Citrix Avalon Excalibur – My first experiences

By | November 12, 2012

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.

Installing the XenDesktop Controller is straight forward. There several blogs that describe every screenshot, so I only mention the steps here.

  • Install Windows Server 2012
  • Insert Excalibur preview DVD, start autorun
  • Select Delivery Controller
  • Select components:
    • Delivery Controller
    • Studio
    • Director
    • License Server
    • StoreFront
  • Install SQL Server 2008 R2 Express
  • Firewall, open ports automatically
  • Start Install

Prerequisites, like IIS and DotNet, will be installed automatically.

After the installation the Studio console will be opened. You have to configure the following settings:

  • Sitename
  • SQL Database
  • Licensing
  • Virtualization hosts

Above steps are all similar to the XenDesktop 5.6 version. We now have a working XenDesktop environment and are ready to create Machine Catalogs. This is where we find new things. When we start the Create Machine Catalog wizard, we now have the following options:

  • Windows Desktop Operating System. This is similar to the previous XenDesktop machines.
  • Windows Server Operating System. This is now the new way to create XenApp machines.

After you have created the Machine Catalogs, you can create Delivery Groups. Here you have two options:

  • Create Desktop Delivery Group
  • Create Application Delivery Group

If you want to publish desktops on a RDS server, you have to choose a Desktop Delivery group. If you want to publish applications on a RDS server, you have to choose an Application Delivery group. Unfortunately you can put a RDS server only in one group. So you have to make a choice to publish desktop or applications on a RDS server. It looks you cannot do both, like you could on XenApp. Maybe this will change in the final release.

After you have chosen an Application Delivery Group, you can go to the next step to publish applications. In Studio select Applications to create published applications. Then provide the following information:

  • Select an Application Delivery Group
  • Location of program executable, command line arguments and working directory. For this step you can also browse in the startmenu of the target machine.
  • User to publish the application to
  • Shortcut icon and client folder
  • Advanced settings, like Advanced Access Control, Appearance and Content Redirection

This looks similar to XenApp publishing.

So you now have one console, the Studio console, to publish both desktops on desktop operating systems and remote desktop server operating systems, and you can publish applications like you did in XenApp.