Toward the end of November, Citrix released the XenDesktop support utility Xnapshot.

To summarize the Citrix release notes, Xnapshot can be used to “collect a wealth of information about the XenDesktop system and its configuration, such as BIOS information, Registry information, Device Drivers, Windows Services, Installed Hotfixes, Citrix Binaries, and Citrix XenDesktop Farm information. The data collected is organized in such a way to make it easy for various Xnapshot collections to be compared against each other to quickly highlight any changes in the environment. The Xnapshot application itself provides the facility for viewing and comparing these reports.”

Xnapshot also includes the following utilities:

XMLMon – a health monitoring component which monitors the Citrix XenDesktop XML Brokers and can send an email alert if a problem is detected.

CDFControl – An event tracking, real-time trace viewing, and performance data collection tool.

CtxPrtChk – a command-line utility to test connectivity to a host on a specified port, primarily used to test basic ICA connectivity against Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop machines

XdPing – a command-line utility which automates the process of checking for the causes of common configuration issues (to verify configuration settings of the DDCs and the Virtual Desktop Agents) in a XenDesktop environment.

To successfully launch Xnapshot, you must have the following components installed on the machine from which you are running Xnapshot:

1. .NET 3.5
2. Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller SDK
3. Microsoft Powershell 1.0

If these components are not installed, Xnapshot will not launch and it will not display an error message indicating what the problem may be. It simply “disappears”.

I installed (or more accurately extracted) and executed Xnapshot from a DDC within my XenDesktop farm.

1. Open Xnapshot and click Capture | Start | Capture All

2. On this 2-DDC server farm, the capture process took approximately two minutes to complete.

That’s it. Once the capture process completed, I was indeed presented with a wealth of information in an easy to use/view interface, the Hotfix Information screen is shown below:

By default, Xnapshot will save its reports to the C:\work\svn.archive\…. folder. The Farm Info folder is shown below:

I was hoping that all of the data captured by Xnapshot could be easily exported/imported into my XenDesktop documentation. There are many CSVs dispersed throughout the report folder and perhaps there is a way to compile them all into a merged CSV, but I will likely wait until somebody else figures that out.

However, the best feature of this tool may be that it can compare Xnapshot reports against one another to track changes and differences over time. This tool can be used to create a baseline report at the end of a given XenDesktop implementation in order to track changes going forward. Should a problem arise in the future, I can perform another Xnapshot capture to compare the differences between the baseline configuration and the configuration that exists “today” to assist in the troubleshooting process.

Differences between two Xnapshot reports are highlighted in yellow as shown below: