Coretek Services Reboot Manager, Pt. 2

2017-07-27T00:00:59+00:00 July 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Please see this link for Part 1. 

For Part 2, let’s examine the Coretek Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES) Reboot Manager Console in more detail. 

The VDES Management Console, shown in the screenshot below, is a simple interface which is broken down into 3 core areas: License Manager, VDES Farm, and Reboot Manager. 

  • The License Manager is simply where the license code for the components is managed.
  • The VDES Farm section allows the servers to be broken down into functional server types, which is useful to manage one of the other core functionalities of VDES, called XAppNow.  This is a feature which speeds up the reconnect times by 4-5 seconds for double hop published applications running inside a Virtual Desktop.
  • The Reboot manager section allows us to define multiple reboot schedules for the target servers.

Figure 3 - VDES Management Console

Under the VDES Farm node, a server can be configured with the appropriate settings to allow reboot manager to function correctly and enable logging.  The Drain Mode Command(s) can be customized, but are predefined for XenApp workloads.  Logging can be enabled via the Logging Enabled and Log File command for debug logging.  The SMTP configurations can be defined to enable mail notifications to administrators to notify when the servers state changes (for example, drain mode enabled, server reboot started).

Figure 4- VDES Server Settings

When right-clicking on the Reboot Manager node, it is possible to add Reboot Schedules.

Figure 5 - Right Click on Reboot Manager Node

The Reboot Schedule window allows the selection of the day(s) on which to reboot the server, the time at which we would like to start the drain mode, the time of day to force a reboot of the server, and the customized Warning Message to be displayed to the users.

Figure 6 - New Reboot Schedule Window

On the Notifications tab, Email and Event Log notifications can be enabled to give the administrator peace of mind that the server(s) have been properly rebooted.

Figure 7 - Reboot Manager Notifications Tab

After the schedule and notification have been defined, the highlighted schedule under Reboot Manager allows servers to be included or excluded from the selected schedules.  Servers can be added to multiple reboot schedules without issues.

Figure 8 - Reboot Manager Adding Servers

And that’s all there is to it.  Powerful control with simplicity and peace of mind! 

Drop us a line if you are interested in a trial of our Reboot Manager or other compnents of the VDES toolset – we look forward to hearing from you!

Coretek Services Reboot Manager, Pt. 1

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 June 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|

At Coretek Services, we have been successfully implementing Virtual Desktop environments since 2008.

A continuous request we receive from our customers is the ability to require a more granular approach to managing reboots and end-user and administrative notifications for reboots.  We originally attempted to script reboot management via PowerShell and had varying levels of success.  We ultimately decided to go our own way; and the end result was the Coretek Services Reboot Manager – now part of the Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES).

When working with Virtual Desktop infrastructures – be it VMware Horizon, XenDesktop, or using XenApp to presented desktops or applications – one of the major challenges is the ability to reboot the operating systems with minimal impact to the end-users.  But in environments which have a 24×7 user load, XenApp presented desktops are particularly difficult to drain users and schedule reboots without impacting the users or manual intervention by the administrator. 

Typically, in XenDesktop infrastructures, the DHCP lease times are relatively low.  With a PVS delivered XenDesktop image, this can create a problem with the DHCP conflict detections attempts if this not enabled (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX135938), since the PVS delivered image will not request a DHCP lease extension.   

Let’s take a look at the XenApp 6.5 Reboot Behavior policies:

The Reboot logon disable time policy provides a maximum of a 60 minute window before a server reboots.  In an environment with users on the servers 24×7, this is inconvenient for the users and disrupts their workflow.  Ideally, you would want to put the server into drain mode to cover an entire shift as to not disrupt the users.

The Reboot warning interval policy can trigger a warning to the users every 1, 3, 5, 10 or 15 minutes.  If the maximum amount of time the server remains in drain mode is 60 minutes, this may not be an issue.  However, if you want to allow the server to persist in drain mode for a longer period of time, a notification every 15 minutes would be quite annoying for the users.

Coretek Services has developed our Reboot Manager tool, a part of our Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES), to offer the optimal flexibility for creating and managing the reboot processes for your XenApp and Virtual Desktop environments.  We have designed the Reboot Manager to allow administrators to put servers into a drain mode for up to a 24 hour window. 

Additionally, we allow for notifications to begin at a manually specified time before the servers reboot.  This enables users in a 24×7 environment to reconnect to their existing session for an entire shift and allows the disconnect timers to log users off a server gracefully prior to a reboot.  Users will be drained from the server via attrition as opposed to be forced to log off manually.

In our next post: We dive into the Coretek VDES Reboot Manager Console, and walk through some of the powerful scheduling settings.  See you then!

Citrix Printer Roaming…

2017-07-27T00:01:01+00:00 September 24th, 2014|Uncategorized|

If you happen to use Citrix policies to configure printer roaming in your XenApp and/or XenDesktop environment, you may have had issues with session printers.  There are a variety of solutions out there to handle printing, and even Citrix has their Universal Print Driver.  Before this was available, however, if you wanted to do printer roaming in Citrix and only Citrix, you had to use their policies.  I found my head meeting the desk repeatedly when I tried to clear up the network session printers available to an endpoint.  In this XenApp 6.5 and XenDesktop 5.6 scenario, when a user switched from using one physical endpoint to another, Citrix policy was configured to add the geographically nearest printer and make it default.

Citrix Printing

The part where the printer was added and made default worked like a charm.  I was happily able to switch between a laptop and a Wyse device in different locations and have the default printer switched accordingly.  Unfortunately, after doing this with multiple devices in an environment with multiple printers, the list of available printers started adding up.

Citrix Printing

This may be a feature that you want to keep, and let the users decide where to send their print jobs.  On the other hand, if you don’t think users need to be able to exercise free will to such an extent, you may want to have that list cleared at each connection.  To do this, there are some hot fixes you should know about.  Actually, there are quite a few possible hot fixes you could try to use to fix this problem.  I did, and it took some time to find the right one(s).

First up: Download Hotfix Rollup Pack 4 for Citrix XenApp 6.5 (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX140111)

Note that XA650W2K8R2X64R04 is designed for x64 architecture on Server 2008 R2.

Then apply the fix to the presented desktop server(s), and make the following key in the registry of the PD:

HKLM > Software > Citrix > Ica > PrintingSettings

Then create a new Dword entry with a hexidecimal value of “1”:

DeleteNetworkPrinters         1

Citrix Printing

Simple, right?  Now any presented desktops you are using should dispose of extra session printers at each connection.  And if you are using XenDesktop 5.6, you need to make the change on the VM endpoints themselves.  In this case, install Hotfix Rollup XD560VDAWX64400 (version 5.6.400) for XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent Core Services x64 (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX138551).

If your client VMs are 32 bit, get XD560VDAWX86400 (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX138550).

Install this patch for the Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) and then, again on the client VMs, have the same registry edit applied:

HKLM > Software > Citrix > Ica > PrintingSettings

Then create a new Dword entry with a hexdecimal value of “1”:

DeleteNetworkPrinters         1

That’s it!  Test it according to your deployment method and you should see those printers disappearing.  If you want them to stick around, change the value of DeleteNetworkPrinters from “1” to “0.”

How to create nice-looking icons for Citrix published apps

2017-07-27T00:01:07+00:00 October 17th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Problem:

A customer of mine has a handful of web applications which are published with XenApp 6.5 and PNAgent, have shortcuts on the desktop, and are launched via a URL with Internet Explorer.  So, the default icon that the user sees on their desktop is the typical Internet Explorer blue e icon for every one of them.  The customer wanted to assign a distinctive and representative icon to each of the web based applications, but didn’t have all of the icons for them.

 

How I worked through it:

We first tried to assign some ICO files that we found to those applications; but while they looked good when we downloaded them, they looked horrible when presented to the user.  The colors were way off, which looked unacceptable to the customer:

 

 

So, I searched around on the web to find out why the custom icons looked so bad, but couldn’t find a lot of concrete information about it.  I found a Citrix support article (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX126458) that was very brief, but did say one critical thing:  any icon files assigned to published applications that are larger or smaller than 32×32 pixels will downgrade to only an 8-bit color depth.  This is what I experienced in the above screenshot of the icon for the published application.  However, if the icon file is sized at exactly 32×32 pixels, it will retain up to the full 32-bit color depth.

Given this information, and messing around a bit with some icon files, I was able to prove out a process to ensure your custom icon files will show up as expected when assigned to published applications.

 

Process:

  1. Obtain a reference file that you want to turn into the new icon
    – This file can be in at least a ICO, PNG, GIF or JPEG format
    – It is preferable to have a file that already has a  transparent background (ICO, GIF or PNG) unless the background color is acceptable or the image is meant to take up the entire 32×32 pixel canvas

    Here is an example of the icon file that I tried originally, but looked bad on the published application because the size was 64×64 pixels (please see the “How I worked through it” section above for a screenshot of what it looked like in XenApp) 

  2. Open file in image editing software (like GIMP or Photoshop)
    Optional: If the image has a background that is not transparent and you want the final icon to have a transparent background  then proceed to cutout image that you want in the final icon file and paste it onto a new canvas with a transparent background
  3. Orient the image on the canvas as needed and re-size the canvas to 32×32 pixels
  4. Edit/touch-up as necessary
  5. Export to PNG or GIF (to keep transparency)
  6. Convert to ICO file
    – Browse to www.converticon.com
    – Browse for the new PNG or GIF file that was just created
    – Export to 32×32 pixel ICO file
  7. Upload file to a XenApp server in the farm that is hosting the published application
  8. Assign the icon to published application (XenApp 6.5 specific steps)
    – Open AppCenter
    – Open Application Properties of Published Application
    – Select Shortcut Presentation
    – Click “Change icon…”
    – Select “Choose an icon from a file on an IMA server”
    – Browse for and select the ICO file
    – Click OK, then OK

Here is what the re-sized icon then looked like after I assigned it to the published application:

 Happy iconing!

 

 

Useful Periodic Citrix EdgeSight Reporting

2017-07-27T00:01:08+00:00 October 27th, 2011|Uncategorized|

I am often asked by customers, “With EdgeSight, what reports should we monitor on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis?”

EdgeSight is a powerful, but sometimes complex tool.  Based upon my experiences, there are several reports you can schedule to run on a daily basis that will give you a good snapshot of the health of your environment. 

Here is the list of daily reports which I recommend to my customers in order to monitor the health of their XenApp environment:

  • XenApp Summary: XenApp performance data (login time, active sessions, ICA session latency, and CPU and memory usage).
  • XenApp Server Utilization: Average CPU, average memory, and peak concurrent sessions for XenApp servers.  This report contains information about the most heavily loaded servers.
  • Session Client and Server Startup Duration: Average Session client startup duration (CSD) and server startup duration (SSD).  Displays login duration.

By monitoring these three reports, a XenApp administrator will be able to quickly identify if any one of the servers or users has experienced issues over the past 24 hours.  In one instance, the Session Client and Server Startup Duration report was useful in identifying a delay at login that only occurred for the first login after a reboot. 

While you will not necessarily be able to identify a root cause with these summary reports, you will have enough data to begin the troubleshooting process.

TAKE FIVE: Why I Like Citrix

2017-07-27T00:01:09+00:00 August 10th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Here’s a situation where the nice guy finishes as President and CEO.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a profile of Citrix. I’ve really enjoyed the research — because I felt like there was a good story lurking under the covers — and the writing, which has been made easier by the great interviews I had with Citrix CTO Simon Crosby, and Citrix President and CEO Mark Templeton. Here’s what I discovered.

Take 1
Mark Templeton. I can’t help it, I just like the guy. He was running late for our phone interview, so I had some time to chat with Julie Geer, the helpful PR person who had lined up the interview, and she was telling me how much everybody likes Mark — I know, I know, it’s not as though she’s going to say what a dirtball he is, even if he was, which he isn’t. When Templeton gets on the line, he apologizes left and right about keeping me waiting. My reaction: Wow, he’s totally unpretentious for a guy in his position. There was no “slick” in him. On a more professional level, you’ve got to admire somebody who has been president and CEO of a high-tech company for 11 years and has not only hung onto his job, but has navigated Citrix through a lot of turbulent waters. Mark Templeton = good guy.

Take 2
Simon Crosby. When I think of Simon, I harken back to Eric Clapton (E.C.) talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan. E.C. said Stevie Ray was like an “open channel,” meaning that he never had to stop and regroup before taking off on another fabulous sonic blast. Simon is a great interview because he can talk on and on — in detail — about whatever he’s asked to discuss. The only downside to that is trying to figure out what to use and what to edit out, which is a small price to pay for all that good content.

Take 3
The Microsoft deal. When you take the time to look at this long-standing agreement (it goes back at least to the late ’90s), you can see how good it is for both companies, which are complementary as opposed to being competitive. As long as Citrix can remain the company that best exemplifies what Microsoft is looking for in an OEM partner — which Microsoft says is the case — they can continue to earn big bucks by delivering Windows apps to that huge market. Adding to the luster for Citrix: Microsoft makes no bones about saying VMware is a competitor.

Take 4
XenDesktop. The buck stops at XenDesktop, which is the real deal for Citrix as a competitor to VMware, and which is now available as part of a suite with XenApp, which has been making Citrix a lot of money for a long time. Yes, VMware has excelled in the server virtualization market — which seems not to bother Citrix because the company still has big plans for XenServer as the hypervisor of choice for XenDesktop, XenApp and NetScaler — but Citrix is at least VMware’s equal in the VDI/desktop virtualization space, which has huge potential. XenDesktop’s use of HDX adaptive technology (which includes the ICA protocol) looks to have an advantage over PCoIP, which VMware uses with its View VDI product. Bottom line: the future looks legitimately bright.

Take 5
The Citrix image. Citrix has been taking it on the chin from bloggers, reporters and pundits of all kinds for quite a while now, mostly around two topics: the possible demise of XenServer as a result of its perceived poor performance in the server virtualization market, and the possibility of Microsoft abrogating its cooperative agreement with Citrix and then blowing the company out of the virtualization market. To which I reply: Citrix has announced that the next full version of XenServer will be available by mid-year, and Microsoft loves dealing with Citrix, as I noted in my third take. All of which goes to prove: indeed, image is not everything.

Source: Redmondmag.com

Citrix Live – Secrets Lies and VDI

2017-07-27T00:01:13+00:00 September 17th, 2009|Uncategorized|

Event Overview VDI is one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology industry and IT executives are looking for a clear understanding of what it means. CitrixLive! is a not-to-miss event that will decode the myths and uncover the truth about VDI to give you a clear, strategic view of desktop virtualization and make all its benefits available to you today.Desktop virtualization is more than just VDI. It is about desktops, applications, personalization, the best user experience and much, much more. At CitrixLive!, you’ll get a complete understanding of what desktop virtualization really means.

CitrixLive! will include a keynote and sessions from leading Citrix and industry experts along with booths from a wide range of partners and sponsors. As an attendee you will have access to downloadable resources to help drive toward next steps on executing your desktop virtualization strategy.

Attend CitrixLive! to get a 360 degree view on desktop virtualization that will shed new light on the technology, change your perceptions and turn the industry on its head.

Don’t miss out. Register now.

Agenda Citrix Desktop Virtualization strategy and vision revealed

Gordon Payne, senior vice president and general manager, Citrix

Struggling to keep pace with the increasing complexity of desktops, applications, devices and user needs? The power to virtualize is right here, right now with Citrix. Hear first hand our vision for desktop virtualization and discover the Power of One: the ability to manage one copy of each application, one desktop OS image, one profile for each user, one password-identity-it is that simple.Secret: You can radically simplify desktop management.
Battle
of CTOs: Server virtualization vs. Desktop virtualization

Harry Labana, chief technology officer, Citrix and Simon Crosby, chief technology officer, Citrix

VDI is booming and so is the confusion surrounding it. Desktop vs. server. User centric vs. datacenter centric. Pilot vs. large scale implementation. The list goes on and on. Watch two Citrix thought leaders go head to head in examining the differences and similarities of server and desktop virtualization. Explore key considerations for selecting a solution and get an in-depth look at how VDI offerings compare.Truth: Desktop virtualization is different than server virtualization.
The fastest, most powerful XenApp yet

Mick Hollison, Vice President, Citrix

From new and innovative delivery methods to improved management capabilities to high definition experience, XenApp continues to get better with every release. Discover the latest in XenApp and explore how to deliver more applications as cost-effective, on-demand services to any user, anywhere.Truth: XenApp is the de facto industry standard in application virtualization.
What’s coming with XenDesktop

Sumit Dhawan, vice president, Citrix


Next generation desktop virtualization technologies are being unveiled. Learn about the latest innovations in XenDesktop and how you can leverage the infrastructure that you already have to start delivering virtual desktops now. One solution for any hypervisor, any delivery method, any LAN or WAN, and any device. You don’t want to miss it.Secret: Can’t tell you just yet, attend and find out.
Ensure users get a high definition experience with virtual desktops

Derek Thorslund, senior product manager, Citrix and Sridhar Mullapudi, senior product manager, Citrix

Starting with the user in mind is how you can differentiate your IT organization. Get the facts about what you can now do with virtual desktops and Citrix HDX technologies to enable you to deliver the best user experience without compromise. Learn how to architect your environment for LAN and WAN and how the various technologies work in harmony on any device, on any network, with better reliability and higher availability than a traditional PC.Truth: The HDX difference is the Citrix difference.
Simple, user driven desktops and enterprise app
store is the future

Orestes Melgarejo, senior director, Citrix


Brokers and Web Interface are a thing of the past. See how you can maintain IT control and give your users simple and intuitive access to their desktops through an enterprise app store that lets them choose what they need, when they need it-applications, desktop or any IT-delivered service. Don’t wait for the future, build your plan to embrace it.Truth: Only Citrix Receiver radically simplifies desktop management for IT and gives users flexibility and independence in how and where they work.
Add XenDesktop to your XenApp environment  the
fast and reliable way

Calvin Hsu, Director, Citrix

Desktop virtualization is being deployed enterprise-wide and is ready for mainstream adoption. Why wait? XenApp customers can quickly add desktop virtualization to their environment. Get an in-depth view of how to leverage existing skill sets, infrastructure and best practices to extend the benefits of centralization to the entire Windows desktop.Secret: Implementing desktop virtualization into your existing environment is easier than you think.
Architectural blueprint for a successful desktop virtualization solution

Dan Feller, lead architect consulting services, Citrix

Are you contemplating adding desktop virtualization to your environment but aren’t sure how to get there? Get an in-depth view from an expert who architected the solution. Learn the secrets and explore best practices for setting up a scalable solution that gives you complete flexibility to host virtual desktops on multiple virtualization platforms. With Citrix XenDesktop, it’s all about giving customers the freedom to choose.Truth: XenDesktop works with XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware ESX.