Remote PC Access

Introduction

Citrix Remote PC Access enables users to remotely use physical Windows or Linux machines located in the office. Users receive the best user experience by using Citrix HDX to deliver their office PC session.

Differences from delivering virtual desktops and apps

If you’re familiar with delivering virtual desktops and apps, the Remote PC Access feature has several differences:

  • A Remote PC Access catalog usually contains existing physical machines. So, you don’t have to prepare an image or provision machines to use Remote PC Access. Delivering desktops and apps usually uses virtual machines (VMs), and an image is used as a template to provision the VMs.
  • When a machine in a Remote PC Access random pooled catalog is powered off, it is not reset to the original state of the master image.
  • For Remote PC Access static user assignment catalogs, the assignment occurs after a user logs in (either at the machine or via RDP). When delivering desktops and apps, a user is assigned if a machine is available.

Installation and configuration summary

Review this section before starting the tasks.

  1. Before you start:

    1. Review the requirements and considerations.
    2. Complete the preparation tasks.
  2. From Citrix Cloud:

    1. Set up a Citrix Cloud account and subscribe to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure service.
    2. Set up a resource location that can access your Active Directory resources. Install at least two Cloud Connectors in the resource location. The Cloud Connectors communicate with Citrix Cloud.

      Follow the guidance for creating a resource location and installing Cloud Connectors in it. This information includes system requirements, preparation, and procedures.

    3. Connect your Active Directory to Citrix Cloud.
  3. Install a Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) on each machine that users will access remotely. VDAs communicate with Citrix Cloud through the Cloud Connectors in the resource location.

  4. From Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure:

    1. Create a Remote PC Access catalog. In this procedure, you specify the location of your resource location and select the user assignment method.
    2. Add subscribers (users) to the catalog, if needed. Add users to a catalog if the catalog uses either the static autoassigned or random pooled user assignment method. You do not need to add users to a static preassigned catalog.
  5. Send the workspace URL to users. From their workspace, users can log on to their machines in the office.

Requirements and considerations

References to machines in this section refer to the machines that users access remotely.

General:

  • The machines must be running a single-session Windows 10 or Linux (Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu) operating system.
  • The machine must be joined to an Active Directory Domain Services domain.
  • If you are familiar with using Remote PC Access with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, the Wake-on-LAN feature is not available in this service.

Network:

  • The machine must have an active network connection. A wired connection is preferred for greater reliability and bandwidth.
  • If using Wi-Fi:
    • Set the power settings to leave the wireless adapter turned on.
    • Configure the wireless adapter and network profile to allow automatic connection to the wireless network before the user logs on. Otherwise, the VDA does not register until the user logs on. The machine isn’t available for remote access until a user logs on.
    • Ensure that the Cloud Connectors can be reached from the Wi-Fi network.

Devices and peripherals:

  • The following devices are not supported:

    • KVM switches or other components that can disconnect a session.
    • Hybrid PCs, including All-in-One and NVIDIA Optimus laptops and PCs.
  • Connect the keyboard and mouse directly to the machine. Connecting to the monitor or other components that can be turned off or disconnected, can make these peripherals unavailable. If you must connect the input devices to components such as monitors, do not turn those components off.
  • For laptop and Surface Pro devices: Ensure the laptop is connected to a power source instead of running on the battery. Configure the laptop power options to match the options of a desktop machine. For example:

    • Disable the hibernate feature.
    • Disable the sleep feature.
    • Set the close lid action to Do Nothing.
    • Set the “press the power button” action to Shut Down.
    • Disable video card and NIC energy-saving features.

    When using a docking station, you can undock and redock laptops. When you undock the laptop, the VDA reregisters with the Cloud Connectors over Wi-Fi. However, when you redock the laptop, the VDA doesn’t switch to use the wired connection unless you disconnect the wireless adapter. Some devices provide built-in functionality to disconnect the wireless adapter upon establishing a wired connection. Other devices require custom solutions or third-party utilities to disconnect the wireless adapter. Review the Wi-Fi considerations mentioned previously.

    To enable docking and undocking for Remote PC Access devices:

    • In Start > Settings > System > Power & Sleep, set Sleep to Never.
    • In Device Manager > Network adapters > Ethernet adapter, go to Power Management and clear Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power. Ensure that Allow this device to wake the computer is selected.

Linux VDA:

  • Use the Linux VDA on physical machines only in non-3D mode. Due to limitations on NVIDIA’s driver, the local screen of the PC cannot be blacked out and displays the activities of the session when HDX 3D mode is enabled. Showing this screen is a security risk.
  • Catalogs with Linux machines must use the static preassigned user assignment method. Catalogs with Linux machines cannot use either the static autoassigned or random pooled assignment methods.

Workspace considerations:

  • Multiple users with access to the same office PC see the same icon in Citrix Workspace. When a user signs in to Citrix Workspace, that machine appears as unavailable if it is already in use by another user.

Prepare

  • Decide how to install the VDA on the machines. Several methods are available:
    • Manually install the VDA on each machine.
    • Push the VDA installation using Group Policy, using a script.
    • Push the VDA installation using an Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) tool such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). For details, see Install VDAs using SCCM.
  • Learn about user assignment methods and decide which method you’ll use. You specify the method when creating a Remote PC Access catalog.
  • Decide how the machines (actually the VDAs you install on the machines) will register with Citrix Cloud. A VDA must register to establish communications with the session broker in Citrix Cloud.

    VDAs register through the Cloud Connectors in their resource location. You can specify Cloud Connector addresses when you install a VDA, or later.

    For a VDA’s first (initial) registration, Citrix recommends using policy-based GPO or LGPO. After the initial registration, Citrix recommends using auto-update, which is enabled by default. Learn more about VDA registration.

Install a VDA

Download and install a VDA on each physical machine that users will access remotely.

Download a VDA

Windows VDA installation package types

The Citrix download site provides two Windows VDA installation package types that can be used for Remote PC Access machines:

  • Single-session core VDA installer (release is yymm): VDAWorkstationCoreSetup_release.exe

    The single-session core VDA installer is tailored specifically for Remote PC Access. It’s lightweight and easier to deploy (than other VDA installers) over the network to all machines. It does not include components that typically aren’t needed in these deployments, such as Citrix Profile Management, Machine Identity Service, and the user personalization layer.

    However, without Citrix Profile Management installed, the displays for Citrix Analytics for Performance and some Monitor details aren’t available. For details about those limitations, see the blog post Monitor and troubleshoot Remote PC Access machines.

    If you want full analytics and monitoring displays, use the single-session full VDA installer.

  • Single-session full VDA installer (release is yymm): VDAWorkstationSetup_release.exe

    Although the single-session full VDA installer is a larger package than the single-session core VDA installer, you can tailor it to install only the components you need. For example, you can install the components that support Profile Management.

Install a Windows VDA for Remote PC Access interactively

  1. Double-click the VDA installation file that you downloaded.
  2. On the Environment page, select Enable Remote PC Access, and then click Next.
  3. On the Delivery Controller page, select one of the following:

    • If you know the addresses of your Cloud Connectors, select Do it manually. Enter the FQDN of a Cloud Connector and click Add. Repeat for the other Cloud Connectors in your resource location.
    • If you know where you installed the Cloud Connectors in your AD structure, select Choose locations from Active Directory, and then navigate to that location. Repeat for the other Cloud Connectors.
    • If you want to specify the Cloud Connector addresses in Citrix Group Policy, select Do it later (Advanced), and then confirm that selection when prompted.

    When you’re done, click Next.

  4. If you’re using the single-session full VDA installer, on the Additional Components page, select the components you want to install, such as Profile Management. (This page does not appear if you’re using the single-session core VDA installer.)
  5. On the Features page, click Next.
  6. On the Firewall page, select Automatically (if it isn’t already). Then click Next.
  7. On the Summary page, click Install.
  8. On the Diagnose page, click Connect. Make sure the check box is selected. When prompted, enter your Citrix account credentials. After your credentials are validated, click Next.
  9. On the Finish page, click Finish.

For full installation information, see Install VDAs.

Install a Windows VDA for Remote PC Access using a command line

  • If you’re using the single-session core VDA installer: Run VDAWorkstationCoreSetup.exe, and include the /quiet, /enable_hdx_ports, and /enable_hdx_udp_ports options. To specify Cloud Connector addresses, use the /controllers option.

    For example, the following command installs a single-session core VDA. Citrix Workspace app and other non-core services are not installed. The FQDNs of two Cloud Connectors are specified, and ports in the Windows Firewall Service will be opened automatically. The administrator will handle restarts.

    VDAWorkstationCoreSetup .exe /quiet /controllers "Connector-East.domain.com" “Connector-East2.domain.com” /enable_hdx_ports /noreboot

  • If you’re using the single-session full VDA installer and want to include Profile Management (or other optional additional components): Run VDAWorkstationSetup.exe and include the /remotepc and /includeadditional options. The /remotepc option prevents installation of most additional components. The /includeadditional option specifies exactly which additional components you want to install.

    For example, the following command prevents installation of all optional additional components except Profile Management.

    VDAWorkstationSetup.exe /quiet /remotepc /includeadditional “Citrix User Profile Manager”,“Citrix User Profile Manager WMI Plugin” /controllers “connector.domain.com” “connector2.domain.com” /enable_hdx_ports /noresume /noreboot

For details, see Command-line options to install a VDA.

Install a Linux VDA

Follow the guidance in the Linux documentation for installing a Linux VDA interactively or using the command line.

Create a Remote PC Access catalog

A resource location containing at least two Cloud Connectors must exist before you can successfully create a catalog.

Important:

A machine can belong to only one catalog at a time. This restriction is not enforced when you specify the machines to be added to a catalog. However, ignoring the restriction can cause problems later.

  1. Sign in to Citrix Cloud.
  2. In the upper left menu, select My Services > Virtual Apps and Desktops for Azure.
  3. If you haven’t created any catalogs yet, click Get Started on the Welcome page. If you have created a catalog, click Create Catalog on the Manage dashboard.
  4. On the Remote PC Access tab, select a method for assigning users to machines.
  5. Enter a name for the catalog and select the resource location you created.
  6. Add machines.
  7. Click Create Catalog.
  8. On the Your Remote PC Access catalog is being created page, click Done.
  9. An entry for the new catalog appears on the Manage dashboard.

    After the catalog is successfully created, click one of the links to add subscribers (users) to the catalog. This step applies if the catalog uses either the static autoassigned or random pool unassigned user assignment method.

After you create a catalog and add users (if needed), send the Workspace URL to your users.

User assignment methods

The user assignment method that you choose when creating a catalog indicates how users are assigned to machines.

  • Static autoassigned: User assignment occurs when a user logs on to the machine (not using Citrix, for example, in-person or RDP), after a VDA is installed on the machine. Later, if other users log on to that machine (not using Citrix), they are also assigned. Only one user can use the machine at a time. This is a typical setup for either office workers or shift workers who share a computer.

    This method is supported for Windows machines. It cannot be used with Linux machines.

  • Static preassigned: Users are preassigned to machines. (This is usually configured by uploading a CSV file containing machine-user mapping.) There is no need for user logon to establish assignment after the VDA is installed. There is also no need to assign users to the catalog after it’s created. This is best for office workers.

    This method is supported for Windows and Linux machines.

  • Random pool unassigned: Users are randomly assigned to an available machine. Only one user can use the machine at a time. This is ideal for computing labs in schools.

    This method is supported for Windows machines. It cannot be used with Linux machines.

Methods for adding machines to a catalog

Remember: Each machine must have a VDA installed on it.

When creating or editing a catalog, there are three ways you can add machines to a catalog:

Add machine names

This method adds machine accounts one by one.

  1. Select your domain.
  2. Search for the machine account.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Repeat to add more machines.
  5. When you finish adding machines, click Done.

Add OUs

This method adds machine accounts according to the Organizational Unit where they reside. When selecting OUs, choose lower-level OUs for greater granularity. If that granularity is not required, you can choose higher-level OUs.

For example, in the case of Bank/Officers/Tellers, select Tellers for greater granularity. Otherwise, you can select Officers or Bank, based on the requirement.

Moving or deleting OUs after they’re assigned to a Remote PC Access catalog affects VDA associations and causes issues with future assignments. Ensure that your AD change plan accounts for OU assignment updates for catalogs.

To add OUs:

  1. Select your domain.
  2. Select the OUs that contain the machines accounts you want to add.
  3. Indicate in the check box whether to include subfolders included in your selections.
  4. When you finish selecting OUs, click Done.

Add in bulk

  1. Click Download CSV Template.
  2. In the template, add the machine account information (up to 100 entries). The CSV file can also contain the names of users assigned to each machine.
  3. Save the file.
  4. Either drag the file on to the Add machines in bulk page or browse to the file.
  5. A preview of the file’s content is displayed. If that’s not the file you want, you can create another file and then drag or browse to it.
  6. When you’re finished, click Done.

Manage Remote PC Access catalogs

To display or change a Remote PC Access catalog’s configuration information, select the catalog from the Manage dashboard (click anywhere in its entry).

  • From the Details tab, you can add or remove machines.
  • From the Subscribers tab, you can add or remove users.
  • From the Machines tab, you can:

    • Add or remove machines: Add or remove machines button.
    • Change user assignments: Remove assignment trash icon, Edit machine assignment in ellipsis menu.
    • See which machines are registered, and place machines in or out of maintenance mode.