PVS 7.6 Cache Disks on 2012R2

So…  Stood up some 2012R2 XA7.6 servers the other day, using PVS7.6 and cache in RAM with overflow to disk.

Then I saw that I had files in the WriteCache directory on the PVS server.  WTF?

After some screwing around, I found the solution.

Apparently PVS can’t use a disk that is GPT, you must use MBR.  Once I switched that and reformatted the disks, viola!  Everything worked exactly as it should.

Happy provisioning,

CG1

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Receiver 4.2 desktop shortcuts

Yeah yeah, long time no blog.  I know.  Life gets in the way.  Work gets in the way.  I have a list of things I need to blog about, and I’ll get to a few of them here shortly.  For now, though, this one really needs to get out there, so I’m shortcutting said list, and getting it out there for you.  You’re welcome.  🙂

There seems to be very little information out there on this topic.  I Googled for hours.  I read the Citrix eDocs.  I read everything I could find.  Sure, lots of other people have blogged about it, but all they did was parrot Citrix’s announcement of the fact that the feature is back.  I highly doubt that even one of them has tried to implement the feature.  Or at least, if they did, they found out how big of a pain in the ass it is, and how the behavior of it is so strange that maybe they are best served by not telling the public about it.

As an anonymous blogger, I don’t have those same worries – making Citrix mad at me.

So, here I am to give you the “straight dope”, as it were.

 

First – the ADM template that is referenced to be used – I tried it.  I verified that it was applying properly by using GPRESULT /H.  It was working fine to apply the SSO settings.  GPRESULT showed all the shortcut settings I had configured.  Except there were no shortcuts.  It wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do.  The registry entries below were not configured.  NO idea what the deal is with that, but in the environment I was working in, it didn’t get the job done.  Now, maybe there was an environmental issue causing it?  I don’t know.  What I DO know is that I had to find a way to make it work, and so I’ll share that here with you just in case the ADM template doesn’t work for you, either.

HKLM\Software\Wow6432Node\Citrix\Dazzle

PutShortcutsInStartMenu  REG_SZ  true
PutShortcutsOnDesktop    REG_SZ  true
StartMenuDir  REG_SZ  <whatever the directory you want apps to go into in the start menu – leave blank to put them directly in start>
DesktopDir  REG_SZ  <whatever the directory you want apps to go into on the desktop – leave blank to put them directly on the desktop>

 

SO – What’s this weird behavior?  Well, for starters, it actually has to do with Storefront, not Receiver.  But since Storefront and Receiver function more or less as a pair, and the issue is manifest in Receiver, I’m still blaming that.  Mostly because I’m stubborn, as the issue DOES lie with Storefront.  For the record, this environment was using SF2.6.

The problem is that when Storefront remembers the application subscriptions, apparently a flag is set BY RECEIVER that tells Storefront whether or not it should create the desktop shortcuts.  Thus, if you have Receiver 4.0 or 4.1, and have a bunch of applications subscribed, THEN you upgrade to 4.2 – NOTHING HAPPENS.  No desktop shortcuts, no start menu folder like you specified – NOTHING.  How to fix this?  The official answer from Citrix (that doesn’t seem to be documented ANYWHERE that I can find) is “unsubscribe and resubscribe to all your applications”.  Well isn’t that just peachy.

Ok, fine.  So you’ve done that.

But then – you log into another workstation, and that one isn’t configured for desktop shortcuts.  Then you log back into one that is, and lo and behold – NO SHORTCUTS!

This is just ridiculous.  Why is the data about whether or not to publish an application shortcut stored in Storefront to begin with?  What are the implications for people who use XenDesktop, and access that environment using the HTML5 client?  What then?  I didn’t test this, but I’d imagine it will create a problem as well since naturally the HTML5 client relies on Storefront subscriptions, and is incapable of publishing a shortcut to the desktop on the client machine the browser is being run on.

IMO, the way this SHOULD work is Storefront just keeps track of the subscribed apps, and the Receiver handles creating and publishing shortcuts for any subscribed app.  That way moving amongst machines with different Receiver versions and/or configurations won’t create a problem.  I mean really, Citrix.  You bill yourself as a mobility company, and yet when the rubber meets the road, now you’re saying that “Sure, you can be mobile – as long as all your access devices have the exact same version of Receiver configured the exact same way.”

 

Doesn’t sound very mobile to me.

 

Good luck,

CG1

Client Drive Mapping irritations

So I have a customer using XD5.6 with Win7 VMs, and XA6.5.  Everything was patched current on both the Microsoft and Citrix side.  The Receiver client in the VDAs was Receiver 3.4 Enterprise, the physical client-side receiver version didn’t matter, everything was tried (even Macs!).

The issue?  The customer needed to be able to map in USB thumb drives from the physical client.  Then, within the XD session, there were network drives mapped in (home drive, etc).  The customer needed to pass in BOTH the physical USB thumb drive as well as the mapped network drives so that content redirection would work properly and seamlessly from all sources within the XD VM.

Citrix doesn’t seem to support this.  I read CTX after CTX, and forum post after forum post.  I could only find one other person trying to do this, and their question was asked in an active thread with several Citrix employees commenting on it, and as soon as they asked how to map in BOTH, there was nothing but crickets.  Since June.

Well shitty!  What now?  The lack of information out there on the topic certainly doesn’t help my customer, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give them some half-assed answer.  That’s just not my style.  After hours of messing with the registry, and confirming that the registry key referenced in CTX127872 was an either/or proposition (meaning one way you get the drives from the physical client passed into the XA session, the other way you get the drives from the XD VM passed into the XA session), I realized something had to give.  More investigation eventually brought me to the revelation that “one way, it maps everything WITH a drive letter, and the other way, it maps everything WITHOUT a drive letter”.

Ok, super.  So how to get the physical drives assigned a letter?  AH!  Legacy drive mapping!  It says it’s a XenApp solution, but I figured what the hell, why not give it a shot on XD anyway?  Yeah, no love.  For once, the CTX was actually correct in the scope of products it pertained to.  Go figure.

So I manually mapped one of the devices with net use at the command-line.  Then I opened that mapped drive and double-clicked a Word doc.  Success!  It opened in Word!  Now…  How to get all the drives to automatically map every time a user logs in?

Disclaimer:  I’m NORMALLY a VBScript guy.  Like, HARDCORE.  But, I didn’t have the time to properly write and debug some code, and this worked.  Yeah, yeah, go ahead and give me crap about not being a PowerShell guy.   Call me old, I just haven’t yet FULLY gotten on that bandwagon.  Feel free to re-write this in PS and post it in the comments.  🙂

In any event, what I wrote was this:

@echo off
if exist \\client\c$ net use * \\client\c$
if exist \\client\d$ net use * \\client\d$
if exist \\client\e$ net use * \\client\e$
if exist \\client\f$ net use * \\client\f$
if exist \\client\g$ net use * \\client\g$
if exist \\client\h$ net use * \\client\h$

I deployed it using a login script via GPO.  Again, no love.  The login script processed before CDM had a chance to finish bringing in the drives, so only the fixed disk mapped, not the USB removable drive.  The solution?  Put it in the startup folder in the default profile.

Viola!  Client drives are now mapped from both the end point AND the VDI VM.  Sure, it might be a touch ugly, but if you can get your users to match up something as simple as E: and E$, they should be able to figure it out.

Happy mapping,
CG1

Removable Drive passthru with XD and XA

So Citrix allows you to passthru local devices into XD and XA sessions.  Floppy drives (really?!), optical drives, fixed disks, and removable storage, what fun!  With the Presentation Server 10.x client on the physical device, and Receiver 3.4 Enterprise in the Win7 XD VM, the removable devices passthru as floppy drives.  So, plug in your $300 Kingston HyperX USB-3 drive, and Citrix thinks it’s a floppy.  Brilliant!  But, it works.  Now, you upgrade the client on your physical Win7 machine to Receiver 3.4, and connect to your virtual Win7 desktop that has Receiver 3.4 Enterprise on it.  The USB passthru into XD works, and content redirection tries real hard, but you get an error after the app launches saying it can’t find the file.  You do file -> open, and sure enough, none of the drives from the physical machine have been passed into the XA session.  I previously blogged about this, but this issue is different.  In that scenario, the client devices were a major-name-brand thin client, and that registry key seemed to address the issues.  Apparently I spoke too soon, for that solution does not work in all scenarios.

The solution in this case?  Receiver 4.  Upgraded the Receiver on the physical Win7 client, and bam!  Everything passed through exactly as you would expect it should.

Maddening?  iMacs running v11.7 and v11.8 of the receiver client didn’t have this issue, they just worked.  Really, Citrix?  Your software runs on Windows.  The servers, the virtual desktops, all of it.  Yet the clients you publish only work flawlessly out of the box on Macs?  For shame.

 

Redirecting,
CG1

SQL mirroring for Citrix

So, you’re building a XenDesktop environment and you want to mirror the database for it.  while you’re at it, why not mirror PVS and XenApp, too?  They both support it.  But how do you do it?  You’re a Citrix admin, not a database admin!

Start by installing SQL Standard (or Enterprise) on two different servers.  Do NOT put the databases on the system drive!  Otherwise, just a vanilla install is fine (make sure to install SQL management studio).

For XD – create an empty database on the first SQL Server and call it whatever you want (XenDesktop is nice, but whatever).  The collation needs to be LATIN1_GENERAL_CI_AS_KS , and the recovery model needs to be set to full.  Also, make sure you have configured the proper permissions for your XenDesktop service account to access the database.  Then – create a new query and enter the following:

BACKUP DATABASE [XenDesktop] TO  DISK = N'C:\temp\XenDesktop.bak' WITH NOFORMAT, NOINIT,  NAME = N'XenDesktop-Full Backup', SKIP, NOREWIND, NOUNLOAD,  STATS = 10
GO

Then right click in the query window and select execute.  Copy the file XenDesktop.bak to the second SQL server.  Right click Databases and select Restore Database.  Enter XenDesktop as the database name, then select From Device, and browse to the file.  Then, check the box in the display next to the file name.  Then click Options in the left pane, and then make sure to select “without recovery”.

Now, go back to the first SQL Server and right click the database and then in the left pane, click Mirroring.  Click Configure Security.  Make sure the box for Witness Server is unchecked (if you want a witness, you can read more about it on MSDN, but this is a Citrix blog, not a SQL blog, so we’re keeping it simple).  Then enter the information for both the SQL servers.  Then for the account, use your SQL service account for each server (your SQL Servers do use a service account, right?  If not, go change it now – because if you want to use local system or network service, you need to use certificates, and I HATE certificates!).  Since the SQL servers in my deployments are generally dedicated to Citrix databases, I like to use the same service account for both servers.  If you use a different one for each server, just make sure you enter the correct one for each server.  After the wizard completes, click start mirroring.  That’s it.

Repeat the process for XenApp and PVS, changing the database names and .bak file names appropriately.  PVS and XenApp don’t much care about the database collation type like XenDesktop does.  For XenApp, though, you need to download the Native SQL client for the version of SQL Server you are using (2008 R2 is still the easiest with all the additional restrictions imposed by 2012).  After it’s downloaded, stop the IMA service, install the new client, and then open MF20.dsn and modify it thusly:

The Driver line should read

DRIVER={SQL Server Native Client 10.0}

Then, under the line beginning SERVER=, add the following line:

Failover_Partner=MYSECONDSQLSERVER

Obviously, put the name of your SQL Server in there.

Then just start the IMA service back up.

Nothing special should need to be done with PVS, provided the databases are correct.

 

Redundantly,
-CG1

So, you screwed up your KMS licensing on your provisioned VMs?

So you booted your KMS-licensed VM and got a message about how your VM is a rogue copy of windows, or pirated, or some such, and you’re freaking out, aren’t you?  You issue slmgr /dlv and it says there is no installed product key, right?

First off, let me congratulate on you your rite of passage.  Secondly (in case the previous sentence didn’t clue you in to the fact), let me assure you that you aren’t the first one to do this.  Now, you’ve landed on this article because you typed something into Google looking for an article on how to fix it, didn’t you?  Fine, I won’t keep you hanging any longer.  Do this:

Power off all VMs using the affected vDisk image.
Switch the vDisk to Private Mode.
Click OK.
Open the properties on the vDisk again.
Change the licensing mode to “None”.
Power on your VM.
slmgr /ipk <kms product key>
slmgr /skms <fqdn to your KMS server – OPTIONAL – use if you need to specify a KMS server>
slmgr /ato
slmgr /upk
slmgr /ipk <kms product key>
slmgr /rearm

If you have Office installed, don’t forget to do ospprearm.exe, and if it’s a XenApp box, make sure to prepare for imaging and provisioning.  Then, shut the VM down.

Switch the vDisk back to Standard Mode and set your cache location.
Click OK.
Open the properties on the vDisk again.
Switch the licensing mode to KMS.
Bookmark this page for when you do it again <optional, but faster than Googling again>.

-CG1

Using Receiver Enterprise 3.4 inside a XenDesktop VM

The install string:

Citrixreceiverenterprise.exe /includeSSON ADDLOCAL=”ReceiverInside,ICA_Client,SSON,PN_Agent,USB,Flash” ENABLE_SSON=”Yes” LEGACYFTAICONS=”True” ENABLEPRELAUNCH=”True” SERVER_LOCATION=”https://server.domain.com” ENABLE_DYNAMIC_CLIENT_NAME=”Yes”

 

Easy, right?  Everyone has done something similar before.  But then, you can’t get the drives (like mapped network drives) to pass-thru into your XenApp server apps.  Why bother?  If there are mapped network drives inside the XD VM, users could simply double-click on a file in their home directory, and using redirection, it will auto-launch the associated application and then pass that file through.  Sweet, right?  Sure.  But, if you use the Enterprise client, it doesn’t work by default.  Fix it like this:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Configuration\Advanced\Modules\ClientDrive
Value name:  NativeDriveMapping
Type: REG_SZ
Value:  True  (It is FALSE by default)

Problem solved, enjoy!

 

-CG1