Export Historical Logon Data From XenDesktop to Excel

XenDesktop Director has some nice monitoring features to show historical information about user and machine details like sessions and logon duration. But what if you want this information to be exported? There is no built-in function in XenDesktop to accomplish this, nor in Director nor in Studio. However, the data can be easily extracted via the Monitor Service OData API. In this blog I will show you how to do this easily with only Excel without scripting. Continue Reading »

Citrix Universal Print Client slows printing in Word

Recently I was building a new XenApp / XenDesktop 7.5 environment for a customer. The customer was complaining that when a user changed his printer in Word, the application stopped responding for about 30 seconds. Word showed a message in the bottom bar, “Connecting to printer, press ESC to cancel”. I did not see this before. Further investigation showed that this only occurred when connecting to HP printers which had the HP Universal Printer driver installed. The customer also had Sharp printers, which did not have the issue. Printers where published as a network printer from a print server. Continue Reading »

Get Your Windows 8.1 Start Menu Back Today

Microsoft announced that the Start menu will come back in Windows 8.x in a future release. The Windows 8 Start menu is one of the biggest obstacles for a full adoption of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 virtual desktops. Only 9% of the virtual SBC desktops is based on Windows Server 2012 (R2). For VDI even less than 5% is based on Windows 8.x. Customers are still using Windows Server 2008 R2 as the primary OS for SBC virtual desktops.

If you are using RES Workspace Manager, you can get your Start menu back today. One of the new features in the 2014 release is a Start menu for Windows 8.1 / 2012 R2 desktops. To enable it, you only have to set a checkmark and your Start menu is managed just like in Windows Server 2008 R2 SBC virtual desktops. This will give the user the same experience as the Windows 7 Start menu. The screenshots below shows them both. Continue Reading »

Missing features in XenDesktop 7 RDS

With the release of XenDesktop 7 there is a lot of news about the exiting new features. With the merging of XenApp in XenDesktop 7 App Edition with Remote Desktop Services (Terminalserver) the benefits of XenDesktop VDI do also count for RDS, like easy deployment and a single architecture for management. But you have to realize that with the merging of XenApp in XenDesktop 7 there are some features that are missing in the new version. In this article I want to share my experience with missing features and possible alternatives. Continue Reading »

Upgrade to XenServer 6.2 with Provisioning Services 6.1

One of the biggest enhancements of XenServer 6.2 is performance. Citrix claims a density improvement of about 4 to 5 times compared to XenServer 6.1. So it’s worth to test this. I have a customer with XenServer 6.0.2 who is using Citrix Provisioning Services 6.1 to enroll XenApp servers. We already tried to upgrade to XenServer 6.1, but this resulted in BSOD on the XenApp servers. Citrix PVS 6.1 was not supported on XenServer 6.1. But now there are hotfixes available for PVS 6.1 that should make it work. So let’s give it a try.

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Citrix Avalon Excalibur – My first experiences

Since November 1st, Citrix Project Avalon Excalibur is available as a tech preview. Avalon Excalibur is the successor of XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 5.6 and will be a merge of the two products in a single architecture. The core component will be the delivery controller. This is very similar to the current XenDesktop controller, but it will also manage the XenApp servers now. So this means the end of the IMA architecture. In this blog I will focus on installing the controller and publish desktops and applications. Continue Reading »

Citrix Synergy 2012 Wrap-Up

This year I attended Citrix Synergy 2012 in Barcelona. In this post I will primarily focus on application delivery. There was also news on cloudservices, but this will be another post.

To begin with the flagships XenApp / XenDesktop, there was not much focus on these products. There is coming a new release with support for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. On November 1st a preview comes available. The project name is Excalibur. The major change is that XenApp will now be part of the XenDesktop Controller and IMA services is dead. XenApp is also managed from Desktop Studio and you can also use Machine Creation Services to deploy XenApp servers, as I already predicted in my earlier blogs. Not a word about PVS. In Desktop Studio you manage your environment, in Desktop Director you can monitor and troubleshoot your environment. This functionality is extended and replaces EdgeSight for XenApp. Continue Reading »

Deploy XenApp servers with XenDesktop Machine Creation Services

Maybe you already experienced the simplicity of deploying XenDesktop virtual desktops with Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS). MCS has several advantages. You don’t have to prepare an image, just install a reference machine and shutdown. Updating is very simple, just power on the reference machine, install updates, shutdown and update MCS. The other advantage is that when you use MCS in combination with XenServer, you can use IntelliCache, which is a great way to offload your storage. As I mentioned in a previous blog, MCS will also come to XenApp. Unfortunately it did not made it to XenApp 6.5, but it will probably come next year when XenApp and XenDesktop will merge in the same architecture. But why wait till next year? You can already deploy your XenApp servers with MCS. In fact, you can deploy any server with MCS! Please note that this is not officially supported by Citrix. But if you want to try, this is how you can do it.

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Manage your XenServer pool with RES Automation Manager 2012

For those XenServer administrators who don’t know what RES Automation Manager is, it’s a task automation tool which makes it possible to run almost any command on managed computers with an agent. You can create runbooks with multiple commands or install software remotely unattended. With the release of RES Automation Manager 2012, Linux is now also supported as a platform to install agents on. This makes it possible to manage XenServer from RES AM. Where you previously used bash scripts and the cron scheduler, you can now put those commands in RES AM and schedule them. For example you can create a runbook to stop a vm on a schedule, export the vm for backup purpose and after that start the vm. Multiple triggers are possible. When you look to my previous post, you can schedule a vApp to start after every reboot of the XenServer host.

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XenServer 6 autostart VMs or vApps

In XenServer 5.6 there was the autostart feature on VMs. When the autostart checkbox on the VM was enabled, the VMs would start automatically after the XenServer host environment was powered up. In XenServer 6, this feature is removed from the XenCenter console. There are multiple blogposts that describe how to re-enable the autostart feature from the commandline. But that is not needed. You can use the new vApp feature. With vApps you can accomplish the same, but better. vApps is a logical grouping of multiple VMs. For example you can create a vApp “core infrastructure”, put your domaincontroller and licenseserver in it and some additional servers. In a vApp you can also define the order in which VMs are started and also a delay time between the startup sequence. So vApps is much more flexible than autostart. You can find vApp in XenCenter under Pool –> Manage vApps.

  • Create a new vApp
  • Assign VMs. A VM can be added to only one vApp at a time
  • Change VM startup sequence. Add delays between sequences.

That’s it. This is a Pool feature, but it will also work with just one stand-alone XenServer. The automatic starting of a vApp only works for a paid version of XenServer. Although the administrators guide mentions vApps in combination with HA (High Availability) or DR (Disaster Recovery), you don’t need the platinum edition for vApps. In fact, you don’t need HA. I have it running with the Advanced Edition without HA enabled. If you want automatic starting of a vApp with the free version of XenServer you have to use the following commands:

List the vApps: xe appliance-list

Start a vApp: xe appliance-start uuid=<appliance-uuid>

Add above command to /etc/rc.local

So forget the autostart feature, use vApps. Even with the free version of XenServer you can use it.