From the Nuts&Bolts Dept. November 2014 saw the release of Workspace Manager 2014 Service Release 2. You may have read the initial post over at RES, but as always here at RESguru.com we like to kick the tires and take it for a spin around the block. There’s several items in this release that are important to know about and I’m going to highlight some and give you my view on them.
From the BuildingBlock Dept. You may recall a couple of years ago that I published a RES Automation Manager buildingblock for Citrix Xen Desktop 5.5, XA and PVS. Today it’s my pleasure to publish a new buildingblock that will do the same for Xen Desktop 7.5. It’s pretty slick, as it hardly needs any configuration or special prerequisites and allows you to choose all the install options for Xen Desktop.
My friend and co-blogger Mr. Jeroen Speetjens from the Netherlands has been kind to share this with the RES community. You folks over at Citrix might also want to take note of this work. In order to use this buildingblock, all you need is the Xen Desktop ISO and a fresh Server 2008 or 2012. Deploy a RES Automation Manager agent to the target server, then import and schedule the module. The module contained in this RES Automation Manager buildingblock will configure everything else you need.
When you import the buildingblock, you will be prompted for the path to the contens of the XD .iso file, as shown on the screenshot below It is recommended to either mount it somewhere and share it, or copy all the files out of the ISO to a share. Either way, it’s about 2GB and you don’t want to add that as a AM resource, not that Automation Manager can’t handle it, it’s just a hassle next time you’re updating the binaries when you have a new .iso.
When you schedule the module to the target server, the module will prompt you for what kind of installation you want. After that it’s off to the races: The average deployment time is about 10 minutes on a target system with SSD’s.
Note: If you decide to download this AM buildingblock and take it for a spin, I kindly ask you to take a moment to comment your feedback below and send thanks to Jeroen for his efforts.
Remember: RESguru.com is still the number one place to get noticed if you are doing cool stuff with RES: If you’ve got something to share – the guru community cares!
From the There-We-Fixed-It Dept. Once again it’s that time of year where we get the extra presents that didn’t quite make it under the tree. Today RES Software released the long awaited Service Release 2 for RES Workspace Manager. As always due to that I’m on Pacific time, I’m more or less the last RES guy on the planet to know – but hey – at least I can share the nitty-gritty details with you. This time around you’re in for a treat, as the the update contains a massive overhaul on the Citrix publishing subsystems, among other things. As per usual the Service Release is available to our subscribed customers and partners at the RES Support portal. Now, let’s have a quick look at the most interesting things in SR2:
- Ability to remote publish XenApp published apps ! Yay – this was a personal thorn in my side, as up to now the only way to publish was to run the RES WM console on top of one of the XenApp boxes, as we previously could only communicate with the old MFCOM objects directly underneath. You still need a WM Agent installed on the target publishing XenApp server, as it’s the one doing the handywork. The difference is that now you can publish even from an admin workstation running the WM console.
- Support for XenApp 6.5 WorkerGroups: Another big enhancement on my wishlist. Even though that Workspace Manager has had servergroups for many years providing this functionality back from the early Citrix Presentation Server days, when Citrix finally added a group object in XAS6.5, we of course had to support it, so customers do not have to do double work.
- Cross-Farm publishing: RES Workspace Manager SR2 allows you to publish an XA app across multiple farms. Note that if you’re using Relay Servers, they must be upgraded to SR2 as well for this to work.
There is a few other items that relate to Citrix, which you can read more about in the release notes. Other than that, some other noteworthy items:
- A slew of new registry tweaks to Workspace Manager. The Registry Guide to Workspace Manager has been updated accordingly. See fixes 073 to 066
- Various performance enhancements on Database Connectivity, User Settings and Logon time. Note: There is a specific reghack to boost logon time when offline.
- A new setting under Setup|Advanced Settings: The option is to quote the release notes; “set delay for network refreshes when network connectivity changes”. This works well where a laptop may change network connectivity within a short period of time, possibly causing unnecessary Workspace Composer refreshes. Also, by configuring a delay, you can ensure that the ‘new’ network connection is fully established before the refresh takes place, preventing long refresh actions. Default value is 0 (zero) seconds, meaning it’s business as usual unless you change it.
- Hiding apps in the startmenu when using merge-mode is now possible when managing the startmenu. Something I’m personally quite happy about, as I got egg on my face during my last training class due to just that :-)
- Several labels and default views have changed as part of decluttering the console. Nothing crucial, but you might just want to glance over the releasenotes to for a heads-up on all items.
- New Zone rule for computer’s AD group membership. This has been a long standing wish of mine since we could check on the site and OU of the computer, so now this part of the big picture is complete.
- New commandline option to export the Network Security log as XML. See this section of the updated WM CommandLine reference for further info.
- Exception tab on Agents: I believe this is a very important piece to understand for designers and architects (which is why it probably deserves it’s own article at some point): The short story about SR2, quoting from the releasenotes, is that Agent-related zone rules set on the Workspace Container are now taken into account when determining the applicability of an exception tab for the node Administration | Agents. This makes it possible, for example, to define different Datastore or Relay Server connections on exception tabs based on Agent-specific properties such as IP address. Note that the following zone rules are not Agent-specific and are therefore not evaluated when defining the Workspace Containers on which to base an exception tab for the Agents node:
- Citrix Receiver client type
- Session Type
- (Partial) terminal server listener name
- User property
- VDX / Workspace Extender
The Workspace Container’s Access Control/Identity is still ignored for exception tabs on the node Administration > Agents; and the evaluation of Workspace Container applicability for an exception tab remains unchanged for all other features and nodes.
- Last but not least is the question on everybody’s lips: Does SR2 support Windows 8? The answer is yes and no. Yes, the software is supported running on Windows 8. Yes, it can now recognize Windows 8 as there’s now OS Zone rules for Win8 and Server 2012. This makes the temporary hack I created in article RG04C obsolete. However SR2 does NOT include management of the Metro/Modern tiles. Aparently there are some things we are working on together with Microsoft in order to make that a reality. Hopefully we’ll see this in the next Service Release.
From the Community Hero Dept. A new technote has been added to the RESguru Library. This time we are joined by guestwriter Mr. Lasse T. Hohmann, who besides being a former colleague of mine in the past, is a Citrix Systems Engineer at JN Data in Denmark. JN has been running RES for quite a long time and it’s great to be able to share some of their experiences with our products.
The article at hand explains how to use the PreLaunch feature of XenApp 6.5 together with RES Workspace Manager.
From the TechNote Dept: A new article by Patrick Kaak has been posted in the TechLibrary. This time around Patrick shows us the advantages of incorporating existing scripts into RES Automation Manager, illustrating by example how an otherwise semi-static script can be converted into a reusable runbook, which requires no editing what so ever. The example at hand utilizes Thomas Koetzing’s excellent Citrix Hotfix downloader script. By embedding it into an AM runbook you don’t have to ever edit it again. As usual for your convenience, an example buildingblock is included
‘Twas a month before Xmas and through the hotel, nothing was stirring… well maybe, except for the 450+ geeks and guru’s who assembled at the Hilton Universal City, Los Angeles for the first major Citrix Technology Exchange event on Dec 2nd 2012. RES Software had been invited as a platinum sponsor of the event. Besides showing our products at the vendor’s tables, we also had a couple of presentation slots. I want to take a moment to specially thank my friend Rick Eilenberger at Citrix for putting this great event together. Be sure to check out his follow-up article here.
During one of the RES Software presentations, I had the pleasure of once again demonstrating the unparalleled awesomeness of the RES Automation Manager. This time I had the good Mr. Luca Lo Castro with me on stage, as he is indeed the evil mastermind behind this latest creation. What we have here is nothing less than one of the most awesome Run Books created for RES Automation Manager yet. Read more »
While Hollywood probably aren’t adopting said title just yet, there’s definitely some Practical Magic to be shared here. A couple of months back, my old partner-in-crime, British RES Wizard Mr. Grant Tiller, created a pretty cool video. In one swift go, it shows all the goodness there’s to be had with the Citrix XenClient in combination with RES Workspace Manager, Automation Mananger, and the Service Orchestration Module. All in less than 11 minutes. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can still catch it here.
I’d recommend you to watch this one, as it will be well worth your time. The good folks over at Citrix did so already, and highlighted it in their announcement of the XenClient 2.1 release last week. Read more »
From the Gold-Brick-Through-Your-Window Dept. A while back you may have read about the work that was initiated at the Citrix Servtech event in Santa Clara, CA. As it turns out RES Software and Citrix Systems found a lot of common ground in leveraging the power of the RES Automation Manager to speed up Citrix XenApp 6.5 deployments.
IMPORTANT: The buildingblock has been updated Dec 5th. See below.
There is good reason to look into automating XA6.5 installations: You may not have noticed it, but the end-of-life date for XenApp 6.0 was recently updated. In other words, within the coming year you may need to start thinking about upgrading your XenApp farms. To ease this transition, it is my pleasure already now to be able to share with you the fruits of the collaboration between Citrix and RES. You can download the building block for Automation Manager at the end of this post.
A few words about the building block: It contains a Run Book which will schedule several Modules, necessary to install and configure XenApp 6.5 – including it’s prerequisites. To try it out, you need to download and install the RES Automation Manager. You can pull down a fully functional 45-day eval copy here. Getting-Started guide is available here. Out of the box there will be enough licenses to install a handful of XenApp servers. You will also need your XenApp 6.5 ISO image handy. You will either mount the image somewhere or extract the contents to a folder. Either way, the buildingblock requires the contents of the ISO to be accessible via a share. This is important. Once you schedule the Run Book, you will be prompted to enter some information such as paths, passwords, etc. See the screenshot on the right for an example.
Those of you who are savy AM hackers may wonder what’s up with the share. As it turns out, it’s really the most efficient way to access the Citrix distribution media, simply because of it’s size, it’s not feasible to upload as a AM Resource. Second, bear in mind that the ISO contents may be updated by Citrix in the future.
I wish to personally thank the following people for their contributions to this project: Rick Eilenberger, Josh Fleming, Alex Danilychev and Brian Mirrotto @ Citrix Systems. And last but not least my fearless Sicilian friend Luca Lo Castro here at RES, who put the pieces together into a working building block. Credit also goes to Musa Cakar and Arno Vos, who took the time to expand the datastore capabilities. See below:
As mentioned, the buildingblock was updated December 5th 2011. The update consists of support of MS SQL Datastores. While the original buildingblock only supported SQLserver 2008, it now supports creating the XenApp Datastore on MSSQL 2005 and 2012 (Release Candidate 0).
From the Be-There-or-Be-A-Quad-Sided-Polygon Dept! Los Angeles, December 1st. 2011. A place and time you do not want to miss this year. Citrix Systems and RES Software are getting together to throw the largest UserGroup event yet! There’s be presentations, exhibitions, live demo’s, geekspeaks, and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff to see and experience. RES Software is the platinum sponsor of the event, and your’s truly will be there with my cool colleagues to present, demo, answer all your RES questions and smoke cigars! :-)
This article stems from that the fact that I’ve been asked several times the same question: “So, I’m looking to do VDI, and I want to use non-persistent / perishable images – but at the same time I want to allow my users to install their own apps. Can you software support that?”. That is what I’m going to address in this article.
For those of you wondering, this article had initially absolutely nothing to do with the whole Citrix/Ringcube thing, as I started writing a month prior to the press release last week. However since it’s a now a reality, it needs to be factored in. I now get questions like; “So, the RingCube/Citrix acuquisition – how does it affect RES?“. The short and precise answer is:
Not At All.
If I was in the business of, oh say… User Virtualization, perhaps I would have reason to worry, however neither layering nor virtualization has ever been in RES Software’s technology sphere. Seen from the point of the RES Workspace Manager, the RingCube offering is just another carrier platform, into which we can inject dynamic settings and manage security on top. Another thing to be aware of: Security around a layered environment is still very relevant to be managed as I presume that certain applications, such as games, torrent clients and other non-business apps aren’t wanted there either. The RES Workspace Manager can control what you are allowed to install, on a very granular level. I will explain this further into this article…