Category Archives: Remote Desktop Services

Citrix XenDesktop 7: Double-hop USB Scenarios

Recently I was troubleshooting an issue regarding the interoperability of USB devices and XenDesktop/XenApp machines in 2 different connection scenarios.  Initially, neither connection method worked meaning my USB devices were seen on my XenDesktop VM, but when I connected to published applications on Citrix, the USB devices were either:

a. seen but inaccessible
b. not seen at all

The following CTX article and blog post helped tremendously in determining the issue and the solution:

Basically it all boils down to using the registry key NativeDriveMapping (value TRUE or FALSE, FALSE is default value) found in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Configuration\Advances\Modules\ClientDrive (64-bit path) to enable what I’ll call USB pass-through. 

**Note: For 32-bit systems, remove Wow6432Node from the registry path.
As I said before, I had two connection scenarios to consider:

1. Connecting to XenDesktop VM using a zero client with applications published from XenApp 6.5.

In order to access USB devices in XenApp published applications in this connection scenario, I had to set the NativeDriveMapping value to TRUE on the virtual desktop.  In this case, this will be the primary connection scenario so I made the registry change on the master VM.

2. Repurposed Windows machines connecting to XenDesktop VMs with applications published from XenApp 6.5.

In order to access USB devices in XenApp published applications in the connection scenario, the following changes were required:

-On the repurposed Windows client/desktop, the NativeDriveMapping registry value must be set to TRUE
On the Virtual desktop, the NativeDriveMapping registry value must be set to FALSE

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XenDesktop Tidbits 8/12/2013 – Citrix Studio and VM Disconnects

This is likely one of those posts that benefits me the most, but here are a couple XenDesktop tips to consider.

1. Will Citrix Studio ever launch?!?!

This may be yet another entry that benefits me the most, but I feel like I’ve spent weeks waiting for Citrix Studio to open, seems like it takes entirely too long.  After doing some searching, I found this post and the workaround helped tremendously, basically disabling the Check for publisher’s certificate revocation within Internet Explorer’s Advanced settings tab as shown below:

In this case, I was launching Citrix Studio from my XenDesktop delivery controllers so I made the changes on those servers and it did reduce the time needed to open Citrix Studio.  On a side note, I’ve also seen the Citrix StoreFront site take a long time to open on client machines using IE…just simply waiting for the StoreFront site to launch, just to get a logon prompt can take a while and disabling the check for publishers CRL helped decrease the wait time on the client computers.

2. Citrix Desktop (Win7 VDI) launches and almost immediately disconnects

I had some older zero clients I had to connect to XenDesktop 7 virtual desktops, but I could not get them to connect to the virtual desktops through the StoreFront server so on my existing WebInterface 5.x servers, I added the XenDesktop 7 Site as an additional server farm.  Afterwards, my zero client was able to using the 5.x WI to launch the XD7 virtual desktop, however, it would launch it and then disconnect almost immediately.  This same behavior was displayed when connecting through the StoreFront server on any PC.  I had XD7 running for about 3 weeks without this issue but the issue was traced by to Workspace Control  on the WI 5.x XenApp Web and Services sites.  As environments move away from XenApp 6.x and WI 5.x, my guess is that this type of problem becomes less common but if you’re integrating older zero clients with XenApp 6.x, WI 5.x, and XenDesktop 7, you may come across it.

Found this in the Citrix knowledge base:
This is because of the Auto Reconnect feature of Web Interface.  So when you logon to the desktop VM, inside the vm the online plugin will start and see that you have a connection open to a VM (it’s not smart enough to see that the connection goes to himself ).  When web interface workspace control is configured to Auto-Reconnect active sessions, it will basically reconnect to itself and you are disconnected. Solution: in the PNAgent web interface properties, within workspace control set it to only auto reconnect disconnected sessions, not active sessions.

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Liquidware Labs – ProfileUnity

One of the biggest challenges when migrating from XenApp 4.5/5 on Windows Server 2003 to XenApp 5/6/6.5 on Windows Server 2008/2008R2 can be to transition the user from V1 to V2 profiles. Perhaps this is not as big an issue if you use mandatory profiles that the user cannot change, but for the majority of the installations I have seen, either roaming or a flexible/hybrid profile model is in use, hence, how can the user profile data be migrated to the V2 profile model? What if the XenApp 4.5 and XenApp 6.5 farms will co-exist for some measure of time and you want users to be able to login to both farms without their profiles corrupting?

Enter Liquidware Labs – ProfileUnity

I encourage you to check out the product for a full listing of its many features, but the one I am going to focus on is its ability to allow users with a single profile to seamlessly login using a V1 or V2 profile.

http://www.liquidwarelabs.com/products/profileunity.asp

Many Citrix administrators may currently be using Citrix User Profile Manager for profile management and I will say that it is easy to setup and configure with Group Policies, I like being able to specify a “Template Profile”, and I have read that you can use rulesets to allow for some measure of profile seamlessness but that its limited and not recommended for long-term co-existence.

ProfileUnity is complimentary with Citrix UPM, but its abilities go beyond those offered by UPM. In heterogeneous environments, ProfileUnity makes it easy for users can seamlessly go between profile versions. ProfileUnity is able to grab the typical settings, any application settings or registry settings, without complex rulesets. Additionally, ProfileUnity can make any file or folder portable, not just those items in the roaming profile. This comes in handy when working with home grown, non-standard applications that store data outside the regular profile.

The process is simple enough:

1. A user logs into a XenApp session
2. At logoff, the profiles are harvested and written to a location on the network using zipped archives. I believe the default location is the users home directory.
3. When a user logs in, the ProfileUnity archive is pulled down to the server, uncompressed, and written to the appropriate V1 or V2 profile structure.

**Notice that ProfileUnity compresses the profile data, thus saving storage space.

The Architecture is also simple. Basically, all that’s required is a network file share for the user data (which they typically already have for their home directory) and ProfileUnity recommends that a few small files (totaling 7MB) be stored on the Netlogon share, these files will include client.exe which executes ProfileUnity, the ProfileUnity license file, ADM templates, and a configuration file controlling what ProfileUnity writes to the users data storage location. ProfileUnity has stated that this simple configuration can scale to 10s of 1000s of users.

Finally, ProfileUnity also works on physical hardware. So if you will be migrating from XP to Windows7, ProfileUnity may be of value for the desktop support teams.

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Filed under Citrix, Liquidware Labs, Remote Desktop Services, VDI

Wyse zero clients, XenApp, and local printers

If you are deploying Wyse Xenith zero clients to support a XenApp shared desktop infrastructure, you may run into a situation in which a locally attached USB printer is not mapped inside the XenApp session. I doubt this is real news to anyone as this may happen on any device, but the odd thing I witnessed last week is that I had, in this case, a Lexmark E250d attached to a Xenith zero client and when connecting to a XenApp session, not only did it not map, but there was no event log 1106 or 1107 “MetaFrameEvents” entry in the Application Log on the XenApp server. It was like the printer was not plugged in at all, though it was detected by the Wyse device itself.

One thing I did not know, is that the Xenith zero clients, do not support the Citrix Universal Print driver. I received the following from a Wyse engineer:

In the meantime you should realize that there is no support for the Universal Print driver on the Xenith. The only printing options through a Xenith/ThinOS device are by using a network printer, having printer drivers installed on the Citrix server or by using a 3rd party print utility such as ThinPrint which does support Wyse devices. In order for the Universal Print driver to work from Citrix, you would need to have a Windows OS installed on the local device.

Server 2008 R2 has a built-in driver for the Lexmark E250d called “Lexmark E250d (MS)”. However, even with these drivers installed, the printer was not mapped, and still, there were no Event Viewer logs/errors. The printer worked fine when attached to a computer or laptop.

Returning to the Xenith zero client, I tried enabling some additional options in the xen.ini file and added the following option to my “SessionConfig” line:

VUSB_PRINTER=Yes

But the problem persisted. I then opened Admin Mode on the device and looked at the printer settings, the defaults of which are shown below:

I was hoping for a “USB” printer option but there was none to be found, but while the port was LPT1, I clicked the Test Print button to see what would happen and to my surprise, a test page came out of the printer. Seeing that, I changed the print properties of the thin client to the following:

After making these changes, I logged back into my XenApp desktop and was able to print to the printer. Looking back at what I had done, I basically had changed:

a. The xen.ini to include the VUSB_Printer=Yes option
-I know that this change, by itself, did not result in any change

b. Set the Printer Identification variable on the print properties to match the driver installed on the XenApp server.

c. Enabled the printer on the print properties of the zero client.

I should have tested B and C individually to determine if one of these settings resulted in a successful print mapping but I didn’t. Should you run across this problem and test each option, let me know what you find.

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Using the Office 2010 Customization Tool

A few years into my career, I wanted nothing more than to be out of desktop support. When I started in computers, I didn’t know much of anything so I started with the basics, simply building “white boxes”, then I moved to troubleshooting home PCs, then to a warranty repair center where I got to take apart computers, printers, and laptops to replace defective parts and then I moved to a desktop support position at a major call center with approximately 3000 computers and got my first taste of business IT support. I worked on imaging new PCs, installing more apps, trouble tickets, help desk, etc, etc, the basics really and it was fun for about 18 months when I thought “Servers, that’s what I want to do next…those folks make the big bucks”. So, about 10 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be placed in a position supporting servers and have been doing so ever since. But here lately, it seems I’ve been working more with applications and desktops again but it’s been fun returning to my “roots” so to speak.

This past week, I was working on customizing an upgrade of Office from 2003 to 2010 using the Office 2010 Customization Tool (OCT). The OCT is part of the Office Setup program and is the recommended tool should Office customizations be required as it allows you to control or customize seemingly every aspect of an Office installation/upgrade.

To launch the Microsoft Office Customization Tool, execute the command setup.exe /admin from the “root” of the Office 2010 CD. This can be done in VMs using ISOs, network paths, or mapped drives.

As you explore the Modify User Settings section, you’ll see there are hundreds of configuration changes you can make. I wanted to have Outlook 2010 open right to the users mailbox so I configured the following Outlook settings:

Select the cached mode option applicable to your environment. In this case, I was upgrading Office on XenApp servers and did not want to enable it.

Once you are done with your customizations, click File | Save As and save your MSP file. If you have your Office 2010 installation files on the network, I would copy the MSP file to that location. I read that if you copy the MSP file to the Updates folder in the Office 2010 root directory, that setup will use it automatically but I did not test that functionality.

Anyway, to run setup with the new OST file manually, enter the command: setup.exe /adminfile \\server\share\FileName.msp. I copied my MSP to the Office 2010 root directory so all I had to do was enter setup.exe /adminfile Office2010.msp.

Depending on how the options are setup in the MSP, you can make the install completely hidden, or somewhat interactive. At least initially, I like to see that it’s working so I had it pop-up the Choose the installation you want and the Complete your office experience dialogs boxes come up. It removed Office 2003 as expected and asked me to reboot to complete the install. Once back up, Office 2010 was there, Outlook opened to my mailbox, and I did not see the Office 2010 introductory pop-ups, however, it did prompt me to activate office. I didn’t want that to happen either and to get around that, I followed the instructions found here:

http://www.migee.com/2010/12/08/office-2010-completely-silent-install-a-really-really-quick-rundown/

After overwrote my existing MSP file and on subsequent installations, I was not prompted to activate when I launched Outlook.

Finally, you can apply an new MSP to an existing installation by running the command: msiexec /p \\server\share\Office2010.msp, but that this must be executed directly from the machine you wish to update.

I’m not sure how many times I’ll have to install Office 2010, but I’ll be using the OCT whenever I do.

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Filed under Citrix, Microsoft, Remote Desktop Services