• Citrix XenDesktop 7.7, Provisioning Services 7.7 and the XenDesktop Setup Wizard with Write Cache and Personal vDisk Drives

    December 30, 2015

    PVS, XenDesktop

    The original articles I wrote about this process have proven very popular and viewed well in excess of 110,000 times. The previous articles:

    This article will show the same process as the originals but use XenDesktop 7.7, Provisioning Services 7.7, and Windows 10 and show what differences they bring to the process.

    Introduction

    A while back, 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 and now updated for XenDesktop 7.7 and PVS 7.7.

    Assumptions:

    1. PVS 7.7 is installed, configured and a farm created.
    2. XenDesktop 7.7 is installed and a Site created and configured.
    3. Hosting resources are configured in Studio.
    4. PXE, TFTP, and DHCP are configured as needed.

    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 or what is needed for High Availability or Disaster Recovery needs for PvD.

    Lab Setup

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

    • 1 PVS 7.7 server
    • 1 XenDesktop 7.7 Controller running Studio
    • 1 SQL 2014 Server
    • 1 Windows 10 Enterprise Build 1511 VM

    I am using vSphere 6.0.0b for my hosting environment. There are separate Storage Repositories for the Virtual Machines (VM), PvD and Write Cache as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1
    Figure 1

    The Hosting Resources are configured in Studio as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2
    Figure 2

    To start off, in my lab I created my Organization Unit (OU) structure in Active Directory (AD) for my domain, LabADDomain.com, as shown in Figure 3.

    Figure 3
    Figure 3

    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, shown in Figure 4, that will contain the AD user accounts and that AD security group will be made a member of the local Administrators security group.

    Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Three AD user accounts were created, shown in Figure 5, for the three different PvD users for this article.

    Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Those three test user accounts were placed in the LocalAdmins AD security group as shown in Figure 6.

    Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Some 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 beforehand. 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\Application.evtx
    • 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\Security.evtx
    • 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\System.evtx
    • 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, \
    • User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Remove the Action Center icon – Enabled

    These settings will:

    • Keep the user from getting 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 user accounts who should be local admins to the desktop’s local Administrators group

    Create the Virtual Machine

    Next up is to create a Windows 10 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.

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

    1. Configure the pagefile so the Minimum and Maximum size are the same number. I use 1024KB.
    2. From an elevated command prompt, run WinRM QuickConfig. This allows the desktops to work with Citrix Director.
    3. Disable Task Offload by creating the following registry key:
      • HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\TCPIP\Parameters\
      • Key: “DisableTaskOffload” (dword)
      • 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, shut down 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 stub holders so Windows knows there should be two additional drives. The Write Cache and PvD drive 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 with the PvD drive being larger. For this article, I will use a 10GB Write Cache drive and a 20GB PvD drive. Make sure the new drives are created in the proper storage locations as shown in Figures 7 through 9.

    Figure 7
    Figure 7
    Figure 8
    Figure 8
    Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Power on the VM, log in with a domain account, and start Disk Management as shown in Figure 10.

    Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Click OK to initialize the two new drives as shown in Figure 11.

    Figure 11
    Figure 11

    The two new drives appear in Disk Management as shown in Figure 12.

    Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Leave the drives unformatted and exit Computer Management. At the time this article was written, Citrix does not have a PDF explaining how to optimize a Windows 10 image. Daniel Feller wrote an 8-part series on optimizing Windows 10 and I am using his series as the basis for my image.

    Install PVS Target Device Software

    At this time, any software and updates needed can be installed. After all software and updates are installed, mount the PVS 7.7 ISO to the VM, open My Computer and double-click the CD. When the PVS installer starts, click Target Device Installation on both screens as shown in Figures 13 and 14.

    Figure 13
    Figure 13
    Figure 14
    Figure 14

    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 as shown in Figure 15.

    Figure 15
    Figure 15

    You can exit the PVS Installer screen and unmount/disconnect the PVS 7.7 ISO from the VM’s CD drive. Click Next on the Imaging Wizard as shown in Figure 16.

    Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Enter the name or IP address of a PVS Server, select the option for Credentials and click Next as shown in Figure 17.

    Figure 17
    Figure 17

    To Create new vDisk, click Next as shown in Figure 18.

    Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Enter a Target device name, select the MAC address, select the target device Collection and click Next as shown in Figure 19.

    Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Enter a vDisk name, Store, vDisk type, VHDX or VHD and click Next .as shown in Figure 20.

    Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Select the licensing type and click Next as shown in Figure 21. Note: There is no need to select KMS or MAK at this time. The licensing type will be selected after the vDisk is placed into Standard Image mode.

    Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Select Image entire boot disk and click Next shown in Figure 22.

    Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Select Optimize the hard disk for Provisioning Services before imaging as shown in Figure 23.

    Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Select Edit Optimization Settings… as shown in Figure 24.

    Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Verify all checkboxes are selected and click OK as shown in Figure 25.

    Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Click Next as shown in Figure 26.

    Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Verify all the settings are correct on the Summary screen. If any settings are not correct, click Back and correct the settings. If all the settings are correct, click Create as shown in Figure 27.

    Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Depending on the .Net Framework versions installed in the VM, the optimization process could take from less than a second to over an hour. Click Continue as shown in Figure 28.

    Figure 28
    Figure 28

    A Reboot popup appears as shown in Figure 29. DO NOT reboot at this time. Depending on your hypervisor, you may need to shut down 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, and click Yes on the next popup as shown in Figure 30 to shut down the VM, make the change and power the VM on to continue.

    Figure 29
    Figure 29
    Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Before we continue, what did the Imaging Wizard do inside of PVS? First, a vDisk was created as shown in Figure 31.

    Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Second, a Target Device was created, as shown in Figure 32, 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.

    Figure 32
    Figure 32

    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 as previously shown in Figure 29. When the VM is at the login screen, login with the same domain account and the Imaging Wizard process continues as shown in Figure 33.

    Figure 33
    Figure 33

    When the Imaging Wizard process is complete, click Done, as shown in Figure 34, and shut down the VM. Note: If there are any errors, click Log, review the log, correct any issues and rerun the Imaging Wizard.

    Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Configure the vDisk in PVS

    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 as shown in Figures 35 and 36. DO NOT DELETE the C drive, just detach it.

    Figure 35
    Figure 35
    Figure 36
    Figure 36

    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 as shown in Figure 37.

    Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Change the Boot from to vDisk as shown in Figure 38.

    Figure 38
    Figure 38

    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 to 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. 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… as shown in Figure 39.

    Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Select the Organization unit from the dropdown list as shown in Figure 40.

    Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Once the correct Organization unit has been selected, click Create Account as shown in Figure 41.

    Figure 41
    Figure 41

    When the machine account is created, click Close as shown in Figure 42. If there is an error reported, resolve the error and rerun the process.

    Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Power on the VM and log in 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) as shown in Figure 43.

    Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Exit Computer Management. You can also verify the VM has booted from the vDisk by checking the Virtual Disk Status icon in the Notification Area as shown in Figure 44.

    Figure 44
    Figure 44

    As shown in Figure 45, the Virtual Disk Status shows:

    • The vDisk status is Active,
    • The IP address of the PVS server streaming the vDisk,
    • That the Target Device is booting from the vDisk,
    • The name of the vDisk,
    • The vDisk is using the VHDX format, and
    • The vDisk is in Read/Write mode.

    Figure 45

    Figure 45

    Exit the Virtual Disk Status.

    Install the Virtual Delivery Agent

    The XenDesktop 7.7 Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) needs to be installed. Mount the XenDesktop 7.7 ISO to the CD. Double-click the CD drive and the XenDesktop installation wizard starts. Click Start for XenDesktop as shown in Figure 46. Note: At this time, PvD is only supported for desktop operating systems. PvD will not work and is not supported for XenApp 7.7.

    Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Select Virtual Delivery Agent for Windows Desktop OS as shown in Figure 47.

    Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Select Create a Master Image and click Next as shown in Figure 48.

    Figure 48
    Figure 48

    Verify Citrix Receiver is selected and click Next as shown in Figure 49.

    Figure 49
    Figure 49

    Enter the Fully Qualified Domain Name of a XenDesktop 7.7 Controller, click Test connection and, if the test is successful (a green check mark is displayed), click Add as shown in Figures 50 and 51. Repeat until all XenDesktop 7.7 Controllers are entered. Click Next when all Controllers are added.

    Figure 50
    Figure 50
    Figure 51
    Figure 51

    If you use App-V, verify all options are selected and click Next as shown in Figure 52. If you do not use App-V, unselect Install Citrix App-V publishing components and click Next.

    Figure 52
    Figure 52

    Select the appropriate firewall rules option and click Next as shown in Figure 53.

    Figure 53
    Figure 53

    Click Install as shown in Figure 54.

    Figure 54
    Figure 54

    The VDA installation starts as shown in Figure 55.

    Figure 55
    Figure 55

    When the VDA installation completes, verify Restart machine is selected and click Finish as shown in Figure 56.

    Figure 56
    Figure 56

    Update Virtual Delivery Agent Software

    Citrix updates the VDA software often. At the time this article was released, 29-Dec-2015, there was no update to the VDA software. To check for recommended available updates, in your browser, go to XenDesktop 7.7 Recommended Updates. Click on Select a Product, select XenDesktop from the drop-down. Change All Versions to XenDesktop 7.7, click on Software Updates and then Public. See if there is an update for XenDesktop 7.7. If there is, download and install the VDA update. After the VM restarts, log back into the desktop with domain credentials.

    Update Personal vDisk Software

    Citrix updates the Personal vDisk software often. At the time this article was released, 29-Dec-2015, there was no update to the Personal vDisk software. To check for an available update, in your browser, go to http://www.mycitrix.com and log in with MyCitrix.com credentials. Click on Downloads, select XenDesktop from the drop-down, select XenDesktop 7.7 and then select Components. See if there is an update for XenDesktop 7.7. If there is, download and install the Personal vDisk update.

    Note: Sometimes Citrix hides the PvD updates under XenDesktop 7, Components.

    Log back into the desktop with domain credentials.

    Configure Personal vDisk

    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:\ )

    Both user profile data and applications and machine settings are stored in the PvD. By default, this is a 50/50 split if the PvD size is at least 4GB or larger.  The percent to be allocated for applications and machine settings can be configured by setting the following registry value:

    • KEY: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Citrix\personal vDisk\Config
    • VALUE: PercentOfPvDForApps
      • By default, this value is set to 50
      • Changing this to 80 will result in the V: drive being allocated 80% of the PvD disk

    Note: This value must be changed before the PvD is placed into production.

    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.

    This is the point where you will also configure KMS licensing for Windows and Office. Please follow the instructions from Citrix in Configuring KMS Licensing for Windows and Office 2010 and 2013. Manually run the PvD Inventory. Click Start, All Apps, Citrix, Update personal vDisk as shown in Figure 57.

    Figure 57
    Figure 57

    The PvD inventory starts. Leave Shut down the system when update is complete selected as shown in Figure 58.

    Figure 58
    Figure 58

    After the inventory completes, click Yes to shut down the VM as shown in Figure 59.

    Figure 59
    Figure 59

     

    PVS XenDesktop Setup Wizard

    Make a copy of the VM and create a template of the copy. That way the original VM is still available just in case. Change either the original VM or the template to boot from the network only (depends on your hypervisor).

    Note: In vSphere 6, I selected Template, Clone to Template… For the Datastore step of the wizard, I selected Advanced and manually selected the datastores for the Write Cache and PvD drives.

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

    In the PVS console, click on the vDisk Pool node, right-click the vDisk and select Properties as shown in Figure 60.

    Figure 60
    Figure 60

    Change the Access mode to Standard image, leave the Cache type at the default of Cache in device RAM with overflow on hard disk and change Maximum RAM size to 256 as shown in Figure 61.

    Figure 61
    Figure 61

    If you are using Microsoft KMS licensing, right-click the vDisk and select Properties as shown back in Figure 60. Click the Microsoft Volume Licensing tab, select Key Management Service (KMS) and click OK as shown in Figure 62.

    Note: If you get an error message, make sure the account used for the Citrix Stream and SOAP services is a member of the local Administrators group.

    Figure 62
    Figure 62

    Right-click the Site and select XenDesktop Setup Wizard as shown in Figure 63.

    Figure 63
    Figure 63

    Note: If you get an error popup that states “No Standard Image vDisk exists in this Site”, that simply means the vDisk is still in Private Image mode. Click Next as shown in Figure 64.

    Figure 64
    Figure 64

    Enter the name of a XenDesktop 7.7 Controller and click Next as shown in Figure 65.

    Figure 65
    Figure 65

    Select the host resources from those configured in Citrix Studio and click Next as shown in Figure 66.

    Figure 66
    Figure 66

    Enter the login credentials for the host resources and click OK as shown in Figure 67.

    Figure 67
    Figure 67

    Select the appropriate template and VDA version and or functionality desired and click Next as shown in Figure 68.

    Figure 68
    Figure 68

    Select the vDisk and click Next as shown in Figure 69.

    Figure 69
    Figure 69

    Select whether to Create a new catalog or Use an existing catalog and click Next as shown in Figure 70. If you Create a new catalog, enter a Catalog name and Description.

    Note: The wizard creates a Machine Catalog in XenDesktop and a Device Collection in PVS with the Catalog name entered here.

    Figure 70
    Figure 70

    Select Windows Desktop Operating System and click Next as shown in Figure 71.

    Figure 71
    Figure 71

    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 as shown in Figure 72.

    Figure 72
    Figure 72

    Make the appropriate choices. For this lab, I am creating 3 VMs (desktops) with 2 vCPUs, 3 GB RAM, a 10GB write cache disk, a 20 GB PvD disk and changing the PvD drive to Y. Click Next as shown in Figure 73.

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

    Figure 73
    Figure 73

    Select Create new accounts to have new AD computer accounts created and click Next as shown in Figure 74.

    Figure 74
    Figure 74

    Select the Domain, OU, Account naming scheme and click Next as shown in Figure 75.

    Figure 75
    Figure 75

    Verify the Summary information, click Finish, as shown in Figure 76, and the wizard will begin creating the following:

    • Virtual Machines
    • AD computer accounts
    • Target Devices
    • Machine Catalog in XenDesktop Studio
    • Device Collection in the PVS Console

    Figure 76

    Figure 76

    When the wizard is complete, click Done as shown in Figure 77.

    Figure 77
    Figure 77

    Looking at the new Device Collection in the PVS console (you may need to right-click the Farm and select Refresh) shows the three target devices with only one powered on at this time as seen in Figure 78.

    Figure 78
    Figure 78

    Looking in Active Directory Users and Computers shows the new computer accounts as seen in Figure 79.

    Figure 79
    Figure 79

     

    Create XenDesktop Delivery Group

    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 in Figure 80.

    Figure 80
    Figure 80

    Currently, there is no Delivery Group to deliver the desktops. Right-click the Delivery Groups node in Citrix Studio and select Create Delivery Group as shown in Figure 81.

    Figure 81
    Figure 81

    Click Next as shown in Figure 82.

    Figure 82
    Figure 82

    Select the Machine Catalog and the number of machines to be added from the catalog to this delivery group and click Next as shown in Figure 83.

    Figure 83
    Figure 83

    Select Desktops and click Next as shown in Figure 84.

    Figure 84
    Figure 84

    Click Add… as shown in Figure 85.

    Figure 85
    Figure 85

    Use the Select Users or Groups dialog to add users and click OK as shown in Figure 86.

    Figure 86
    Figure 86

    Click Next as shown in Figure 87.

    Figure 87
    Figure 87

    Select the appropriate StoreFront option and click Next as shown in Figure 88.

    Figure 88
    Figure 88

    Enter a Delivery Group name, Display name, an optional Delivery Group description and click Finish as shown in Figure 89.

    Figure 89
    Figure 89

    From here, there are many options that can be configured. For this lab, I edited the Delivery Group and set both Weekdays and Weekend peak hours to 24 hours as shown in Figure 90.

    Figure 90
    Figure 90

    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 as shown in Figure 91:

    Add-PSSnapin *citrix*

    Get-BrokerDesktopGroup | Set-BrokerDesktopGroup -PeakBufferSizePercent 100

    Note: I had a reader leave me a comment on the original article 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.

    Figure 91
    Figure 91

    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 log in.

    Back in the PVS console, the vDisk will show three connections and all three target devices will be powered on as shown in Figures 92 and 93.

    Figure 92
    Figure 92
    Figure 93
    Figure 93

     

    Understanding How Personal vDisk Works

    Now let us look at how the Write Cache and PvD drives work. All three desktops are powered on. I will log in as a different user into each desktop. All three users are presented with the standard Windows 10 desktop configured during the creation of the master image VM as shown in Figure 94.

    Figure 94
    Figure 94

    Before we take a look at user customization and personalization, let’s see what is in the Write Cache and PvD drives. I had to show system and hidden files and operating system files. Figures 95 and 96 show the Write Cache drive which shows the write cache file, page file, and the EventLogs folder.

    Figure 95
    Figure 95
    Figure 96
    Figure 96

    Figure 97 shows there is not much of anything useful to see on the PvD drive.

    Figure 97
    Figure 97

    Back in Citrix Studio, refresh the Delivery Group and you will see there are now Sessions in use with no Unregistered or Disconnected machines as shown in Figure 98.

    Figure 98
    Figure 98

    Double-click the Delivery Group to see detailed information as shown in Figure 99.

    Figure 99
    Figure 99

    The first user configures her desktop to get all the Windows 10 “frilly” stuff out of her way as shown in Figure 100.

    Figure 100
    Figure 100

    The second user wants a pretty picture for her background as shown in Figure 101.

    Figure 101
    Figure 101

    The third user needs a picture of her horse as her background as shown in Figure 102.

    Figure 102
    Figure 102

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

    User Installed Software

    What about installing software? User1 installed NotePad++ , User2 installed Google Chrome and User3 installed FireFox. The three desktops are shown in Figures 103 through 105.

    Figure 103
    Figure 103
    Figure 104
    Figure 104
    Figure 105
    Figure 105

    Now that each user has installed an application, reboot each desktop, log back into each 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 that Notepad++ was installed to c:\Program Files\Notepad++ as shown in Figure 106.

    Figure 106
    Figure 106

    User2’s Google Chrome is installed to C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application as shown in Figure 107.

    Figure 107
    Figure 107

    User3’s Mozilla Firefox is installed to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox as shown in Figure 108.

    Figure 108
    Figure 108

    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.

    Updating the Master Image

    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, test it and then make it available to users. In the PVS console, right-click the vDisk and select Versions as shown in Figure 109.

    Figure 109
    Figure 109

    Click New as shown in Figure 110.

    Figure 110
    Figure 110

    A new Maintenance version of the vDisk is created as shown in Figure 111. Click Done.

    Figure 111
    Figure 111

    In the PVS console, go to the Device Collection the original master target device is in, right-click the target device and click Properties as shown in Figure 112.

    Figure 112
    Figure 112

    Change the Type from Production to Maintenance and click OK as shown in Figure 113.

    Note: In a production environment, you would have a dedicated Target Device to use for Maintenance versions of vDisks.

    Figure 113
    Figure 113

    In the hypervisor, start that VM and open the VM’s console. An option to boot into either the Production version or the Maintenance version is shown. Select the Maintenance version as shown in Figure 114.

    Note: There is a registry key that can be set on each PVS server to have the first menu item accepted by default. Please see Setting vDisk Boot Menu as a Default Option.

    Figure 114
    Figure 114

    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. Log in to the desktop with domain credentials. I installed Adobe Acrobat Reader as shown in Figure 115.

    Since this is Windows 10, this would also be a good time to make sure any Windows updates are installed.

    Note: 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 example, in Acrobat Reader I acknowledged the license agreement and disabled updater.

    Figure 115
    Figure 115

    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 Apps, Citrix, Update personal vDisk as shown in Figure 116.

    Figure 116
    Figure 116

    The PvD inventory starts. Leave Shut down the system when update is complete selected as shown in Figure 117.

    Figure 117
    Figure 117

    After the inventory completes, click Yes to shut down the VM as shown in Figure 118.

    Figure 118
    Figure 118

    Once the VM has shut down, in the PVS console, right-click the vDisk and select Versions as shown in Figure 119.

    Figure 119
    Figure 119

    Select the Maintenance version and click Promote as shown in Figure 120.

    Figure 120
    Figure 120

    PVS 7.6 added the ability to have a Test version for a vDisk that uses PvD.  This was not possible prior to version 7.6. Select Test and click OK as shown in Figure 121.

    Figure 121
    Figure 121

    The vDisk version is promoted to Test, as shown in Figure 122. Click Done.

    Figure 122
    Figure 122

    In the PVS console, go to the Device Collection the original master target device is in, right-click the target device and click Properties as shown in Figure 123.

    Figure 123
    Figure 123

    Change the Type from Maintenance to Test and click OK as shown in Figure 124.

    Note: In a production environment, you would have dedicated Target Devices to use for Test versions of vDisks.

    Figure 124
    Figure 124

    In the hypervisor, start that VM and open the VM’s console. An option to boot into either the Production version or the Test version is shown. Select the Test version as shown in Figure 125.

    Figure 125
    Figure 125

    What has happened is that the target device has been configured to boot from a Test image and during the bootup communication, the PVS server recognized the MAC address and offered the target device the Test vDisk to boot from. The Test vDisk is in Read-only mode so no changes can be made to the vDisk. Log in to the desktop with domain credentials. There are several things to notice about the Test version of the vDisk:

    1. The application that was installed for all users is there (Figure 126),
    2. The vDisk is in Read-only mode (Figure 127), but
    3. The write cache is located on the PVS server (Figure 128) because,
    4. There is no Write Cache drive (Figure 129),
    5. There is no PvD drive attached (also Figure 129), but
    6. The stub holders for the write cache and PvD drives are still there (Figure 130).

    Figure 126

    Figure 126

    Figure 127
    Figure 127
    Figure 128
    Figure 128
    Figure 129
    Figure 129
    Figure 130
    Figure 130

    Once testing is completed, shutdown the VM.

    Note: If you get prompted to update the PvD inventory, you can safely cancel the popup. The vDisk is in read-only mode so no updates can be made or saved.

    Once the VM has shut down, in the PVS console, right-click the vDisk and select Versions as shown in Figure 131.

    Figure 131
    Figure 131

    Select the Test version and click Promote as shown in Figure 132.

    Figure 132
    Figure 132

    Select Immediate and click OK as shown in Figure 133.

    Figure 133
    Figure 133

    The updated vDisk is now available for use as shown in Figure 134. Click Done.

    Figure 134
    Figure 134

     

    Verify the Master Image Update

    Restart the desktops for them to start using the updated vDisk. The desktops will automatically reboot after a few minutes. This is normal. Wait until this reboot is complete before allowing the users access to the desktop. In my lab, this took a very long time before the desktops were ready for use. Log in to each desktop and verify the new application is available and the user’s original customizations and installed applications persisted after the update. The three desktops are shown in Figures 135 through 137.

    Figure 135
    Figure 135
    Figure 136
    Figure 136
    Figure 137
    Figure 137

    Answering Questions

    I have received two common questions and will answer them here.

    1. I implemented your GPO recommendations to put the event logs on the D drive but they don’t appear there. What do I do?
    2. My Write Cache drive is not in the correct datastore. What do I do?

    Answer for #1: First thing to do is look at the event logs and resolve any group policy issues reported.You can also try this. With your vDisk in maintenance mode, open Event Viewer, expand Windows Logs, click on the event log you want to have on the D drive, right-click and select Properties as shown in Figure 138.

    Figure 138
    Figure 138

    Change the Log path to the value you need as shown in Figure 139.

    Figure 139
    Figure 139

    Repeat for each event log you wish to redirect to the D drive.

    Answer for #2: Figures 140 and 141 show my Write Cache and PvD datastores with content for the PvD desktops.

    Figure 140
    Figure 140
    Figure 141
    Figure 141

    The easiest solution is to Migrate to a new datastore. Select Change datastore as shown in Figure 142.

    Figure 142
    Figure 142

    Click Advanced as shown in Figure 143.

    Figure 143
    Figure 143

    Click Browse for the Write Cache drive as shown in Figure 144.

    Figure 144
    Figure 144

    Select the appropriate datastore and click OK as shown in Figure 145.

    Figure 145
    Figure 145

    Click Next as shown in Figure 146.

    Figure 146
    Figure 146

    Click Finish as shown in Figure 147.

    Figure 147
    Figure 147

    Your Write Cache drive is now migrated. If you have a lot of VMs that need this done, the process will have to be scripted.

    Closing

    And there you have it, one way to do a XenDesktop 7.7 with Personal vDisk process.

    Citrix lists four ways to do this process in the product documentation, three with PVS and one with MCS. http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/provisioning/7-7/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 7.7 and PVS 7.7.

    Thanks

    Webster

    About Carl Webster

    Webster is a Sr. Solutions Architect for Choice Solutions, LLC 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

    to “Citrix XenDesktop 7.7, Provisioning Services 7.7 and the XenDesktop Setup Wizard with Write Cache and Personal vDisk Drives”

    1. Ray Davis Says:

      Amazing sop. Thank you sir.

      Reply

    2. tinyo Says:

      carl,
      which storage is used in your lab,esxi local or share storage?
      In my lab,vsphere use local storage.One datacenter include 6 vsphere,when xendesktop wizard create 6 vms 5 failed, 1 ok(12 vms,10 failed,2 ok).I guess vsphere local storage is used for share storage.

      Reply

      • Carl Webster Says:

        Both. Controller and PVS were running from local SSD storage and the XenDesktop desktops were running from shared storage. VMs, write-cache and PvD were all shared storage.

        Webster

        Reply

    3. Amir Says:

      Carl,

      Outstanding Article… Appreciate your contribution, priceless.

      I’d like to have a PDF version, if possible.

      Thanks.

      Amir

      Reply

    4. fbifido Says:

      Hi,
      win10 vdi + office 2016
      I have seen a blog about hiding stuff from the users, don’t have the link, will google it. anyway, how-to do this:

      setup two policy:

      p1 & p2)
      vdi does no show C:\, nor can access it from any apps.
      remove Quick Access links, plus the ones under “This PC”.
      set default view to Detail & sort by type, should show (Name, Size, Type, Date Modify) in this order.
      no network location display
      map a drive letter H:\ to point to user home directory.
      map a drive letter G:\ to point to a group members directory.
      group policy to point outlook 2016 to user PST file, signature & stationary files(html)m configure user email account, ldap-address-book + configure word/excel/PowerPoint to H:\ for all the users files, and G:\Templates\ for all group templates, default font+size, page-setup.
      setup default HP printer that’s share using Citrix universal Print Server with Citrix printer drivers.
      If a user-A login to thin-client-00A and have outlook, word, excel open, then login to thin-client-02B, which is in another building, 2hrs later, can resume where he/she was, with all the open apps & close user-A connect on thin-client-00A.
      user can only open one instants of outlook.
      remove the shutdown & sleep, just have logoff & disconnect

      p1)
      will not able to access any external storage devices.
      no external printers
      no local dvd/cd access.
      yes webcam.
      no metro/universal apps

      p2)
      Will be able to access any external devices.

      Thanks.

      Reply

    5. Rahul Says:

      Thanks a lot for this good article.

      Reply

    6. Saadallah Chebaro Says:

      Great work Carl as usual . Couple of notes.

      1- You do not have to manually create the WriteCache and PvD disks as XD wizard would create them automatically for you.

      2- You do not have to rearm windows anymore for KMS licensing.

      amazing job Carl .

      Reply

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