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Friday, July 30, 2010

Citrix Provisioning target prompting for credentials

Beginning with Citrix Provisioning Services 5.1, Citrix introduced a feature that required an end user to enter credentials to fully boot a target device.  My assumption is that this would be primarily for Physical Workstations booting images via PVS in a XenDesktop scenario.  (i.e. Localized GotoMyPC type solutions).  For Hosted Desktops and obviously Servers, this feature is not needed and often times, troublesome if enabled.


When the target device is booted, it will sit at the prompt to the left until a valid Domain\Username is entered.  By default, no password is required but that could also be set on the device itself.  Not good for unattended reboots of servers. Winking smile 

To disable this feature, check the properties of your Collection and uncheck ‘Enable user login to devices’ from the options tab.


Unchecking the option allows the Target device to boot without intervention and has absolutely no impact on user’s ability to actually log into the booted device. (i.e. Windows)

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Windows 2008 SysPrep Error [Applying System Settings]


You kick off the clone, apply the customization file (leveraging vCenter’s excellent SysPrep integration), wait a couple of minutes and pop into the console expecting to begin application installations and find this :

Window could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize].  The settings specified in the answer file cannot be applied.  The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup].

Pressing OK results in another endless SysPrep reboot loop.

After a bit of troubleshooting, this error condition was resolved by applying a valid Windows Key in the customization wizard.  Apparently a more informative (read: useful) message such as ‘Invalid Windows Key’ was too much for this dialog box to handle.

Side Note: If you aren’t using vCenter’s SysPrep integration features when cloning machines, Why Not?

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Best Practices for Upgrading XenDesktop 4 Virtual Desktop Agent.

Citrix has released a new whitepaper detailing some best practices when upgrading the Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA).  Nothing too earth shattering in this paper though.  Take good backups, Test, Test, Test and don’t try to upgrade the agents through RDP, ICA or actual XenDesktop Sessions. Smile   For Provisioned Environments, (Citrix Provisioning Services), it is recommended that of courseimage you put the image in Private Mode (Otherwise, you’ll be upgrading it every time you reboot!).  All sound recommendations but mostly common sense approaches to upgrading in general.  You can read the whitepaper in its entirety here :

Best Practices for Upgrading Citrix XenDesktop4 Virtual Desktop Agent PDF

On the subject of Citrix Provisioning Services and XenDesktop, I wish they would create a central console that would enable a more unified view of the environment.  As implied by the whitepaper, it is very typical for a XenDesktop environment to use Provisioning Services to stream a master image to a pooled group of XenDesktop machines but each product’s visibility ends at their respective consoles.  Upgrading the VDA is a prime example where extracting and presenting the VDA version information from the vDisks and machines within the Provisioning Services Console would be supremely helpful.  Additional cross product information would also be great such as indications within the XenDesktop console if a machine is being streamed and the relevant vDisk information.

I’m sure it is on some road map on some product manager’s desk but I just wish it was here now. Winking smile

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Handy Screenshot sharing tool : Gyazo

Post by Adriano Costanzo

At some point we've all had to send a screenshot to someone with a tone of "Hey, look at this" or "Look for this" but didn't want to go through the multistep process of taking a screenshot, saving it, browsing to the file location, uploading, copying the URL etc. Gyazo might be an odd name but it fuses that process down to nothing more than a click and paste. Gyazo is by far the simplest screen capture program you can get with no configuration needed; in fact, there is no configuration! You start the program, take the screenshot and it's instantly uploaded to their website to a URL that's already in your clipboard. (think Twitter, Instant Messages, etc …)

According to the site’s administrator Isshu Rakusai, the plan is to store all images permanently.

 Gyazo Image
Check it out at Gyazo.

Bonus Tip within a tip:

For anyone who is concerned about yet another program hogging up your memory, fear not! Gyazo only runs when you are taking a screenshot and the process closes immediately after. I found it quite useful to assign Gyazo to it's own hotkey the old fashion way since there isn't a way to configure it via the application itself. In the screenshot below you can see that I have assigned Gyazo to start when I hit F2.
F2 Screenshot

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Auto Accept EULAs for SysInternal PSTools.

At IPM, we are big fans of the PSTools for scripts, troubleshooting and overall use.  Jacques Bensimon sent over this handy tip regarding their use.

If you’ve accidentally hung up a script or scheduled task by using a SysInternals PSTools utility  (PSExec, PSList, PSService, etc) and forgetting that the executing account needs to have accepted the utility’s EULA before proceeding, I found while looking at one executable (and later searching) that the utilities accept a “/AcceptEULA” parameter that automatically accepts the EULA (i.e. writes the necessary HKCU reg entry) and proceeds without any visible EULA dialog.  I expanded my search to additional SysInternals utilities and found that only a few of the “non-PS” utilities (e.g. ProcExp, ProcMon, AutoRuns, TCPView, BgInfo) might accept that parameter (untested, but the utilities contain the text).


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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Refresher : Citrix Client HotKeys

imageA client recently asked me for some key combinations for Hotkeys in the Citrix Client and I honestly couldn’t remember them.  I did a little searching around and couldn’t really find anything on the InterWebs easily.  I did though manage to find this handy Cheat Sheet on Taylor Bastien’s Website.  Check it out for additional Terminal Server RDP hotkey combos not listed here.  The Citrix keys are below and this post is as much for me as for you. :)


Citrix ICA Client Shortcut Keys
Key combination Function Similar local keys
The Task List hotkey displays the local Windows Task List for Windows NT 3.51 client computers or the local Start menu for Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95 client computers.

SHIFT+F2 The Toggle Title Bar hotkey causes the Citrix ICA Client window to display or hide its Windows title bar.
SHIFT+F3 The Close Remote Application hotkey disconnects the ICA session and exits the ICA Win32 Client. Using this hotkey either leaves the associated application in a disconnected state on the Citrix server or exits the application on the Citrix server, depending on how the application is configured. NONE
CTRL+F1 This hotkey displays the Windows NT Security desktop in the ICA session.
CTRL+F2 When using this hotkey during an ICA session on a WinFrame server, the remote Task List appears. For MetaFrame ICA sessions, the remote Windows NT Start menu appears.
CTRL+F3 This hotkey displays the Windows NT Task Manager in the ICA session.
ALT+F2 Use this hotkey to cycle through maximized and minimized Windows of programs that have been opened in the ICA session.
ALT+PLUS Use this hotkey to cycle through applications that have been opened in the ICA session. A popup box appears and displays the programs as you cycle through them.
ALT+MINUS Cycles through applications that have been opened in the ICA session but in the opposite direction. ALT+SHIFT+TAB

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Release : vSphere 4.1

imageWOW, news travels fast in the Blogosphere!

vSphere 4.1 was released officially yesterday and there seems to be at least a couple dozen blog posts already out detailing what’s new in it from various blogs.  I find it very interesting the amount of material that is out related to the OVER 150 new features and improvements on DAY 1!  This is definitely a direct result of VMware’s forward thinking social media strategy.  Early access to beta code,  NDA product conference calls and debriefs for bloggers obviously were the catalysts that made this happen.  Some information was leaked out beforehand but most of it was held until the release when all the posts (many that I suspect were written/outlined days and weeks ago) were queued to publish.  Some simple googling will get you heaps of information on the new features of vSphere 4.1 so no need for me to rehash now. (Check out THIS LIST!)

You can jump directly to Gabe’s Site for an excellent write up on much of the new stuff here. (Good Job Gabe!)

You can also download the bits  here.

I have yet to find the time to run the new version through it’s paces in my home lab but will soon and hopefully report back. :)

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to enable ALUA and Round Robin Multipathing with ESX and Clariion CX4

John Simon put in some hard work and great effort in producing and SHARING this document on how to enable ALUA and Round Robin Multipathing.  For some background on ALUA and Round Robin, check out Chad Sakac’s post and Jason Boche’s post.  After reading the WHYs, keep reading below for the the HOW.  Skip to the bottom to see some  before and after Performance Monitor charts detailing John’s results (Disk Latency numbers).
  1. You must be on Flare code 28.5 or higher!
  2. You must be on ESX vSphere 4 update 1 or higher!
  3. First put the ESX host into maintenance mode:
  4. Next log into Navisphere on the Clarion and right click on your CX4 and bring up connectivity status: clip_image004[4]
  5. Select the ESX host and choose EDIT:
  6. Change the failover mode from 1 to 4 and the Initiator Type to Clariion Open:
  7. Click OK to Apply the changes and click YES to warnings:
  8. Verify Success and click OK:
  9. Reboot the ESX host:
  10. Post reboot, rescan for all datastores TWICE:
  11. Once rescanning IS complete you can take the host out of maintenance mode:
Repeat on all servers until complete.
Once all ESX servers are done, you must enable Round Robin on the LUNS that are presented to the ESX hosts

  1. Go into the configuration tab on EACH ESX host that can see the LUNS you want to change and select the Storage option under hardware:clip_image019[4]
  2. Highlight the LUN you want to change and click Properties:
  3. Click on Manage Paths from popup window:
  4. Change the path selection from MRU to Round Robin and verify that storage array type says VMW_SATP_ALUA_CX: clip_image025[4]
  5. Rescan for datastores on completed host twice:
Another and more efficient way to set the Round Robin policy to all LUNs on all ESX hosts that do not already have the policy is to use power shell. Below is a script I wrote which you can use not only when you first setup and environment but also every time you add a new LUN or RDM to VMware. The script verbiage is:
$input | ForEach-Object {
foreach ($ESXhost in get-cluster "ENTER YOUR CLUSTER NAME HERE"| get-vmhost)
Get-VMHost $ESXhost |Get-ScsiLun -LunType "disk"|where {$_.MultipathPolicy -ne "RoundRobin"}| Set-ScsiLun -MultipathPolicy "RoundRobin"

Lab results both PRE and POST enable of Round Robin:

Below are the month long results of the performance counter of our Disk Latency in (ms) before the setup for Round Robin using MRU (Most Recently Used) and after the setup of Round Robin. There were 3 servers in my test group (highly transaction Windows Servers and SQL database servers)

Server Results:

clip_image026[4] clip_image027[4] clip_image028[4]

Conclusion: Round Robin decreased the latency times accessing VMFS and RDM LUNs by over 1,000 (ms)

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Monday, July 12, 2010

iPhone4 Scratches.. :(

So 2 weeks after getting my new iPhone, I have a nice deep scratch down the middle. :(  I’ve read about other scratches so I thought I’d add my sob story to the mix. :)

I think I got my scratch from taking the phone to the beach (I know, I know – but I wanted to snap some pictures and take some calls – it IS after all my main source for communication.)  Looks like a grain or two got in the bag holding the phone and did me in.  After meeting with some techs at the Apple Genius Bar, the deemed the scratch too deep to ‘buff out’.  Replacement screen is $199.00 so I’m stuck with it for now.  In hindsight, I should have sprung for the InvisibleSHIELD covering but had already bought into the scratch resistant hype.

(Picture taken from a neighboring Blackberry).

Stay tuned for a more detailed post on my Blackberry to iPhone transition.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Friday XenApp Tip

Restrict each user to a single session: Windows enables this feature by default as a way of minimizing the number of sessions created by disconnecting/reconnecting users.  This can help conserve system resources on the server, thereby allowing more users to connect.


To allow users to reconnect to sessions consistently in a XenApp environment, set the Restrict each user to a single session option to No in the Terminal Services Configuration tool. (In Windows Server 2008, this setting is enabled by default.)  This setting needs to be turned off in order to let Citrix manage the connections/disconnections/restrictions/etc …


TSCC Configuration

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Need free Virus Protection? Try Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

I think a lot of my friends have been upgrading or purchasing new computers recently with Windows 7 loaded up on it and I have been getting a lot of ‘What should I use for Virus Protection?” questions.  The answer that I have been giving them is a no brainer.  Use Microsoft’s free Virus Software! Microsoft Security Essentials.

The software installs nice and cleanly and adds a small icon image  to the user’s notification tray to let them know it’s working.  All Virus definitions and updates are pushed pulled down from the original ‘cloud’ (i.e. Windows Update ;)) and install pretty seamlessly.  Support for XP, Vista and Windows 7 make this recommendation a no brainer for family and friends.

If you currently do not have any Virus Protection on your system or you are *GASP* paying for it, You are going to want to check out Windows Security Essentials.  I think you’ll be pleased with it.


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