Some Citrix XenDesktop Troubleshooting Tips

September 23, 2009

I have recently had to build a new Citrix XenDesktop environment for some testing which included Citrix Provisioning Server and Citrix XenServer. Along the way, I had various issues and struggled to find a single, comprehensive, troubleshooting article so I am going to have a stab at it here since I had to go through various tests in order to sort my issues. Having said this, there are some very good technotes on the Citrix web site here – http://support.citrix.com/product/xd/v3.0/technote/

  1. Enable logging for the Workstation Agent and ensure that access to the C$ share of the master XenDesktop image is enabled, including a firewall exception for file sharing. This is so that you can get at the log file without having to log on interactively to the image. See this article for how to enable the logging by a simple edit to the WorkstationAgent.exe.config file:  http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX117452 

    Obviously ensure that the Workstation Agent (Citrix Desktop Service) is successfully starting, as are other Citrix services, and the log shows it registering with the DDC.

  2. The event logs are also obviously another place to look when things fail although this can be tricky if your VM has been connected enough to want to reboot when the connection attempt has failed.
  3. You can also enable logging for the Desktop Delivery Controller service which is detailed in the link above. Ensure that the DDC service and other Citrix ones start successfully.
  4. PortICA logging can be enabled – http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX118837 – which could show potential ICA problems. It didn’t for me but will stay enabled in my base image whilst I am still testing.
  5. Citrix tracing tool (CDF – Citrix Diagnostic Facility) – this didn’t help me as it only currently supports a small number of client side features such as USB. It can also be run on the machine running the Workstation Agent but I didn’t do this.  http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX120269
  6. I did have some errors when using the XenDesktop Setup Wizard so I followed the steps to get a log file for this. I couldn’t get the log produced via the command line so ended up modifying the .config file as described here: http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX118278 

    My issues actually turned out, I think, to do with the fact that the template I was specifying in the wizard had an 8GB disk attached (it was my Gold Build VM that was booting off the PvS disk but still had the original hard drive in case I needed to rebuild the PvS disk) so each new VM created by the wizard was creating a new 8GB disk and I simply didn’t have the storage for it (not that I got an error suggesting this). I therefore created a new VM in XenServer that had the memory, NIC and CPUs I wanted but had no hard disk so actually didn’t have an OS installed (it never even got booted). This doesn’t matter since the OS comes from the vdisk/vhd you specify, separately, in the wizard.

  7. Check that you can logon with the required accounts to the VMs in your XenCenter/XenServer console. This should show any domain joining or account issues, e.g. expiry or permissions. Also check network connectivity to/from them.
  8. Fire up your gold image VM, since it should be on a standard image disk so the changes will be lost when it shuts down, add it to a new desktop group without a hosting infrastructure so that you just use the name of the VM in the group. This should tell you if the problem was something funny about the desktop group or the VMs that comprised it.
  9. My issue was that I was launching the connection from Web Interface but I wasn’t getting a session, just a failure popup – “Unable to connect to the desktop. This may be a temporary problem. Click OK and then try starting the desktop again. If the problem persists, contact your system administrator”. Before acknowledging the failure popup, look in your %temp% folder for the ICA file that it dynamically created. It won’t be a .ica file but instead will most likely be a .tmp file although will probably start “ica*”– easily spotted by modification time, particularly if you sort on modification time. It is actually the argument to cdsbar.exe if you look in Task Manger on Vista or with SysInternals/Microsoft Process Explorer. Open the ica file in notepad and check that it makes sense – e.g. is connecting to the right thing (“Address=”) and that the entity can be resolved/contacted. Note that the ica file, in best Mission Impossible style, will self destruct, i.e. be deleted, when you ok the failure popup thanks to the “RemoveICAFile=On” line. Note also that there is little point in saving the ica file for later use since it has a logon ticket in there which most likely will have expired.
  10. This leads on to checking that port 1494 is accessible in the virtual desktop by telnetting to it. However, port 1494 is only alive for a brief while after the connection is initiated so wait a few seconds after you have clicked on the icon to launch the session in Web Interface, or Program Neighborhood, before trying the telnet. When accessing a pool, look at the temporary ICA file to figure out which machine to check or reduce the pool to a single machine. We are not really looking for anything here other than the connection succeeds although you will probably see the characters “ICA” displayed.
  11. As by this stage all logs were looking fine and port 1494 was working, I put on a network monitor, in this case SysInternals/Microsoft Process Monitor, on my client machine (the one accessing Web Interface) and filtered on wfica32.exe. This is when I found that some traffic was going through my proxy that I hadn’t allowed for – bingo, problem solved when the proxy was disabled. In my defence, I had tried accessing from a different client (this should probably be a separate line item in this troubleshooting “guide”) but that had also failed, albeit probably for different reasons as it wasn’t using a proxy.
  12. Watch for proxies! Obviously configure them as necessary or disable them.
  13. I did have some “funnies” with my XP VMs created by the XenDesktop Setup Wizard and running off PvS. I think they were because after creation I had switched the master disk away from Standard Image mode. My excuse is that you have to manually hit F5 to do a refresh after changing vDisk properties and I didn’t! I was actually getting the error described here: http://forums.citrix.com/message.jspa?messageID=1393521 

    Sometimes the streaming console (StreamConsole.exe) on the PvS box can help diagnose these kinds of issue. Unfortunately it didn’t in this case.

  14. I also got caught by my base image having miniscule event log sizes (64KB) so even though they weren’t up for long, it was enough for them to fill up and not to overwrite so it was back to the base image to set larger sizes and set them to overwrite as needed.

NEW FEATURE No. 11 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Registry Hive Exclusions

September 17, 2009

This is the eleventh installment in a series of posts about the new features and options in AppSense Version 8 Service Pack 2.  (If you have not yet downloaded this latest release, you can read more info and download it from here )

AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 introduces new functionality to the Registry Hive action – Registry Hive Exclusions.

This feature allows the administrator to specify registry settings to hive out at a specific level and then exclude certain keys or values beneath that level in order to reduce the registry file size on disk. For example, you could hive out the whole Microsoft Office key, but exclude settings for Microsoft Access.

Note: You can use wildcards for the key name and you can explicitly exclude a key name with an embedded wildcard character by enclosing the key name with quotes “”. However, it is not possible to specify a key path with a leading wildcard such as *\Software”wildcardkey*”.

Note: It is not advised to use keys that start with HKEY_CURRENT_USER since the software does not use this key internally

Note: Registry Hive Exclusions currently only work when hiving out settings rather than hiving them in. This is the preferred method since it reduces the amount of required storage space on the network.

P:S
As this is an ever growing blog topic, the previous posts on the other new features we have detailed can be found below:

NEW FEATURE No. 1 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run As

NEW FEATURE No. 2 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Connect As

NEW FEATURE No. 3 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Improved compression and data handling protocol

NEW FEATURE No. 4 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Manipulation of files in Personalization Analysis

NEW FEATURE No. 5 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run Once

NEW FEATURE No. 6 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Group SID Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 7 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Trigger Action Time Audit Event

NEW FEATURE No. 8 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Stop If Fails

NEW FEATURE No. 9 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – New Application Categories in the User Interface

NEW FEATURE No. 10 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 11 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Registry Hive Exclusions



NEW FEATURE No. 9 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – New Application Categories in the User Interface

September 11, 2009

This is the ninth installment in a series of posts about the new features and options in AppSense Version 8 Service Pack 2.  (If you have not yet downloaded this latest release, you can read more info and download it from here )

AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 introduces new Application Categories in the User Interface to make it easier to identify applications added by the administrator, versus default applications created by AppSense Environment Manager at install time:

 personalization application categories (2)

P:S
As this is an ever growing blog topic, the previous posts on the other new features we have detailed can be found below:

NEW FEATURE No. 1 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run As

NEW FEATURE No. 2 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Connect As

NEW FEATURE No. 3 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Improved compression and data handling protocol

NEW FEATURE No. 4 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Manipulation of files in Personalization Analysis

NEW FEATURE No. 5 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Run Once

NEW FEATURE No. 6 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Group SID Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 7 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Trigger Action Time Audit Event

NEW FEATURE No. 8 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Stop If Fails

NEW FEATURE No. 9 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – New Application Categories in the User Interface

NEW FEATURE No. 10 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Refresh

NEW FEATURE No. 11 – AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 Service Pack 2 – Registry Hive Exclusions


How To Guide: Streaming Microsoft Office with Citrix XenApp 5 – Best Practice Guide & Licensing Overview

August 27, 2009

Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) Alexander Ervik Johnsen has written a very useful piece on how to Profile and Stream Microsoft Office 2007 using Citrix XenApp 5.0

This is a great guide and covers how to stream Office to a desktop, or, into a Citrix XenDesktop session.  His article and guide can be found on his website here.

Further to the actual process of profiling and streaming the Office application, I also want to ensure everyone is aware of the Microsoft Per Device Licensing Model for Server Hosted Applications.

Many Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Office™, Project™ and Visio™, are licensed on a per-device basis. This means a desktop application license is required for each and every device that is able to potentially access the application or server where the application is installed, regardless of whether a user executes and runs the application of not.  This makes licensing Microsoft applications in virtual environments a tricky, potentially very costly, and misunderstood subject. 

One misconception is that by ‘publishing’ or ’streaming’ applications to a limited “user” group, that group is compliant with the Microsoft license agreement – in other words, Microsoft licenses their applications per user.  This is in fact in breach of the Microsoft licensing model, and can lead to legal action.

I have written a blog, which also includes official Microsoft approved whitepapers on how to control and enforce application access and license compliance on a per device basis  in such virtual environments,  that blog can be found here

In addition to helping ensure compliance, effective license control and management can also reduce Microsoft License requirements and associated costs – more information on this can be found here.

If anyone has any questions or comments, as always, please do let me know.

Thanks
Gareth


My login’s too cold – it’s not all about TS and VDI

August 17, 2009

Goldilocks was hard at work managing “Three Bears Industries”. She added a default printer here, mapped a network drive there, and sorted out a few group policy settings. All in a days’ work for the over worked, under paid IT administrator.

She heard a noise a the front door – “The Bears are back!!!” she exclamed, and slipped quietly out through the back door and on to her next client.

“My Login makes me tooo Hot – Hot and bothered from waiting!!!!! ” yelled Papa Bear. “My Login makes me toooo cold – I feel like hibernating ! ” grumbled Mama Bear.

Baby Bear looked at his parents with big blue eyes and said “My Login just sucks !!”. You gotta love kids, they always say what they feel. But then, that’s the harsh reality in thousands of organizations – Logins suck!!

“Three Bears Industries” needs AppSense.

“But isn’t AppSense only useful in those environments? Why do I need AppSense if I’m a fat client site?”.  Think about it, If AppSense provides value in VDI and TS, then why would it NOT provide value in a real physical desktop?

In two weeks time, I start a rollout at a site who saw value in AppSense at the desktop level – around 3,000 of them to be precise.  AppSense has hundreds of desktop sites around the world – managing profiles, security and performance with our software.

These guys went through our ROI process a couple of months back. We found they were losing around 80 man hours per DAY while users sat around waiting to login – thats 10 people every day they were paying for nothing. We also found the Helpdesk staff were spending around 300 hours per month fixing profile issues.

I introduced them to ENVIROMAN – looking very Borat like in his bright green Budgy Smugglers. He showed them a couple of quick demos, rollback of personalization settings, streamed application settings from desktop to desktop, and the rest is history – Thank You ENVIROMAN – your subscription to “Geek Monthly” is in the mail :-)

But seriously Guys, checkout our value on the desktop – your wallet will thank you.


Another Happy Performance Manager Tester – More Users, Less servers

August 17, 2009

Spoke to another client today who has been testing our Performance Manager software. We went through the usual questions on the first webinar:

How many users per server? Do you have slow downs or lockups? Do user complain about performance? How many servers etc.  Then, we did the standard 30 minutes setup over the phone, put the product agents on a production box, gave him our normal advice on load balancing and a few days later his results looked like this:

Before AppSense, 15-20 average users per server, some slowdowns experienced during most days.

After AppSense, 26-30 users per server, no slow downs experienced, all users having noticed improvements.  The CIO was on board and Purchase order in the works :-)

While I was on the phone, however, “PerfMan” storms into the office.

No shy and retiring petal our PerfMan, he’s always running around telling people, “You Must Test, You Must Test”. Normally he’s a nice friendly character who, unfortunately was born with a speech impediment, which means he says “WISTA” instead of “VISTA” and “HYPER WEE” instead of “HYPER V”, but on this day he was on a mission.

Seems a couple of techos tried to convince him the new Windows System Resource Manager in Windows 2008 R2 was going to take over the world and his product would be relegated to older servers only- yeah right!! I suppose they’re the same techos telling their clients to use NTBACKUP instead of buying a Third Party backup product :-)

True there is more base level functionality built into every new version of Windows and every new version of Citrix, but it’s all about what the clients need, and what the base level can deliver.

We’ve heard it all before, when Citrix introduced base level performance management into their PS3 product, some people told us our Performance Manager product would fade away, and that PerfMan would have to find a new job selling Knackwurst and beer to tourists.

Funny thing was exactly the opposite happened – because clients now had base functionality to test – so guess what – they tested it. So then they looked around at what else was on the market – AppSense Performance Manager of course – tested the product – saw amazing results – bought the product and started saving time and money.

Built-in, base level functionality for any feature will provide benefits to somebody, but usually only for small organizations who have very basic requirements. The reality is, most organizations will gain real benefits and real savings from Performance Manager – they just need to test and see the results.

So remember the chant from PerfMan, “You Must Test” “You Must Test” – test PM properly – see the results – save the money – it’s that simple.

PS – The new CPU/Memory management features don’t make it on Microsofts’ Top Ten reasons for going Win 2008R2, but the new version of NTBACKUP does :-) Better test that as well.


AppSense Technical University Training For Partners

July 22, 2009

I am excited about writing this one, the much awaited 2009 AppSense Technical University is soon upon us! It will take place in October and November!!  Following on from our previous events, there are some exciting new developments at AppSense that we would like to share with you; amongst other topics:

  • User Introduced Applications (UIA) Technology – do we need, and how do we enable, users to install applications into non-persistent VDI sessions, and have the applications (and settings and preferences) remain available in the next non persistent vdi session?!
  • AppSense Management Suite Version 8.1 Product RoadMap
  • ‘Policy & Personalization’ best practices across virtual and multi OS platform environments

Uni

 

Why attend the AppSense Technical University?

The AppSense University is a ‘free of charge’ event to our AppSense Certified Solution Partners, and is a great chance to meet up with the AppSense Technical teams, as well as your peers from within the community. As a valued member of our Certified Solutions Partner program, you are invited to this comprehensive technical update and networking event.

The 2 day event will include in-depth, hands on training designed to enable you to provide consultancy services and implement the AppSense Management Suite for prospects and customers.

Register for further information

As always, AppSense is hosting several Technical University events in locations around the globe. If you are interested in attending an AppSense Technical University, click on the country or region most relevant to you and we will keep you informed of the event details:

United States, November 2009 

United Kingdom, October 2009

Norway, November 2009

DACH Region, November 2009

BeNeLux, November 2009

Australia, October/November 2009

We look forward to seeing you there!

Best Regards,

The AppSense Technical University Team.

Website: http://www.appsense.com
Email: university@appsense.com
Telephone: +44 (0)1928 793 444