25 Jan / 2017
Author: Sinisa Sokolic Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0

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Hi and welcome to this first part about troubleshooting Citrix XenApp. Last november I had the honor to speak at two well known EUC and Citrix events.

First of all at E2EVC in Rome, Italy and the day after at DCUG TecCon in Kassel, Germany. The topic of both sessions was “Troubleshoot XenApp with Style”.

I am writing this blog for all of you that couldn´t attend one of these great conferences. This first part is about the Citrix tools because otherwise it would grow too big if I would integrate all parts. The second part is about some of the Microsoft tools. The third part is about general troubleshooting tools that didn´t fit in the session.

Why Should You Read It?

This post is not about the usual problems you might have with Certificates, Firewalls or similar things where you might be able to find an answer googling around or checking the knowledge base.

It is more about the methodology and the tools to use when you are not able to find anything in the whole world wide web.
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23 Jan / 2017
Author: Oliver Gehrmann Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0

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Did you ever heared about DevOps?… No?

Well, neither have I until a few weeks ago. Let’s have a look at what almighty Wikipedia says about it:

“DevOps (a clipped compound of development and operations) is a set of practices that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes. It aims at establishing a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably”

Honestly this could mean a lot, and from my opinion it’s still quite vague. You could ask ten other people and end up with ten different definitions. I think DevOps can be explained simply as operations working together with engineers to get things done faster in an automated and consecutive way.

I’ll try to give you a practical example of a DevOps process. We are looking for a solution to provide reproducible and lightweight Windows environments for our developers. In fact, the reason they need fresh systems literally every couple of hours is because slow deployment and installation standards are not an option. So what did we do? We created a “blueprint” of the environment which can be quick and easily reproducible by our developers. This is the story of how I fell in love with DevOps:

What do we need?

  • VirtualBox to run the virtual machines
  • Packer to create an Windows base image from an ISO file
  • Vagrant to launch and configure a base image tailored to a specific scenario
  • Chocolaty to easily install packages
  • Cmder, a super sexy and useful console emulator which also incorporates Git SCM (to access Git repositorys) – Byebye cmd.exe
  • Windows ISO (optional)

How do we start?

First of all, I would highly recommend to install chocolatey on your client (https://chocolatey.org). Cmder will be next, it can be installed through chocolatey with an admin command promt:

cinst cmder –y

The associated binaries can be found in C:\tools. Navigate to the path and start cmder with admin rights. Now you are ready to install the main components: VirtualBox, Vagrant and Packer. Do yourself a favor and use chocolatey again:

cinst virtualbox vagrant packer-y

So far, so good. Let’s create a new folder, e.g. “Vagrant” and cd into the directory. We’re going to clone the git repository from Joe Fitzgerald here ( https://github.com/joefitzgerald/packer-windows.git)

mkdir \Vagrant
cd \Vagrant
git clone https://github.com/joefitzgerald/packer-windows.git

Now you can move the “packer.exe” from %programdata%\chocolatey\lib\packer\tools to \vagrant\packer-windows

Building boxes!

You are now ready to build the box. Cd into the packer-windows directory and type:

packer build -only virtualbox-iso windows_2012_r2.json

Be patient now. The whole process can take from 3-5 hours! Afterward, you will find a windows_2012_r2_virtualbox.box file which can be used with vagrant.

The box will be automatically configured with:

  • SSH Server
  • WinRM
  • vagrant user account with a vagrant password
  • Latest Windows updates
  • VirtualBox guest additions
  • 60GB disk

Using different ISOs

By default, a MS evaluation ISO is used which is 180 days valid. If you want to use a different ISO, you have to modify the windows_2012_r2.JSON file and change iso_url and iso_checksum:

To figure out the md5 checksum I recommend the “File Checksum and Integrity Verifier utility”. It can be downloaded here:

Use the following syntax:

cd into the fciv.exe directory
fciv.exe –md5 >iso url<

The tool will compute the md5 checksum of the ISO which you have to use in your .json file.
If you don’t have a volume license ISO, you also need to set the Product Key. For that open the answer_files/2012_r2/Autounattend.xml file, search for ProductKey and follow the instructions.
If you are going to configure your VM as a KMS client, you can use the product keys at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx. These are the default values used in the Key element.


Add the created box file to Vagrant. This will also take a short amount of time.

vagrant box add –name windows_2012_r2 windows_2012_r2_virtualbox.box

Vagrant launch

To start the server with vagrant you need a provisioning script with the final provision.

Create a new directory in C:\vagrant (I called mine DSC1)
cd into there
type vagrant init

Edit the created vagrant file and modify it for your needs. You can use this as an example:

Save it
Type: vagrant up

Shortly after, you can connect to the box via vagrant rdp (Username: vagrant, Password vagrant).
Halt the box with “vagrant halt” or destroy it with “vagrant destroy”. A new box can be built again within seconds, just use “vagrant up”.

That’s it! Enjoy your new, reproducible and lightweight windows environment.

Big thanks to Joe for providing this awesome Github repository! Great work.

23 Jan / 2017
Author: admin Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0

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Unter diesem Motto luden die Organisatoren Timm und Helge zur ersten VCNRW im Jahre 2017. Wieder einmal war das Event VCNRW super organisiert und erfuhr eine hohe Nachfrage durch die Teilnehmer.

Die Referenten des Abends waren Rainer Kodat mit dem Thema „Mit WEM geht’s schneller?! – Optimierung der User Experience“ und James Rankin mit dem Thema „Windows 10 – Answering the Enterprise Deployment Questions“.

Bei frostiger Außentemperatur begrüßten wir in lockerer Runde neue wie bekannte Gesichter. Von der RISC nahmen Christian, Sinisa, Michael, Oliver und Martin teil. Nach einer leckeren Mahlzeit folgte der erste Beitrag von Rainer Kodat:

Mit WEM geht’s schneller?! – Optimierung der User Experience

Der Vortrag über den Citrix Workspace Environment Manager thematisiert die User Experience von Endanwendern in Virtualisierungsprojekten. Ziel ist es dem Endanwender eine gleichbleibend gute User Experience zu bieten. Rainer zeigte uns in einer Live Demo wie das CPU- und RAM-Balancing funktioniert. Des Weiteren besitzt das Produkt einen Log-on Accelerator, welcher z.B. das Mapping von Netzlaufwerk parallel anstatt seriell ausführt.

NWEM basiert hierbei auf einem Service und verzichtet gänzlich auf Filter Treiber.

Windows 10 – Answering the Enterprise Deployment Questions

Nach einer kurzen Pause began James Rankin mit seinem Vortrag. Kern waren die Erfahrungen und daraus folgende Kenntnisse von James im Bezug auf das Windows 10 Deployment im Corporate und Enterprise Umfeld. Der Beitrag beantwortete Schlüsselfragen zum Deployment und gab hilfreiche Tips für nachfolgende Tätigkeiten und Prozesse. Besonders detailliert wurden die Vor-und Nachteile der zahlreichen Windows 10 Branches dargestellt und die daraus resultierenden Update Szenarien.

Im Fokus stand weiterhin der Umgang mit Modern Apps in Windows 10.
„Disable all apps which are not relevant – or you get apps for games and all that stuff!“
Entsprechende Ratschläge und Erfahrung von James aus seinen Projekten zu diesem Thema sind besonders hilfreich für eigene Projekte.

Wir haben die Vorträge mit Spannung verfolgt und freuen uns bereits auf das nächste Event am 27.04.2017. Wir werden auf jeden Fall wieder teilnehmen!