Citrix Pre-Launch, Does it really work?

Hey Everyone, Sorry about the absence of an update, I’ve been pretty busy working on a number of projects, I just havent had time to write.  I’ve seen a increase of subscribers, so I hope to write more intertesting and valuable content.  Please note that I’m not allowing any comments at the moment, it’s just too much admin.

I’ve been travelling a bit in the last month in the US to assist in a number of datacentres migrations as the company I work for continues to grow and expand in America this makes my job more interesting 🙂 its nice to catch up with my US collegues and enjoy a few pints around New York.

Well… lets get back to Citrix.

Enviroment: XenApp 6.5, Web Interface 5.4

There are many ways in which we can use Citrix so that our users get ther best experiance. I’m now working on the idea of Citrix pre-luanch, a client has required that their application are automatically launched before they even sit down at the desk.  Some trading applications take a while to load all the binaries, connect to the databases and load the positions.

So is there a way to shave 5 minutes off the day waiting for applications to launch?  Well apprentialy so, but how does this work and is it safe and secure?

Over the next couple of days I’ll be running some tests to see how the pre-launch feature works and what steps are required in the real world. I’ve started but looking at the Citrix documentation on this subject and the changes required on the Citrix Receiver and in the App Center.

The Requirement:

To launch a single trading application which normally takes 5 minutes at a scheduled time.

Update: 

Yes its works, but it depends if you have the Web Interface or StoreFront and the version of Citrix receiver.

 

What to expect: The pre-launch feature starts the applications upon logon of the Citrix Receiver in a disconnected state so then you can reconnect to them quickly when you launch the application. This could be Single Sign on or if you have saved your password in Receiver. The application will not acutally launch, but it will be quicker to access.

When you close the application that was prelaunched the sessions also logs out and the prelaunch app only reoccurs upon next logon or if scheduled.

 

How to configure your enviroment:

This really depends on weather your using the Web Interface or StoreFront. If your using the Web Interface 5.4 then you have to use Citrix Receiver Enterprise 3.4 or below, I only tested with version 3.4 and it worked. If your using Storefront then the latest version of Receiver 4.1 works.

Options:

There are 2 ways to configure the prelaunch feature, the first is to just login to receiver using SSO or entering your password. The second is via a schedule time and this is configured in the registry or GPO so you so wish.

Here is how to configure the registry: http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX130793

 

(Update)  But does it really work? 

Yes, if your using simple applications like Microsoft Office or adobe, however if an application has background processes that loads tables or data then no not really.  However there is a work around and this will allow you to pre launch (start) your Citrix applications.

 

I’ve only tested with Citrix Receiver 3.4 but it should work in 4.1.

Prerequisites:  Users must have saved password checked in Receiver.

This is how you do it:

From the command prompt:

Run: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Citrix\ICA Client\pnagent.exe” /QLaunch “MyFarm:Excel 2007”

You can then add this to a batch process and schedule it to start when you need i.e 9AM every mon-Fri.

If this doesn’t work then check users have saved password enabled and that their password hasn’t expired.

 

XenDesktop 5.6 Power Issue

I’ve been working on an issue with Power States in Xendesktop that’s been driving me nuts for over a month now. However I finally resolved the issue yesterday.

Background: I’m working on a corporate network, with tightly controlled firewalls and ACLS between VLANs. I’ve built a Xendesktop Infrastructure which consists of 2x DDC, 1x SCVMM and 2x Hyper-V Hosts. Initially the servers had open ACL access during the build, the installation and configuration went really smoothly.  However when the ACL rules were applied that’s when I started seeing issues.  Having studied the known ports used by Citrix Guide I submitted the change requests, the only this is the guide isn’t really clear on the direction of traffic. I guess they assume people will just open it both ways, our Network teams don’t like this idea unless its really necessary.

 

Issues discovered: 

  • Unable to detect power status
  • Unable to power on VDI from the Web Interface or DDC
  • Provisioning new Machines failed
  • Updating machines resulted in (Action Pending) – (Nightmare!)

However users were able to access their existing VDIs if they were powered on.

 

Resolution:

This may not be a complete solution from your environment, but I highly recommend checking the following items:

VDA – Ensure your VDA agent can see the DDC on the default port 80 in BOTH directions, this can be one of the results for not detecting the power status or failure in updates. Ensure you can resolve the DDC (Xendesktop controller) in DNS, telnet the DDC and telnet the VDA from the DDC. There’s a really useful tool for checking connectivity to your DDC and other required serviced called XDPING which you can download from the Citrix Website http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX123278

 

NETWORKING

Sign > = direction of traffic < > = both ways

Adding a Hyper-V Server
Allow ACL Access from [SCVMM SERVER] > Tcp 80,443,3389,5900,135,24158,2179 > [HYPER-V SERVER]
Allow ACL Access from [SCVMM SERVER] > Tcp 80,443,3389,5900,135,24158,2179 > [HYPER-V SERVER]
Allow ACL Access from [XENDESKTOP SERVER] >Tcp 80,135,24158 > [HYPER-V SERVER]

Adding a XenServer
Allow ACL Access from [XENDESKTOP SERVER] > Tcp 80,443 > [XENSERVER]

VDI Access
Allow ACL access from [XENDESKTOP SERVER] < Tcp 80, 443 > 3389, 5985, 135, > [CLIENT VDI VLAN]

Adding a XenDesktop Server
Allow ACL Access from [XenDesktop] > 8100 > OPSCVMM02D or SCVMM Server
Allow ACL Access from [XenDesktop] >Tcp 80,135,24158 > [HYPER-V SERVER]
Allow ACL Access from [XenDesktop] udp > 137, 138 > Tcp > 27000, 7279, 135, 445, 139> <49152-49652> TO [Citrix & TS Licensing SERVER]
Allow ACL Access from [XenDesktop] tcp > 1433> TO [SQL SERVER]

Ensure that your all servers, VDIs have access to Active Directory / and local DNS servers, information you can find on the Microsoft website. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc959828.aspx 

Finally! 

On your HYPER-V host and SCVMM  servers set the WMI service as a static port and then ensure that port tcp 24158 is open.

Follow the Microsoft article http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb219447(v=vs.85).aspx

This is really only required if your network is port restricted, like ours is.

This actually resolved the issue with users unable to power on their own VDIs.

You can test if you communicate correctly to the HYPER-V server by running the following PowerShell command:

Get-WmiObject -ComputerName YOURHYPERVSERVER -NameSpace root\Virtualization -Query “Select * from MSVM_ComputerSystem”

 

Amazon Cloud – Now Syncs with other PCs

The struggle between cloud storage providers took another turn on Monday, with Amazon announcing a new version of its Cloud Drive app that brings the ability to sync files across mobile, web, and desktop clients. See my other article on cloud storage.

Which Cloud Storage?

The Cloud , the cloud, what is the cloud?

It’s kinda new name for the Internet, but harder to sell “Storage your stuff on the Internet” but basically that what your doing. The cloud is virtual space on the Internet that your have control over. Let imagine this cloud for a moment, this is an service provider offering you services via the Internet using their servers in their datacentres. The cloud isn’t limited to storage but a wide range of other services too, like virtual desktop or remote applications.

Here’s how it works

You sign up to a cloud service provider, like dropbox for storage. They provide you which some lovely software that will synchronise your files to their servers in a datacentre securely. This is your little bit of cloud space sitting in a West London Datacentre, Rack D76, Server, cloud2210. You would hope they have some redundancy between servers for high availability, most do! Phew.  This is also true for Remote Applications and Virtual PCs, there a hypervisor (server with lots of virtual computers with Windows or Linux installed) a management interface and then a web portal, a little client maybe installed or integrated in your browser. This is true with Citrix.

Cloud Storage

This is a great idea and it has been around for a few years now. There are many companies offering free storage in the cloud, normally around 2GB and up to around 5GB depending how you use it.

The most common use is a place to storage your Pictures, Music and documents as a backup or to synchronise with other computers.  I couldn’t recommend this solution enough for those who have more that one computer and have trouble with versioning of documents. It’s also a great place to backup your important files or archiving. There are also cloud backups for businesses where backups could work, using a full backup and then only backing up the differences between the last. These cloud solution most likely use de-duplications (block level backups) to reduce the size on disk by up to 90%. But for small businesses and personal users cloud storage is a good idea.

 

Most service providers are reliable, but as with anything don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, If you upload all your photos, make sure you have a local copy. You never know if the data will get deleted due late payments or companies in administration.

 

Which One?

I’ve been looking at the pros and cons of cloud storage with some of the main vendors.
Dropbox, Amazon Cloud, iCloud and Google Drive all offer us somewhere safe to keep our files and I’ve been using them all.

Amazon Cloud: The Amazon cloud is the cheapest of the 4 providers and includes a client to upload your files to your personal cloud storage. It has integration with Android so you can save photos directly to the cloud. The Interface is all browser based and doesn’t synchronise with your other computers but does allow you to view your photos and stream your on your Android and iPhone.

Update 29th April 2013: Now Syncs with other PCs and android devices, making this an attractive service compared to others. 

Price Per Year: 20GB £6, 50GB £16, 100GB £32

Pros: 5GB of Free Space, Streaming your Music, Cheap hosting.

 Cons: No support for cloud drive on iPhone.

 

DropBox:  A simple idea you have a folder and everything in the folder is synchronised with other computers and your cloud drive. This is great if you work on documents at home or work or even on your tablet. You know your working on the latest version. Dropbox Integrates with your iPhone or Android device so you can upload documents and photos or work on existing ones in the cloud. It automatically synchronises your photos on your mobile, but you can also restrict what items or folders. It does only could with  2GB for storage, but you can earn upto 5GB by uploading photos, installing software on smartphone etc, Overall excellent service.

Price Per Year: 100GB $99 (£65) 200GB $199 (£135) and 500GB $499 (£335)

Pros: Syncs with all your PCS, Phones & Tablets, Upto 5GB for free storage

Cons: Limited packages, expensive

Google Drive: Google entered cloud space market offering good value for money storage, it uses the same idea as dropbox and synchronised your data between computers, smartphones and devices. You can share you data with others and this doesn’t automatically sync you photos.  Google offers a great no nonsense cloud drive that you can synchronise between PCs and access from anyway.

Price Per Year:  25GB £20, 100GB £37, 400GB £160

Pros:  5GB Free Storage, Syncs with all your PCs, Share and upload on your iPhone & Android. Up to 16TB!

Cons: I cant think of any yet..

 

iCloud: lets just say if you have an iPhone 4+ or Ipad it synchronises your data between your device and your home computer. A great service for iPhone and IPad users, it also integrates with Outlook for calanders, tasks and contacts, keeping them upto wherever you go.

Price Per Year: 10GB £14, 20GB £28, 50GB £70

Pros: Great Intergration features for iOS users

Cons: Expenivse, Not for Android or PC users unless you have an  iOS device

 

Support Me! London to Brighton Cycle Ride

I  hope you all find the information on this site useful and it has helped you overcome your technical issues. I’m supporting the British Heart Foundation and looking to raise around £150 by cycling 54 miles again this year. If you care to support this charity event you can donate by visting http://justgiving.com/NCrancher every pound, Doller, Yen counts ! 🙂

Ride: The famous London to Brighton

Miles: 54

Date: 15th June 2013

You can follow me on @ncrancher twitter for updates.

Update: FIXED URL for the Donation site.

Thanks for your support.

Nicky

 

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