“Why can’t I click OK?” – Resizing the Citrix Logon Window

Many clients that I work with (I’d say over 90%), have logon disclaimers that must be acknowledged prior gaining access to enterprise resources…seen below is simply an example I found online to serve as a frame of reference:

1-examplebanner

When publishing applications from Citrix XenApp, if the logon banner is applied via GPO at the domain level, users must acknowledge the disclaimer when accessing published applications….so they acknowledge once when logging into their domain computer, and then again when launching published applications.

Thus, some organizations disable the logon disclaimer on the by disabling policy inheritance on the XenApp Server OU and others leave the disclaimer in place so as to ensure any users making XenApp connections from non-domain computers will have to acknowledge the logon disclaimer.

The problem I have seen when using Server 2012R2 is that the logon disclaimer is “larger” than it was with Server 2008R2 and thus when the users launched applications from the 2012R2 server, the logon disclaimer page had a scroll bar.  If the scroll bar was not to the far left of the disclaimer page, the OK button “wouldn’t work”, which confused the users.

Citrix support told me the logon disclaimer window has a default size of 600(W) and 520 (H) but that the size can be adjusted (in this case increased) so as to get rid of the scroll bar in order to maintain the focus of the disclaimer window.  To set the width and height of the logon disclaimer window, add the following registry keys:

  • HKLM\Software\Wow6432node\Citrix\CtxHook\AppInit_DLLS\Multiple Monitor Hook
    • Name: LogonUIWidth | Type: REG_DWORD | Value: 800 (Decimal)
    • Name: LogonUIHeight | Type: REG_DWORD | Value: 600 (Decimal)

2-regkeys

After creating the keys shown above, the logon disclaimer window was larger, the scroll bar was gone, and the users could once again click OK without worrying about focus or scroll bars.  The change did not require a reboot of the XenApp server(s).

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Citrix, Windows Server

Creating Custom EXEs with Smart Install Maker

On a recent Citrix project, I needed/wanted to do 3 things on end-user computers:

  • Remove the 11.x Citrix Web Plugin if it existed
  • Run the ReceiverCleanupUtility to uninstall older versions of the Online Plugin or Citrix Receiver
  • Install Citrix Receiver 4.4 using a custom command-line

Ultimately, I wanted the users to be able to do all this with a single click from the StoreFront page.  After a little research, Citrix has published steps on creating a custom Receiver package with Smart Install Maker.  I used Smart Install Maker to create a custom EXE to complete the 3 items listed above and will use StoreFront to make it available to the end-users.  This post is simply a recap of the steps required to create the EXE with screenshots.

1.Personally, I used VMware Workstation to create a “clean” VM (Windows 7) on which to install Smart Install Maker and test my custom EXE.  Perhaps you have access to other tools, but I recommend performing these tasks on your primary administrative device.

2.On my clean VM, I created a Receiver directory on the root of C and in that directory, I downloaded Citrix Receiver 4.4, the Citrix ReceiverCleanupUtility, and the .BAT file I created to perform these steps.  My .BAT file is shown below:

  • ECHO.
    ECHO Removing existing Citrix ICA/Receiver Clients
    REM ***********************************************************
    REM * The MsiExec executable uninstalls the Citrix Web Plugin *
    REM ***********************************************************
    MsiExec.exe /X{C0B165DC-F037-483F-B1C9-D89D91529CEB} /qn /norestart
    ReceiverCleanupUtility.exe /silent
    ECHO.
    ECHO Existing Citrix ICA/Receiver Client removed
    ECHO.
    ECHO Installing and Configuring Citrix Receiver 4.4
    CitrixReceiver.exe /includeSSON STORE0=”StoreService;https://yourstorefrontBaseURL.yourdomain.com/Citrix/Store/discovery;On;CTXStore” ALLOWADDSTORE=A ALLOWSAVEPWD=A

3. Download and install Smart Install Maker and your clean VM.  **Note:  A “full” copy of Smart Install Maker is $99.  If you do not purchase a full copy, you can use SIM for 30 days, though each execution of a custom EXE will display a “You are using a Demo” popup window.  The install of SIM is pretty straightforward.

4. Launch SIM.  On the Installer | General options screen, specify a name for the custom installation package in the Save as heading which determines where the final executable will be saved.  In this example, SIM will save the custom EXE (CustomSetup.exe) into the C:\Temp\Receiver folder.

2-Installer_GeneralOptions

5. On the Installer | Files options screen, click the plus icon (highlighted below) to add files to the project.

3-Install_Files

 

6. On the Add Item window, click the folder icon to the right of the Source file heading.

4-SourceFile.JPG

7. On the Open window, select the Citrix Receiver installation executable as well as any required BAT files and click Open.

5-Open

8. When returned to the Add Item window, change the Destination directory and click OK.  The destination directory is simply the location to which the process will copy any necessary files.  In this example, I changed the destination directory to C:\CitrixRec…when the custom EXE is executed on a remote computer, a C:\CitrixRec directory will be created which contains the files added into the project.

6-CitrixRec_DestinationDirectory

9. On the Installer | Dialogs options screen, select Silent installation and change the Destination Path to C:\CitrixRec.

7-File_Dialog

10. On the Installer | Commands options screen, click the plus icon (highlighted below) to command files to the project.

8-Install_Commands

11. On the Add Item screen, click the select file icon (highlighted below) to add command files to the package.

 

9-AddItem

12. On the Select a file window, select the BAT file used to install Citrix Receiver with customized settings and click OK.  When returned to the Add Item window, select After unpacking under Run schedule, then select the Wait until the application finishes checkbox and click OK.

10a-AddItemDone

10b-CommandsCompleted

13. On the top level menu, click Project | Build Installer.

11-BuildPackage

14. The project will begin to compile as shown below.  Click OK when compiling has completed successfully.

12a-Compile1

12b-Compile2

15. On the Compile screen, click Test if you want to test the new executable from the compile screen; otherwise click Close.

13-Test

16. Verify the success/failure of the package and make changes as required to the .BAT file. Once the package performs as desired, deploy and test the custom EXE to a pilot group, and then map out a strategy for deploying to the organization.

Leave a comment

Filed under Citrix, Utilities

Installing Office 2013 on XenApp 7.6

When installing Office 2013 on a Citrix XenApp 7.6 server (or any version of Office on any version of XenApp….or any VDI implementation), I use the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to create a custom MSP to tailor the Office installation.

Here are my general overall steps:

  1. To launch the OCT, open a command prompt, browse to the directory containing the Office setup files and execute the command setup /admin
  2. Create a new, or select an existing customization file and click OK.
  3. Under Setup, click Install location and organization name and set the Installation Path and the Organization Name
  4. Click License and user interface, and then specify the following
    • KMS or MAK Licensing
    • Access the License Agreement
    • Set the preferred Display level (personally, I set the display level to Full because I like seeing the installation wizard doing stuff)
  5. In this example, I am working with a MAK license key and thus I clicked Modify setup properties | Add
    • 1-OCT_Add
  6.  When the Add/Remove Property Value window appears, enter AUTO_ACTIVATE for the Name with a Value of 1 and click OK.
    • 2-OCT_AutoActivate
  7. Under Features, click Modify User Settings and feel free to go nuts customizing Office 2013.  The settings below represent my baseline configuration settings
    • 9-OCT_Options
  8. Once your preferred options are set, click Features | Set feature installation states and configure the installation states of the various Office applications
    • 4-OCT_SetFeatureInstallationStates
  9. Another thing I like to do is create registry values that will “auto-populate” user information to give Office a somewhat personal feel for the end user.  To do so, click Add registry entries under the Additional content heading.  Click Add and then create the two registry keys shown below:
    • 6-OCT_Reg1
    • 7-OCT_Reg2
  10. Assuming there are no additional modifications needed, click File | Save As, specify a name, and then click Save.  Typically clients have their Office installation files on an IT or Installs share, I usually save my MSPs to that directory.
  11. To install Office using the MSP file, do the following on the XenApp server:
    • open a command prompt as administrator
    • type change user /install and press <ENTER> (yes, I still do it but you can do what you want)
    • browse to the directory containing the Office setup files and type setup /adminfile <MSPFileName>.MSP and press <ENTER>.  If the MSP file resides in a directory other than the installation files, you’ll need to specify the path.
    • when the install completes, download and install the latest Office service pack
    • once all required updates are installed, type change user /execute and press <ENTER> to complete the installation
  12. Use Citrix Studio to create any relevant Machine/Delivery Groups and publish the Office applications.
  13. Test Office functionality and activation

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Customizing Citrix StoreFront 3.x

Good stuff on customizing Citrix StoreFront 3.x…handy references when wanting to add some spice to your StoreFront implementations:

http://www.citrixguru.com/2016/03/08/lab-ultimate-storefront-customization-guide/

http://www.citrixguru.com/2015/07/03/storefront-3-optimizations/

http://www.carlstalhood.com/storefront-tweaks/

Leave a comment

Filed under Citrix

What’s the Next Step to Achieving VDI Utopia?

One Master VDI Image

If you’ve been deploying VDI technologies for some time, you’re probably familiar with the VDI Utopian goal of “one master image” and with the technologies available today, is this goal achievable?

Now, going back to the IT stone ages of 2009, when I first started deploying VDI technologies (referring to VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop….I’m not counting XenApp for the purposes of this article), my first two projects, which you can read more about here, were pretty eye opening.

  • Citrix, to their credit, could kinda-sorta provide a single master image with XenDesktop assuming all applications could be published from XenApp servers.  However, this required a Provisioning Server infrastructure that some administrators couldn’t quite understand or get a handle on AND it could require many XenApp servers and multiple XenApp server silos depending upon the required applications.  Though I did get a single master image on the desktop side, I did have to manage multiple XenApp server-based images to support application publishing.  As I wrote in the post referenced above, to support 300 Windows XP desktops and their required applications, 50+ Citrix servers were required.  So, does this really count in achieving the goal of one master image?
  • VMware, at this time as best I can can recall, didn’t make any, “Use VMware View and you’ll only need one master image!” promises.  Again, if I can recall 2009 correctly, VMware did claim that VMware View was “simpler” than XenDesktop in terms of deployment and configuration.  I found the claim to be true in that I only needed a single connection server to support 125 virtual desktops.  However, to support the 125 virtual desktops and their different functions within the organization, I needed 11 master images.

Simplified, my primary observations upon completing these project was this:

  • Generally speaking…Citrix XenDesktop requires fewer desktop images (if not 1) but requires more server-based infrastructure to support OS streaming and published applications.  Compared with XenDesktop, VMware View requires significantly less server-based infrastructure, but requires more desktop images based on the application and configuration requirements of the organization.
  • There’s got to be some better solution….there must be some way to cut down on the number of both master images and server-based machines to provide a good, dynamic, and scalable VDI solution.

Enter application layering….

In 2011, I deployed Unidesk and it quickly became a “mandatory” component on all of our VDI projects.  With Unidesk we were able to minimize both the number gold images and the number of server-based resources required to support VDI initiatives…the Unidesk solution gave us the best of both worlds.  The only time multiple gold images are required is if a customer wants to support multiple OS’s such as Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, etc.  But gone are the days when I need 11 Windows 7 gold images to account for distinct use cases and gone are the days when I need 50+ back-end servers to support standard enterprise applications.

Recently, we have been able to achieve the same goal using VMware App Volumes so the “single master image VDI environment that minimizes server-based requirements that also provides a dynamic and scalable infrastructure that’s relatively easy to manage” dream has become a reality.

What’s next VDI dream?

What’s the new dream in the realm of VDI Utopia?

Deploying only Non-Persistent Virtual Desktops

Maybe it’s deploying only non-persistent virtual desktops, an idea, a concept, and a question many organizations are looking into.  Why?

  • It’s easier….something happens to a desktop, you reboot it and it is reset back to its “clean” state
  • There is a belief (and I say this because I haven’t studied this first-hand) that the more non-persistent desktops you deploy, the fewer virtual desktops you’ll ultimately need.  If you can reduce the number of deployed virtual desktops, you reduce the number of servers required to host virtual desktops, you reduce the amount of storage that’s required to host virtual desktops….in short, you can reduce the cost of the VDI infrastructure.

This dream may soon become a reality as there are now tools out there, from VMware and Liquidware Labs as examples, that allow an organization to provide, if this makes sense, persistence in a non-persistent VDI environment.

A Single Non-Persistent Virtual Desktop Pool for the Entire Organization??

Or maybe it’s deploying non-persistent desktops from a single desktop pool….and I bring this up based on the VMware EUC video Delivering Secure Role-Based Desktops with VMware NSX and App Volumes

It seems VMware has a dream to break away from the traditional VDI pool-based approach and instead focus on a user-based approach, utilizing App Volumes and NSX, in order to reduce OPEX and complexity.  Basically, App Volumes would be used to dynamically deliver applications specific and NSX would be used to configure unique security policies based on the user’s role….the virtual machine itself becomes more or less irrelevant.

Conceptually it sounds great and I’m sure App Volumes and NSX will play important parts in VDI infrastructure for years to come, but in my experience, many users have multiple roles and some machines have unique purposes which may limit the effectiveness of a single desktop pool….hospitals and education are two organizational segments that come to mind.  For example, a single nurse may work within the ICU, ER, Labor and Delivery, OR, etc. but the machines themselves in those departments are typically specialized in order to perform that department’s unique function within the hospital, thus a single desktop pool may not be the answer.

When you get a chance, watch the video (it’s about 15 minutes).  Regardless of whether or not a single pool can support your environment, it is certainly interesting to think about and consider the trends and technologies that are driving the VDI landscape and I look forward to continued innovations as we march toward VDI Utopia.

Leave a comment

Filed under Liquidware Labs, Unidesk, VDI, VMware