Configure Virtual Desktop Support

Virtual desktop support is an opt-in feature of Tableau Desktop 10.5 and later and Tableau Prep Builder 2018.2.1 and later that gives you the ability to optimize your installations of Tableau for non-persistent virtual desktops, or for computers that are regularly reimaged.

Starting with version 2020.1, virtual desktop can be configured for login-based license management (no product keys needed). This is the preferred method to implement a virtual deployment of Tableau Desktop to a large number of end users. For more information, see Activate Tableau using Login-based License Management.

With virtual desktop support enabled, Tableau licenses are automatically deactivated after a predetermined amount of time. This means that you do not need to manually refresh or deactivate the product key. The requirement that Tableau communicate with the hosted service means that you must periodically connect to the Internet.

Without virtual desktop support, an activated Tableau license remains activated until you explicitly deactivate it. This means that with frequently recycled VMs and regularly reimaged computers, you may never have the opportunity to deactivate the license before the system is recreated, and the license activation remains in effect resulting in a maximum activation error.

How virtual desktop support works

When virtual desktop support is enabled, Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder periodically contacts a Tableau-hosted authorization-to-run (ATR) service to verify that Tableau is authorized to run, based on its license. When virtual desktop is configured to also use login-based license management, Tableau Online and Tableau Server work as a proxy to the ATR service.

The ATR service verifies the license and the length of the authorization window. As long as this communication is successful, Tableau runs without any impact to the user. The diagrams below show the communication process between the client and licensing components.

Virtual desktop support and the ATR service without login-based license management

  1. Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder contacts the ATR service to verify that Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder is authorized to run.

  2. The ATR service contacts the Tableau Licensing Service to verify that the license is valid.

  3. The ATR service determines the length of the authorization to run window.

  4. If valid, the ATR service allows you to use Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder.

Login-based license management with Tableau Online

Login-based license management with Tableau Server

  1. You install Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder and select Activate with your credentials. You sign into your Tableau Online or Tableau Server site.

  2. Tableau Online or Tableau Server verifies that you are a Creator. If not, you get an error. If yes, Tableau Online or Tableau Server communicates with the ATR service.

  3. The ATR service returns an ATR lease to Tableau Online or Tableau Server.

  4. Tableau Online or Tableau Server provides an ATR lease to Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder to finalize activation.

Requested duration

By default, an instance of Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder is given a 14 day authorization window during which it is authorized to run. This means that after the initial authorization, you could use Tableau without any network connection for 14 days before the activation expired. The authorization checks are attempted regularly, and each time a check is successful, the authorization window is reset to its full length. This happens without any impact to you, unless there have been no successful checks and the window is nearing its expiration, in which case a warning message lets you know that you need to connect Tableau to the network so the authorization can be confirmed. The 14 day default is typically not a good value for deploying virtual desktop where you receive a new VM with every use. For more information, see Requested duration settings.

The length of the authorization window is determined by the value of the requested duration. By default, the requested duration is 14 days (1,209,600 seconds), but you can configure this to fit your environment depending on how often a user will be receiving a new VM or if the Tableau Desktop is of a persistent nature.

Note: If you use both Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder, setting the requested duration for Tableau Desktop also sets this same duration for Tableau Prep Builder and vice-versa.

Requested duration settings

You set the requested duration in seconds. The minimum requested duration you can set is 4 hours (14,400 seconds) and the maximum is six months (15,552,000 seconds). Use the following guidelines to determine how to set the requested duration setting for your users:

  • For most non-shared computers, especially those that are sometimes offline for several weeks at a time, set the requested duration to three to six months (7,776,000 – 15,552,000 seconds). A longer duration will allow the user to continue to use Tableau for an extended time without an internet connection.

  • For computers that are reimaged approximately once per month, set the requested duration to 30 days (2,592,000 seconds).

  • For virtual desktops that are recycled nightly, set the requested duration to the minimum of 4 hours (14,400 seconds). This will allow you to reuse your product keys each morning and eliminate the need to remember to deactivate them each evening before the virtual desktops are recycled.

Virtual machines and product keys

The benefit of using virtual desktop support is that for environments that regularly recycle their VMs, you can set a duration short enough to expire the license activation before the desktop is reused. This means that you do not use up all your activations. You will still need to enter the product key to run Tableau after the desktop is recycled. Login-based license management can improve the end-user experience in this scenario by requesting a sign in to Tableau Online or Tableau Server to activate Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder instead of entering a product key.

How to use virtual desktop support

Virtual desktop support is an opt-in feature, so you need to enable the feature in order to use it (it is disabled by default). If you're using login-based license management, see Activate Tableau using Login-based License Management. The ways to enable virtual desktop when not using login-based license management depend on whether you are running Tableau on Windows or on the Mac:

On Windows you can enable and configure virtual desktop support:

  • At installation of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder using command line install switches to enable virtual desktop support and specify a requested duration.

  • After installation, by editing the Windows registry to enable virtual desktop support and specify a requested duration.

On a Mac you can enable and configure virtual desktop support:

  • After installation of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder using sudo defaults write commands.

Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder on Windows

There are three methods for setting the virtual desktop flags:

Enable virtual desktop support at install

Run the installer .exe file from the computer's command line as an administrator, and include the ATRENABLED switch if login-based license management is not being used (version 2019.4 and earlier, or manually disabled). The ATRENABLED switch is not needed if login-based license management is configured on Tableau Desktop. To use a duration length other than the default of 14 days, include the ATRREQUESTEDDURATIONSECONDS switch. If you need to extract the .msi files, follow the instructions to Extract and run the Windows (MSI) installer .

You must run the command from the directory where the .exe file is located or specify a full path to the location of the .exe file on the computer. Do not run the setup program from a shared directory on your network. Instead, download the .exe file to a directory on the computer where you're installing.

The ATRREQUESTEDDURATIONSECONDS has a minimum setting of 4 hours (14,400 seconds). The following example shows the Windows installer command that enables automatic license deactivation and set the duration to 12 hours (43,200 seconds):

tableauDesktop-64bit-2019-1-0.exe /quiet /norestart ACCEPTEULA=1 ATRENABLED=1 ATRREQUESTEDDURATIONSECONDS=43200

or

tableauPrepBuilder-64bit-2019-1-2.exe /quiet /norestart ACCEPTEULA=1 ATRENABLED=1 ATRREQUESTEDDURATIONSECONDS=43200

When creating a master image for a large virtual deployment, the above settings are appropriate and no product key activation should be completed. When using a new VM, each end user will enter the product key or sign in to Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder if login-based license management is enabled.

Enable virtual desktop support by editing the registry

If Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder is already installed, you can still enable virtual desktop support by editing the Windows registry to add an entry for ATREnabled. To change the default duration a license activation is authorized for, you can add an entry for ATRREQUESTEDDURATIONSECONDS.

  1. As an administrator on the computer running Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder, make a backup of the registry file before you make any changes to it.

  2. Edit the registry, and in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Tableau, create a new hive named ATR with these values:

    • Name: Add a string value named ATREnabled.

    • Data: Add 1.

    • Name: Add a string value named ATRRequestedDurationSeconds.

    • Data: Add a number of seconds the duration should last. For example, add 43200 to set a duration of 12 hours.

    The illustration below shows what the ATR hive looks like in the registry editor.

  3. Restart Tableau so that the changes take effect.

Enable virtual desktop support by using the atr tool

If Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder is already installed, you can still enable virtual desktop support from the Windows command prompt. The atrdiag.exe program resides in the \bin directory for Windows and is a tool specific to the virtual desktop and login-based license management settings. The atrdiag.exe program can report on the values selected, change virtual desktop configuration settings, and initially configure virtual desktop. If Tableau Technical Support is needed, providing the output from the atr tool is often helpful.

Note: Tableau Prep Builder must be installed on the same computer with Tableau Desktop in order to use atrdiag.exe with Tableau Prep Builder.

  1. Sign in on the computer running Tableau Desktop as an administrator.

  2. At a command prompt, navigate to the directory where Tableau Desktop is installed:

    cd C:\Program Files\Tableau\<version>\bin

  3. At a command prompt, enable the ATR service:

    atrdiag.exe -enableATRFeature

  4. Set the duration, in seconds, that the license activation is authorized for. (For example, use 43200 to set a duration of 12 hours.)

    atrdiag.exe -setDuration 43200

  5. Restart Tableau so that the changes take effect.

Disable virtual desktop support by using the atr tool

If you no longer want to use the virtual desktop support feature, you can disable it.

  1. Shut down Tableau Desktop on the computer where you want to disable virtual desktop support.

  2. Open the Windows Command Prompt as an administrator, and then navigate to the directory where Tableau Desktop is installed:

    cd C:\Program Files\Tableau\<version>\bin

  3. At a command prompt, run the following command to turn off the ATR service:

    atrdiag.exe -disableATRFeature

  4. At a command prompt, run the following command:

    atrdiag.exe -deleteAllATRs

  5. Start Tableau Desktop.

  6. On the License Has Changed dialog, click Exit.

  7. Restart Tableau so that the changes take effect.

  8. On the Help menu, click Manage Product Keys to see if you can deactivate the product key.

Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder on Mac

Enable by updating the preference file

To enable virtual desktop support on the Mac, run the following commands in a terminal window and then install or restart Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.tableau.ATR ATREnabled "1"

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.tableau.ATR ATRRequestedDurationSeconds -string "43200"

Troubleshoot virtual desktop

If you encounter issues when configuring or using virtual desktop, you can collect diagnostic information about the computer that is running Tableau Prep Builder or Tableau Desktop using the virtual desktop diagnostic tool (atrdiag).

You can verify that virtual desktop is enabled and view the value set for the requested duration seconds in use for Tableau Desktop activation. The commands provided below will capture the state of your virtual desktop support installation, regardless of whether you have installed Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder.

Collect virtual desktop diagnostics on Windows

  1. Open a Command Prompt as an administrator.
  2. Navigate to the Tableau binaries (\bin) directory, using the following command:

    cd Program Files\Tableau\Tableau <version>\bin

  3. Run the following command:

    atrdiag.exe

    To optionally save the output to a file:

    atrdiag.exe > AtrOutput.txt

Collect virtual desktop diagnostics on Mac

  1. Open the Terminal app.
  2. Navigate to the directory that contains the atrdiag tool, using the following command:

    cd /Applications/Tableau Desktop <version>.app/Contents/MacOS

  3. Run the following command:

    ./atrdiag.exe

    To optionally save the output to a file:

    ./atrdiag.exe > AtrOutput.txt

To learn more about resolving issues with Tableau Desktop installation, see Troubleshoot Your Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder Installation.

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