I’ve Just been doing my usual monthly catch-up on the Citrix iPhone client project to see what progress has been made. Well Citrix have now released a tech preview of the new Citrix Receiver software for the iPhone and you can download it directly from the Apple App store using the link below.
I downloaded the application and went to use it, only to find that it can only be used if you have a direct connection to the XenApp 5.0 server. Basically this currently limits users to those who have a wireless network infrastructure or who can make a VPN connection from their iPhone. One beta tester was using the new Citrix receiver with a XenApp server hosted on Amazon’s EC2 cloud platform, with good results according to the feedback
I was myself slightly disappointed as we currently run Xenapp 4.5 and have an existing web interface and secure gateway remote access setup. So I can’t use this application to access my companies systems when I want to check something whether it be email or IT admin related. I though perhaps Citrix would develop a client that would act like a standard ICA Client, so that when I connect and log in to the web interface the new Citrix software would allow me to use Citrix within the Safari web browser. Unfortunately that’s not the way it’s been designed.
I can see why Citrix have gone for this approach, they’ve introduced a number of gestures within the software that activate features you would need on the Citrix server side. For example, right click within applications like microsoft word or selecting, copying and pasting of text. If I was able to log in through my iPhone safari browser without these kind of features, I can imagine it would get quite frustrating after a very short period of time.
So what new stuff have they been working on for us, well first off was a demonstration of a silverlight website on the iPhone. Now most of you who have iPhones will know that it is seriously let down by it’s lack of flash support, well maybe silverlight is ready to step in and fill that gap? well with the iPhone at least, check out the demonstration video below.
The other cool thing I spotted while I was looking through was Cut and Paste on the iPhone. Now watching the demo video you will see that the user appears to be within the Citrix reciever application, if you look closely you will see sharepoint as well as office applications in the app list. As the demo moves on you can see the user accessing office 2007 as a published application, looks excellent so far. The user in the video then proceeds to cut an paste some text from PowerPoint into Word 2007, check it out for yourself.
Now it appears I missed one video last time I was on the site, this time it’s the keynote from the Citrix Summit 2008. It’s a great demonstration of the smooth roaming capability that Citrix supports, showing the session jumping from one iPhone over to an iPhone simulator on a Mac and back again. It also shows some of the traditional benefits of Citrix, only screen refreshes and keyboard presses are transferred allowing a 16Mb picture to be opened quickly over 3G.
1st half of 2009 is what’s being talked about for the release, I can’t wait!!!
Anyone who has worked with Citrix XenApp (formerly Presentation Server) will know that printers and drivers are a very big part of your farm design and its stability. A print driver that causes instability is a nightmare for Citrix Administrators, now there is a handy tool to help you troubleshoot print driver issues.
The Citrix Print Detective application can be downloaded by clicking the link and is described on the web site as follows.
Print Detective is an information-gathering utility that can be used for troubleshooting problems related to print drivers. It enumerates all drivers from the specified 32-bit Windows computer, including driver-specific information. It can also be used to delete specified print drivers. It also offers logging capabilities and provides a Command Line Interface (CLI).
I can see this being most use for identifying exactly what drivers are installed on your XenApp server. If you’ve not configured your farm(s) to use driver compatibility lists or policies to prevent driver auto install from print servers you can end up with all sorts of drivers installed on your XenApp server. Any of these can cause you stability issues with the print spooler service or even cause a dreaded blue screen of death, nothing like a print driver crashing a server and dumping 50+ Citrix users out of their sessions.
A couple of screenshot of the application can be found below with some details on use, the full instructions on use can be found on the Citrix Print Detective page.
To run the Print Detective software against a remote host , enter the name and click the enumerate button.
Once the drivers are displayed for your local or remote host you can delete a selected driver, (requires administrator privileges)
Now I haven’t used this application in anger myself, as always I’ll keep this in reserve for the next print driver issue in my employers Citrix farm. If anyone has any experience of using this in a real world scenario please feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment or two.
Its been a while since I had a read over the new content on Shannon Ma’s blog. He’s been busy writing articles and in amongst them all, I noticed a little announcement back in late October that I missed completely.
This is very handy and I will be passing this on to a number of people I work with. We had an issue recently when a clone of a production citrix server was taken by a 3rd party for our DR site. All the data that was registered for the production server in the Edgesight database appeared to switch allegiance and re-registered itself in the database against the new server name. Think these articles and this tool will come in handy if we ever look to do any more cloning.
I finally finished my 18 month mobile contract this week and so to celebrate I jumped supplier and moved to O2 in the UK so I could get myself a new 3G Iphone. So today was the first real chance i’d had to sit down and look around at what applications were out there for use with this fantastic device.
One of the first things I went looking for was a Citrix ICA client. I use Citrix as my main way of connecting into work remotely when I’ve got a task to do out of hours, being able to use it on the Iphone therefore would increase my flexibility in that I don’t have to be at home or near an internet connection when I want to do something that can only be done out of hours.
After doing a bit of reading it would appear that Citrix don’t have an Iphone Citrix client yet but they are definately working on one. Chris Fleck’s Iphone blog has been updated recently to state that they will be shipping a “Citrix App Receiver client for the iPhone” sometime in the first half of 2009. Keep your eyes peeled to this blog page for updates and make sure you cast your vote to tell Citrix what you need Citrix on the Iphone for, lets raise the priority on this one. There’s a great little video of what they’ve managed to achieve already on Albert Grandville’s blog site looks pretty sweet. Suppose the only question is going to be in and around interaction with the windows desktop, I don’t think anyone will be writing up any large reports on their Iphone.
Ever had to take a Citrix server out of the farm? Sure you have, everyone has at some point or another.
This can be achieved in a number of ways. You could stop the server accepting connections but if your server is in a remote datacentre and you don’t have ILO (HP), DRAC (DELL) or RSA (IBM) then you can’t remote desktop on to it to do the maintenance.
You could block ICA Connections in Terminal Services Manager but then what happens to users who are on the server already? Well they’re going to have issues connecting to existing sessions.
My preferred option is to unpublish all the applications from the server the day before the maintenance. This means that the users can still access the applications they’re already connected to and that over time the server will clear down as users log off.
During a recent XenApp deployment project myself and a olleague came up with a script to unpublish all applications on a named server. The Script writes out a note of the unpublished applications to a text file in the same folder as the scripts so that you can run another script to reverse the process after maintenance is complete. This proved invaluable during the project and has been used quite a lot since the farm went into production.
svroffline - Script to unpublish all applications svronline - Script to republish all applications
You can run this from a XenApp server without issue but if you want to run it from your machine you will need the Citrix SDK installed so that your client PC has the MFCOM objects required locally by the script.
Let me know how you get on with this or if you have any questions.
Been having a little look at Shannon Ma’s Citrix web log today and have been reading with interest about XenAppPrep which is a tool that allows you to clone XenApp servers in a nice clean manner. You basically setup your XenServer with all the apps and customisation /fine tuning required, install the XenAppPrep application and run it to remove all machine specific information. Run any other tools such as sysprep and then capture your image using whatever imaging software you usually use.
When the clone comes online the XenAppPrep service starts, reset all the machine specific information and start services such as IMA. You’ve now got a nice clean new XenApp Server without any of the normal hassle associated with cloning a Citrix server.
You can read more about XenAppPrep at the link below and read about Automated Deployment on Shannon’s blog which is linked in the blogroll to the right of this article.