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Citrix Netscaler HTTPS to HTTPS Redirection

A client wanted to retire an old Netscaler Gateway URL for their remote access system (used for legacy) with a new Netscaler Gateway URL (netscaler https to https redirection)

As all users of the link were external and globally based, had saved shortcuts, IE favourites etc so to 1) continue un-interrupted service and 2) reduce service desk calls it made sense to redirect the old URL to the new URL for all users (Especially those users that would ignore the Change notification to update their shortcuts!)

A quick and simple way to achieve this on Citrix Netscaler 10.5 is to use a Load Balancing Virtual Server (LBVS), assign no ‘services’ (so it is permanently marked down) and set a backup URL.

  1. Create the HTTPS/SSL LBVS

  1. Add SSL Certificate and Protection nodes to the VS (click the +)

  1. Bind the Certificate of the legacy Netscaler Gateway VS to the LBVS

We have a Wildcard Certificate for all our Netscaler Gateways

  1. Under protection set the Redirect URL to your new Netscaler Gateway URL

  1. As the LBVS will be marked down (no other services bound to it) it will permanently redirect to the new URL

Note: the redirect URL can also be configured on a Content Switching Virtual Server

Move the Citrix Edgesight SSRS report path

We recently had to move the Citrix Edgesight SSRS report server for a client for their Citrix Edgesight services.

Worth noting the following caveats when moving the SSRS report server location from edgesight

  1. All Custom reports are deleted
  2. All existing report subscriptions are deleted
  3. The standard edgesight reports will be uploaded to the new server under http://%server%/%reports%/Citrix/Edgesight/GUID/*
  4. Only the default edgesight schedules are created

NOTE: This does not affect any alerts / alert rules you have configured – these are left intact. (which is great!)

Citrix edgesight SSRS move alert

Also permissions for the service account need to be set as follows

  • Administrator role under Site-wide Security to allow uploading of schedules.
  • Administrator role in the root folder of the SSRS site to allow uploading of reports.
  • “Log on Locally” user right on the SSRS server.

Note the report services path can changed from within the edgesight console

  1. login as someone with edgesight admin rights (manage server settings)
  2. Configure Tab
  3. Reporting Services
  4. Report server

Citrix edgesight SSRS Configuration page

Reference: How to move the Citrix Edgesight SSRS report path

 

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 Receiver 4.2 BSOD

Problem: Citrix Receiver 4.2 BSOD (and 4.1)

During the installation of the new Citrix Receiver 4.2 (and 4.1), laptops, desktops and VMs were all blue screening at about 70% through the installation process.

Citrix Receiver 4.2 Install BSOD

 

STOP: 0x000000CA

And on restart we received

Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: BlueScreen
OS Version: 6.1.7601.2.1.0.256.4
Locale ID: 2057

Additional information about the problem:
BCCode: ca
BCP1: 0000000000000002
BCP2: FFFFFA8003A96060
BCP3: 0000000000000000
BCP4: 0000000000000000
OS Version: 6_1_7601
Service Pack: 1_0
Product: 256_1

 

If you have already installed it and BSOD’ed your machine you MUST select F8 and choose ‘Last Known Good Configuration’ on reboot otherwise its likely the machine will then be bricked.

Workaround

Disable any USB device scanning or blocking software

Uninstall or disable the Landesk agents

Solution

This is more than likely related to the citrixusb driver installation so disable any USB driver or device blocking software.

In our instance (and after much troubleshooting) turns out it was a conflict with the Landesk (blocking USB device insert / install) 9.5 SP2 (“C:\Program Files (x86)\LANDesk\Shared Files\residentAgent.exe” version = 9.0.3.45)

Upgrade Landesk agents to 9.6 SP1

(“C:\Program Files (x86)\LANDesk\Shared Files\residentAgent.exe” version will = 9.60.0.225)

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

J:\X1 Review\image21.PNG           J:\X1 Review\image4.PNG

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!

Should I upgrade Citrix XenServer 6.2 to XenServer 6.5?

In Short … HELL YES, see this PDF from Citrix with the large list of the improvements in XenServer 6.5

The new console is sleek and quick and a hell of an improvement over the previous with a number of bug fixes (notably for vGPU / VDI settings). It has a couple of new views (similar to the VMware Client), and from rudimentary tests the VMs on 6.5 are performing marginally better than 6.2.

xensrver_6.5_console_view2       xensrver_6.5_console_view1

The in place upgrade tested was flawless and preserved existing VMS on the host, including snapshots and templates. (it does however wipe out the XenServer backup directory so be prepared if you have any backups saved). Overall the entire upgrade process for one host (Dell R720) took around 8 minutes for the upgrade to complete (not including reboot time)

XenServer_6.5_upgrade_prompt

xenserver_6.5_backup-partition-prompt

XenServer6.5_InPlaceUpgrade

Benchmarking for GPU / VDI Passthrough

VM with 4vCPU, 90GB RAM, 150GB Local disk, Client with receiver 4.2 and local resolution of 2 x 1400 x 900, Running XenDesktop 7.6 on a Dell R720 Server. (3 benchmarks were run consecutively to ensure the results were not a one off – Final result was recorded)

  1. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.2 – Heaven benchmark Score 1631
  2. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.5 (without tools upgrade) – Heaven benchmark Score 1666
  3. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.5 (with tools upgrade) – Heaven Benchmark Score 1666 (marginally higher FPS – but every bit helps in the world of VDI right?)

Results

Its worth noting the below results are only really recording the performance of the GPU not the over all VM, its ability to serve applications or open files etc and a load testing solution like Edgesight Load testing or LoginVSI should really be used in a production scenario to determine a more ‘real end user load’. It is nice to see however that even from this rudimentary test the performance is heading in the right direction!

Heaven Benchmark XenServer 6.2 vs 6.5 FPS Min FPS Max FPS
XS 6.2 64.7 19.1 139
XS 6.5 w 6.2 Tools 66.1 19.4 141.6
XS 6.5 w 6.5 Tools 66.2 22.3 142.1

Results Graph

xenserver_6.2-6.5-upgrade_GPU_Performance_Improvement

Note: the VM tools were upgraded with the GPU removed and direct from the Xenserver 6.5 console, I did not remove the VDA or Nvidia drivers first (experience shows that this is a best practice)

 

Citrix PVS vdiskdif.vhdx cache file filling up and servers crashing after reboot.

Situation:

We had a number of production VMs running a Citrix desktop workload on Citrix Xenapp 6.5 via Citrix PVS 7.1 (SP3) with cache to RAM with overflow to hard drive, set at 2048Mb. VMware Hypervisor 5.5 and Appv 5 SP2 with HRP4 running in full infrastructure mode (no Microsoft SCCM) and 30GB of packages running in Shared content store mode from a network file share \\server\appvshare$

Servers have 12GB Ram, with 4 vCPU’s and Windows 2008 R2 SP1

C: Drive is 40GB (with 35GB utilised)

D: Drive is 20 GB (typically 12GB utilised at any one time) with a 6.1GB Page file redirected here, an the vdiskdif.vhdx at 4mb

We have a daily reboot for the entire Citrix desktop estate estate at 3am.

Appv GPO Settings are to use Shared content mode, use the local path of c:\programdata\appv (not app-v), autoload = ALL, user and computer refresh on logon = true

APPV_Streaming

Problem/Symptoms:

After an IE11 upgrade on the Citrix vDisk, every 2-3 days some of the citrix servers would reboot (as per policy) and quickly fill up the D drive, finally crashing the server and rendering it unusable. Hoorah for PVS cache to disk.

As the machine had crashed there was little way to troubleshoot it after the fact, so we needed to capture it during.

Steps to resolve:

Increase C: Drive to 60GB using the process listed in the first section of this article – NO FIX

Increase D: Drive to 40GB to resolve. The server stopped crashing as the server didnt run out of D drive space, we then noticed that the vdiskdif.vhds was sitting at 13.6GB and growing (vs unaffected servers sitting at 4Mb) When checking the system processes, nothing was obviously running or processing. This was a nice workaround but not a final solution or fix.

We rebooted and remotely monitored the system with PSTools (sysinternals) executable “pslist -s \\servername”. During the reboot the appvclient.exe was siting 25% CPU, whilst the GPO to do a full client sync was ‘called’ and run (powershell: get-appvpublishingserver | sync-appvpublishingserver)

Our crashing was finally narrowed to the AppV client that was sporadically somehow crashing and filling the D drive. When the AppV client was stopped or the server removed from any ‘global’ publishing – the server never crashed. As soon as the production APPV packages were republished to the device, and after every 2 or 3 reboots the appvclient.exe would run, start caching files, and start filling up the D drive as it was ‘copying / caching’ the packages.

This felt very much like the AppV client was ignoring the shared content mode, and trying to cache everything locally.

Final Resolution:

The ‘gut feeling’ on this problem was that the AppV client wasnt getting the correct settings from GPO in time. The local AppV Client settings (registry) were reviewed and it seemed there were some improvements to be made.

OLD SETTING

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\AppV\Client\Streaming]

“AutoLoad”=dword:00000001

“SharedContentStoreMode”=dword:00000000

Turns out the Appv Client settings were set to disable Shared content mode, and to autoload all apps which we are assuming its doing sometimes before it gets its required settings from GPO.

 

NEW SETTING

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\AppV\Client\Streaming]

“AutoLoad”=dword:00000000

“SharedContentStoreMode”=dword:00000001

After creating a new vDisk version with the ‘New Setting’ registry keys listed above tattooed in the vDisk image  the servers haven’t crashed since.

Also we were using a GPO powershell script that tells the client to go and ‘autoload’ all the apps. So the autoload registry option was just confusing things, hence we disabled it.

Things discovered whilst implementing a PoC of Citrix HDX 3D Pro

Here is a non exhaustive list of things recently discovered during a PoC of Citrix XenDesktop 7.6 with Nvidia GPU Passthrough from XenServer 6.2 SP1 (i.e Citrix HDX 3D Pro) for the Oil and Gas Industry

The alternative (rather long) heading for this article should probably be “how to deliver 3d graphic intensive Oil and Gas Applications via a Citrix virtual desktop with HDX”

You could say its a general bunch of optimal Citrix Xendesktop 7.6 HDX 3D pro settings or lessons learned

  • It’s awesome and actually works pretty much out of the box!
  • A low network latency is required for uninterrupted performance – ensure you are seeing less than around 30ms from Session to Server (Use the Citrix HDX Monitor 3.x)
  • This can then easily be delivered to iPads, tablets, anything that supports the Citrix receiver which is pretty nifty!
  • Ensure you are using the latest receiver 4.2 on ALL the clients – reconnecting a session to an older client (3.x or 12.x) pretty much renders the live HDX session useless.
  • When installing the NVIDIA drivers in your VM for GPU passthrough you must ensure you have downloaded the driver version for the VM operating system (aka the Nvidia GRID Drivers for Windows 7 if using passthrough) – If you are using vGPU then you must get the NVIDIA GRID Drivers for vGPU XenDesktop
  • Driver version here was important when running applications like Petrel or EDM Landmark that call specific functions from the native GPU, they will open if the driver version is wrong, but certain functions (like seismic Picking will perform poorly, if at all)
  • Racked workstations with only one GPU (Nvidia K5000 etc)  will not be available for passthrough if they are the only video card available in the system. You must have one available for DOM0 / console. Then Xenserver will free up the NVIDIA for passthrough.
  • Of the performance testing we attempted on a host with 2.4GHZ Intel Xeon the performance for smaller resolutions (1440×900) was ok – but on larger resolutions (2560×1600) or for bigger processing – a minimum CPU in the host of 2.8 ghz (3.x better!) *A Faster CPU configuration may not work in some servers with 2 x Grid K2 cards as the power consumption of the cards themselves will be too high. Be sure of the resolutions you are trying to deliver first.
  • Ensure the host system BIOS settings are set for Max Power / Performance mode.
  • XenServer max NIC speed for a VM is 1gb, even with 10GB nic in the host.
  • By default the Citrix policies will only allow for 30fps, you need to apply a policy to increase this to aim for 60fps.
    • Read this article and walk through the settings listed by Jason Southern as they improve the performance of the Citrix session substantially
  • Ensure your VM is getting the correct amount of vCPUS from xenserver, if not you can change the cores per CPU socket via the following commands (workstations are limited to 2 cores per socket)
    • xe vm-list (find the UUID of the vm you want to fix / change)
    • xe vm-param-set platform:cores-per-socket=4 uuid=xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Set the number of available cores per socket assigned to the VM here) Citrix article here
    • Install http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX142095
  • With the right configurations and modest end client resolutions (dual screen 1440 * 900) from a Unigine Heaven Benchmark we were seeing 8min-147max fps, with an average of 65.3fps
  • With large client resolutions (dual screen 2560*1600) from Unigine heaven benchmark we were seeing 11min – 24max fps, with ave of 21.9fps

Drop us a message if you have any questions or leave comments below, we are happy to assist you with your virtualisation solutions!

Big thanks goes out to the teams at NVIDIA (Jason and Sarah) and CITRIX (Mark and John) for their assistance during this PoC – their instant access to knowledge, or – been there done that, meant all niggling issues could be sorted with a simple 30 minute phonecall!

Storefront 2.5 'Cannot Complete your Request'

Ive seen this error a number of times:

  1. Misconfiguration of storefront server itself
  2. The server has just rebooted and IIS is still starting up
  3. A firewall preventing the storefront server(s) getting back to the SNIP of the Netscaler(s)
  4. and now today…

Today I added a new Delivery controller in Storefront 2.5 so I could publish ‘XD’ resources.

In the XD7.6 studio console I created a new machine catalogue and delivery group called ‘J&J Testing’

When accessing the delivery group in the Studio it looked fine

When testing the login process via storefront we received ‘Cannot complete your request’.

Removing the ‘XD’ from the list of delivery controllers in storefront – worked instantly, storefront logins working again
This was not a solution however.

Deleting the delivery group ‘J&J Testing’ and re-adding the ‘XD DDC’ back to storefront as a delivery controller worked straight away.

Solution: Can only assume here that the ‘&’ ampersand in the name of the delivery group killed the publication there of, or the delivery group publication process failed and a recreate was required.

Eitherway dont use ‘&’