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Amazon AppStream 2.0
Developer Guide

Tutorial: Create a Custom Image

Before you can stream your applications, Amazon AppStream 2.0 requires at least one image that you create by using an image builder. This tutorial describes how to create custom images by using an image builder.

Important

After you create an image builder and it is running, your account may incur nominal charges. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Pricing.

Important

This tutorial contains details that apply to the latest base image release. For more information, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Windows Image Version History.

If you are using images that are created from base images dated before 2017-07-24, you can view a compatible version of this tutorial by downloading the PDF file appstream2-dg-2017-07-23.pdf.

Step 1: Create an Image Builder

In this step, create a new image builder so that you can add applications and create images for streaming.

To create an image builder for adding applications

  1. Open the AppStream 2.0 console at https://console.aws.amazon.com/appstream2.

  2. You can launch the image builder in the following ways:

    • If a welcome screen appears displaying two options (Try it now and Get started), choose Get started, Custom set up.

      For information about these two options, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 FAQs.

    • If a welcome screen does not appear, choose Quick links in the left navigation pane, then Custom set up.

    • Alternatively, choose Images in the left navigation pane, then the Image Builder tab, Launch Image Builder.

  3. For Step 1: Choose Image, choose a base image. If you are launching the image builder for the first time, you can use one of the latest base images released by AWS (selected by default). For a list of the latest versions of base images released by AWS, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Windows Image Version History. If you have already created images, or you want to update applications in an existing image, you can select one of your existing images. Be sure to select an image that aligns with the instance family that you need. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Instance Families.

    Choose Next.

  4. For Step 2: Configure Image Builder, configure the image builder by accepting the default values or providing inputs for the following fields:

    Name

    Type a unique name identifier for the image builder.

    Instance Type

    Select the instance type for the image builder. Choose a type that matches the performance requirements of the applications that you plan to install. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Instance Families.

    Important

    The AppStream 2.0 agent software runs on your streaming instances, enabling your users to connect to and stream their applications. Starting December 7, 2017, your streaming instances can be automatically updated with the latest AppStream 2.0 agent software. This capability helps to ensure that your image builder includes the latest features, performance improvements, and security updates that are available from AWS.

    You can enable automatic updates of the AppStream 2.0 agent by creating a new image from any base image published by AWS on or after December 7, 2017. If the image from which you are launching your image builder is not using the latest version of the AppStream 2.0 agent, we recommend that you select the option to launch your image builder with the latest agent. This option is not displayed if you are already using the latest base image from AWS or if you are using a custom image that uses the latest version of the agent.

    Choose Next.

  5. Do the following:

    • For Step 3: Configure Network, choose a virtual private cloud (VPC) subnet in which to launch your image builder. Your image builder has access to any of the network resources that are accessible from within this VPC subnet.

    • For internet access on the image builder, choose Default Internet Access, select a VPC that has public subnets on your default VPC, and then select one of the public subnets listed for Subnet. If you are controlling internet access using a NAT gateway, leave Default Internet Access unselected and use the VPC with the NAT gateway. For more information, see Network Settings for Amazon AppStream 2.0 .

    • For Security group(s), select up to five security groups to associate with this image builder. If needed, choose Create new security group. If you do not choose a security group, the image builder is associated with the default security group for your VPC. For more information, see Security Groups.

    • For Active Directory Domain (Optional), expand this section to choose which Active Directory and organizational unit in which to place your streaming instance computer objects. Ensure that the selected network access settings enable DNS resolvability and communication with your directory. For more information, see Using Active Directory with AppStream 2.0.

  6. Choose Review and confirm the details for the image builder. To change the configuration for any section, choose Edit and make the needed changes. After you finish reviewing the configuration details, choose Launch.

After the service prepares the needed resources, the image builder instance list appears. The status of your new image builder appears as Running when the image builder is ready to use.

Optionally, you can apply one or more tags to help manage the image builder. Choose Tags, choose Add/Edit Tags, choose Add Tag, specify the key and value for the tag, and then choose Save. For more information, see Tagging Your Amazon AppStream 2.0 Resources.

Step 2: Install Applications on the Image Builder

In this step, connect to the image builder that you created and launched, then install your applications on the image builder.

Important

To complete this step, you must log into the image builder with the local Administrator account or a domain user account that has local administrator permissions.

To install applications on the image builder

  1. In the left navigation pane, choose Images, Image Builder.

  2. Choose the image builder to use, verify that it is in the Running state, and choose Connect. For this step to work, you may need to configure your browser to allow pop-ups from https://stream.<aws-region>.amazonappstream.com/.

  3. Log in to the image builder by doing either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, on the Local User tab, choose Administrator.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain and you require access to resources that are managed by Active Directory to install your applications, choose the Directory User tab, type the credentials for a domain user account that has local administrator permissions on the image builder, then choose Log in.

  4. Install applications from an application website or other download source. Install the applications you want before proceeding to the next step.

    Note

    Download and install applications only from sites that you trust.

    If an application requires the Windows operating system restart, let it do so. Before the operating system restarts, you are disconnected from your image builder. After the restart is complete, connect to the image builder again, then finish installing the application.

Step 3: Create an AppStream 2.0 Application Catalog

In this step, create an AppStream 2.0 application catalog by specifying applications (.exe), batch scripts (.bat), and application shortcuts (.lnk) for your image. For each application that you plan to stream, you can specify the name, display name, executable file to launch, and icon to display. If you choose an application shortcut, these values are prepopulated for you.

Important

To complete this step, you must be logged into the image builder with the local Administrator account or a domain user account that has local administrator permissions.

To create an AppStream 2.0 application catalog

  1. From the image builder desktop, open Image Assistant. Image Assistant guides you through the image creation process.

  2. In 1. Add Apps, choose + Add App, and navigate to the location of the application, script, or shortcut to add. Choose Open.

  3. In the App Launch Settings dialog box, keep or change the default settings for Name, Display Name, and Icon Path. Optionally, you can specify launch parameters (additional arguments passed to the application when it is launched) and a working directory for the application. When you're done, choose Save.

    The Display Name and Icon Path settings determine how your application name and icon appear in the application catalog. The catalog displays to users when they sign in to an AppStream 2.0 streaming session.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each application in Image Assistant and confirm that the applications appear on the Add Apps tab. When you're done, choose Next to continue using Image Assistant to create your image.

Step 4: Create Default Application and Windows Settings

In this step, you create default application and Windows settings for your AppStream 2.0 users. Doing this enables your users to get started with applications quickly during their AppStream 2.0 streaming sessions, without the need to create or configure these settings themselves. For example, you can create and configure:

  • Application preferences, including a browser home page, toolbar customizations, and security settings.

  • Application data settings, including browser bookmarks and connection profiles.

  • Windows experience settings, including displaying file name extensions and hidden folders.

Additionally, you can modify or disable Internet Explorer security settings such as Enhanced Security Configuration (ESC). For more information, see Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration.

Important

To complete this step, you must be logged into the image builder with the local Template User account or a domain user account that does not have local administrator permissions.

To create default application and Windows settings for your users

  1. In Image Assistant, in 2. Configure Apps, choose Switch user. This disconnects you from the current session and displays the login menu.

  2. Do either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, on the Local User tab, choose Template User. This account enables you to create your default application and Windows settings.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain, choose Directory User, and log in as a domain user that does not have local administrator permissions.

  3. From the image builder desktop, open Image Assistant, which displays the applications that you added when you created the application catalog.

  4. Choose the application for which you want to create default application settings.

  5. After the application opens, create these settings as needed.

  6. When you're done, close the application, and return to Image Assistant.

  7. If you specified more than one application in Image Assistant, repeat steps 4 through 6 for each application as needed.

  8. If you want default Windows settings, create them now. When you're done, return to Image Assistant.

  9. Choose Switch user and log in with the same account that you used to create the application catalog (an account that has local administrator permissions).

  10. In Image Assistant, in 2. Configure Apps, do either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, choose Save settings.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain, in the Choose which user settings to copy list, choose the same account that you used to log into the image builder when you created the default application and Windows settings, then choose Save settings.

      The Choose which settings to copy list displays any user account that currently has settings saved on the image builder.

  11. When you're done, choose Next to continue creating your image.

Step 5: Test Applications

In this step, verify that the applications you've added open correctly and perform as expected. To do so, start a new Windows session as a user who has the same permissions as your users.

Important

To complete this step, you must log in to the image builder with the Test User account or a domain user account that does not have local administrator permissions.

To test your applications

  1. In Image Assistant, in 3. Test, do either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, choose Switch user.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain, you require a domain user account to test your applications, and the user already has settings on the image builder, you must reset the application settings for that user. To do so, select the user from the User to reset list, and choose Reset. When you're done, choose Switch user.

      Note

      If your image builder is new and no users have settings on the image builder, the list does not display any users.

  2. Choose the user account to use for testing by doing either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, choose Test User. This account enables you to test your applications by using the same policies and permissions as your users.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain, choose Directory User, specify the credentials for a domain user account that does not have local administrator permissions, then choose Log in.

  3. From the image builder desktop, open Image Assistant, which displays the applications that you specified when you created the application catalog.

  4. Choose the application that you want to test, to confirm that it opens correctly and that any default application settings you created are applied.

  5. After the application opens, test it as needed. When you're done, close the application and return to Image Assistant.

  6. If you specified more than one application in Image Assistant, repeat steps 4 and 5 to test each application as needed.

  7. When you're done, choose Switch user, then do either of the following:

    • If your image builder is not joined to an Active Directory domain, on the Local User tab, choose Administrator.

    • If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain and you logged in as a domain user with local administrator permissions to specify applications in Image Assistant, log in as that user.

  8. Choose Next to continue creating your image.

Step 6: Optimize Applications

In this step, Image Assistant opens your applications one after another, identifies their launch dependencies, and performs optimizations to ensure that applications launch quickly. These are required steps that are performed on all applications in the list.

To optimize your applications

  1. In Image Assistant, in 4. Optimize, choose Launch.

  2. AppStream 2.0 automatically launches the first application in your list. When the application completely starts, provide any required input to perform the first run experience for the application. For example, a web browser may prompt you to import settings before it is completely up and running.

  3. After you complete the first run experience and verify that the application performs as expected, choose Continue. If you added more than one application to your image, each application opens automatically. Repeat this step for each application as needed, leaving all applications running.

  4. When you're done, the next tab in Image Assistant, 5. Configure Image, automatically displays.

Step 7: Finish Creating Your Image

In this step, choose an image name and finish creating your image.

To create the image

  1. Type a unique image name, an image display name, a description if you want, and choose Next. The name you choose cannot begin with "Amazon," "AWS," or "AppStream." When you're done, choose Next.

    Note

    If you choose a base image that is published by AWS on or after December 7, 2017, the option Always use the latest agent version appears, selected by default. We recommend that you leave this option selected so that streaming instances that are launched from the image always use the latest version of the agent. If you disable this option, you cannot enable it after you finish creating the image. For information about the latest release of the AppStream 2.0 agent, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Agent Version History.

  2. In 6. Review, verify the image details. To make changes, choose Previous to navigate to the appropriate Image Assistant tab, make your changes, and then proceed through the steps in Image Assistant as needed.

  3. After you finish reviewing the image details, choose Disconnect and Create Image.

  4. The remote session disconnects within a few moments. When the Lost Connectivity message appears, close the browser tab. While the image is created, the image builder status appears as Snapshotting. You cannot connect to the image builder until this process finishes.

  5. Return to the console and navigate to Images, Image Registry. Verify that your new image appears in the list.

    While your image is being created, the image status in the image registry of the console appears as Pending and you cannot connect to it.

  6. Choose the Refresh icon periodically to update the status. After your image is created, the image status changes to Available and the image builder is automatically stopped.

    To continue creating images, start the image builder and connect to it from the console, or create a new image builder.

Note

To change your image, such as add other applications or update existing applications, you must create a new image. To do so, restart and reconnect to the image builder, make your changes, and then repeat the Image Assistant process to create a new image that includes the changes.

Step 8 (Optional): Tag and Copy an Image

After you create an image, you can apply one or more tags to help manage the image. You can also copy the image within the same region or to a new region within the same AWS account. Copying a source image results in an identical but distinct destination image. AWS does not copy any user-defined tags, however. Also, you can only copy custom images that you create, not the base images that are provided by AWS.

Note

You can copy up to two images at the same time to a destination. If the destination to which you are copying an image is at the image limit, you receive an error. To copy the image in this case, you must first remove images from the destination. After the destination is below the image limit, initiate the image copy from the source region. For more information, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Service Limits.

To add tags to an image

  1. In the navigation pane, choose Images, Image Registry.

  2. In the image list, select the image to which you want to add tags.

  3. Choose Tags, choose Add/Edit Tags, choose Add Tag, specify the key and value for the tag, and then choose Save.

For more information, see Tagging Your Amazon AppStream 2.0 Resources.

To copy an image

Copying an image across geographically diverse regions enables you to stream applications from multiple regions based on the same image. By streaming your applications in closer proximity to your users, you can improve your users' experience streaming applications with AppStream 2.0.

  1. In the navigation pane, choose Images, Image Registry.

  2. In the image list, select the image that you want to copy.

  3. Choose Actions, Copy.

  4. In the Copy Image dialog box, specify the following information, and then choose Copy Image:

    • For Destination region, choose the region to which to copy the new image.

    • For Name, specify a name that the image will have when it is copied to the destination.

    • For Description (optional), specify a description that the image will have when it is copied to the destination.

  5. To check on the progress of the copy operation, return to the console and navigate to Images, Image Registry. Use the navigation bar to switch to the destination region (if applicable), and confirm that your new image appears in the list of images.

    The new image first appears with a status of Copying in the image registry of your console. After the image is successfully created, the status of the image changes to Available, which means that you can use the image to launch a stack and stream your applications.

Step 9: Clean Up

Finally, stop your running image builders to free up resources and avoid unintended charges to your account. We recommend stopping any unused, running image builders. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Pricing.

To stop a running image builder

  1. In the navigation pane, choose Images, Image Builders, and select the running image builder instance.

  2. Choose Actions, Stop.