Citrix VDI-in-a-box

As anyone who reads my blog knows I am a strong advocate for VDI techonlogies particulary Citrix VDI-in-a-Box which has the key advantage of being able to use local storage (which is great for SSDs!).

As part of this I’m now happy to report that Citrix has used my old workplace (a medium secondary school in Oxfordshire) as a case study site and that the case study can be seen here.

Even in this modern world of HTML5 there is still a very strong case for Flash Video playback (after all its still the option of choice on YouTube), the only problem is when you play flash video inside a Virtual Desktop session (VDI) the servers CPU can quickly be chewed up and so ruin the experience for everyone.

The simple fix here is to use Citrix HDX Flash redirection and a compatible thin client like the 10ZiG 8848c (Linux powered) or any number of the Windows Embedded Standard options out there.
In this situation the flash video is rendered on the thin clients processor and with more powerful (but power efficant) CPUs becoming available in thin clients all the time you can expect a nice smooth video playback on your endpoint device without hammering the servers CPU.

.netI’m currently in the process of setting up the latest version of Citrix VDI-in-a-Box on Server 2012 Hyper-V and have come across an interesting error while the installer attempts to install .NET Framework 3.5.1.

.NET Framework 3.5.1 is not installed and the installer was unable to install it automatically. Please install the .net framework 3.5.1 and run the installer again.

As it turns out in Server 2012 .NET 3.5.1 is not included with Server 2012 as an option to install without the use of the original install media (DVD/extracted ISO) and as such the VDI-in-a-Box installer can’t find it to install it.

The easy fix in this case is to run a manual install of .NET Framework 3.5.1 from the ‘Add roles and features’ option in server manager. There is an option on the confirmation screen where you can select to run the install from an alternative location just choose that, mount the Sever 2012 ISO (one of thouse very nice little features of Windows 8/Server 2012) and set the install path as the WinSXS folder and you will be up and running with VDI-in-a-Box in no time.

A little more info about installing .NET Framework 3.5.1 on Windows 8/Server 2012 is available on the Microsoft website at this link.

A little while ago the guys at Axel let me borrow one of their M80 thin clients to try out with Citrix VDI-in-a-Box and also Microsoft RDS (Server 2008 R2) and I’m happy to say I can easily see this as a good thin client to use in the office although I have my reservations about use in classroom.

This review takes a look at some things that wern’t in the video (also makes some corrections to the video) and should help to give you a better overview of what the Axel M80 thin client can do. Continue reading

One of the wonderful things about Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V is that any driver that was written for Windows 7 will also run in Server 2008 R2! As such its very easy to take any Window 7 compatible PC (with a processor that can do hardware assisted virtualization like the AMD A and FX series) and turn it into a Citrix VDI-in-a-Box proof of concept (POC).

In the video below you can see me doing just that with a HP 6465b notebook (AMD A6 powered) which has been enhanced with a OCZ Agility 3 SSD.

Read on as well for a list of parts that cost less than £265 (exVAT)  that you could use to run your own proof of concept for 3-4 VDI users! Continue reading

As promised to those that came along to the recent VDI Demo Day the PowerPoint slides are below with the video playlist above.

  1 - Intro Slides (583.2 KiB, 1,047 hits)

  3 - Fitzharrys School - Presentation (1.2 MiB, 1,453 hits)

  5 - App-V - Presentation (531.1 KiB, 1,083 hits)

The day covered a wide range of topics from how to setup a Citrix VDI-in-a-Box proof of concept, the options for thin clients from 10zig and how to take things one step further with Application Virtulisation through App-V.

I feel that the day was quite the success with 20 people from 16 schools attending, not only did we have people from our county of Oxfordshire come along but also as far as Bedfordshire and London.

Either way now its back to work, after all this backup server and Lync phones won’t set up themselves!

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Virtual Desktops on PCI-E SSD

In this series I am going to be looking at how PCI-E SSDs can be used with VDI, I’ll be covering the hardware in use, the user experience and also why I believe PCI-E SSDs to be the best option to get your virtual desktops running as fast as possible. Continue reading

For quite some time now we’ve had the odd thing that all the clocks on our Citrix VDI-in-a-Box virtual desktops have been out by 7 hours. First thought was that the sysprep process was putting in the wrong timezone however if this was the case then surely there would be some people having the same issues and posting up on the Citrix forums?

After a little digging I found that the clocks were only out when logging in from our 10zig thin clients. As it turns out the 10zigs all had their timezone settings set to Phoenix in the USA (the homebase of 10zig) and so were 7 hours out. This can only mean that the thin clients (I guess through HDX) were telling the Virtual Desktops to match up with their time zones.

A quick change in the settings of the thin clients soon sorted it out and now all the clocks are showing correctly. The two screen shots below show the places you want to be looking at to update the thin clients to your own timezone-

For the past few days I’ve been doing a little performance testing to see just how much an influence RAID cache makes when provisioning Virtual Desktops.

The test was to create 20 virtual desktops and see how long it takes to get the first one spun up and ready for use and then to see how long it took to get all of the desktops ready for use.

The tests were conducted using-

Citrix XenServer
Citrix VDI-in-a-Box
HP DL385 G7 Server
8 core 2.0ghz HE AMD Opteron Processor
44GB DDR3 RAM
4x15k SFF 72GB SAS 6Gbs HDDs
HP P410i RAID Controller (1Gb cache)

the results (all times in mins and seconds) were-

Continue reading