Category: Virtual Apps and Desktops

Text-based session watermarks

Citrix recently introduced a new feature to track data theft by giving administrators the ability to enable watermarks in their user sessions. This feature is supported for both Server and Desktop OS and requires a minimum of Virtual Delivery Agent version 7.17.

Citrix also offers the possibility to customize your sessions watermarks. The following parameters can be included or configured in the watermark:

  • Client IP Address
  • Connection Time
  • Logon user name
  • VDA host name
  • VDA IP Address
  • Style (Single or multiple)
  • Custom text
  • Transparency

    Sessions watermark with a custom text, connection time and a transparency of 10

And I bet you’re now wondering, just as I did, whether there are any exceptions. There is and they cover a few, great scenarios!

  • When using Session Recording, the recorded session does not present the watermark.
  • When using Windows remote assistance, the watermark does not present the watermark to the remote user.
  • When pressing Print Screen key to capture the screen, the screen captured at the VDA side does not include the watermark. This also works with third party applications that triggers by pressing the Print Screen button, for an example, Greenshot.

More information regarding session watermarking and its limitations can be found on the link below:
https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/graphics/session-watermark.html

If you have any questions regarding session watermarks, feel free to email me at robert.skyllberg@xenit.se or comment down below.



Citrix replaces Smart Scale with Autoscale

A while ago Citrix announced the deprecation of Smart Scale but its replacement has been in the dark, and has finally been uncovered.

Smart Scale will reach end of life on May 31, 2019 and Autoscale will be the replacement for Cloud platforms. Autoscale is considered a new feature but it delivers all the functionality that are currently available in Smart Scale, such as:

  • Load based scaling
  • Schedule based scaling
  • Cost saving statistics

Note: Autoscale will only be available for customers with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop service. This means that customers with on-premise platforms are advised to use the Studio power management feature (Which earlier had the possibility to use Smart Scale).

Autoscale can be enabled and configured per Delivery Group in Studio and will replace the current Power management tab.

One of the new functionalities delivered with Autoscale is its integration with Director where savings and machine usage will be presented.

For a quick walk through of Autoscale, see this link.

If you have any questions regarding Autoscale, feel free to email me at robert.skyllberg@xenit.se or comment down below.



TLS 1.0 and 1.1 will be blocked, so update your Citrix Receiver!

Background

As most of the things around us constantly gets updates and improvements, the enhancements regarding flaws in vulnerabilities of security are for most people the most critical. Since cryptographic protocols like TLS 1.0 has been used since 1999, with an update to TLS 1.1 in 2006, these protocols have been vulnerable to attacks like POODLE and BEAST. The best way to prevent similar attacks from happening again is to have people to stop using the outdated protocols and having them to be forced to use the more enhanced 1.2 version.

Last year, some of the largest IT-companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Apple & Mozilla) announced that TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 protocols will be deprecated from their respective web browser in 2020. After this, other companies adapted and cleverly joined the train.

As of the 15th of Mars, 2019, Citrix will no longer support communication over TLS 1.0 and 1.1 to Citrix Cloud Services.

Which cases will be affected?

The standard way of TLS negotiation is to have the latest version be the first negotiator, and if that one fails go to the next one, and so on. This means that if you are running an old version of Receiver that only supports TLS 1.0 / 1.1, you will not be able to connect to Citrix Cloud with an old Receiver. On-prem StoreFront implementations that still support TLS 1.0 / 1.1 will be unaffected by the change.

How will this affect you?

Listed below is the minimum required version of Citrix Receiver. If you have an earlier version, you will be prohibited trying to connect.

Receiver Version
Windows 4.2.1000
Mac 12.0
Linux 13.2
Android 3.7
iOS 7.0

 

What can you do to prevent this?

As of last May, at Synergy, Citrix announced that the Receiver would join the Workspace family. So don’t go looking for any version of Citrix Receiver, go look for the latest version of Citrix Workspace, which can be downloaded here. All the Workspace applications has been stripped from the TLS 1.0 and 1.1 protocol.

The full statement from Citrix can be found in this link



Citrix brings back Local Text Echo

Have you ever experienced the frustration of working on a bad connection resulting in tremendous amount of latency when typing?

Past releases of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (Formerly XenApp & XenDesktop) have included many interesting news and functions, especially regarding HDX innovations and ICA improvements. One of the “new” features that caught my eye in the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 1811 release notes is Local text echo, which I will shortly cover in this post.



“Outlook cannot perform your search” on Windows Server 2016 running Remote Desktop Services

INTRODUCTION

Speaking on behalf of all IT technicians, it is with no doubt that we all have had our hand in cases related to Outlook. Oftentimes I experience them to be quite understandable in order to be resolved. However, that was until I encountered a particularly obscure issue with Outlook’s search engine, nonetheless its very same obscure resolution.



Smart Check – Monitor Your Citrix Sites

Citrix Smart Check is a software and a service that installs on a Citrix Delivery Controller and collects diagnostic data, sends it to the Citrix Cloud account, where it gets analyzed and presented on the Citrix Cloud website. The information helps Citrix administrators to prevent and resolve issues before they happen or impact the users, give recommendations on fixes and to keep the Citrix environment stable.

The Smart service helps Citrix administrators that do not have their own monitoring setup or are unable to monitor their sites for other reasons and presents it on a webpage overview. The administrators can also get scheduled summarized mail reports regarding errors, warnings and information regarding the state of the different sites.

Citrix Cloud Smart Tools

Smart Check – Sites Overview

What Smart Check provides

  • Overview of the Citrix sites and products used, site-by-site
  • An extensive diagnostic and health checks for the different sites and services
  • Scheduled health controls of Delivery Groups, StoreFronts, Delivery Controllers, Machine Catalogs, Provisioning and License Servers
  • Give recommendations what administrators should do with the site to keep it up-to-date and stable
  • Help with simplified troubleshooting and pin down where the issue may be impacting users
  • Upload diagnostic data to Citrix Insight Services (CIS)
Smart Check - Overview

Smart Check – Overview

How to get started

First, you need a Citrix Cloud account. Register an account at https://smart.cloud.com. After you have created an account you can login, click Add Site and download the Smart Check software. The software should be installed on a Delivery Controller on the site and comes with a one-time signed JSON Web Token (JWT) that is used to connect your site to the Citrix Cloud – Smart Tools service.

Smart Tools - Add Site

Smart Check – Steps to take

Add Site - CitrixSmartToolsagent.exe

Add Site – CitrixSmartToolsagent.exe

Once the Smart Check agent is installed it will show up on the Citrix Cloud – Smart Check webpage as Site Discovered. You will need to click on Complete Setup and provide a domain user account that is a member of the local Administrator group of the Delivery Controller and full administrator role in Citrix Studio. PowerShell 3.0 or greater needs to be installed on the Delivery Controllers and outbound internet access on port 443 enabled to be able to upload to Citrix Cloud.

Smart Check - Site Discovered

Smart Check – Site Discovered

Smart Check - Enter Credentials

Smart Check – Enter Credentials

For VDA the following must be enabled:

  • File and Printer Sharing
  • Windows Remote Management (WinRM)
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

For a full list of requirements and supported site components, visit Citrix Product Documentation – Smart Check requirements.

Smart Checks

Below is a list of the checks that are available as of this post. There are probably more to come:

  • Site Health
  • Citrix Optimizer
  • Citrix Provisioning
  • Delivery Controller Configuration
  • License Server
  • LTSR Compliance
  • Product LifeCycle
  • StoreFront
  • VDA Health

Each category contains several checks. You can read an excerpt of the different checks performed below.

Site Health Checks

Site Health Checks provide a comprehensive evaluation of all the FMA services including their database connectivity on your Delivery Controllers. Citrix recommends you run these checks at least once daily. Site Health Checks verify the following conditions:

  • A recent site database backup exists
  • Citrix broker client is running for environment test
  • Citrix Monitor Service can access its historical database
  • Database connection of each FMA service is configured
  • Database can be reached by each FMA service
  • Database is compatible and working properly for each FMA service
  • Endpoints for each FMA service are registered in the Central Configuration service
  • Configuration Service instances match for each FMA service
  • Configuration Service instances are not missing for each FMA service
  • No extra Configuration Services instance exists for each FMA service
  • Service instance published by each FMA Service matches the service instance registered with the Configuration service
  • Database version matches the expected version for each FMA service
  • Each FMA service can connect to Configuration Logging Service
  • Each FMA service can connect to Configuration Service

Citrix Provisioning Checks

Citrix Provisioning Checks verifies Citrix Provisioning status and configuration.The following checks are performed:

  • Installation of Provisioning Server and Console
  • Inventory executable is running
  • Notifier executable is running
  • MgmtDaemon executable is running
  • StreamProcess executable is running
  • Stream service is running
  • Soap Server service is running
  • TFTP Service is running
  • PowerShell minimum version check
  • Database and Provisioning server availability
  • License Server connectivity
  • Provisioning Update Check
  • PXE service is running
  • TSB service is running

StoreFront Checks

StoreFront Check validates the services status, connectivity to Active Directory, Base URL setting, IIS Application Pool version and the SSL certificates for Storefront, and verifies the following conditions:

  • Citrix Default Domain Services is running
  • Citrix Credential Wallet services is running
  • The connectivity from the StoreFront server to port 88 of AD
  • The connectivity from the StoreFront server to port 389 of AD
  • Base URL has a valid FQDN
  • Can retrieve the correct IP address from the Base URL
  • IIS application pool is using .NET 4.0
  • Certificate is bound to the SSL port for the host URL
  • Whether or not the certificate chain is incomplete
  • Whether or not certificates have expired
  • Whether or not certificate(s) will expire within one month

VDA Health Checks

VDA Health Checks help Citrix administrators troubleshoot VDA configuration issues. This check automates a series of health checks to identify possible root causes for common VDA registration and session launch issues.

  • VDA software installation
  • VDA machine domain membership
  • VDA communication ports availability
  • VDA services status
  • VDA Windows firewall configuration
  • VDA communication with each Controller
  • VDA registration status

For Session Launch:

  • Session launch communication ports availability
  • Session launch services status
  • Session launch Windows firewall configuration
  • Validity of Remote Desktop Server Client Access License

Closing words

You can run checks manually, but it is also possible to schedule (recommended) the different health checks and get a summarized report daily or every week at designated time of day. The summary gets mailed to the registered Citrix Cloud account and to view more information you need to logon to the Smart Cloud website.

It is possible to view previous reports of the Smart Check runs and hide alerts that has been previously acknowledged:

Smart Check Health Alerts

Smart Check – Health Check Runs History

Under Site Details you can view components or add new ones. If needed it is also possible to Edit Site Credentials, Sync Site Data or Delete the Site:

Smart Check - Site Details

Smart Check – Site Details

Smart Check is supported both on-prem and in the Citrix Cloud environment.
It is easy to setup and brings a great deal of value. You should try it out! Let me know how it went in the comments down below.

Smart Tools contains Smart Checks and Smart Scale. Smart scale helps reduce your XenApp and XenDesktop on Azure Cloud resource costs. But this will be in covered another post.

Source: https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/smart-tools/whats-new.html



VDA stuck when updating

Sometimes (no idea why, seems random to me) the VDA update is stuck after prompted to reboot in the middle of the update like below.

VDA Update Stuck

After going through the logs (Get-content “$env:LOCALAPPDATA\Temp\Citrix\XenDesktop Installer\XenDesktop Installation.log” -wait) I noticed that the VDA setup creates a RunOnce key just before the restart.

VDA Update Powershell Log

After checking the registry path “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce” there was indeed a key created with the name “!XenDesktopSetup”.

VDA Update Stuck Registry

After deleting this key the update proceeded immediately.

VDA Update Proceed

I guess the registry key should delete it self after a reboot, but for whatever reason it doesn’t. This update was from 7.18 to 1808, but have happened to me in all different versions from 7.15 and later.



Teams in your Multi-user environment done right!

Microsoft Teams is on the rise, more and more businesses is seeing the potential of Teams and want a piece of the action.

Unfortunately Microsoft Teams is not ideally designed to work on a Multi-user environment like Citrix Xenapp or Microsoft Remote Desktop services. It is entirely installed in the users profile, and its quite big. A clean installation of teams is roughly 600 MB and will quickly grow, and you know what that means… You guessed it: Super long logon time, since logging on to the Multi-user environment often means the profile would be downloaded to Session Host before you are properly logged on, the users will not be happy! And on top of that, the latest recommendation in size per Teams installation is 3 GB…

There is however some rumors indicating there will be releasing a business version soon addressing this very issue! But if you are anything like me, and cant simply wait, there is a solution if you are willing to pay a small price, and you will at the same time have access to tons of other great stuff.

FSLogix Profile Container

FSLogix Profile Container is a great product that basically removes the profile size entirely, is an little agent you install on your Session Hosts and configure with an ADMX, you also need a file share with enough space for some big profiles. FSLogix is in the business of so called filter-drivers, what it does is simply put, lying to Windows. For example, when you install a 32-bit application to your 64-bit Windows System, Windows will use its own filter-driver to get it to work, its the same technology, its efficient and simple. In FSLogix case it is lying to the windows about the profiles, Windows thinks its a local profile, it does not know that in fact, the entire profile is contained in a vhd-file, mounted to the server. Because its a virtual disk that attaches to the server, there is only one SMB handle. It will therefor not be a huge load on the network, which you often sees when you for example roam your profiles.

Install Teams

When you have FSLogix Profile Container in place you can now install teams on your environment.  In early October Microsoft released a new version of Teams with some new features when deploying Teams to all the users in an organization, we are going to use parts of that to install Teams on to our environment!

 

  1. Download the latest version of Teams MSI-file (x64) file here!
  2. If you like to disable Auto-start of Teams use the following install string (otherwise just install without the option):
    This will put an Install file under “C:\Program Files”, and when a user logon it will automatically install Teams to this user.
  3. You do not need to update the MSI to the latest version, Teams will automatically download and install pending updates on the next logon of the user.

There you go, now your users can benefit from the full experience of Teams in your Multi-user environment, with one exception: if you are using Citrix, you have “Skype for Business Optimization Pack” to utilize local client resources for best quality of Skype meetings and calls. There is no support for Teams as of for now. It will soon be available though. With that said, I wouldn’t uninstall Skype for business just yet.

Other Great stuff

As mentioned above, there is a lot of benefits using FSLogix Profile Container. For a great period of time, Citrix User Profile Manager has been the best way to reduce the size of the profiles while still have the most important settings saved in your profile. But this is still just a trade-off, you trade off your caches and settings that impact your profile logon, but at the same time still trying to get the best experience for the user, this will sometimes collide and you have to choose between longer logon time or full functionality of a certain application.

With FSLogix Profile Container you no longer need to worry about large profiles, you don´t need to trade off! There are a lot of applications that saves a ton of settings and files in your profile that you now can install without impacting the user experience, this opens up a great deal of opportunities. You can for example install OneNote with it´s (potentially)  gigantic cache, CAD applications with thousands of files in the user profile and so much more.

 

If you find this interesting and would like a trial of FSLogix Profile Container to see if this fits your organizations needs, please contact us. It is easily installed and does not require additional servers or infrastructure!

 



Migrate home directory to a new location

Recently, I have been involved in some larger XenApp projects where one of the objects have been to migrate home directories when users change environment. People tend to lock themselves to the idea that IT must help migrate home directory when the user is given access to the new environment. A better way to approach this is to publish a script to the start menu and inform users to run the script when first logging in to the new environment. In one of the projects it were a bit more complicated because the home directory structure was different from the structure in the new XenApp environment (see below).

 

Old structure

  • Links
  • Favorites
  • Downloads
  • Documents
    • My Music
    • My Videos
    • My Pictures
  • Desktop
  • Contacts
  • AppData

 

New structure

  • Downloads
  • Documents
  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Desktop

 

To solve this we had to create a PowerShell script with a bit more logic. Basically what we do is the following;

  1. Copy everything from old home directory to the new home directory, except the excluded folders and files
  2. Copy “\Documents\Music” to “\Music”
  3. Copy “\Documents\Videos” to “\Videos”
  4. Copy “\Documents\Pictures” to “\Pictures”
  5. Copy “\Favorites” to “\%USERPROFILE%\Favorites” (It’s bad practice to redirect Favorites. Read more here)
  6. Copy necessary items from “\AppData\~” to “\%USERPROFILE%\AppData\~” (We use Citrix Profile Management instead of redirecting AppData to the home share. Redirecting AppData to the home share is also bad practice. Same reason as why it’s bad practice to redirect Favorites.)

 

 

The end result looks like this;.

User runs “Copy Home Directory” from Start Menu as instructed

Copy Home Directory

A box pops up

Popup - Copy the entire home directory from the old environment

Another box pops up when the script is finished copying the old home directory

Popup - Finished



Monitoring vDisk Rebalance Enabled

In a recent use-case that I stumbled across, I wanted to monitor a few different things in a Citrix-environment with Provisioning Services technology.

In this specific blog-post I’ll show you how I configured monitoring for whether Rebalance Enabled is configured for active vDisk, with Provisioning Services (PVS) Powershell SnapIn.