Posts Tagged ‘Terminal Services’

Where to get timely VMware virtualization information

December 25th, 2008

Happy Holidays!  I thought tonight was the night I was going to post some “Citrix XenApp virtualized on VMware ESX” that many have been asking me for behind the scenes, but alas it’s 10:30pm and I just don’t have the energy for such a post that will require considerable effort to put together.  I’ve accumulated some information here and there for various people, but it’s time to formally consolidate the scattered pieces of information into one decent post that I can fine tune as needed going forward.  Before you start licking your chops in anticipation of a rocket science blog post on virtualizing Citrix, please don’t.  What I promise is the details and discoveries behind one person’s virtualized Citrix environment.  With VI3, virtualizing Citrix is fairly straightforward but extra special attention must be paid in determining virtualization candidacy.

Now I wouldn’t want anyone to walk away empty handed from my blog on Christmas so I leave you with this:  A no-frills post revealing the source of where I get 90-95% of my daily virtualization information – RSS feeds of various blogs and websites.  This file (right click, save as – it’s XML) contains an export of all of my RSS subscriptions.  Import it into your favorite RSS reader.  Set your RSS subscription refresh interval to 15 minutes.  Stay informed with nearly up to the minute and late breaking VMware virtualization news.  With new blogs and sites popping up weekly, for sure this list is nowhere near what I would call complete.  If you have any suggestions or if you see a great blog or site that I am missing, by all means, let me know in the comment section below.  I’m the type of guy that can never get enough VMware virtualization information.

Disclaimer:  My RSS subscription list contains a few subscriptions to non-virtualization related feeds which you may want to remove.

Update:  I’ve added two more great blogs to the RSS feeds:  Gabe’s Virtual World (Gabrie van Zanten) and Jase’s Place (Jason McCarty).

Introducing: IT Knowledge Exchange/TechTarget

December 18th, 2008

Have you seen TechTarget’s IT Knowledge Exchange? If you are an IT staff member in search of answers or excellent technical blogs, ITKE is one site you’ll want to bookmark. Their award winning editorial staff include virtualization bloggers such as Eric Siebert, David Davis, prolific VirtualCenter plugin writer Andrew Kutz, Rick Vanover, Edward Haletky, and many more.

Search or browse by hundreds of tags covering hot IT topics such as Database, Exchange, Lotus Domino, Microsoft Windows, Security, Virtualization, etc.

Their value proposition is simple: provide IT professionals and executives with the information they need to perform their jobs—from developing strategy, to making cost-effective IT purchase decisions and managing their organizations’ IT projects.

One month ago, brianmadden.com was purchased by TechTarget. I think this addition will be a nice shot in the arm for ITKE. In one transaction they integrate an established rich Citrix/Terminal Services/Virtualization knowledgebase and talented staff of bloggers that it can in turn use to help its readers and advertising clientele.

TechTarget has over 600 employees, was founded in 1999, and went public in May 2007 via a $100M IPO.

12-18-2008 8-27-33 AM

hgfs registry value causes issues with Terminal Services VMs

December 13th, 2008

I originally brought this up back in October with my Tip for virtualization Citrix servers invovling user profiles post.  I’m bringing it up again because this week VMware updated their knowledgebase document 1317 Windows Guest Cannot Update hgfs.dat and it’s missing a piece of key information that administrators need to be aware of.  I’m not going to rehash the whole hgfs registry value again.  You can read the details about that in my October post linked above.  The workarounds for hgfs issues caused by VMware Tools do work, however, what’s not mentioned is that a re-installation or upgrade of VMware Tools will re-install the hgfs value back in the registry thus introducing problems again.  With the amount of ESX/ESXi version upgrades coming from VMware lately, which in turn cause VMware Tools upgrades, this scenario is not going to be uncommon for anyone who is virtualizing Terminal Services or Citrix.  Add to that, VMware even recently released an interim VMware Tools upgrade patch subsequent to ESX 3.5.0 Update 3 (ESXe350-200811401-T-BG).

It should be noted that the hgfs registry value is associated with VMware shared folders technology (not used with ESX/ESXi) and only gets installed during a Complete installation type.  A Typical installation type will not install the hgfs registry value.  I perform Complete installation types of VMware Tools because I make use of the VMware Descheduled Time Accounting Service.  My virtualized Citrix servers have been impacted by this twice:  The first time when I orginally rolled out the virtualized Citrix servers.  The second time a few months later I discovered hgfs was installed again after a VMware Tools upgrade.  I’ve asked VMware to update hgfs related KB articles with the piece about the VMware Tools upgrades.  As I pointed out in my October article, one of the nasty side effects of the hgfs value on Terminal Services VMs is the constant growing of the user profile folders under \Documents and Settings\.  Left undiscovered for a while and it becomes a pretty big mess and the speed at which ugliness infiltrates \Documents and Settings\ is compounded by the number of Terminal Services users logging on to the server throughout the day every day.

Tip for virtualizing Citrix servers involving user profiles

October 25th, 2008

I virtualize Citrix servers and have had great success since VI3 was released. One of the things I learned along the way was a conflict that was created when introducing VMware Tools to a Citrix server.

My Citrix users receive mandatory profiles when their first session is established with the Citrix server. Although the user is assigned a mandatory read only profile which lives in an isolated directory on each Citrix server, a profile bearing the user’s account name is still created under \Documents and Settings\<username>\. This is normal Windows Terminal Services behavior. Now, what’s supposed to happen is when the user logs off their Citrix session, the automatically created profile is supposed to be automatically deleted. However, the installation of VMware Tools will prevent the clean up and deletion of the profile. The next time that user logs on, a new profile folder is created with a .001 extension. Then .002.  Then .003.  And so on.  On a larger scale with many users logging on and logging off, many profile folders are created and then orphaned. Left undiscovered, several hundred orphan folders will be discovered within just a day or two depending on how many sessions the Citrix server handles.

The root cause is that a file named \Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\VMware\hgfs.dat cannot be deleted by Windows and thus the folder structure must remain in place. The VMware Tools installation is partly responsible for the conflict. When VMware Tools is installed, it appends a value in the Windows registry to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\

SYSTEM\

CurrentControlSet\

Control\

NetworkProvider\

Order\

ProviderOrder

The value of hgfs is appended.

The fix is simple. Right-click ProviderOrder and choose Modify. In the Edit String Value dialog box, edit the value data string and remove the characters ,hgfs (including the leading comma). For example, if the data string contains LanmanWorkstation,hgfs then change it to LanmanWorkstation. If the value data string contains only hgfs, then erase it and leave the value data string empty.

Problem solved. Unfortunately only for the time being. The next time you upgrade VMware Tools on the Citrix VM, hgfs will be appended back in the registry and once again an accumulation of folders under \Documents and Settings\ will begin.