As you already know from my previous post Citrix finally released new version of XenApp/XenDensktop platform with number 7.6. I have already listed few “new-old” features that were introduced with that version of XenApp/XenDesktop in one of me previous posts:
This is the first in series of blog posts describing new version of XenApp/XenDesktop.
In the first part – we installed first Delivery Controller and setup our new XenDesktop 7.6 site.
In the second part – we have configured first site.
In the third part – we prepared the template image of Windows Server 2012 R2 that will be used by MCS service for creation of new machines that will be hosting user desktops and applications.
In the fourth part – we upgraded XenApp 6.5 server to XenApp 7.6.
In the fifth part – we created machine catalogs and used previously prepared master image. We attached to the site as well upgraded XenApp 6.5 server.
In the sixth part – we delivered applications to the end users by creating delivery groups.
In the seventh part – we will configure StoreFront so that end users could launch their apps.
In the eighth part – we checked how Connection Leasing really works.
Key features in this release
This version of XenApp and XenDesktop includes new features that make it easier for users to access applications and desktops and for Citrix administrator to manage applications:
- The session prelaunch and session linger features help users quickly access server-based hosted applications by starting sessions before they are requested (session prelaunch) and keeping application sessions active after a user closes all applications (session linger).
- Support for unauthenticated (anonymous) users means users can access server-based hosted applications and server-hosted desktops without presenting credentials to StoreFront or Citrix Receiver.
- Connection leasing makes recently used applications and desktops available even when the Site database in unavailable.
- Application folders in Studio make it easier to administer large numbers of applications.
Other new features in this release allow you to improve performance by specifying the number of actions that can occur on a Site’s host connection, display enhanced data when you manage and monitor your Site, and anonymously and automatically contribute data that Citrix can use to improve product quality, reliability, and performance.The full list of new features can be found here:
Known issues in this release
As every release of new software also new version of XenApp/XenDesktop has to be honest quite long list of known issues that might be found here: http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xenapp-xendesktop-76/xad-xaxd76-knownissues.html Citrix announced that product will be released in the end of September and well they released that last they of the month. I really hope that the product was tested with needed diligence and listed issues will be quickly fixed in following hotfixes or in HRP1.
There is nothing new regarding system requirement when comparing to XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x. The full list of requirements for every infrastructure role in XenApp/XenDesktop site can be found here: http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xenapp-xendesktop-76/xad-system-requirements-76.html
We know now a bit about new release so let’s see how we install that. First you need to download of course the .ISO image from Citrix download page using MyCitrix account. The size of the image is roughly 2.47 GB so depending on your network connection it may take some time. After mounting the image to your CD/DVD drive you should see the following: Running the autorun from the image you get the installation wizard with an initial choice. You can choose to install XenApp or XenDesktop. I went with XenDesktop. Then you are presented with the screen that allow you to choose which components of XenApp/XenDesktop site would you like to install on that server. If you install the first XenApp/XenDesktop in the site you do not have a lot of choices and you should start from installing Delivery Controller for your site. After choosing component you need to accept license agreement. In next step you can choose which core components would you like to install on that server. In production environments you should of course have dedicated servers for some of those roles but due to the fact that this is just my test lab I will install all of the components on one server. What is also important – on this step you can change location where binary files will be installed. In the next step we can choose some additional features that might be installed on that server as well. As you can see above I’ve decided to use Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 Express as this is test lab installation. In your production environments you should of course use dedicated database server or even better database cluster to provide High Availability of the XenApp/XenDesktop site database. XenApp/XenDesktop supports only Microsoft SQL Server versions for the Site Configuration Database (which initially includes the Configuration Logging Database and the Monitoring Database):
- SQL Server 2014, Express, Standard, and Enterprise Editions.
- SQL Server 2012 SP1, Express, Standard, and Enterprise Editions. By default, SQL Server 2012 SP1 Express is installed when installing the Controller, if an existing supported SQL Server installation is not detected.
- SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2, Express, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter Editions.
The following database features are supported (except for SQL Server Express, which supports only standalone mode):
- SQL Server Clustered Instances
- SQL Server Mirroring
- SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups
Windows authentication is required for connections between the Controller and the SQL Server database.
For information about the latest supported database versions, see CTX114501.
As you see there is no more ORACLE databases nor Access – but that was the same with prior versions of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x.
Regarding High Availability of Site Configuration Database – with this release Citrix introduced new robust feature Connection Leasing – the feature supplements the SQL Server high availability best practices by enabling users to connect and reconnect to their most recently used applications and desktops, even when the Site database is not available. Although users may have a large number of published resources available, they often use only a few of them regularly. When you enable connection leasing, each Controller caches user connections to those recently used applications and desktops during normal operations (when the database is available). If the database becomes unavailable, the Controller enters leased connection mode and “replays” the cached operations when a user attempts to connect or reconnect to a recently used application or desktop from StoreFront. For more information, see Connection leasing.
If you want to shadow user session you have to choose as well to install Windows Remote Assistance.
In the next step installation wizard allows you to choose if you would like to change firewall rules automatically or do it manually. After that you are presented with Summary window that shows the configuration you’ve chosen. You can finally click ‘Install’ and go for a cup of hot coffee or tea 🙂 That’s what we like the most in IT. After that we will see how specific components are being installed. We can see as well estimated time of installation (red box). Finally after some time the installation is finished. We can click Finish, close Installation Wizard and Launch Studio to see how new Citrix Studio looks like. After launching Citrix Studio I got the below error message. I was a bit confused for a moment cause had no idea what is the problem. But the error message was pretty clear 🙂 I was logged with local admin account. After logging in with domain account I got finally Citrix Studio console working. That’s all for the first part. In the next one I will show how to configure first site. I hope you enjoyed this short demo.