Sizing Windows 2016, Windows 2012 and Windows 10 Virtual Machines


It has been almost one year since Windows Server 2016 was released at Microsoft Ignite. Are the virtual machine sizing recommendations for Windows Server 2012R2 applicable to Windows Server 2016? And since we are talking about sizing virtual machines for XenApp and XenDesktop, it might be a good time to revisit Windows 10.

Let’s first look at virtual CPU allocation recommendations: Continue reading Sizing Windows 2016, Windows 2012 and Windows 10 Virtual Machines

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Total Solar Eclipse of 2017


I started this blog in 2010, and to date, I believe all 229 blog posts related to virtual desktops, apps and workspaces. However, I’m going to diverge for a single blog because I experienced something truly amazing… The total solar eclipse of 2017.

I’m an amateur astronomer, so any time I can witness a celestial event, I’m going to be watching. Seven years ago, I was already planning on taking a road trip to experience the eclipse (yes, I’ve been waiting that long). But for this event, I dragged my entire family on a 34 hour road trip covering 2200 miles spread over 10 days, through 8 states to experience 2 minutes and 1 second of totality in Nashville, TN.

I had many people, including my family, ask why are we going so far when we could stay home and witness 86% of the sun covered. A total eclipse of the sun is a completely different experience than 86% coverage or even 99% coverage, at least that is what I’ve come to understand from the reading I’ve done. I’ve never had the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse, so I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.

We made it a big family summer vacation stopping at

  • Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, WI
  • Taking a ferry across Lake Michigan
  • Camping in Ludington, MI and Point Beach, WI
  • Sailing on Lake Erie
  • Touring Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
  • Hiking Shawnee National Forest and seeing a fire breathing dragon in Illinois

But this trip was building up to a single event, the August 21st total solar eclipse. When the day arrived, I work up early, full of energy and excitement.  I had to burn off the energy so I went for a slow 3 mile run, and I mean slow because the heat and humidity in Nashville is too much for my Minnesota blood.  Afterwards, we met up with friends at their campsite and got ready for the main event.

11:58: First Contact
Everyone thought first contact was interesting, especially the kids as many have never seen a partial solar eclipse..

12:20: 25%
A little more of the sun is covered. Not super interesting for anyone but me. Adults and kids looked quickly then went back out to the lake.

12:45: 50%
We’re getting more excited as we know we are getting closer to totality. There are clouds on the horizon that are concerning, but nothing we can do about it so we try to ignore them.

1:06: 75%
It got dark, but only because of a cloud temporarily covered the sun. It was funny as people got excited that it was time for totality.

However, at this point as we walked through the forest, the excitement grew as we started to see the eclipse on the ground. The leaves on the trees created hundreds of pinhole projects of the eclipse for all to see.  Everyone thought this was really cool.

1:21: 95%
Something isn’t right at this point. My skin doesn’t feel so hot from the sun. In fact, I don’t feel any significant heat of the sun. And although it is still bright, the brightness doesn’t seem normal. Colors seem more vibrant, probably because the sun isn’t creating the normal harsh glare.

1:27: Totality
OMG!!!

Ever experienced something you couldn’t take your eyes of off? This was it. I could not look away. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is hard to describe the experience. You see rays of the sun’s corona emanating from a black hole in the sky. It looks fake because it is so very strange. As I looked closer at the corona, I could make out a red solar flare on the bottom right edge of the sun. Awesome

I’ve read history books that said people thought the world was ending during total solar eclipses. It is easy to understand why after experiencing one.

It immediately got dark, but the darkness of the campsite was spooky and strange. This darkness wasn’t normal. It didn’t look right. I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t a normal darkness.

It got loud. Not from us humans, who were cheering with oohs and ahs, but from the forest animals who were going crazy.

I couldn’t move. I barely blinked. I barely breathed. But my heart was pounding. In fact, my activity tracker shows during totality my heart was beating almost as fast as my morning run.

1:29: Totality Ends

With the eclipse over, everyone was stunned by the experience. The forest was quiet again as the animals went back to their normal habits. And it still took over 30 minutes until we started to feel the heat of the sun again.

Was it worth it:
People say photos of the Grand Canyon can’t truly convey the enormity of the site.  A total solar eclipse takes this to a whole new level because although you can take a trip to the Grand Canyon anytime, a total solar eclipse doesn’t happen very often and it is usually in an inconvenient location. Photos, videos and articles simply don’t do the experience justice. You have to immerse yourself into the experience.

You might think because of my interest in astronomy that I was more excited than most. So, once we made it back to Minnesota, I asked my kids “Was the road trip worth it?” Every one of them said, very enthusiastically, “YES”. I then asked if they are going to join me in Texas for the April 2024 total solar eclipse with totality being twice as long as 2017. They all said “YES”!

I encourage everyone to take the time and experience totality. If you aren’t amazed by the experience, it probably means you’re dead.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)

Citrix Visio Stencils (August 2017)


I know I’ve blogged about updates to the Citrix Visio stencils in the past. It seems like every 3 months I post an update to the Visio stencils to include a few new icons for new components/functionality.

The August 2017 Visio stencil update is major. It is aligned with the Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR release.

Previously, most of the icons you saw, I created. I have little artistic talent, but I know how to draw circles, squares and rectangles.

We have a team within Citrix that creates our images and icons. I spent the last few months working with them on helping us create a new, standard set of icons. I must say, the output is wonderful.

Not only are there 144 icons, including this really cute penguin for Linux, I also included 6 different diagrams showing different levels of detail that you can use as a starting point. So, make sure you grab the latest Visio Stencils

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 VDI Handbook
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Video

Citrix VDI Handbook for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15


Almost one year ago, I announced the availability of the Citrix VDI Best Practices Handbook for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 (that’s a really long title).

Since then, I received many positive comments from many of you. Thank you.

One of the goals I set was to release an updated version of the handbook for upcoming Long Term Service Releases (LTSR). And with the release of XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR, I’m happy to say that we achieved this goal.

Matthew Brooks, Jeff Qiu and I updated the handbook to include new capabilities and recommendations. We added 30 new sections and updated 15 other sections. For example, we have content related to

  1. Cloud
  2. App Layering
  3. Windows 2016
  4. Local Host Cache
  5. Machine Creation Services
  6. Provisioning Services Accelerator
  7. Adaptive Display & Adaptive Transport
  8. And much, much, much, much, much more

A complete list of updates can be found at the end of the paper in the Revisions Table.

So grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back, relax and enjoy the Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 VDI Best Practices Handbook.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 VDI Handbook
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Videos

 

Sync the Windows 10 (1703) Start Menu in VDI


Even though it is still Windows 10, each release introduces changes that impacts our VDI deployment. We saw this with optimizing the operating system as we have different default apps, scheduled tasks and services.

But what about the Start Menu?

Synchronizing the Windows 10 Start Menu in VDI was the bane of many admin’s existence. And then we saw that we can use Citrix User Profile Management to capture the file at logoff.

I’ve now upgraded to Windows 10 (Creators Update 1703).

Guess what. Syncing the Start Menu just works with UPM. No special configuration except to turn UPM on.

Just make sure you upgrade UPM to version 5.8, which was included with the XenApp and XenDesktop 7.14 release. If you use an older version of UPM, your start menu throws out an error.

It looks like the Start Menu is captured in the registry at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\CloudStore.

Simply enabling UPM captures these registry value.

Now that is simple.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 VDI Handbook
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Video

 

Sync the Windows 10 Start Menu in VDI


NOTE: This is for Windows 10 builds before 1703.  Windows 10 1703 changes the storage location for the Start Menu. Learn more here

Windows 10 VDI. Of course it works. But one of the annoying things that really bothers me is not being able to customize my start menu.

My IT team created a standard start menu. It has 3 browsers, Paint.net, Notepad, Windows Media Player, plus much more stuff I never use.  I really, really, really want to customize this thing

So why can’t we roam the start menu between VDI sessions? Continue reading Sync the Windows 10 Start Menu in VDI

Integrate NetScaler with XenApp, XenDesktop and XenMobile


In part 1, I created certificates for my environment with Microsoft Certification Authority

In part 2, I integrated XenMobile into my XenApp and XenDesktop environment

In part 3, I will provide secure remote access to XenMobile, XenApp and XenDesktop with NetScaler.

NetScaler and XenMobile

  1. In a browser, navigate to http://172.16.0.14.
  2. Go to the Configuration screen
  3. Select XenMobile at the bottom of the left pane


4.
Select XenMobile 10 and Get Started
5.
Select only the following: Access through NetScaler Gateway6. For NetScaler Gateway Settings, enter the following:

a. IP Address: 172.16.0.16
b.
Port: 443
c.
Virtual Server Name: XenMobileGateway

6. For the certificate, choose the file from the appliance: WildcardCert.cer
7.
For the key file name, choose the file from the appliance: Wildcard-snpp-local.key
8.
Enter in the private key password we used when we created the key
9. For Authentication, enter in Active Directory information:

a. Primary authentication method: Active Directory/LDAP
b.
IP Address: 172.16.0.10
c.
Base DN: DC=SNPP,DC=local
d.
Service Account: Administrator@snpp.local
e.
Password: password for service account
f.
Test the connection
g.
Server Logon Name Attribute: sAMAccountName (this matches with the LDAP items we used for XenMobile)

10. For XenMobile App Management Settings, enter the following:

a. XenMobile Server FWDN: xm01.snpp.local
b.
Internal load balancing IP Address: 172.16.0.17 (just an unused IP Address)
c.
Communication with XenMobile Servers: HTTPS

11. XenMobile Server Certificate: Use existing certificate – WildcardCert.cer_CERT_KEY
12.
XenMobile Server: 172.16.0.13


NetScaler and XenDesktop

  1. In the left pane, select NetScaler Gateway – Virtual Servers
  2. Select _XM_XenMobileGateway in the virtual servers screen


3.
Scroll to the STA section and select


4.
Select Add Binding
5.
Enter in the following:

a. Secure Ticket Authority Server: https://ddc01.snpp.local
b.
Secure Ticket Authority Server Address Type: IPv4

6. Once entered, revisit the STA list to verify the XenMobile and XenDesktop STAs are green. If not, you must fix before continuing.


XenMobile

In the XenMobile Console (https://XM01.SNPP.local:4443), we do the following

  1. Select the gear icon in the upper right corner
  2. Select NetScaler Gateway
  3. Select Add
  4. Enter the following:
    a. Name: Gateway

    b. External URL: https://Gateway.snpp.local
    c.
    Logon Type: Domain only
    d.
    Password required: Yes
    e.
    Set as Default: Yes


5.
Enable authentication
6.
Save

StoreFront

In the StoreFront console, we do the following

  1. Navigate to Stores
  2. Select the appropriate store at the top


3.
In the right pane, select Configure Remote Access Settings
4.
Select

a. Enable Remote Access
b.
Allow users to access only resources delivered through StoreFront (no VPN tunnel)
c.
Add

5. Enter the following:

a. Display Name: Gateway
b.
NetScaler Gateway URL: https://gateway.snpp.local
c.
Usage or role: Authentication and HDX routing

6. For Secure Ticket Authority, add the following:

https://ddc01.snpp.local (this should be the same one added in the NetScaler Gateway configuration. You only need the XenApp/XenDesktop STA and not the XenMobile)


7.
For Authentication Settings, leave default options


8. Verify the remote access settings for the store


Test

On the Android phone used earlier, do the following:

  1. While logged into Citrix Secure Hub, select the menu in the upper left
  2. Select Preferences – Account – Delete Account (We need to reconfigure Secure Hub for our Gateway address. You can also uninstall/reinstall the app from the app store)
  3. Enter in the following: gateway.snpp.local


4.
Enter in user ID and password



5.
Select Add apps from Store


6.
Launch a XenApp/XenDesktop resource


With the session running, launch Director from the delivery controller. Look at the detailed information for the session to verify the Connected via address is the SNIP address (172.16.0.15) for the NetScaler.

 

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6 VDI Handbook
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Video

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My virtual desktop journey