


Public printers in 1340 Molecular Biology (color and b&w) are added.  You may also add any other PaperCut supported printers.

Getting Access

There are two methods you can use to access - using the VMware Horizon application or through a web browser.  VDI works on or off-campus (with VPN). You can use either or both options below to access the VDI pool.   

1 - VMware Horizon Client

You may install the VMware Horizon Client from VMware Horizon Client from Self Service.  If you do not have Self Service on your computer, you can may install the Horizon Client manually by downloading and installing from

Use the search bar in the upper right and search for vmware or go to the Featured category on the left to find it.  Click Install and wait for application to be installed, when complete it will appear on the dock.

Once installed, open VMware Horizon Client from Start Menu or Applications and click Continue if prompted to start remote USB and Printing Services.   

When prompted type in for server address.

Enter your ISU Net-ID and password in the Username and Password fields then click the Login button to proceed.

Double Click "Biology" to start the session. Those in specific NREM classes may choose "NREM Virtual Cart".

By default, the session will open as full screen mode.  To put it back to a windowed mode, (for Mac) press Command + Control + and F key at the same time.  You may also set the default view options from the VDI selection window so that it will not open automatically in full screen mode by pressing the gear button in the VDI selection screen.  


When ready to logout, go to the Start Menu click on the person icon or picture and click Sign Out.

2 - Web Access

Open a web browser (Chrome, Firefox or Safari) and go to  Click on the right most icon - VMware Horizon HTML Access.

Login with your ISU Net-ID and password

Click Biology to start the session. Those in certain classes may choose NREM Virtual Cart.

When ready to logout close the browser window or tab.  Or go to the Start Menu click on the person icon or picture and click Sign Out.