Citrix XenApp 7.6 and XenDesktop 7.6 Visio Stencils!


As you saw from my previous post, Citrix now has Linux virtual desktops. You know what this means?

High-level

NEW VISIO STENCILS!!!

The new set for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 includes

  1. Linux virtual desktop
  2. Receiver
  3. GPU/vGPU
  4. Driver

And remember, pre-built diagrams that you can modify are also included as a stencil (one of my better ideas). Just drag the stencil into your drawing and perform an “Ungroup” operation. You can now modify to fit your needs.

Enjoy!

From the virtual mind of Virtual Feller

Yum… A Linux Virtual Desktop


If you were at Citrix Synergy, you heard about XenApp/XenDesktop adding support for Linux virtual desktops. As my hero Homer Simpson says “I’m not impressed easily… WOW a blue car!” And that is what we have, a new car color.

We had red cars (Windows applications), green cars (Windows desktops), and now blue cars (Linux desktops). From my perspective, these are simply different applications we can deliver to users (Yes, I also believe a desktop is just another application, which I said back in 2011)

So what’s the big deal then?

It isn’t that XenApp/XenDesktop is able to deliver a Linux desktop as the Linux desktop is just another viable resource. The big deal is that

Nothing changes

  • The user simply sees a new resource they can access. The experience is the same. We continue to use whatever Receiver the user has installed, including HTML5. We still provide pass-through authentication for the user so they only have to sign on once.
  • The admin uses the same tools to deliver the new resource… Studio. The admin creates a new machine catalog and a new delivery group.
  • The support team uses the same tool to monitor the new resource… Director. The can see in-depth details about the user’s session, including running processes

See for yourself

The big deal is that we deliver applications (Windows apps, Windows desktops, Linux desktops) to users with a single platform.

And once you get your Linux virtual desktop running, feel free to relax with a little entertainment with the following to be executed from the terminal:

telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

From the virtual mind of Virtual Feller

Hello, DNA


I love seeing crazy comparisons and statistics, especially if it has anything to do with science

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

  • If laid out end-to-end, all DNA within your body would go from the Earth to Pluto and back to the Earth (too bad Pluto is not a planet anymore.)
  • Humans share 99% of their DNA with everyone else (makes the 7 degrees of separation game kind of pointless.)
  • If you could type 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, it would take approximately 50 years to type the human genome (Well, I can type 61 words per minute).
  • Humans have roughly 40-50% of the same DNA as cabbage (I don’t like cabbage, which means I don’t like 1/2 of me).
  • Back in 2001, it cost roughly $100,000,000 to map the genome, while in 2014 the cost dropped to around $6,000

By understanding the DNA, we can better understand how something works and how it interacts with other things. However, trying to map the DNA is not something you would ever think about doing manually, it would take a lifetime and be prone to many mistakes (plus it would be a pretty boring life). By understanding how something works and how it interacts, we can take preventative actions.

Apps (Hello, World)

  • There are roughly 200,000 lines of code in a pacemaker
  • The Space Shuttle contained 400,000 lines of code
  • The Hubble Space Telescope has 2,000,000 lines of code
  • While Microsoft Office 2001 had 25,000,000 lines of code, Office 2013 has grown up to 45,000,000 lines
  • Guess what has the same number of lines of code as Windows Vista? How about the Large Hadron Collider. Each with roughly 50,000,000 lines
  • And to top things off, it is reported that the United States healthcare.gov website has 500,000,000 lines.

As we all know, upgrading from Windows XP to 7 to 10, from Windows 2003, to 2008 to 2012, from Office 2010 to 2013 to 2016 is not something we do overnight. Just look at the amount of code that is involved in these things. We often spend months and years debating if we should upgrade and then how we should upgrade. We do this because it is not easy as we have a nagging fear that our applications might not work, and for good reason considering Windows 7 had 40 million lines of code. We’ve been bitten too many times by the compatibility bug, so we are willing to forego the added value of the latest releases because we don’t want to experience that nasty bite again.

This is why understanding your application’s DNA is so important. This is why there were a couple of sessions at Citrix Synergy 2015 that focused on AppDNA.

To get you started, we’ve put together the following video demonstrating what you can do with AppDNA

Therefore, my question for you is “Why haven’t you looked at AppDNA to help you with Windows upgrades, XenApp upgrades, application upgrades?”

DNA source: http://chemistry.about.com/od/lecturenoteslab1/a/10-Interesting-Dna-Facts.htm

Code source: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/million-lines-of-code/

Genome mapping: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_genome_sequencing

From the virtual mind of Virtual Feller

Video Proof: Optimizing Microsoft Lync on XenApp and XenDesktop


I spent the last few blogs, dissecting Microsoft Outlook and how we can integrate an Exchange Online server, as part of Office 365, with XenApp and XenDesktop.

(I really need to be a little more creative with these titles)

As we saw in these blogs, when you start deploying Office 365 to your users, Cached Exchange Mode becomes more important if you want a good user experience. But what about other items within Office 365? What about Microsoft Lync? What about Microsoft Lync in an RDS/VDI environment?

I didn’t know. I, of course, have heard and seen the marketing materials about how the Citrix Optimization Pack for Lync should help the experience, but I wanted to see for myself. And I wanted you to also see.

A few things I find interesting with the optimization pack

First, it works for Lync 2010, 2013 and Online servers. As you start looking at deploying Office 365, it is very easy to see the value of a Lync Online implementation. With the Citrix optimization pack, you can still achieve the same benefits you would get with an on-premise deployment like Lync 2010 and 2013.

Second, it supports any type of XenApp/XenDesktop deployment including published applications, shared desktops, non-persistent desktops and persistent desktops.

And finally, it demonstrates another way that Citrix continues to extend the Microsoft platform.

The following provides more details on Deploying Office 365 on XenApp and XenDesktop

From the virtual mind of Virtual Feller

How to use Outlook Cached Exchange Mode on XenApp and XenDesktop


A little bit of knowledge can save you a lot of time (or even an arm).

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been building a new desk for my wife. For this particular project, I drew the entire desk to scale in a CAD program. The drawings were detailed to the point that they included the depth and width of the dados and rabbets (not the animal hopping in my yard). I wasn’t always this detailed. Years ago when I started woodworking, I would oftentimes just wing it. I would have no plans, no dimensions; only an idea in my head for what I wanted to build. I would eventually succeed, but it cost me in wasted lumbar and time because I would cut a board to short as I forgot to include an extra ½ inch length for the dado. With this particular project, because I took the time to draw it out to scale, the entire build went smoothly and with no wasted lumbar.

The same thing happens in IT when we try to implement something new. We oftentimes don’t think through the solution enough to come up with a solution that will align with our circumstances. Let’s think about the discussion with Outlook and whether or not to implement Cached Exchange Mode. If we use Office 365 as our Exchange Server but still implement the native Outlook client on a XenApp server, we would most likely recommend enabling cached Exchange mode.

Mailbox size

I have some concerns with ending it there. With Office 365, every user is granted 50GB of mailbox storage. If I use Cached Exchange Mode, then I will have to accommodate 50GB of storage space for every user. This will break my storage bank. Plus, I personally find it crazy to keep a complete copy of that mailbox in two places.

Recommendation 1:

This will limit the size of the cache file by only caching the last 3 months. Most users only access emails that were sent/received within the last 3 months. Anything older are still accessible, but via online mode only. In online mode, the access might be slower, but the frequency of users accessing those files is extremely small so why waste valuable resources keeping them local.

Storage location

My other concern is where do I store my cached file? In the blog “When to use Outlook Cached Exchange Mode on XenApp and XenDesktop?” we already said that a network share is the best option due to the non-persistent nature of XenApp and XenDesktop pooled desktops, but where?

Personally, I prefer the user’s profile directory and not their home drive. If a user sees a file in their home directory they don’t recognize, they will end up deleting it (I know I do that). I don’t want the users to physically manipulate that file. If the file is in their profile location, it becomes more difficult for the user to delete the file as they typically don’t have Explorer access to this location.

Recommendation 2:

  • Decide where in the profile path to store the Cached Exchange Mode file (.OST) file.
  • Use the Microsoft Office group policy template to set the Default Location for OST Files

Folder redirection

This now brings us one more question; should we leave the OST file on the network share and access it via the network or do we sync the file to the virtual desktop and access it locally? I believe that by keeping the file on the network share, we simplify the environment and put less strain on the physical servers hosting our virtual XenApp and XenDesktop machines. Plus, test data I’ve seen shows this to be a perfectly acceptable solution, especially when the file server is configured correctly with at least SMB 2 and the file server resources are monitored appropriately, which we should already be doing.

Recommendation 3:

  • Utilize Citrix Profile Management
  • Set a policy for Profile Management that excludes the folder containing the OST from being copied to the XenApp and XenDesktop hosts.
  • Utilize at least SMB 2 on the file server and monitor appropriately

White Paper Reference: Deployment Guide: Office 365 for XenApp and XenDesktop

Blog Series Summary:

 

 

 

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