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Script a custom AWS AppStream image

Scenario

Lets script a custom aws appstream image

A customer wanted to setup AWS AppStream 2.0 Image Automation for their AppStream image creation especially as there were situations where two or more images were potentially required including monthly updates (minimum) so they needed a repeatable, consistent solution for this.

 

Solution

You can only automate this so far within the current AppStream 2.0 limitations.

Creation of the image builders, the builder image itself, creation or the fleets and stacks then based on this image.

Short of joining your image builder to a domain that launches a script at computer startup – there is no immediate way to call a ‘zero touch build’ for AppStream images, and no current way to automate the Image Builder test and optimize wizard (the wizard you run to seal and snapshot the image)

Things to Consider Scripting / Adding

  • IEES Disable for all users
  • Local Timezone and Regional Settings (particularly if outside the US and your regional settings are not available for selection from the End User interface) (for example UK English and Timezone)
Set-WinSystemLocale en-gb
Set-Culture en-GB
Set-WinSystemLocale en-GB
Set-Timezone "GMT Standard Time"
  • If your images wont be domain joined then
    • Create a login script to apply user settings at ‘login’
    • If you manipulate local Group Policy (gpedit.msc) use the microsoft tool  LGPO.exe to backup and restore the settings easily
    • You can publish Windows Explorer in the Image Assistanc via a batchfile with content
cd %userprofile%\my files\temporary files -Force
start .

Examples

You can automate the image builder application injection using sqlite.exe per below

example.sql file to pass into C:\ProgramData\Amazon\Photon\PhotonAppCatalog.sqlite

INSERT INTO Applications (Name, AbsolutePath, DisplayName, IconFilePath, LaunchParameters) VALUES (“My Intranet Website”, “C:\Program Files (x86)\internet explorer\iexplorer.exe”, “Intranet”, “C:\ProgramData\Amazon\Photon\AppCatalogHelper\AppIcons\ie.png”, “https://www.myintranet.org.uk”)

Any questions or comments get in touch using the social media links at the top of the website and we will do out best to help! 😉

 

AWS AppStream 2.0 Whats New?

AWS AppStream 2.0 Whats New for June 2018?

AWS have updated AppStream 2.0 to introduce some fantastic new features in the May & June 2018 releases.

Google Drive support has been added (selectable at fleet creation). It only supports G-suite enterprise and must be enabled in G-Suite to function, but it also has support for multiple G-Suite domains.

This means clients can avoid the clumsy upload and download of files from the local device to the remote and simply log into Google Drive and have immediate access to their files within the AppStream session.

Screenshot of google drive integration for AWS AppStream 2.0
Google Drive integration for AWS AppStream 2.0

 

 

 

Google Drive integration within AppStream 2.0 session
Google Drive integration within AppStream 2.0 session

Here is a screenshot of the Windows Explorer integration and conveniently shows my free space as approx 8000 Petabytes! Good to know!

Google Drive AppStream 2.0 Windows Explorer integration
Google Drive AppStream 2.0 Windows Explorer integration

Support for Administrative controls have also been added (again selectable at fleet creation). Giving the administrator greater control and flexibility in the solution they deploy to the users for things like local device copy and paste, file upload or download (or upload only or download only or disabled) and local print options.

control clipboard, file transfer and print options for AWS AppStream 2.0
Selective administrative controls for AWS AppStream 2.0

Happy Clouding!

Online NetScaler Course Update and Discount

Hey Everyone, Our “Masters of Cloud – Citrix NetScaler Introduction” course has recently been updated with a series of new videos, check it out now and as an added bonus there is a 50% discount link if you sign up before end of September!

https://www.udemy.com/citrix-netscaler-introduction/?couponCode=SEPTLINKEDIN

We hope you enjoy the updates and all the best on your learning journey!

JS Consulting and Masters of Cloud

Citrix Cloud – Secure Browser Service

Summary

Citrix Have a cloud based secure browser service unsurprisingly called ‘Secure Browser Service‘. Here is a quick summary of the features / notes taken during a PoC for a customer.

Review

Basically this is an Azure hosted cloud delivery of URLS you specify to publish to users (either anonymously or via your own authentication methods) combined with a browser that is ‘locked down’. You can have Firefox, Chrome, IE11 or IE11 (64bit). Even for a quick test. It’s awesome. Quick, Simple and reliable.

Flash and Video support (youtube) are native, albeit it noticeably slow (but still worked even for a UK based user while the resources were Azure West US region!) Signing up for trial was simple and very quick via my mycitrix.com account (5 minutes after requesting the, trial was ready to go)

From a customisation perspective there is little that is changeable – and possibly will stay this way to keep the service offering simple – you can always deploy your own secure browser service via XA/XD for further customisations. Well done Citrix.

 

Initial Overview Page

Clicking Get started

Enter a Name, URL and select the browser and region

Browser and Region Options

 

I selected IE11 and West US as the region

Clicking Launch Application launched very quickly, but because its published initially in Kiosk mode my native response was to click ‘refresh’ which reloaded the entire published app – not the webpage (including back buttons etc)

Secure Browser service supports on prem apps / backends
Change Settings

Manage >

Enable non-kiosk mode

Launching with non-kiosk

Other sites were accessible

(But I didn’t push my luck)

youtube.com was noticeably slow but still worked, sound and all! Pretty good by default.
Where is it hosted and did it match the region published in – YES

 

Flash is available and the Internet speed was very fast

Flash quality was low and jittery – but was absolutely usable even with approx 150ms from my device to West US Azure

Statistics on usage
Summary Even for a PoC / Demo this is fantastic. Quick and simple and no obvious major issues. Well Done Citrix!

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Look – AWS AppStream 2.0

So what is Amazon AppStream 2.0? Here is the extract from the AWS Website: Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed, secure, application streaming service that allows you to stream desktop applications from AWS to any device running a web browser, without rewriting them. AppStream 2.0 provides users instant-on access to the applications they need, and a responsive, fluid user experience on the device of their choice. With AppStream 2.0, you can easily import your existing desktop applications to AWS and instantly start streaming them to an HTML5 compatible browser. You can maintain a single version of each of your apps, which makes application management easier. Your users always access the latest versions of their applications. Your applications run on AWS compute resources, and data is never stored on users’ devices, which means they always get a high performance, secure experience. Unlike traditional on-premises solutions for desktop application streaming, AppStream 2.0 offers pay-as-you-go pricing, with no upfront investment and no infrastructure to maintain. You can scale instantly and globally, ensuring that your users always have the best possible experience.

Summary

We like the simplicity of this product, and we hope it stays this way. The solution removes the complications of profile management, user settings and negates the need for other expensive delivery / middleware products solutions like Citrix – and just focuses on delivering the applications to the users. We believe you just need to couple this solution with the following additional components to be a viable replacement to some of your business applications:

  1. The image builder, to start hosting & testing your own applications (Update: Image Builder now available since end of Jan 2017 stay tuned for an update)
  2. A low latency link to the AWS Availability zone.
  3. A storage product like google drive, box, dropbox, or webdrive so you can be sure your clients/customers data is protected and automatically in the cloud and not in the local instance (and a policy that enforces this)

Useful Notes during the Test

  • Fleet build takes approximately 30-35+ minutes at creation
  • If you stop the fleet and start it again, the startup time is just as long as the initial creation.
  • You need an individual instance for every user so 5 servers in a fleet = 5 concurrent users.
  • Instances of Appstream do not appear under EC2
  • Opening and displaying the demo applications is lightening quick
  • Connecting from London to Ireland Appstream instance was laggy (keyboard and mouse) in fact at time it was worse than normal RDP, with a latency ave of 371ms
  • Connecting from a site with a Direct Connection to AWS and a latency of 30ms the experience was much improved
  • The entire session ran in a browser windows over HTML5 and full screen mode looked great.
  • Youtube in firefox actually would run and display videos – but in no use-able fashion, even browsing the youtube page with all the video thumbnails was borderline unusable, the session was laggy, and unresponsive, in comparison RDP actually performs better with the same youtube page, resolution and site (not that this would be the main purpose for the platform anyway, just interesting for a comparison)
  • Keys would sometimes get ‘stuck’ so instead of typing you could end up closing windows instead (but bashing the Windows, CTRL and Alt keys quickly fixed this.
  • As Appstream is only currently available in US East – N Virginia, US West-Oregon, EU – Ireland, AsiaPacific – Tokyo – I couldn’t test the new London Zone.
  • Creation of the streaming URL (username to access the instance) failed if I change the logonID to the same ‘instance’ within the same fleet (I only had one instance), after that user had logged in (im guessing this is because the session was still active / running for the previous user as there was no log off button, only a disconnect.
  • Currently image availability is only limited to Windows 2012 with the AWS demo applications (Firefox OpenOffice, Notepad++)
  • A image builder component is planned which is exciting to see what options it will have. <Stay tuned for an update review>
  • We modified settings and saved files to desktop, documents and the X:\ session share all which remained available so long as we used the same connection string (or recreated one with the same ‘loginID’ aka Windows username)
  • You can choose the VPC Appstream runs on so you should be able to run it on your internal VPC (note: we didn’t test or try this)
  • For 3 users and 6 hours of running we were billed $13.23 USD which included:
    • $4.19 per user per month RDS Cal
    • $0.11 per hour the instance was running (whether the users were connected or not)

Note: you will need an instance per concurrent user so hourly usage = $0.11 * number of concurrent users

1 user, 8 hours a day – 160 hours a month = $21.79 (Annualised $261.48)

1 user, 24 Hours a day – 480 hours a month = $56.99 (Annualised $683.88)

We are excited to see where Amazon will take this new service and how we can leverage this for our customers and as a business tool especially if it means removing the complicated middle layers of delivery software.

Walk Through

Description Screenshot
Opening the AWS Console and selecting Appsteam 2.0

Create a ‘stack’

Get the naming right

Cant choose any other image at this point

Spin up the template ‘instance’ and select the resources

Choosing the details network Subnet in our default VPC

Choose your ‘fleet’ size (1 streaming instance = 1 concurrent user)

You still pay for the resources whether users are logged in or not as the instance will remain on unless you instruct AppStream to stop it.

Review the rest of the deployment details then click ‘create’

Wait for the creation of the fleet instance There is little feedback at this point and the whole process took over 35 minutes

After waiting for a while and when the console said it was active I tried creating a streaming URL

This failed, as the instance was still not ready

Turns out you need to be using the Fleet details tab for the progress of the instance (status)

Note: seems they are bringing an image builder option so you can deploy your own images (assuming where you can install your own applications)

Update: This has been released as of End of Jan 2017! Review coming soon!

Running instances are NOT created in EC2  
Finally the fleet was running

Create the streaming URL – which you can set to expire

Once that had been created however I was unable to reauthenticate a second time i the user name was NOT the same as the original streaming URL ‘userid’

But based on that all my settings and saved files ‘still existed.

 

Open the URL

 

Launch your apps

The Appstream ’task bar’ gives you the following options

‘Start’

All Windows

Upload and Download files

Copy and Paste

Settings (display resolution and info re session details)

And a full screen option or numerous other options

The Appstreamed application opens ‘seamlessly’ (to use a Citrix term)

Closing the app, ‘ close the window

More apps could be launched from the ‘appstream’ start button

Multiple apps running

Currently there seems to be restricted access to the local disks / shared (when test saving a notepad++ document)

 

I tested a save to Session Folder, Desktop and Documents directory – and I am assuming these settings & documents ‘stick’ as I only have the one machine, not multiple instances in the ‘fleet’ and also one device to one user ‘requirement.

 

This makes sense to keep the solution simple and not have to over complicate it with user profiles and the like.

At the time of writing this the only option was to disconnect the session, there is no option to reboot from the session, or log off?

You can do this from the fleet details ‘management page’.

Stopping the instance took sub 10 seconds to stop.

However starting it again (which I now deeply regret) took another 35+ minutes)

Server was back online But all settings, documents created were gone (as expected for a demo really)

Upgrading to Citrix Receiver 4.2

We have a number of functional expectations to test prior to Upgrading to Citrix Receiver 4.2. It is imperative that things as simple as ‘desktop shortcuts’, appropriate start menu integration and XenApp session sharing work to keep the end users happy and prevent the “same ole service calls being logged again”.

Examples:

  1. A 100% dynamic client start menu (locally or in the XA/XD sessions – built based on the apps published to them) and support for XenApp6.5 session sharing
  2. Ideally one storefront “store” and one receiver version if possible deployed across the organisation (if support for all features exists)
  3. We would prefer not to rely on web interface servers if it can be helped.
  4. Simple desktop and start menu shortcut management with filtering based on device or platform (presently we use separate web interface sites)
  5. Support for File type association and Prelaunch.

Nice to haves / Things to test.

Company Laptop & desktops: Selective or filtered apps on the clients desktops (to avoid conflict with citrix published apps like Citrix outlook vs local outlook) to XenApp 4.5, XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 7.6.

Citrix desktop: End user ‘refresh’ on the XenApp desktop (without logging off)

Issues Encountered with Citrix Receiver 4.2

Session Sharing still broken: Whilst the configuration is not officially supported running the receiver via a published XA6.5 desktop and launching a Citrix app would start a brand new session even launching it on the same server.

Receiver Disconnects: During opening, launching or refreshing of the receiver (inside a Citrix session) the local Citrix session would disconnect http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX136339

Shortcut refresh slow: In selfservicemode=false or with user subscriptions disabled (effectively making all apps mandatory) the initial log into receiver would deploy the apps to the start menu under 2 minutes (which is slow compared to pnagent and depending on how many apps were available for your login) following this Citrix article we also set the InitialRefreshMinMs and MaxMs to 1 http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX200337

 

Receiver not started automatically for new users logging onto the workstation:

We had to set a shortcut in the users startup folder or regrun keys for the receiver to open.

 

Receiver Installation:

We decided against recommending the selfservicemode=false option in combination with receiver deployments script to end user devices (as its much more difficult to reverse) rather we’d recommend to use the group policy ADM that comes with the new client to manage the selfservicemode so you can easily change it later if desired.

GPO Location: C:\Program Files(x86)\Citrix\ICA Client\Configuration\icaclient.adm

Kiosk Users: if you have a generic desktop login and people each use their own credentials just for citrix its best to just use storefrontweb as the receiver shortcut deployment to the start menu and even in the receiver window constantly got confused between the different logged on users and was definitely too slow to be a usable solution. Possibly this could be fixed with the GPO ‘Remove Apps on Logoff’

 

Storefront Filtering is per store: If we filtered an application (by its keyword: description) it was effectively hidden from all parts of that store including

  1. Receiver
  2. Storefront web
  3. Legacy Config xml receiver
  4. Regardless of any other store settings (new subscriptions enabled or disabled or the app set to mandatory)

See here how to configure Storefront Filtering

 

Mandatory Apps Ignore Start Menu Directory:

Via GPO we tried forcing the Start Menu directory (different to what the app has published) which worked for all applications except some instances of mandatory apps refused to move. This was most obvious when the user had already synced their apps to the start menu then the start menu directory was forced via GPO.

XA6.5 Published App Start Menu Folder property name is ignored:

Receiver only uses the “Client Application folder” varilable for the shortcut publication.

This makes more sense however when looking at application publication in the Citrix Studio for XenApp 7.6.

Changing the Start menu Path left all the old shortcuts initially unusable:

Changing the start menu path after a user had already sync with the store resulted in all the shortcuts being completely recreated under the new folder hierarchy, whilst the old path was left (during the sync) intact, but unusable.

Running the old shortcuts resulted in the fun message:

After the initial sync completed again (took over 2-3 minutes as I had heaps of published shortcuts) the old folder ‘Citrix’ was eventually removed.

Desktop shortcuts delivered in folders: If an application is published in the XA6.5 console with a Client Application folder, and the app is published to the desktop as well the Client application folder is also created.

Shortcuts doubled up: If there was an application with the same name locally as remote, we would end up with 2 – making it confusing for the end users – Citrix’s solution to this is the “keyword: Prefer” in the application description – which we found continued to only launch the Citrix application.

See here for an excellent explanation of the supported Storefront and Receiver Keywords: http://www.martijnhs.com/2014/05/08/citrix-storefront-keywords-explained/

 

 

Summary

The deployment method we have had most success with (so far) has been:

  • The Citrix Receiver 4.2 packaged and deployed simply with “CitrixReceiver4.2.100.exe /includeSSON” (no other commands or calls)
  • The actual storefront Store configured via GPO

  • The SSO option enabled via GPO

  • The storefront site added to trusted or intranet sites
  • The SSO options/passthrough setting enabled in the storefront servers / site
  •  We enabled The Shortcut managment options to stop confusion for end users (all citrix apps delivered in a start menu sub folder)

  • We also disabled the selfservicemode via gpo rather than forcing it during the installation in the 4.2 receiver.

  • We forced the receiver to connect to the store asap by: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\Dazzle]

“InitialRefreshMinMs”=”1”

“InitialRefreshMaxMs”=”1”

  • We placed the receiver in the Startup Folder of the local machine, so it would launch automatically

This configuration would also mean that ALL the application shortcut are all delivered to the users start menu, but people connecting via the ‘storefront web’ page can still have subscriptions enabled so they don’t see things like the accessories published apps ‘calc, or snipping tool or magnifier etc’ from the ‘storefront web’.

*Additional Note: If upgrading existing users devices, you may find it useful to set the legacy web interface to delete / remove all shortcuts on logoff / exit –  that way you can be 99% sure that there there should be no remnants of the legacy clients shortcuts on the desktop or star menu etc for the end users

Windows Desktops / Clients

The 4.2 Citrix receiver is an absolute must have for 3D Pro / HDX graphics, the improvements are numerous for graphics display and the smoothness of 3D apps. When deploying 4.2 locally with self service it grants the users that little bit of flexibility and control over their own start menu and the customisable GPO can help you easily change your mind later should the need arise.

XenApp

On a XenApp published desktop where session sharing is still broken with Receiver 4.2 we are going to stick with Citrix Receiver 3.4 enterprise Cumulative Update 4 and have it pointing to the storefront legacy config.xml file for now – which delivers the full dynamic Citrix start menu and still supports session sharing.

It is incredibly frustrating as an integrator and even as an end user to see ‘similar’ issues that Citrix has previously fixed in prior versions of their ICA Client reappearing all over again in the new Receiver, it certainly does nothing for their reputation.

We are very interested to hear how other people are managing their upgrades and end user shotcuts. Does anyone have a simpler, quicker, inexpensive and truly dynamic way to manage end user shortcuts whilst still conglomerating the users application experience from all their platforms (i.e local client apps, Citrix apps, Microsoft SCCM, VMWare thinapp and Microsoft App-V to name a few) and still support things like true session sharing and access gateway filtering??? Drop us a line.

Also please see this excellent article to address or workaround some of the problems described above.

 

 

Citrix Storefront Filtering

How to configure filtering for Citrix Storefront

From our initial testing the Citrix Storefront Filtering are STORE specific, if you want different filters or one store for apps and another store for desktops you need to configure another separate store.

  1. From elevated PS prompt
    • set execution-policy = unrestricted
    • c:\program files\citrix\receiver storefront\scripts\ImportModules.ps1

Note: the siteid is ‘1’, but if you have modified the configuration of IIS you can check it by running “%windir%\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list site” just to be sure

SET FILTERING

(substitute your settings with those in in BOLD, ours below are based on a default single store install)

Set-DSResourceFilterKeyword -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store“-IncludeKeywords @(“Include“)

Set-DSResourceFilterKeyword -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store”-ExcludeKeywords @(“Exclude”)

RESET FILTERING

Set-DSResourceFilterKeyword -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store” -IncludeKeywords @(“”)

SHOW/GET

Get-DSResourceFilterKeyword -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store”

 

FILTER DESKTOPS OR APPLICATIONS COMPLETELY

Set-DSResourceFilterType -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store” -IncludeTypes @(“Applications”)

Set-DSResourceFilterType -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store” -IncludeTypes @(“Desktops”)

Set-DSResourceFilterType -SiteId 1 -VirtualPath “/Citrix/Store” -IncludeTypes @(“Documents”)

 

citrix storefront filtering powershell windows

Note: You can enable SSO for the PNAgent by performing the following command

PS C:\Program Files\Citrix\Receiver StoreFront\Scripts> .\EnablePnaForStore.ps1 -Siteid 1 -ResourceVirtualPath “/Citrix/Store” -logonmethod sson

 

 

How Apple Vs Android when running Citrix as a desktop replacement

Apple-vs-Android
Apple-vs-Android

So how does Apple Vs Android when running Citrix as a desktop replacement if we utilise them (android or apple devices) as replacements to our traditional desktop or laptop device?

After recently getting access to the fantastic Citrix X1 mouse (thank you Citrix!) I decided to quickly put together the pros and cons of Android vs Apple when running the Citrix receiver (especially if you were thinking of using a touch device as a replacement to a desktop/laptop) when your device is paired with an external keyboard, (Citrix X1) mouse and screen.

Apple: Testing with iPhone 5 (iOS 8.1.3), iPad Air (iOS 8.1.2) coupled with a lightening to HDMI cable,

Android: Testing Samsung S5 Phone (SM-G900F running Android 5.0) and Samsung 7″ Tablet (SM-T210 running Android 4.4.2) coupled with a MicroUSB to HDMI adapter

Monitors: Dell 19” and 30″ external displays

 

Device comparison when used as a laptop/desktop replacement in combination with Citrix X1 mouse. Apple Android Notes
Receiver Required (for mouse support) Specific R1 Receiver Any Citrix receiver
Mouse Support X1 Only Many including X1
X1 Mouse Usability Perfect Perfect
Mouse can be used with other parts of OS No Yes
Re-pairing mouse required? No No
Re-pairing keyboard required? Yes No
Keyboard OS Shorcuts working (Start menu) No No *Could be the BT keyboard we were using (Logitech DiNovo Edge – further testing required), CTRL + ESC worked on android, not on apple.
Dual Monitor No No
Mirrored or Separate external display? Separate & Independent Separate & Independent *mirrored if using iPad Air
Max External Resolution tested 1280×720 1920×1024**  *1024×768 on iPad Air** Resolution available on 30″ monitor and TV not the 19″
Orientation of device affect session? No* No * Yes if using iPad
Session Speed Like Local Slightly slower than local* * This is likely due to the huge external resolution being delivered (Android:1920×1080) vs (Apple:1024 x 768)
Can use another device as touch based trackpad? Yes No

The Android device natively supports a bluetooth keyboard and mouse (Citrix X1 mouse or not). The entire android device can be navigated using the keyboard and X1 mouse and the external screen resolution (usb to HDMI cable) reached a whopping 1920x1080p. The normal Citrix receiver worked flawlessly with the external mouse and keyboard and the external screen worked as independently from the Android device.

The Apple device was limited to the X1 mouse only, yet as fabulous as the new mouse is, it only worked in the remote Citrix session (could not interact with the rest of the phone) and the maximum resolution available from the iOS device for Citrix sessions was 1280×720 and 1024×768 for iPad Air

With the flexibility of choice and better external resolution offered from an Android device this would personally be my choice as the device to replace my work desktop or laptop, though as I use multiple monitors its not quite there yet for me!

It isnice to actually have an option to use Apple devices thanks to the recent prototype of the Citrix X1 mouse.

I would love to hear your experience with Apple Vs Android especially in what scenarios you may be able to use these devices instead of traditional PC / Mac / Thin clients?

Cheers

The Citrix X1 Mouse Review

The Citrix X1 Mouse prototype hardware solution is fantastic, it is easy to use, quick to pair and is fast enough to be used in most scenarios. (Long commutes to and from the office?)J:\X1 Review\IMG_0018.JPG

I personally believe this has the greatest benefit for the regular long distance commute but also has potential to also benefit companies from a business continuity (BCP) or a disaster recovery (DR) perspective. Not everyone carries a laptop with them, but you can ‘almost’ guarantee that most people / staff will have a have a mobile phone on them ready to go, especially in health and safety high risk environments like Oil & Gas / Mining / Engineering. Nothing like having a replacement workstation ready to go (well… once you give them an X1 mouse of course!)

The Citrix X1 Mouse addresses a limitation and control issue forced on us by Apple where they don’t natively support Bluetooth mice for iPad or iPhone. (there have been rumours of mouse support since iOS6 – yet here we are at iOS 8.1.3 and still nothing!)

See here:

http://www.technologytell.com/apple/143054/ipad-mouse-support-is-desperately-needed/

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6573247

This product may have a very limited life if Apple remove these restrictions and as a side note there are no such restrictions on Android devices.

The mouse on its own with an iPad was fantastic (i.e especially when used whilst Commuting and you’ve got fat fingers like mine!?!) however the most testing I tried (below) was when using the phone/s with an external monitor and keyboard & the Citrix X1 Mouse – as a desktop replacement. From an end users perspective this solution is almost no different to staff using their own laptops or desktops from home but it personally feels like the solution is finally a step closer to nearly being able to replace company thin clients & workstations and having users on tablets and phones (especially those with fat fingers) interact with their Citrix delivered apps and desktops ‘as they are used too’!

Testing

Testing wth iPhone 5 (iOS 8.1.3) and iPad Air (iOS 8.1.2) and Dell 19” external display (then later a 30″ 4K Dell monitor)

The Citrix X1 Mouse will only work with iPad3 or iPhone 4s or later but can operate as a normal bluetooth mouse for most other (Bluetooth enabled) devices.

During testing we operated it with an apple ‘lightening to HDMI’ cable on an external display. All functions typically habdled independently to the Apple device screen (when running a Citrix session)J:\X1 Review\image11.PNG

On Apple devices you must use the separate prototype R1 Citrix receiver available (free) from the App Store. If you use the normal Citrix receiver you won’t see the mouse pairing prompts. (Also apparently you can’t or shouldn’t use iOS to pair the device directly) It has three settings for the power button which seem to be Middle = off, Top = On, and Bottom = Also On

You can pair yet another apple device (iPhone or iPad) as a wireless trackpad. From the testing it worked quite well, but at times was very sluggish.

Wireless Trackpad Selection & Pairing Screens

Effectively you have receiver open on your iPad first, and click the 6 square > mouse pairing icon whilst in a session, from your iPhone you open the advanced settings > Wireless trackpad and it will automagically detect the iPad is ready and pair your phone as a touchpad.

J:\X1 Review\image7.PNG           J:\X1 Review\image6.PNG

Speed of the bluetooth keyboard typing in the Citrix session (whilst paired with the mouse) was perfect on internal wireless connection and 3G.

Citrix X1 Mouse movement is only slightly laggy and didn’t feel quite as natural as a laptop. I sped the mouse up in the control panel. The bigger the resolution the slower it felt. (possibly more related to the iPhone as Mouse movement ‘felt’ smoother when connected with the iPad) Compared to local and natural mouse it was noticeable enough to be annoying but wasn’t considerable enough to be a showstopper, would be perfect on a long train commute!

Once the X1 was paired, when powering it off and on the mouse would reconnect automagically without prompt or asking to be ‘re-paired’ (This was different for the keyboard – which was annoying when you try connecting to the session only to realise your keyboard is nowhere to be found and you have to use the onscreen keyboard!)

The external bluetooth keyboard worked natively without enabling the ‘external keyboard option’. Regardless of the options enable in the receiver options menu I was unable to get the Windows key, CTRL + ESC or CTRL + ALT + DEL ever working (Apple and Android) This might be the Bluetooth keyboard we were testing with (Logitech DiNovo Edge) but it was the only Bluetooth keyboard we had!

Sporadically colours of the desktop sometimes went awry (similar to the old school experience of a broken pin in a VGA session) usually only when reconnecting to a session. This occurred regardless of whether I used lightening to VGA or Lightening to HDMI ports. It was experienced more with Lightening port to VGA and occurred on two different dell monitors.

Interestingly you can lock your device and continue using the external screen and X1 mouse, but the keyboard would no longer work (simply passing its keys to the locked main screen) and after the session was idle it would eventually shutdown the wireless and disconnected the session.

Setting the experience to ‘Auto-fit screen’ on iPad and Large on iPhone rendered the best external resolution as well as ensuring that the external display was enabled in the options. Setting specific resolutions, rather than improving things, simply seemed to squash the session into the max available resolution from the iOS device. The iPhone seemed to be capable of a better external screen resolution (or at least it utilised the full real estate of the external monitor)

Best External Display Setting for iPad                Best External Display Setting for iPhone

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Large Resolution: Full Screen Citrix XenApp Session from iPhone @ 1280×720

Auto Fit Resolution: Full screen Citrix XenApp Session from iPad Air – Note its not using full real estate of external screen, increasing the resolution settings would only squash a smaller session into the same real estate – Believe this is iPad Air hardware limitation?)

The mouse would not interact with any menu options of the Receiver on the Apple devices, so it’s purely for Citrix session based use only (annoying when typing username and password or any phone prompts that come up)

This would be an incredibly nifty feature to combine with an external touch screen monitor …. imagine Apple and Citrix boosting their revenue as replacements for PoS devices?

If I disconnected, change receiver display settings, then reconnected it would renderer the external display unusable or black (until phone was restarted, or receiver terminated and reopened)

Orientation of iPhone didn’t affect External display once the session was running  (which is great) but input would pause during the reorientation (1-2 seconds max) however the iPads display would mirror itself on the external display so the orientation was far more important when used with the iPad.

Expanding or shrinking the iPhone screen (different size to how the Citrix session was launched) would make the mouse unusable locally on the device and would no longer be aligned however as the external monitor didn’t resize, the mouse would usually continue to work as expected.

Max resolution for external display for iPad Air was 1024×768 (which is limiting) but on iPhone it was 1280×720 (Tested on a 19” Dell, and a 30” 4K Dell – just to be sure the monitor wasn’t limiting things!)

Very obviously, the apple lightening to hdmi cable doesnt support dual displays!

Wrap Up

I could actually use a Citrix X1 Mouse prototype and Apple device (with external monitor) as a solution in place of my company laptop or desktop especially if I used a tablet / iPad on a regular basis. The feel of the Citrix X1 mouse is not perfect, but its damn close especially for day to day iPad use (long commutes, meetings etc) the acceleration and smoothness of the mouse movement needs improvement especially when used with an iOS device and external monitor and keyboard.

For full time use, at this early stage, I would still be looking for a more traditional solution.

This is one ‘sticky’ product on offer from Citrix that should set them well apart from the competition but only so long as Apple don’t soon offer their own bluetooth mouse support. Should Apple remove the ‘mouse’ limitations of its iOS then there would likely be no need for the X1.

The Citrix X1 Mouse addresses a perfect need (to help replace fat fingers!) especially for time sensitive and frustrated EXECs who, in my experience, usually have at least one Apple device floating around their office somewhere and it is the perfect companion for an Apple iPad.

If I regularly used Apple iOS devices to connect to my Citrix environment I’d be dancing in the street with the release of the Citrix X1 Mouse!

Read more from Citrix http://www.citrix.com/go/citrix-mouse.html

Thanks for reading the Citrix X1 Mouse review!