By Max Ranzau
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.
Click the brick as per usual to download the buildingblock:
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!
By Max Ranzau
From the Tools-R-Us Dept. You may recall a while back in February, I reported on a cool utility to address the issue with clearing individual log files in RES Workspace Manager. There’s now a new version 2.0 out from one of our community heroes (=someone who contributes and shares stuff), Patrick van Grinsven in the Netherlands (For the record, Morgan Freeman did not develop it ;). The SQL Database Logging Cleanup Tool has seen a few GUI changes and some other improvements:
- It is now possible to directly Analyze / Query / Clear the configured logging database if the supplied connection details and logs are valid.
- It is now possible to Analyze / Query / Clear the logging between dates, or to completely clear the selected log (1)
- Logging analysis is being sorted descending.
- Displayed record count added (2)
If you are a RES engineer or admin, this utility should most definitely be in your Bat-utility belt.
For further information and downloads, see the updated article here:
By Max Ranzau
From the Worlds Greatest Browser (Right…) Dept: In Internet Explorer 10 and up, the WebCacheV01.dat file was introduced. This file lives in %LocalAppdata%\Microsoft\Windows\WebCache. The webcache folder is hidden. The issue at hand is that the webcache file is always in use, which makes for a rainy day if you try to roam/copy IE cookies, or otherwise store them with RES User-Settings. The issue was described back in April by Rob Beekmans on his blog here.
As of now, the problem is rumored to have been addressed by Microsoft on Server 2012, but is still very much alive and kicking on Server 2008, which at the time of writing still represents a large contingent of server deployments out there.
While Mr. Beekmans illustrated the issue, my partner-in-crime the good Mr. Aarts tackled the issue head on, providing a neat and shareable solution with the RES community in the shape of a Workspace Manager buildingblock. By running a couple of strategic Powershell scripts in the users session and including a couple of extra (freeware) utilities as custom resources, the buildingblock solves the problem described above. The Workspace Manager BB includes the following:
- A PowerShell command to set the PS execution policy to unrestricted to make sure we don’t get any unnecessary prompts when running the following items unattended:
- A PS script running at logoff, which backs up the current webcache to a location of your choice *1). The script will create two backup .zip files for the two folders WebCache and INetCookies as well. The script will also leave 5 rotated backup file sets.
- A PS script running at logon to restore the latest backup of these two folders to their original location
- Both logon/logoff scripts closes all open file handles before making the backup/restore operations.
- 7zip and SysInternals Handle64.exe are included as RESWM custom resources.
As you may infer, the above essentially extends the WM User Settings with a basic Hybrid Profile – style copyout-copyin script system. This is necessary, as UserSetting would face the same issue as any other UEM; that the target files are locked. I’d say there’s a loud and clear feature request waiting to be implemented here that could solve a lot of potential headaches for customers.
Important: As you can see on the screenshot, there is a couple of places you may need to modify the logon/logoff scripts. The destination where the backup files are to be stored defaults to H:\ – you may need to change that. If you already are using a UNC path like \\server\share\%username% for your User Settings, you perhaps want to consider using that as well. Just remember to add a subfolder for this, like \\server\share\%username%\IEbackup or similar. We could of course have added an environment variable so you only had to change the storage destination once, however it’s two edits. Chances are you may survive it :)
Click the brick to download the buildingblock:
By Max Ranzau
From the NostraRanzau Dept. This article describes some very interesting developments which I came across in in the Service Release 4 for Workspace Manager 2012 back around end of 2013. We’ve been used for for eons that new managed applications would contain a reference to RES’s own launcher, pwrgate.exe. With this well hidden change, it’s actually possible to let shortcuts retain their original exe+path. There are some caveats as this is early code – nevertheless this is worthwhile knowing about
<<< Click here to read the article
From the Industrial Might & Logic Dept: Once in a while you may come across the scenario where you need to take control over an existing production environment. While new VDI implementations are sprouting up all over the place, it’s not within everyones budget to put in new plumbing and start building from scratch. Over the years I’ve dealt with several customers who had a beat-up production environment where they were spending their workdays putting out fires (and fighting off Ogres) instead of being anywhere near a proactive state. Proactive is a much abused word, but in my context it simply means being ahead of the curve instead of trying to catch up and never emptying out an ever-growing inbox of trouble. While this may sound like a happy story of rainbows and robot-unicorns to some, I assure you a proactive state of secure workspace management is a reality within your grasp, when you consider using the RES Workspace Manager. Let me share a story on how I did it and give you some useful tips on how you can do it too:
<<< Click here to read the article
From the I-Wonder-What-Happens-When-I-Press-This-Button Dept. An existing article has been moved to the Technote Library. This one covers some interesting behavior of the RES Workspace Manager, which you as an integrator need to be aware of. Out of the box the Workspace Manager does not change anything on the target environment, when you roll the software out. However, when you enable the Workspace Composer, several changes are in fact applied to the target computer, which you would do well to familiarize yourself with.
<<< Click here to read the article.
From the sideline comments dept. Just before xmas Brian shares his view on what’s important for vendors in relation to Desktop Virtualization. I’m not going to recap his article in total, you can read it here. What I wanted to comment on specifically, is that it’s really nice to have been working with a vendor for 11+ years now, who all along has been doing what the good Dr. Madden orders today! :-) While we originally back in the late ’90s started out being a product only for Terminal Services/Citrix environments, RES products were kept in tune with the times and trends to embrace all windows platforms: Workstations, Laptops and Server Based Computing – what I referred to as tri-platform support back in the day.
With the emergence of virtualization, first on hardware, then later on applications, it was possible for RES to add 3 more innovative dimensions to that picture:
- Early VDI Workspace support: RES Software actually didn’t have to change much, if anything in the Workspace Manager (back in the day known as PowerFuse) to support VDI. As the Workspace Composer runs inside the user’s session, seen from a technical perspective of the product, it’s running on a workstation OS, which just happens to be accessed as a terminal server through RDP, HDX or whatever. In other words, all the goodness which Workspace Manager offered already for Laptops, Physical workstations and Terminal servers, was available for VDI from day one.
- First App-V integration: RES was TRUTHFULLY, THE VERY FIRST VENDOR who worked proactively with the Grand-Daddy of all application virtualization technologies, SoftGrid by Softricity – now known as App-V by Microsoft. Since then, we’ve adapted to support pretty much every major App Virtualization platform out there. Application virtualization is an important piece of VDI as it will allow you to have more apps to co-exist in the same image. Using the workspace manager to differentiate access to these apps, you can litterally cut down your VDI configuration to one golden image per operating system. Look out for an article on this topic later.
- First Reverse Seamless provider: Back in the day, RES had this little – relatively un-noticed – sidecar utility to the Workspace Manager, known as the RES Subscriber aka Workspace Extender. These were the first implementations of Reverse Seamless Windows. Few people saw the potential early on, but I’d like to highlight a specific video, made by my former colleague Rick Eilenberger, that demonstrates what it was able to do already then in 2007. It was known as the RES Subscriber. The technology later licensed by Citrix, evolved to a stand-alone product, known as VDX. For more information on VDX, go read here.
The only thing we’ve left alone in regards to virtualization, is so called ‘User Virtualization’. This is some sort of horn which the Usual Suspects likes to blow (and do I mean blow… ;-) To my experience, the concept of virtualizing the user makes no sense at all. The user is the only real “object” in the entire getup anyway. Sure, hardware is quite real too, however unlike the behavior of users, it’s behavior is way more predictable, hence virtualizing it is relatively easy in comparison. This is one of the reasons why I believe the idea of redirecting the profile to a database is a flawed concept to begin with. You want as fast and reliable access to your settings to your settings as well as your documents to cater for the user’s sometimes erratic behavior. This is why the RES Workspace Manager was built with purpose to store User Settings in the same manner as User Data is stored; in a location which is unique and readily accessible to the user.
With the ever-growing adaptation of Cloud Computing into the Enterprise space, the profile game is a-changing. Boatloads of other pundits have been describing in vivid detail how users will demand access to their settings virtually anywhere. One way of dealing with this is to provide ACCESS from anywhere to a centralized solution. Citrix have been doing this for well over 20 years. Thing can however quickly become harrowing if changes the user makes should follow them between different infrastructures (different server farms, operating systems or even different laptops). This is where an intelligent and granular approach to handling user settings is required. If you are contemplating storing your settings only in a standard SQL database – or on a fileserver for that matter you are asking for trouble, or at the very least unnecessary complexity. I’ve discussed this previously in this article.
Anyway, while the usual suspects are duking it out on the commentary section over on BM, RES Software is ready to take on the new year. Stay tuned to this blog for even more tidbits and useful info in 2012! Happy new year everybody.
Well folks, the weekend is upon us and it’s about that time we head out west to take part in next week’s Citrix Synergy 2011 in San Fransisco. From the perspective of RES, this time I can promise you one heck of a show, as we’re going to be more RES people than ever, with even more cool technology to show off. We’re sure as going to be making a big splash at this event on several fronts and be more visible than ever! Make sure you bookmark the official RES event page. There have been many posts and tweets about this event, so with this article it’s my humble ambition to serve up the good stuff in one place. Let’s have a closer look at what’s going on:
Read more »
From the we-work-harder-so-you-don’t-have-to dept. My esteemed co-authors Patrick Kaak and Sascha Maier have produced a couple of new articles, which you may find interesting. Patrick has reworked another blog article he found, which compares different profile manager technologies, while Sacha has created an article that describes how you can first-time set up the correct initial keyboard for users in an international organization. This article also includes a buildingblock. Have a look at the articles in the Technote Library below:
<<< RG038 – Differences between profile managers
<<< RG039 – Mapping the right keyboard to the right people
From the Eiffel Sales dept. In a bold move to spread global awareness of Workspace Automation, RES Software today annouced the purchase of a brand new custom designed Boeing 747-400, which has been completely retrofitted to meet the needs of an agile and dynamic salesforce. The aircraft was unveiled at the christening ceremony today in Hangar 18 at Philadelphia International Airport, which will be the new home of RESforce-1 as the aircraft is now formally designated.
To accommodate every conceivable corporate activity on board, RESforce-1 is equipped for fitting interchangeable modules, ranging from multiple conference rooms, a 5-star restaurant and sushi bar, 2 cocktail bars and stay-over facilities for 50+ VIP guests. Riding on the wings of RES Software will indeed be a one-of-a-kind experience as the aircraft is also able to maintain zero-G for up to 4 minutes at a time when the interior is refitted for this experience. Convenient covers for your drinks will be issued before takeoff. Sources close to RES Software indicate that “Even Austin Powers would be green with envy to own this baby”
The aircraft is also fitted with several classified countermeasures, including Anti-FUD systems allowing the flight crew to automatically target and disable incoming false claims and half-baked assumptions.