Citrix XenDesktop 7.1, Provisioning Services 7.1 and the XenDesktop Setup Wizard with Write Cache and Personal vDisk Drives

Recently I worked on a project where the customer required the use of a Write Cache drive and a Personal vDisk (PvD) drive with XenDesktop 7.1 using Provisioning Services (PVS) 7.1.  Getting information on the process to follow was not easy and, as usual, the Citrix documentation was sorely lacking in details.  As with most things involving XenDesktop and or PVS, there is NO one way or one right way to do anything.  This article will give you detailed information on the process I worked out and documented.

Note: There is now a XenDesktop 7.5 version of this article available.

Note: This article is available as a PDF in the store. http://carlwebster.com/store/products/citrix-xendesktop-7-1-provisioning-services-7-1-xendesktop-setup-wizard-write-cache-personal-vdisk-drives/

Assumptions:

  1. PVS 7.1 is installed, configured and a farm created.
  2. XenDesktop 7.1 is installed and a Site created and configured.
  3. Hosting resources are configured in Studio.
  4. PXE, TFTP and DHCP are configured as needed.

Update: Some people have asked how I configured my Hosting resources in Citrix Studio to work with PVS, Write Cache storage and PvD storage.  Go to Step 8 in this article http://carlwebster.com/experience-ctx138640-vcenter-5-1-xendesktop-7-1-dreaded-connect-vcenter-server-due-certificate-error/

This article is not about the pros and cons of PvD.  It is simply about what process can be used to create virtual desktops that require the use of a Write Cache drive and PvD.  I will not be discussing the overhead of PvD or the delay it brings to the startup, shutdown and restart processes or the I/O overhead, the storage impact or the storage I/O requirements.

All servers in my lab are running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 fully patched.  The lab consists of:

  • 2 PVS 7.1 servers
  • 2 servers running Studio
  • 1 SQL 2012 SP1 Server
  • 1 Windows 7 SP1 VM for this article

To start off, in my lab I created my Organization Unit (OU) structure in Active Directory (AD) for my domain WebstersLab.com.

OU Design

OU Design

One of the reasons to use PvD is to allow users to install applications.  In order to do this I created an AD security group that will contain the AD user accounts and that AD security group will be made a member of the local Administrators security group.

Local Admin AD Security Group

Local Admin AD Security Group

Test user accounts

Test user accounts

Those three test user accounts were placed in the LocalAdmins AD security group.

Test user accounts in LocalAdmins AD security group

Test user accounts in LocalAdmins AD security group

Most organizations that use XenDesktop to serve virtual desktops or servers require that Event Logs persist between reboots or the security team sits in the corner crying.  Other items that may need to persist between desktop/VM reboots are antivirus definition files and engine updates.  To accomplish these a Group Policy with Preferences is used.  Why not manually change the file system and registry?  Because the XenDesktop setup wizard completely ignores all the careful work done by creating folders on the Write Cache drive.  When the Write Cache and PvD drives are created, they are empty and will NOT carry over ANY of the manual work done before hand.  So just forget about doing any of the items usually done by pre creating a Write Cache drive.

The Write Cache drive is always created as Drive D and the PvD is created with the drive letter assigned during the Wizard.

My Group Policy with Preferences is linked at the OU that will contain the computer accounts created by the XenDesktop Setup Wizard.  These are the settings in the policy used for this lab.

  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Event Log Service\Application\Control the location of the log file – Enabled with a value of D:\EventLogs
  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Event Log Service\Security\Control the location of the log file – Enabled with a value of D:\EventLogs
  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Event Log Service\System\Control the location of the log file – Enabled with a value of D:\EventLogs
  • Computer Configuration\Preferences\Folder – Action: Update, Path: D:\EventLogs
  • Computer Configuration\Preferences\Control Panel Settings\Local Users and Groups – Action: Update, Group name: Administrators (built-in), Members: ADD, <DomainName>\<Security Group Name>
  • User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Remove the Action Center icon – Enabled

These settings will:

  • Keep the user from getting all those popups from the Action Center
  • Create the EventLogs folder on drive D (the Write Cache drive)
  • Redirect the Application, Security and System event logs to the new D:\EventLogs folder
  • Add the domain security group that contains use accounts who should be local admins to the desktop’s local Administrators group

Next up is to create a Windows 7 VM to be used as the Master or Golden image.  Do just basic configuration of the VM at this time.  Do not install any applications at this time.

Citrix provides a PDF explaining how to optimize a Windows 7 image. http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/25161-102-648285/XD%20-%20Windows%207%20Optimization%20Guide.pdf

Once the basic VM is built there are four things that need done before joining the VM to the domain.

  1. Fix the WMI error that is the Application event log.  I know it is not a critical error but I am OCD and simply must have error free event logs.  Run the Mr. FixIt (this one actually works) from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2545227.
  2. Install the hotfix for using a VMXNet3 network card in ESXi.  Request and install the hotfix from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2550978.
  3. From an elevated command prompt, run WinRM QuickConfig.  This allows the desktops to work with Citrix Director.
  4. Disable Task Offload by creating the following registry key:
    1. HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TCPIP\Parameters\
    2. Key: “DisableTaskOffload” (dword)
    3. Value: 1

The Write Cache drive will become drive D when it is created so before installing any software change the CD drive letter from D to another letter.  I use Z.

The VM is ready to join the domain.  After joining the domain, shutdown the VM.

Now two hard drives need to be added to the VM.  One for the Write Cache drive and the other for the PvD drive.  NOTHING will be done to these drives, they are just sub holders so Windows knows there should be two additional drives.  The Write Cache and PvD drive should (dare I say must) be different sizes or strange things can happen.  If they are the same size, it is possible the write cache file and page file can be placed on the PvD drive and not the Write Cache drive.  To make your life easier, keep the drives different sizes.  For this article, I will use a 10GB Write Cache drive and a 20GB PvD drive.

Make sure you create the new drives in the proper storage locations.

Creating Write Cache Drive

Creating Write Cache Drive

Creating PvD Drive

Creating PvD Drive

Two new drives

Two new drives

Power on the VM, login with a domain account, start Computer Management and click on Disk Management.

Disk Management

Disk Management

Click OK to initialize the two new drives.

Initialize Disks

Initialize Disks

The two new drives appear in Disk Management.

Two new drives in Disk Management

Two new drives in Disk Management

Leave the drives unformatted and exit Computer Management.

At this time, any software and updates needed can be installed.  After all software and updates are installed, mount the PVS 7.1 ISO to the VM, open My Computer and double-click the CD.  When the PVS installer starts, click Target Device Installation on both screens.

Update 11-Jul-2014

Note: You should always check to see if Citrix has released updated Target Device Software.  This link should get you to the PVS 7.1 hotfixes, unless Citrix completely revises their website again and break all the links, again.

PVS 7.1 Hotfixes

The installation of the updated Target Device Software and the ISO version are identical.

End of Update

Target Device Installation

Target Device Installation

Target Device Installation #2

Target Device Installation #2

Follow the Installation Wizard to install the PVS Target Device Software.

On the last page of the Installation Wizard, leave Launch Imaging Wizard selected and click Finish.

Last page of Installation Wizard

Last page of Installation Wizard

You can exit the PVS Install screen and unmount/disconnect the PVS 7.1 ISO from the CD.

Exit PVS Installer

Exit PVS Installer

Click Next on the Imaging Wizard.

Start the Imaging Wizard

Start the Imaging Wizard

Enter the name or IP address of a PVS Server, select the option for Credentials and click Next.

Imaging Wizard 2

Imaging Wizard 2

Click Next.

Imaging Wizard 3

Imaging Wizard 3

Enter a vDisk name, Store, vDisk type and click Next.

Imaging Wizard 4

Imaging Wizard 4

Select the licensing type and click Next.

Imaging Wizard 5

Imaging Wizard 5

Verify only the C drive is selected and click Next.

Imaging Wizard 6

Imaging Wizard 6

Enter a Target device name, select the MAC address, select the target device Collection and click Next.

Imaging Wizard 7

Imaging Wizard 7

Click Optimize for Provisioning Services.

Imaging Wizard 8

Imaging Wizard 8

Click OK.

Imaging Wizard 9

Imaging Wizard 9

Depending on the .Net Framework versions installed on the VM, the optimization process could take from less than a second to over an hour.  Once the process has completed click Finish.

Imaging Wizard 10

Imaging Wizard 10

The vDisk is created and a Reboot popup appears.  DO NOT reboot at this time.  Depending on your hypervisor, you may need to shutdown to make the next change.  The VM needs to be configured to boot from the network first and the hard drive second.  If this change can be made while the VM is running, make the change and click Yes.  If not, click No, shutdown the VM, make the change and power the VM on to continue.

Imaging Wizard 11

Imaging Wizard 11

Before we continue, what did the Imaging Wizard do inside of PVS?

First, a vDisk was created.

vDisk Created

vDisk Created

Second, a Target Device was created with the MAC address of the VM, linked to the vDisk just created and the Target Device is configured to boot from its hard disk because the vDisk is empty right now.

Target Device Created

Target Device Created

Once the VM has been configured to boot from the network first and the hard drive second, either power on the VM or click Yes to reboot the VM.

When the VM is at the logon screen, logon with the same domain account and the Imaging Wizard process continues.

Imaging Wizard Continues

Imaging Wizard Continues

When the Imaging Wizard process is complete, click Finish and shutdown the VM.

If there are any errors, click Log, review the log, correct any issues and rerun the Imaging Wizard.

Imaging Wizard Completed

Imaging Wizard Completed

What has happened is that the Imaging Wizard has now copied the contents of the VM’s C drive into the vDisk.  That means the C drive attached to the VM is no longer needed.  Detach the C drive from the VM.  DO NOT DELETE the C drive, just detach it.

Detach the C drive

Detach the C drive

Now that the VM has no C drive, how will it boot?

In the PVS console, go to the Target Device, right-click and select Properties.

Configure the Target Device 1

Configure the Target Device 1

Change the Boot from to vDisk.

Configure Target Device 2

Configure Target Device 2

The vDisk contains everything that was on the original C drive and the vDisk is still set to Private Image mode.  That means everything that is done to the vDisk is the same as making changes on the original C drive.  Any changes made now will persist.  When the vDisk is changed to Standard Image mode, the vDisk is placed in read-only mode and no changes can be made to it.

UPDATE 10-Jul-2014: I forgot the following steps.  Since I am writing a follow-up article for XenDesktop 7.5, I figured now was a good time to insert the missing steps. 

Before the VM is powered on, an AD Machine Account must be created.  Right-click the target device, select Active Directory and then Create Machine Account…

Figure 36

Figure 36

Select the Organization unit from the dropdown list.

Figure 37

Figure 37

Once the correct Organization unit has been selected, click Create Account.

Figure 38

Figure 38

When the machine account is created, click Close.  If there is an error reported, resolve the error and rerun the process.

Figure 39

Figure 39

END OF UPDATE

Power on the VM and logon with domain credentials.

Open Computer Management and click on Disk Management.  Here you can see the holders for the 10GB Write Cache and 20GB PvD drives and the C drive (which is the vDisk).

vDisk as C Drive

vDisk as C Drive

Exit Computer Management.

The XenDesktop 7.1 Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) needs to be installed.  Mount the XenDesktop 7.1 ISO to the CD.  Double-click the CD drive and the XenDesktop installation wizard starts.  Click Start.

Update 11-Jul-2014

Note: You should always check to see if Citrix has released an updated VDA.  This link should get you to the XenDesktop 7.1 hotfixes, unless Citrix completely revises their website again and break all the links, again.

XenDesktop 7.1 Hotfixes

The installation of the updated VDA and the ISO version are identical.

End of Update

XenDesktop 7.1 Installation Wizard 1

XenDesktop 7.1 Installation Wizard 1

Click Virtual Delivery Agent for Windows Desktop OS.

XenDesktop 7.1 Installation Wizard 2

XenDesktop 7.1 Installation Wizard 2

Select Create a Master Image and click Next.

VDA Install 1

VDA Install 1

Select the appropriate HDX 3D Pro option and click Next.

VDA Install 2

VDA Install 2

Verify Citrix Receiver is selected and click Next.

VDA Install 3

VDA Install 3

Enter the Fully Qualified Domain Name of a XenDesktop 7.1 Controller, click Test connection and, if the test is successful, Add.  Repeat until all XenDesktop 7.1 Controllers are entered.  Click Next when all Controllers are added.

VDA Install 4

VDA Install 4

Verify all options are selected and click Next.

VDA Install 5

VDA Install 5

Select the appropriate firewall rules option and click Next.

VDA Install 6

VDA Install 6

Click Install.

VDA Install 7

VDA Install 7

The VDA installation starts.

VDA Install 8

VDA Install 8

When the VDA installation completes, verify Restart machine is selected and click Finish.

VDA Install 9

VDA Install 9

Disconnect/unmount the XenDesktop 7.1 ISO from the CD.

Log back in to the desktop with domain credentials.  PvD update 7.1.1 needs installation next.

In the browser, go to http://www.mycitrix.com and logon with MyCitrix.com credentials.

Click on Downloads, select XenDesktop and Components from the two dropdowns, click on XenDesktop 7.1(1) and click on Personal vDisk 7.1.1.

Update 11-Jul-2014: Current version is now 7.1.3.

PvD 7.1.1

PvD 7.1.1

Download and extract the file to your default download location.  Double-click the update file for the Windows 7 version running.

Click through the wizard to install the update and restart the VM when the installation is complete.

Logon to the VM.

By default, PvD uses two drive letters: V and P.  V is hidden and is a merged view of the C drive with the PvD drive.  If drive V is already used, the drive letter can be changed.

If needed, change the hidden PvD drive letter:

  • Key : HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Citrix\personal vDisk\Config
  • Value : VHDMountPoint [REG_SZ]
  • Set this to the drive letter of your choice. Ensure that “:\” is appended to the end of your entry (Example: X:\ )
Change hidden PvD drive letter

Change hidden PvD drive letter

Everything is now complete.

Before running the PvD Inventory, follow your standard procedure for sealing the image.  This process is unique to every environment.  For my lab, I have no antivirus software and I am not using WSUS so I have no registry keys to clear out.

Manually run the PvD Inventory.  Click Start, All Programs, Citrix, Update personal vDisk.

PvD Inventory

PvD Inventory

The PvD inventory starts.  Leave Shut down the system when update is complete selected.

PvD inventory runs

PvD inventory runs

After the inventory completes, the VM is shutdown.

Make a copy of the VM and create a template of the copy.  That way the original VM is still available just in case.

When making the template, make sure the template is stored on a storage location that is available when running the XenDesktop Setup Wizard.  Since the C drive was detached, that leaves the Write Cache and PvD storage locations.  If you do not, an error “<host resource> has no available templates defined that are fully accessible by all hosts” is displayed during the XenDesktop Setup Wizard.

In the PVS console, click on the vDisk Pool node, right-click the vDisk and select Properties.

Ready to change vDisk

Ready to change vDisk

Change the Access mode to Standard image and Cache type to Cache on device hard drive.

Note: If you leave the Cache type at the default of Cache on server, when you run the XenDesktop Setup Wizard there will not be an option to configure the Write Cache drive size.

Update 11-Jul-2014

Note: I am using Cache on device hard drive for this article.  With PVS 7.1, Cache in device RAM with overflow on hard disk is now the popular option.  I highly recommend you read the following two articles by Dan Allen before making a decision on the Cache Type to use:

  1. Turbo Charging your IOPS with the new PVS Cache in RAM with Disk Overflow Feature! – Part One
  2. Turbo Charging your IOPS with the new PVS Cache in RAM with Disk Overflow Feature! – Part Two

End of Update

vDisk set to Standard Image

vDisk set to Standard Image

Right-click the Site and select XenDesktop Setup Wizard.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard  1

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 1

Click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 2

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 2

Enter the name of a Controller and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 3

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 3

Select the host resource from those configured in Citrix Studio and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 4

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 4

Enter the logon credentials for the host resource and click OK.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 5

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 5

Select the appropriate template and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 6

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 6

Select the vDisk and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 7

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 7

Select whether to Create a new catalog or Use an existing catalog and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 8

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 8

Select Windows Desktop Operating System and click Next.

Update 11-Jul-2014

Oops, I had the wrong screen shot.  Sorry about that.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 9

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 9

End Update

Since we are using PvD, select The same (static) desktop, also select Save changes and store them on a separate personal vDisk and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 10

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 10

Make the appropriate choices.  For this lab, I am creating 3 VMs (desktops) with 2 vCPUs, 2 GB RAM, a 10GB write cache disk, a 20 GB PvD disk and changing the PvD drive to Y.  Click Next.

Note: If you do not see the option Local write cache disk that means you left the vDisk at the default of Cache on server.  Exit this wizard, correct the vDisk properties and rerun the wizard.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 11

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 11

Select Create new accounts to have new AD computer accounts created and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 12

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 12

Select the Domain, OU, Account naming scheme and click Next.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 13

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 13

Click Finish and the wizard will begin creating VMs, desktops and target devices.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 14

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 14

When the wizard is complete, click Done.

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 15

XenDesktop Setup Wizard 15

Looking at the Device Collect in the PVS console shows the three target devices with only one powered on at this time.

New target devices

New target devices

Looking in Active Directory Users and Computers shows the new computer accounts.

New computer accounts

New computer accounts

In Citrix Studio, right-click on the Machine Catalogs node and select Refresh.  The new Machine Catalog created by the XenDesktop Setup Wizard is shown.

New machine catalog

New machine catalog

Currently there is no Delivery Group to deliver the desktops.  Right-click the Delivery Groups node in Citrix Studio and select Create Delivery Group.

Create new delivery group 1

Create new delivery group 1

Click Next.

Create new delivery group 2

Create new delivery group 2

Select the Machine Catalog and the number of machines to be added from the catalog to this delivery group and click Next.

Create new delivery group 3

Create new delivery group 3

Select Desktops and click Next.

Create new delivery group 4

Create new delivery group 4

Click Add users…

Create new delivery group 5

Create new delivery group 5

Use the Select Users or Groups dialog to add users and click OK.

Create new delivery group 6

Create new delivery group 6

Click Next.

Create new delivery group 7

Create new delivery group 7

Select the appropriate StoreFront option and click Next.

Create new delivery group 8

Create new delivery group 8

Enter a Delivery Group name, Display name, an optional Delivery Group description for users and click Finish.

Create new delivery group 9

Create new delivery group 9

Right-click the new Delivery Group and select Edit Delivery Group.

Edit delivery group

Edit delivery group

From here, there are many options that can be configured.  For this lab, I set both Weekdays and Weekend peak hours to 24 hours.

Peak Hours

Peak Hours

Every XenDesktop project I have been on, the customer wants all desktops powered on at all times.  To do this, on a Controller start a PowerShell session and enter the following commands:

add-pssnapin *citrix*

Get-brokerdesktopgroup | set-brokerdesktopgroup -PeakBufferSizePercent 100

Note: I had a reader leave me a comment that said this setting does not apply to user assigned desktops.  But, I never got more than one desktop to start (out of the three in my lab) until I set the PeakBufferSizePercent.  As soon as I entered that command, within a few seconds the other two desktops powered on.

PowerShell

PowerShell

Exit the PowerShell session.

After a few minutes, all the desktops will power on.  The desktops will reboot, I think, two times before they are ready for users to login.

Back in the PVS console, the vDisk will show three connections and all three target devices will be powered on.

vDisk with three connections

vDisk with three connections

Three target devices powered on

Three target devices powered on

Now let us look at how the Write Cache and PvD work.

All three desktops are powered on.  I will log in as a user into each desktop.

All three users are presented with the standard Windows 7 desktop configured during the creation of the master image VM.

Standard default Windows 7 desktop

Standard default Windows 7 desktop

Before we take a look at user customization and personalization, let’s see what is on the Write Cache and PvD drives.  I had to show system and hidden files and operating system files.

Here is the Write Cache drive which shows the write cache file, page file and the EventLogs folder.

Write Cache Drive

Write Cache Drive

Not much of anything useful to see on the PvD drive.

PvD Drive

PvD Drive

Back in Citrix Studio, refresh the Delivery Group and you will see there are now Sessions in use with no Unregistered or Disconnected machines.

Refreshed Delivery Group

Refreshed Delivery Group

Double-click the Delivery Group to see detailed information.

Delivery group detailed information

Delivery group detailed information

The first user is Ms. Know-It-All who probably knows Windows 7 better than the helpdesk team.  She configures her desktop to get all the Windows 7 “frilly” stuff out of her way.

User1 customized desktop

User1 customized desktop

The second user is Ms. Tree Hugger who wants a pretty picture for her background.

User2 customized desktop

User2 customized desktop

The third user is Ms. Artsy Fartsy who wants a background that changes.

User3 customized desktop

User3 customized desktop

Now that each user has customized their desktop, reboot each desktop, log back in to the desktop and verify the user’s customizations persisted.

What about installing software?  User1 installed NotePad++ since she knows more than you do anyways, User2 installed Google Chrome to save the world from Internet Exploder and User3 installed IrfanView so she could do some artsy fartsy type work.

User1 installed application

User1 installed application

User2 installed application

User2 installed application

User3 installed application

User3 installed application

Now that each user has installed an application, reboot each desktop, log back in to the desktop and verify the user’s installed application persisted.

Since we are using PvD to allow users to install applications, where are the applications installed?

Looking at User1, we can see the Notepad++ was installed to c:\Program Files\Notepad++.

Notepad++ installation

Notepad++ installation

User2′s Google Chrome is installed to C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome.

Google Chrome installation

Google Chrome installation

User3′s IrfanView is installed to C:\Program Files\IrfanView.

IrfanView installation

IrfanView installation

The C drive view is a combination of the hidden drive, V by default, and C.  When users install applications they will install as usual to the C drive.  There is no need to install to the visible PvD drive, P by default.

How is the master image updated if an application needs to be installed that all users need?  Simple, in the PVS console create a Maintenance version, update it and then make it available to users.

In the PVS console, right-click the vDisk and select Versions.

Start creating a Maintenance version

Start creating a Maintenance version

Click New.

Versioning 1

Versioning 1

A new Maintenance version of the vDisk is created.  Click Done.

Versioning 2

Versioning 2

In the PVS console, go to the Device Collection the original master target device is in, right-click the target device and click Properties.

Versioning 3

Versioning 3

Change the Type from Production to Maintenance and click OK.

Versioning 4

Versioning 4

In the hypervisor, start that VM and open the VM’s console.  An option to boot into either the Production vDisk or the Maintenance vDisk is shown.  Select the Maintenance vDisk.

Versioning 5

Versioning 5

What has happened is that the target device has been configured to boot from a Maintenance image and during the bootup communication, the PVS server recognized the MAC address and offered the target device the maintenance vDisk to boot from.  The maintenance vDisk is in Read/Write mode so changes can be made to the vDisk.

Login to the desktop with domain credentials.  I will install Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Whatever software is installed, verify that any license agreements and popups are acknowledged and any other configurations needed are done before sealing the image and running the PvD Inventory.  For Acrobat, I acknowledged the license agreement and disabled updater.

Versioning 6

Versioning 6

Before running the PvD Inventory, follow your standard procedure for sealing the image.  This process is unique to every environment.  For my lab, I have no antivirus software and I am not using WSUS so I have no registry keys to clear out.

Manually run the PvD Inventory.  Click Start, All Programs, Citrix, Update personal vDisk.

PvD Inventory

The PvD inventory starts.  Leave Shut down the system when update is complete selected.

PvD inventory runs

After the inventory completes, the VM is shutdown.

Once the VM has shut down, in the PVS console, right-click the vDisk and select Versions.

Versioning 7

Versioning 7

Select the Maintenance line and click Promote.

Versioning 8

Versioning 8

Select Production, Immediate and click OK.

Versioning 9

Versioning 9

The updated vDisk is now available for use.  Click Done.

Versioning 10

Versioning 10

Restart the desktops for them to start using the updated vDisk.  The desktops will automatically reboot after one or two minutes.  This is normal.  Wait until this reboot is complete before allowing the users access to the desktop.

Log in to the desktop and verify the new application is available and the user’s original customizations and installed applications persisted after the update.

User1′s desktop.

User1's updated desktop

User1′s updated desktop

User2′s desktop.

User2's updated desktop

User2′s updated desktop

User3′s desktop.

User3's updated desktop

User3′s updated desktop

And there you have it, one way to do a XenDesktop 7.1 with personal vDisk process.

Citrix lists four ways to do this process in eDocs, three with PVS and one with MCS.  http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/provisioning-7/pvs-inventory-vdisks-pvd.html

I think it is strange they have MCS listed as a process in the PVS documentation but that is beside the point.

I hope this detailed process explanation will help you in working with PvD with XenDesktop 7.1 and PVS 7.1.

Note: This article is available as a PDF in the store. http://carlwebster.com/store/products/citrix-xendesktop-7-1-provisioning-services-7-1-xendesktop-setup-wizard-write-cache-personal-vdisk-drives/

Thanks

Webster

p.s. For the curious, this article took 36 hours to lab, document and write.

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About Carl Webster

Webster is an independent consultant in the Nashville, TN area and specializes in Citrix, Active Directory and Technical Documentation. Webster has been working with Citrix products for many years starting with Multi-User OS/2 in 1990.

View all posts by Carl Webster

37 Responses to “Citrix XenDesktop 7.1, Provisioning Services 7.1 and the XenDesktop Setup Wizard with Write Cache and Personal vDisk Drives”

  1. laudu34 Says:

    hello, your great explanation
    but I’m stuck in the remainder of the procedure to create the VM template you specify to store the template in a place available for XenDesktop setup wizard? and when I execute the wizard I have no host resource configured (empty list), yet in Citrix Studio I configured a host SCVMM (test connection ok)
    can you clarify how I should configure the citrix studio and / or on the pvs to see the host and thus finalize my template VM
    thank you in advance

    Reply

  2. Raph Says:

    Hi Carl,

    Excellent Article !
    Is it possible to have a static streamed VM assigned to several users ?
    if yes what happen at the PVD level if you have for the same VM different user customization …
    Also Do we know which folders are redirected (filtered) into the pVD ? only c:\users\* and c:\program files\* (c:\program files\*.*) ?

    BR

    Reply

  3. Sandeep Says:

    Hi Carl,

    An amazing article. You are bang on the point which i am looking for.

    But i am planning to give this kind of set up to Developers. These guys will need full blown personalization. I have few concerns which were pointed out by these developers,

    1) The C drive(The base vDisk) may get grown up as the users install their applications. Specially when i give it for developers they may install heavy applications also, So what should i take care of here to address the vDisk size from growing?

    2) If any developer screws or alter any registry key((Of course it is on C:\) (since they are getting full rights)) will it affect the base vDisk?

    Is it recommended to address developers this way? Or just go with MCS and give a full dedicated VMs.

    -Thanks,

    Sandeep.

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      2. Nothing will effect the base vDisk except the XenDesktop admins when they do an update to the image.
      1. You must size the PvD properly. Citrix does provide a script that allows you (XD Admin) to resize the PvD.

      Citrix now has a separate GUI you can use to monitor PvD information. I believe that information should be included in Studio and or Director and not a bolt-on to the product. If the PvD fills up, your user is screwed.

      Webster

      Reply

      • Sandeep Says:

        Thanks for the reply Carl.

        But can i give the full admin rights on C:\ to all users? Is it recommended to give PVS with PVD to a developer community?

        -Sandeep

      • Carl Webster Says:

        The purpose of PvD is for users to install apps. That usually requires making them a local admin. That alone should give them the rights they need. I would NEVER mess with drive permissions on the root of C. I have lots of customers using XenDesktop, PVS and PvD for their developers. Works just fine as long as you pay close attention to PvD space usage.

        Webster

      • Sandeep Says:

        Hi Carl,

        Thanks a lot for the clarifications and suggestions.

        Can i assign a PVD to a server OS? There are some cases where developers are requesting for a server OS.

        Citrix Q&A in the below link says it is only supported for a client OS.

        http://support.citrix.com/content/dam/supportWS/kA560000000TNDoCAO/XD_FAQ_Personal_vDisk.pdf

        -Sandeep.

      • Carl Webster Says:

        At this time, PvD is only supported on a client OS.

        Webster

      • Sandeep Says:

        Thanks you very much for your response Carl.

      • Sandeep Says:

        Hi Carl,

        Is it possible to assign a PVD to a physical target device?

        Thanks,

        Sandeep.

      • Carl Webster Says:

        From XenDesktop FAQ – Personal vDisk
        http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX131553.

        Can a PvD work in a provisioned target device?
        Yes, both Machine Creation Services (MCS) and Provisioning Server.
        PvD can only be configured within a virtual target device. A physical target device
        is not support.

        Thanks

        Webster

  4. Alexander Diamond Says:

    great article. You make a hard work, good Job!

    Reply

  5. ram Says:

    hi carl,

    in single golden image of pvs how many users are connect at a time……!

    and also we can create image w/o using hyperivoser

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      Connecting to a single PVS server? As many as the server has resources to handle. I have seen over 1,000 connections to a single PVS server.

      Connecting to a single vDisk on a single PVS server? Same answer, it depends on the resources available to the PVS server. I have seen over 1,000 connections to a single Win7 vDisk.

      Can you create an image without a hypervisor? Yes you can. I have several customers that still use physical PVS and XenApp servers. No hypervisor in site. PVS will easily stream a vDisk to physical servers.

      Webster

      Reply

  6. Yehuda Says:

    Great job
    i wonder if this procedure are the same for provisioning XA7.5 with PVS 7.1 ?

    Kind Regards
    Yehuda

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      Only XenDesktop workstation OS can use PvD at this time. So no, XenApp 7.5 cannot use PvD so this article will not help.

      Webster

      Reply

  7. Chaitanya Says:

    Hi Carl,

    Fantastic work!! I understand the pain in collecting all this information with images. Good job!!

    Chaitanya.

    Reply

  8. Leonard Astick Says:

    Carl,

    Great article! Just a quick blurb about the power settings involving PvDs..

    The PeakBufferSizePercent and OffPeakBufferSizePercent settings do not affect desktops with assigned users; these setting only apply to unassigned desktops. The way assigned desktops are power managed (including PvD desktops) are by the On Peak and Off Peak times that are set in the power management tab of the delivery group. ALL assigned desktops are turned on at the beginning of the On Peak time and ALL assigned desktops are turned off at the beginning of the Off Peak time (10 every few minutes by default). If you have a delivery group that has 50% assigned users and 50% unassigned users, the PeakBufferSizePercent is pooled from the percentage that is unassigned. (ie. Out of 100 desktops, 5 would remain on using the default PeakBufferSizePercent of 10%.)

    I mention this because if trying to architect a solution based on concurrent desktops being powered on, or trying to preemptively start desktops before business hours, this throws a curve ball into the mix.

    Thanks,
    Len

    Reply

  9. David Mautone Says:

    Thanks Carl. Nice Job!!!

    Reply

  10. David Cruz Says:

    This is really excellent post. you are one of the best article writer Carl. I like your post. full of knowledge and information. Thanks for posting this.

    Reply

  11. Simon Says:

    Hi Carl – great post, very helpful. One basic question though: when you have imaged the VM to the vdisk and configured the target device to boot from vdisk (and the VM to boot from network), do you not need to create an AD account for the target device before you can boot the vdisk and login using a domain account?

    Cheers.

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      OOPS, you are correct. That was an oversight on my part and happened because of the process I use to write these types of how-to articles.

      I run through the process taking notes.
      I delete everything and run through the process following my notes.
      I delete everything and run through the process again but this time taking screen shots and writing the article.

      After step 2 I must have forgot to delete the AD account for the maintenance VM and therefore didn’t get the error on step 3.

      Thanks for pointing out my oversight.

      Webster

      Reply

  12. Scott Osborne Says:

    Very nice as always Carl! Will be going through this without PvD but with BDM boot partition here in two weeks for large implementation so will definitively be using your insight. Thanks again

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      My goal is to find the time to document the various processes:

      BDM
      BDM, Write-cache
      BDM, PvD
      BMD, Write-cache, PvD
      PXE, Write-cache
      PXE, PvD

      Just need to find the time.

      Thanks

      Webster

      Reply

  13. D-Rock Says:

    Simply brilliant Carl! Lots of great tips.

    I only saw your guide after following this very basic one http://blogs.citrix.com/2013/09/25/pvd-with-pvs-7/

    In regards to you manually creating the PVD and writecache drive during your image build process. Is this simply to allow the eventlog redirect GPP to work successfully?

    Would be nice if Studio was better connected in with PVS and I could simply right-click in my Machine Catalog and selecting “Add Machines” to add additional machines….

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      That is one reason but the main one is I was told to do so that Windows knows it has two mount points internally for the two drives. I also know people who do the drive creation after the base image is in PVS and the vdisk is still in Private Image mode.

      There is almost never just one way to do a process with PVS. I document what I find works for me and customers.

      Thanks

      Webster

      Reply

  14. Saadallah Chebaro Says:

    Amazing Article .

    Great Work.

    Thanks.

    Reply

  15. Marius Sandbu Says:

    Excellent article Carl!
    Mind If I reference you on my blog ?

    Regards,
    Marius

    Reply

  16. Jamie Engelhard Says:

    Hey, Carl – this is a fantastic write up. It is a good thing Citrix has folks like you documenting their products in a real world, intelligible manner so we are not completely dependent on their vague, incomplete, and always-3-steps-behind eDocs site.

    One question: we had a working PVD + PVS pilot in place but it failed for the lack of ability to promote a vDisk version to test before going into production. I see you skipped that critical step as well. Do you know if this is now supported or have a recommendation on a work around? I could not position this solution with a straight face if there is no ability to pilot an image update before blasting it out to the entire user base.

    Thanks again for the excellent work!

    Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      Since this was just my simple lab that in no way bears any resemblance to a production environment, I did not do a Test promotion step. I still have the lab up and running so let me test that (pardon the pun) and update the article.

      Thanks

      Webster

      Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      Oh and thanks for the very kind words.

      Webster

      Reply

    • Carl Webster Says:

      Now that I think about it, being able to configure a target device that is configured to use PvD in Test mode doesn’t make any sense. A Test target device uses the vDisk in Read-only mode. A VM/desktop with PvD is associated with only one user. The only way to accurately test a desktop with its associated PvD and write cache drives is to login as the user associated with that desktop/write cache/PvD. Which is what Production will do. If something isn’t right with the new vDisk Revert to the previous version. Yeah, I know, the dreaded reboots required to do so. But I can see why Citrix doesn’t support a Test versions type for PvD enabled target devices.

      Webster

      Reply

      • Jamie Engelhard Says:

        What we set up was a specific group of users who would be our QA testers, and they were assigned to machines which are granted access to the Test disk (if one is currently available) and will boot to it automatically using the PVS reg key for automatic disk selection. This works great in a non-PVD model and there is no reason why it would not work in a PVD model, except that it is for some reason not allowed/supported. Our clients will never accept a solution in which the entire firm gets access to a new build which has not undergone QA by *actual users* not just IT. Especially with PVD where you are already in a bit of a fringe deployment model with some known compatibility challenges this idea of going straight from dev to prod is risky business. Alas, maybe PVS 7.5? 8.0? Assuming PVS lives that long…

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