First impressions with XenClient Enterprise

As you might have seen, Citrix now has XenClient Enterprise 4.1, which is includes the technology from Virtual Computer. I’ve since rebuilt my laptop from XenClient 2.1 to XenClient Enterprise 4.1.

Talk about a change, and a powerful one at that. Here are some of the nuggets I’ve learned so far:

  • Dual boot: If you aren’t sure about using XenClient 4.1, then dual boot. You can have Windows 7 and XenClient as two different boot options. Just follow the instructions in the Install Guide
  • Connect VM: XenClient includes a connect VM, which is a small Linux VM with Chrome and Receiver. This was one of my issues with the previous version. Unless I’m travelling and using the local VM, I mostly use a hosted VDI desktop. In order to do this with the previous version, I had to start XenClient 2.1, my Windows 7 VM, and then launch my VDI desktop. Now, thank goodness, I start XenClient 4.1 and launch Chrome to connect to my virtual desktop. Much faster for when I’m connected.
  • File Share: You can, if enabled via a policy, share files between VMs with a local file share (\\XC_Fileshare)
  • Synchronizer:
    • For now, it requires Hyper-V. The good thing is you don’t have to know much about Hyper-V except to turn it on. Synchronizer does all of the VM setup, tear down, cloning, etc for you. You don’t even have to go into Hyper-V manager.
    • If you are centralizing image management, then you need to create your images within Synchronizer. If you create them on your XenClient end point, you can’t import them into Synchronizer.
    • Storage: A synchronizer-based image is broken up into 3 parts:
      • System Disk: This is the base image you create and deliver via Synchronizer. This is read only.
      • User Disk: This includes user data (anything you store in the user’s profile folder like Documents).
      • Local Disk: Includes any changes made to the System Disk. This is the write cache or differencing disk.
    • There are two types of Synchronizer images: Shared and Custom. In the VDI world, we call this Pooled and Dedicated. Pretty much the same thing.
      • Shared: when the VM is rebooted, the Local Disk is erased. Your user disk persists, so you don’t lose your data.
      • Custom: When the VM is rebooted, the local disk and user disk persist. If you installed an application, it will still be there.

I know I’m only scratching the surface, so hopefully I will have some more thoughts soon.


XenDesktop Design Handbook

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