Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

Create machine catalogs

Important:

As of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 2006, if your current deployment uses any of the following technologies, you can upgrade your deployment to the current release only after removing End of Life (EOL) items that use those technologies.

  • Personal vDisks (PvDs)
  • AppDisks
  • Public cloud host types: Citrix CloudPlatform, Microsoft Azure Classic

For details, see Remove PVD, AppDisks, and unsupported hosts.

Note:

You can manage your Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops deployment using two management consoles: Web Studio (web-based) and Citrix Studio (Windows-based). This article covers only Web Studio. For information about Citrix Studio, see the equivalent article in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 2212 or earlier.

If you want to use public cloud host connections to your deployment, you need Hybrid Rights License to complete your fresh installation or upgrade to the current release.

When the installer detects one or more of the unsupported technologies or host connections without Hybrid Rights License, the upgrade pauses or stops. An explanatory message appears. The installer logs contain details. For more information, see Upgrade a deployment.

Introduction

Collections of physical or virtual machines are managed as a single entity called a machine catalog. All the machines in a catalog have the same type of operating system: multi-session OS or single-session OS, and Windows or Linux machines.

Web Studio guides you to create the first machine catalog after you create the site. After you create the first catalog, Web Studio guides you to create the first delivery group. Later, you can change the catalog you created, and create more catalogs.

Tip:

Upgrading an existing deployment enables the Machine Creation Services (MCS) storage optimization (MCS I/O) feature, no additional configuration is required. The Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) and the Delivery Controller upgrade handle the MCS I/O upgrade.

Overview

When you create a catalog of VMs, you specify how to provision those VMs. You can use Machine Creation Services (MCS). Or, you can use your own tools to provide machines.

Consider:

  • MCS supports a single system disk from the virtual machine image. It ignores the rest of the data disks attached to that image.
  • If you use MCS to provision VMs, you provide a master image (or snapshot of an image) to create identical VMs in the catalog. Before you create the catalog, you first use the tools to create and configure the master image. This process includes installing a Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) on the image. Then you create the machine catalog in Web Studio. You select that image (or snapshot), specify the number of VMs to create in the catalog, and configure additional information.
  • If your machines are already available, you must still create one or more machine catalogs for those machines.
  • If you are creating a catalog using the PowerShell SDK directly, you can specify a hypervisor template (VMTemplates), rather than an image or a snapshot.
  • Using a template to provision a catalog is considered an experimental feature. When using this method, virtual machine preparation might fail. As a result, the catalog cannot be published using the template.

When using MCS or Citrix Provisioning to create the first catalog, you use the host connection that you configured when you created the site. Later (after you create your first catalog and delivery group), you can change information about that connection or create more connections.

After you complete the catalog creation wizard, tests run automatically to ensure that it is configured correctly. When the tests complete, you can view a test report. Run the tests at any time from Web Studio.

Note:

MCS does not support Windows 10 IoT Core and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. Refer to the Microsoft site for more information.

For technical details about the Citrix Provisioning tools, see Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Image Management.

RDS license check

Web Studio currently does not perform the check for valid Microsoft RDS licenses while creating a machine catalog that contains Windows multi-session OS machines. To view the status of the Microsoft RDS license for a Windows multi-session OS machine, go to Citrix Director. View the status of the Microsoft RDS license in the Machine Details panel. This panel is located in the Machine Details and the User Details page. For more information, see Microsoft RDS license health.

VDA registration

A VDA must be registered with a Delivery Controller when launching brokered sessions. Unregistered VDAs can result in underutilization of otherwise available resources. There are various reasons that a VDA might not be registered, many of which an administrator can troubleshoot. Web Studio provides troubleshooting information in the catalog creation wizard, and after you add machines from a catalog to a delivery group.

After you add existing machines using the wizard, the list of computer account names indicates whether each machine is suitable for adding to the catalog. Hover over the icon next to each machine to display an informative message about that machine.

If the message identifies a problematic machine, either remove that machine, or add the machine. For example, if a message indicates that information might not be obtained about a machine, add the machine anyway.

For more information, see:

MCS catalog creation summary

Here’s a brief overview of default MCS actions after you provide information in the catalog creation wizard.

  • If you selected a master image (rather than a snapshot), MCS creates a snapshot.
  • MCS creates a full copy of the snapshot and places the copy on each storage location defined in the host connection.
  • MCS adds the machines to Active Directory, which creates unique identities.
  • MCS creates the number of VMs specified in the wizard, with two disks defined for each VM. In addition to the two disks per VM, a master is also stored in the same storage location. If you have multiple storage locations defined, each gets the following disk types:
    • The full copy of the snapshot which is read-only and shared across the just-created VMs.
    • A unique 16 MB identity disk that gives each VM a unique identity. Each VM gets an identity disk.
    • A unique difference disk to store writes made to the VM. This disk is thin provisioned (if supported by the host storage) and increases to the maximum size of the master image, if necessary. Each VM gets a difference disk. The difference disk holds changes made during sessions. It is permanent for dedicated desktops. For pooled desktops, it is deleted and a new one created after each restart via the delivery controller.

Alternatively, when creating VMs to deliver static desktops, you can specify (on the Machines page of the catalog creation wizard) thick (full copy) VM clones. Full clones do not require retention of the master image on every data store. Each VM has its own file.

MCS storage considerations

There are many factors when deciding on storage solutions, configurations, and capacities for MCS. The following information provides proper considerations for storage capacity:

Capacity considerations:

  • Disks

    The Delta or Differencing (Diff) Disks consume the largest amount of space in most MCS deployments for each VM. Each VM created by MCS is given at minimum 2 disks upon creation.

    • Disk0 = Diff Disk: contains the OS when copied from the Master Base Image.
    • Disk1 = Identity Disk: 16 MB - contains Active Directory data for each VM.

    As the product evolves, you might have to add more disks to satisfy certain use cases and feature consumption. For example:

    • MCS Storage Optimization creates a write cache style disk for each VM.
    • MCS added the ability to use full clones as opposed to the Delta disk scenario described in the previous section.

    Hypervisor features might also enter into the equation. For example:

    • XenServer IntelliCache creates a Read Disk on local storage for each XenServer. This option saves on IOPS against the master image which might be held on the shared storage location.
  • Hypervisor overhead

    Different hypervisors use specific files that create overhead for VMs. Hypervisors also use storage for management and general logging operations. Calculate space to include overhead for:

    • Log files
    • Hypervisor specific files. For example:
      • VMware adds more files to the VM storage folder. See VMware Best Practices.
      • Calculate your total virtual machine size requirements. Consider a virtual machine containing 20 GB for the virtual disk, 16 GB for the swap file, and 100 MB for log files consuming 36.1 GB total.
    • Snapshots for XenServer; Snapshots for VMware.
  • Process overhead

    Creating a catalog, adding a machine, and updating a catalog have unique storage implications. For example:

    • Initial catalog creation requires a copy of the base disk to be copied to each storage location.
    • Adding a machine to a catalog does not require copying of the base disk to each storage location. Catalog creation varies based on the features selected.
    • Updating the catalog to create an extra base disk on each storage location. Catalog updates also experience a temporary storage peak where each VM in the catalog has 2 Diff disks for a certain amount of time.

More considerations:

  • RAM sizing: Affects the size of certain hypervisor files and disks, including I/O optimization disks, write cache, and snapshot files.
  • Thin / Thick provisioning: NFS storage is preferred due to the thin provisioning capabilities.

Machine Creation Services (MCS) storage optimization

With the Machine Creation Services (MCS) storage optimization feature, referred to as MCS I/O:

  • The write cache container is file-based, the same functionality found in Citrix Provisioning. For example, the Citrix Provisioning write cache file name is D:\vdiskdif.vhdx and the MCS I/O write cache file name is D:\mcsdif.vhdx.
  • Achieve diagnostic improvements by including support for a Windows crash dump file written to the write cache disk.
  • MCS I/O retains the technology cache in RAM with overflow to hard disk to provide the most optimal multi-tier write cache solution. This functionality allows an administrator to balance between the cost in each tier, RAM and disk, and performance to meet the desired workload expectation.

Updating the write cache method from disk-based to file-based requires the following changes:

  1. MCS I/O no longer supports RAM only cache. Specify a disk size in Web Studio during machine catalog creation.
  2. The VM write cache disk is created and formatted automatically when booting a VM for the first time. Once the VM is up, the write cache file mcsdif.vhdx is written into the formatted volume MCSWCDisk.
  3. The pagefile is redirected to this formatted volume, MCSWCDisk. As a result, this disk size considers the total amount of disk space. It includes the delta between the disk size and the generated workload plus the pagefile size. This is typically associated with VM RAM size.

Enabling MCS storage optimization updates

To enable MCS I/O storage optimization functionality, upgrade the Delivery Controller and the VDA to the latest version of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

Note:

If you upgrade an existing deployment which has MCS I/O enabled, no additional configuration is required. The VDA and the Delivery Controller upgrade handle the MCS I/O upgrade.

When enabling the MCS storage optimization update, consider the following:

  • When creating a machine catalog, the administrator can configure the RAM and disk size.

    Machine catalog setup

  • Updating an existing machine catalog to a new VM snapshot containing a VDA configured for version 1903 results in the following behavior: the new snapshot continues to use the existing catalog’s MCS I/O setting for RAM and disk size. The existing raw disk is formatted.

Important:

MCS storage optimization changed with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops version 1903. This release supports file-based write cache technology, providing better performance and stability. The new functionality provided by MCS I/O might require a higher write cache storage requirement compared to previous Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops releases. Citrix recommends that you reevaluate the disk size to ensure that it has sufficient disk space for the allocated workflow and extra pagefile size. The pagefile size is typically related to the amount of system RAM. If the existing catalog disk size is insufficient, create a machine catalog and allocate a larger write cache disk.

Assign a specific drive letter to MCS I/O write-back cache disk

You can assign a specific drive letter to MCS I/O write-back cache disk. This implementation helps you to avoid conflicts between the drive letter of any applications that you use and the drive letter of MCS I/O write-back cache disk. To do this, you can use PowerShell commands. The supported hypervisors are Azure, GCP, VMware, SCVMM, and XenServer.

Note:

This feature requires VDA version 2305 or later.

Limitations

  • Applicable to only Windows operating system
  • Applicable drive letter for write-back cache disk: E to Z
  • Not applicable when Azure temporary disk is used as write-back cache disk
  • Applicable only when you create a new machine catalog

Assign a drive letter to write-back cache disk

To assign a drive letter to write-back cache disk:

  1. Open the PowerShell window.
  2. Run asnp citrix*.
  3. Create an identity pool if not already created.
  4. Create a provisioning scheme using the New-ProvScheme command with the property WriteBackCacheDriveLetter. For example:

    New-ProvScheme -CleanOnBoot `
    -HostingUnitName "<name>" `
    -IdentityPoolName $schemeName `
    -ProvisioningSchemeName $schemeName `
    -InitialBatchSizeHint 1 `
    -UseWriteBackCache -WriteBackCacheDiskSize 127 -WriteBackCacheMemorySize 256 -WriteBackCacheDriveLetter E `
    -MasterImageVM "XDHyp:\HostingUnits\<name>\image.folder\abcd-resources.resourcegroup\MCSIOMasterVm_OsDisk_1_d3e2d6352xxxxxxxxx2130aa145ec77.manageddisk" `
    -NetworkMapping @{"0"="XDHyp:\\HostingUnits\\name\\virtualprivatecloud.folder\\East US.region\\virtualprivatecloud.folder\\abcd-resources.resourcegroup\\abcd-resources-vnet.virtualprivatecloud\\default.network"} `
    -ServiceOffering "XDHyp:\\HostingUnits\\<name>\\serviceoffering.folder\\Standard_D2s_v5.serviceoffering" `
    -CustomProperties '<CustomProperties xmlns="http://schemas.citrix.com/2014/xd/machinecreation" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="UseManagedDisks" Value="true" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="OsType" Value="Windows" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="StorageType" Value="Premium_LRS"/>
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="PersistWBC" Value="false" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="PersistOsDisk" Value="false" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="PersistVm" Value="false" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="WBCDiskStorageType" Value="Premium_LRS" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="UseTempDiskForWBC" Value="false" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="ResourceGroups" Value="abcd-group1" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="LicenseType" Value="Windows_Client" />
    <Property xsi:type="StringProperty" Name="SchemaVersion" Value="2" />
    </CustomProperties>'
    <!--NeedCopy-->
    
  5. Finish creating the catalog. For information, see https://developer-docs.citrix.com/projects/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops-sdk/en/latest/creating-a-catalog/.

Prepare a master image

For information about creating connections hosts, see Connections and resources.

The master image contains the operating system, non-virtualized applications, VDA, and other software.

Good to know:

  • A master image might also be known as a clone image, golden image, base VM, or base image. Host vendors use different terms.
  • Ensure that the host has enough processors, memory, and storage to accommodate the number of machines created.
  • Configure the correct amount of hard disk space needed for desktops and applications. That value cannot be changed later or in the machine catalog.
  • Remote PC Access machine catalogs do not use master images.
  • Microsoft KMS activation considerations when using MCS: If your deployment includes 7.x VDAs with a XenServer 6.1 or 6.2, vSphere, or Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager host, you do not need to manually rearm Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office.

Install and configure the following software on the master image:

  • Integration tools for your hypervisor (such as Citrix VM Tools, Hyper-V Integration Services, or VMware tools). If you omit this step, applications and desktops might not function correctly.
  • A VDA. Citrix recommends installing the latest version to allow access to the newest features. Failure to install a VDA on the master image causes the catalog creation to fail.
  • Third-party tools as needed, such as antivirus software or electronic software distribution agents. Configure services with settings that are appropriate for users and the machine type (such as updating features).
  • Third-party applications that you are not virtualizing. Citrix recommends virtualizing applications. Virtualizing reduces costs by eliminating having to update the master image after adding or reconfiguring an application. Also, fewer installed applications reduce the size of the master image hard disks, which saves storage costs.
  • App-V clients with the recommended settings, if you plan to publish App-V applications. The App-V client is available from Microsoft.
  • When using MCS, if you localize Microsoft Windows, install the locales and language packs. During provisioning, when a snapshot is created, the provisioned VMs use the installed locales and language packs.

Important:

If you are using MCS, do not run Sysprep on master images.

To prepare a master image:

  1. Using your hypervisor’s management tool, create a master image and then install the operating system, plus all service packs and updates. Specify the number of vCPUs. You can also specify the vCPU value if you create the machine catalog using PowerShell. You cannot specify the number of vCPUs when creating a catalog using Web Studio. Configure the amount of hard disk space needed for desktops and applications. That value cannot be changed later or in the catalog.
  2. Ensure that the hard disk is attached at device location 0. Most standard master image templates configure this location by default, but some custom templates might not.
  3. Install and configure the software listed above on the master image.
  4. If you are not using MCS, join the master image to the domain where applications and desktops are members. Ensure that the master image is available on the host where the machines are created. If you are using MCS, joining the master image to a domain is not required. The provisioned machines are joined to the domain specified in the catalog creation wizard.
  5. Citrix recommends that you create and name a snapshot of your master image. If you specify a master image rather than a snapshot when creating a catalog, Web Studio creates a snapshot. You cannot name it.

Volume licensing activation

MCS supports volume licensing activation to automate and manage the activation of Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office. The three models that MCS supports for volume licensing activation are:

  • Key Management Service (KMS)
  • Active Directory-based activation (ADBA)
  • Multiple Activation Key (MAK)

You can change the activation setting after you create the machine catalog.

Key Management Service (KMS)

The KMS is a lightweight service that does not require a dedicated system and can easily be co-hosted on a system that provides other services. This functionality is supported on all Citrix supported Windows versions. During image preparation, MCS does the Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office KMS rearm. You can skip rearm by running the command Set-Provserviceconfigurationdata. For more information on Microsoft Windows KMS Rearm and Microsoft Office KMS Rearm during image preparation, see Machine Creation Services: Image Preparation Overview and Fault-Finding. For more information on KMS activation, see Activate using Key Management Service.

Note:

All machine catalogs created after running the command Set-Provserviceconfigurationdata have the same setting as provided in the command.

Active Directory-based activation (ADBA)

ADBA enables you to activate machines through their domain connections. Machines are immediately activated when they join the domain. These machines remain activated as long as they remain joined to the domain and in contact with it. This functionality is supported on all Citrix supported Windows versions except Windows server 2022. For more information on Active directory-based activation, see Activate using Active Directory-based activation.

Multiple Activation Key (MAK)

MAK is a way of activating volume and authenticating the Windows system with the help of the Microsoft server. You must buy the MAK key from Microsoft which is assigned with a fixed number of activation counts. Every time a Windows system is activated, the activation count reduces. There are two ways of activating the system:

  • Online Activation: If the Windows system that you want to activate has internet access, the system automatically activates the Windows on installing the product key. This process reduces the activation count by 1 for the corresponding MAK.
  • Offline Activation: If the Windows system is not able to connect to the internet to do the online activation, MCS gets a confirmation id and an installation id from the Microsoft server to get the Windows system activated. This way of activation is useful for non-persistent machine catalogs.

Key requirements

  • The Delivery Controller must have internet access.
  • Create a new catalog if the new image to be updated has a different MAK Key from the original.
  • Install the MAK key on the master image. See Deploy MAK Activation for the steps to install MAK Key on a Windows System.
  • If you are not using image preparation:

    1. Add the registry DWORD value Manual under Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\Activation.
    2. Set the value to 1.

Activation Counts

To view the number of activations remaining for MAK Key or to check if a VM is consuming two or more activations, use the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT). See Install VAMT.

Activate the Windows system using MAK

To activate the Windows system using MAK:

  1. Install the product key on the master image. This step consumes one activation count.
  2. Create an MCS machine catalog.
  3. If you aren’t using image preparation:

    1. Add the registry DWORD value Manual under Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\Activation.
    2. Set the value to 1.

    This method disables the option of online activation.

  4. Add VMs to the machine catalog.
  5. Power on the VMs.
  6. Depending on whether it’s online or offline activation, the Windows system is activated.

    • If the activation is online, the Windows system is activated after the product key is installed.
    • If the activation is offline, MCS communicates with provisioned VMs to get the activation status of the Windows system. MCS then retrieves a confirmation id and an installed id from the Microsoft server. These IDs are used to activate the Windows system.

Troubleshooting

If the provisioned VM is not activated with the installed MAK Key, run Get-ProvVM or Get-ProvScheme command on a PowerShell window.

  • The Get-ProvScheme command: See the parameter WindowsActivationType associated with the MCS machine catalog from the latest master image.
  • The Get-ProvVM command. See the parameters WindowsActivationType, WindowsActivationStatus, WindowsActivationStatusErrorCode, and WindowsActivationStatusError.

You can check the error and verify the steps to resolve the issue.

Create a machine catalog using Web Studio

Before creating a catalog:

  • Review this section to learn about the choices you make and information you supply.
  • Ensure that you have created a connection to the hypervisor, cloud service, other resource that hosts your machines.
  • If you have created a master image to provision machines, ensure that you have installed a VDA on that image.

To start the catalog creation wizard:

  1. If this is the first catalog being created, you are guided to the correct selection (such as “Set up the machines and create machine catalogs to run apps and desktops”). The catalog creation wizard opens.
  2. If you already created a catalog and want to create another, follow these steps:

    1. Sign in to Web Studio, select Machine Catalogs in the left pane, and then select Create Machine Catalog in the action bar.

    2. To organize catalogs using folders, create folders under the default Machine Catalogs folder. For more information, see Create a catalog folder.

    3. Select the folder where you want to create the catalog, and then click Create Machine Catalog. The catalog creation wizard opens.

The wizard walks you through the following items. The wizard pages you see differ, depending on the selections you make.

Operating system

Each catalog contains machines of only one type. Select one.

  • Multi-session OS: A multi-session OS catalog provides hosted shared desktops. The machines can be running supported versions of the Windows or Linux operating systems, but the catalog cannot contain both. (See the Linux VDA documentation for details about that OS.)
  • Single-session OS: A single-session OS catalog provides VDI desktops that you can assign to various different users.
  • Remote PC Access: A Remote PC Access catalog provides users with remote access to their physical office desktop machines. Remote PC Access does not require a VPN to provide security.

Machine management

This page does not appear when you are creating Remote PC Access catalogs.

The Machine Management page indicates how machines are managed and which tool you use to deploy machines.

Choose whether machines in the catalog are power managed through Web Studio.

  • Machines are power managed through Web Studio, for example, VMs or blade PCs. This option is available only if you already configured a connection to a host.
  • Machines are not power managed through Web Studio, for example, physical machines.

If you indicated that machines are power managed through Web Studio, choose which tool to use to create VMs.

  • Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS): Uses a master image to create and manage virtual machines. MCS is not available for physical machines.
  • Other: A tool that manages machines already in the data center. Citrix recommends that you use Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager or another third-party application to ensure that the machines in the catalog are consistent.

Desktop types (desktop experience)

This page appears only when you are creating a catalog containing single-session OS machines.

The Desktop Experience page determines what occurs each time a user logs on. Select one of:

  • Users connect to a new (random) desktop each time they log on.
  • Users connect to the same (static) desktop each time they log on.

Master image

This page appears only when you are using MCS to create VMs.

On the Master image page, select the connection to the host, and then select the snapshot or VM created earlier. If you are creating the first catalog, the only available connection is the one you configured when you created the site.

Remember:

  • When you are using MCS, do not run Sysprep on master images.
  • If you specify a master image rather than a snapshot, Web Studio creates a snapshot, but you cannot name it.

To enable use of the latest product features, ensure that the master image has the latest VDA version installed. Do not change the default minimum VDA selection. However, if you must use an earlier VDA version, see VDA versions and functional levels.

An error message appears if you select a snapshot or VM that is not compatible with the machine management technology you selected earlier in the wizard.

Machines

This page does not appear when you are creating Remote PC Access catalogs.

The title of this page depends on what you selected on the Machine Management page: Machines, Virtual Machines, or VMs and users.

When using MCS:

  • Specify how many virtual machines to create. Enter 0 (zero) if you do not want to create any. Later, you can create VMs for an empty catalog by performing Add machines.
  • Choose the amount of memory (in MB) each VM has.
  • Each created VM has a hard disk. Its size is set in the master image. You cannot change the hard disk size in the catalog.
  • If your deployment contains more than one zone, you can select a zone for the catalog.
  • If you are creating static desktop VMs, select a virtual machine copy mode. See Virtual machine copy mode.
  • If you are creating random desktop VMs that do not use vDisks, you can configure a cache to be used for temporary data on each machine. See Configure cache for temporary data.

When using other tools:

Add (or import a list of) Active Directory machine account names. You can change the Active Directory account name for a VM after you add/import it. If you specified static machines on the Desktop Experience page, you can optionally specify the Active Directory user name for each VM you add.

After you add or import names, you can use the Remove button to delete names from the list, while you are still on this page.

When using other tools (but not MCS):

An icon and tooltip for each machine added (or imported) help identify machines that might not be eligible to add to the catalog, or be unable to register with a Delivery Controller. For details, see VDA versions and functional levels.

Add SIDs while creating virtual machines

You can now add the parameter ADAccountSid to uniquely identify the machines while creating new virtual machines.

To do this:

  1. Create a catalog with the supported identity type.
  2. Add machines to the catalog using NewProvVM. For example:

    New-ProvVM  -ProvisioningSchemeName "name"  -ADAccountSid @("SID ")  -RunAsynchronously
    <!--NeedCopy-->
    

However, you cannot provision a machine with:

  • An AD account that is not in the catalog identity pool
  • An AD account that is not in available state

Virtual machine copy mode

The copy mode you specify on the Machines page determines whether MCS creates thin (fast copy) or thick (full copy) clones from the master image. (Default = thin clones)

  • Use fast copy clones for more efficient storage use and faster machine creation.
  • Use full copy clones for better data recovery and migration support, with potentially reduced IOPS after the machines are created.

VDA versions and functional levels

A catalog’s functional level controls which product features are available to machines in the catalog. Using features introduced in new product versions require a new VDA. Setting a functional level makes all features introduced in that version (and later, if the functional level does not change) available to machines in the catalog. However, machines in that catalog with an earlier VDA version cannot register.

A menu near the bottom of the Machines (or Devices) page allows you to select the minimum VDA level. This sets the catalog’s minimum functional level. By default, the most current functional level is selected for on-premises deployments. If you follow the Citrix recommendation to always install and upgrade VDAs and core components to the latest version, you don’t need to change this selection. However, if you must continue using older VDA versions, select the correct value.

A Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops release might not include a new VDA version, or the new VDA does not impact the functional level. In such cases, the functional level might indicate a VDA version that is earlier than the installed or upgraded components. For example, although version 7.17 contains a 7.17 VDA, the default functional level (“7.9 or later”) remains the most current. Therefore, after installing or upgrading components 7.9–7.16 to 7.17, you do not need to change the default functional level. Each release’s What’s new article indicates any change in the default functional level.

The selected functional level affects the list of machines above it. In the list, a tooltip next to each entry indicates whether the machine’s VDA is compatible with the catalog at that functional level.

Messages are posted on the page if the VDA on each machine does not meet or exceed the minimum functional level selected. You can continue with the wizard. Those machines will likely not be able to register with a Controller later. Alternatively, you can:

  • Remove the machines containing older VDAs from the list, upgrade their VDAs and then add them back to the catalog.
  • Choose a lower functional level that prevents access to the latest product features.

A message is also posted if a machine was not be added to the catalog because it is the wrong machine type. Examples include attempting to add a server to a single-session OS catalog, or adding a single-session OS machine originally created for random allocation to a catalog of static machines.

Important:

At release 1811, an extra functional level was added: 1811 (or newer). That level is intended for use with future Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops features. The 7.9 (or newer) selection remains the default. That default is valid for all deployments now.

If you select 1811 (or newer), any earlier VDA versions in that catalog are unable to register with a Controller or Cloud Connector. However, if the catalog contains only VDAs at version 1811 or later supported versions, they are all eligible to register. This includes catalogs containing VDAs configured for later Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops releases, including version 1903 and other 19XX releases before the current release.

Configure cache for temporary data

Caching temporary data locally on the VM is optional. You can enable use of the temporary data cache on the machine when you use MCS to manage pooled (not dedicated) machines in a catalog. If the catalog uses a connection that specifies storage for temporary data, you can enable and configure the temporary data cache information when you create the catalog.

Important:

This feature requires a current MCS I/O driver. Installing this driver is an option when you install or upgrade a VDA. By default, that driver is not installed.

You specify whether temporary data uses shared or local storage when you create the connection that the catalog uses. For more information, see Connections and resources. To configure a cache for temporary data on each machine, you can use the following two options: Memory allocated to cache (MB) and Disk cache size (GB). By default, the two options are cleared. To enable the Memory allocated to cache (MB) option, select the Disk cache size (GB) check box. If the Disk cache size check box is not selected, the Memory allocated to cache option is grayed out. Depending on the connection type, the default values for these options might differ. Generally, the default values are sufficient for most cases. However, take into account the space needed for:

  • Temporary data files created by Windows itself, including the Windows page file.
  • User profile data.
  • ShareFile data that is synced to users’ sessions.
  • Data that might be created or copied by a session user or any applications users might install inside the session.

Temporary storage and image storage

To configure a cache for temporary data on each machine, be aware of the following three scenarios:

  • If you don’t select the Disk cache size check box and the Memory allocated to cache check box, temporary data is not cached. It is directly written to the difference disk (located in the OS storage) for each VM. (This is the provisioning action in version 7.8 and earlier.)
  • If you select the Disk cache size check box and don’t select the Memory allocated to cache check box, temporary data is directly written to the cache disk, using a minimal amount of memory cache.
  • If you select the Disk cache size check box and the Memory allocated to cache check box, temporary data is initially written to the memory cache. When the memory cache reaches its configured limit (the Memory allocated to cache value), the oldest data is moved to the temporary data cache disk.

Important:

  • If the disk cache runs out of space, the user’s session becomes unusable.
  • This feature is not available when using a Nutanix host connection.
  • You cannot change the cache values in a machine catalog after the machine is created.

Note:

  • The memory cache is part of the total amount of memory on each machine. Therefore, if you enable the Memory allocated to cache option, consider increasing the total amount of memory on each machine.
  • Changing the Disk cache size from its default value can affect performance. The size must match user requirements and the load placed on the machine.

NIC

This page does not appear when you are creating Remote PC Access catalogs.

On the Network Interface Cards page, if you plan to use multiple NICs, associate a virtual network with each card. For example, you can assign one card to access a specific secure network, and another card to access a more commonly used network. You can also add or remove NICs from this page.

Machine accounts

This page appears only when creating Remote PC Access catalogs.

On the Machine Accounts page, specify the Active Directory machine accounts or Organizational Units (OUs) to add that correspond to users or user groups. Do not use a forward slash (/) in an OU name.

When adding OUs, you can do the following if the domain is not shown in the list:

  • Search for it using an exact match.
  • Browse all domains to find it.

You can choose a previously configured power management connection or elect not to use power management. If you want to use power management but a suitable connection hasn’t been configured yet, you can create that connection later and then edit the machine catalog to update the power management settings.

Machine identities

This page appears only when using MCS to create VMs.

Each machine in the catalog must have a unique identity. This page lets you configure identities for machines in the catalog. The machines are joined to the identity after they are provisioned. You cannot change the identity type after you create the catalog.

A general workflow to configure settings on this page is as follows:

  1. Select an identity from the list.
  2. Indicate whether to create accounts or use existing ones, and the location (domain) for those accounts.

You can select one of the following options:

Important:

  • If you select On-premises Active Directory or Hybrid Azure Active Directory joined as the identity type, each machine in the catalog must have a corresponding Active Directory computer account.

If you create accounts, you must have permission to create computer accounts in the OU where the machines reside. Each machine in the catalog must have a unique name. Specify the account naming scheme for the machines you want to create. For more information, see Machine account naming scheme.

Note:

Make sure that OU names do not use forward slashes (/).

If you use existing accounts, browse to the accounts or click Import and specify a .csv file containing account names. The imported file content must use the format:

  • [ADComputerAccount] ADcomputeraccountname.domain

Ensure that there are enough accounts for all the machines you are adding. The Web Studio interface manages those accounts. Therefore, either allow that interface to reset the passwords for all the accounts or specify the account password, which must be the same for all accounts.

For catalogs containing physical or existing machines, select or import existing accounts and assign each machine to both an Active Directory computer account and to a user account.

Machine account naming scheme

Each machine in a catalog must have a unique name. You must specify a machine account naming scheme when creating a catalog. Use wildcards (hash marks) as placeholders for sequential numbers or letters that appear in the name.

When specifying a naming scheme, be aware of the following rules:

  • The naming scheme must contain at least one wildcard. You must put all wildcards together.
  • The entire name, including wildcards, must contain at least 2 but no more than 15 characters. It must include at least one non-numeric and one # (wildcard) character.
  • The name must not include spaces or any of the following characters: ,~!@'$%^&.()}{\/*?"<>|=+[];:_"..
  • The name cannot end with a hyphen (-).

Also, leave enough room for growth when specifying the naming scheme. Consider this example: If you create 1,000 machine accounts with the scheme “veryverylong#”, the last account name created (veryverylong1000) contains 16 characters. Therefore, the naming scheme will result in one or more machine names that exceed the maximum of 15 characters.

You can indicate whether the sequential values are numbers (0-9) or letters (A-Z):

  • 0-9. If selected, the specified wildcards resolve to sequential numbers.

    Note:

    If there is only one wildcard (#), the account names start with 1. If there are two, the account names start with 01. If there are three, the account names start with 001, and so on.

  • A-Z. If selected, the specified wildcards resolve to sequential letters.

For example, a naming scheme of PC-Sales-## (with 0-9 selected) results in accounts named PC-Sales-01, PC-Sales-02, PC-Sales-03, and so on.

Optionally, you can specify what the account names start with.

  • If you select 0-9, accounts are named sequentially, starting with the specified numbers. Enter one or more digits, depending on how many wildcards you use in the preceding field. For example, if you use two wildcards, enter two digits or more.
  • If you select A-Z, accounts are named sequentially, starting with the specified letters. Enter one or more letters, depending on how many wildcards you use in the preceding field. For example, if you use two wildcards, enter two letters or more.

Domain credentials

Select Enter credentials and enter credentials of an administrator with permission to perform account operations in the target Active Directory domain.

Use the Check name option to check whether the user name is valid or unique. The option is useful, for example, when:

  • The same user name exists in multiple domains. You are prompted to select the desired user.
  • You can’t remember the domain name. You can enter the user name without specifying the domain name. If the check passes, the domain name populates automatically.

Note:

If the identity type you selected in Machine Identities is Hybrid Azure Active Directory joined, the credentials you enter must have been granted the Write userCertificate permission.

Summary, name, and description

On the Summary page, review the settings you specified. Enter a name and description for the catalog. This information appears in Web Studio.

When you’re done, click Finish to start the catalog creation. When you’re done, select Finish to start the catalog creation.

In Machine Catalogs, the new catalog appears with an inline progress bar.

To view details of the creation progress:

  1. Hover the mouse over the machine catalog.

  2. In the tooltip that appears, click View details.

    A step-by-step progress graph appears where you can see the following:

    • History of steps
    • Progress and running time of the current step
    • Remaining steps

MCS time synchronization

Time synchronization is determined by the master image and the type of machine identity joined catalog. You get the following time synchronization method according to the master image and the catalog:

Master image Catalog Resultant time synchronization method
NDJ AD or Hybrid Azure AD By default, NT5DS. You can disable MCS from changing time synchronization setting using registry settings in the master image
NDJ NDJ or Azure AD Same as the original time synchronization setting
AD or Hybrid Azure AD AD or Hybrid Azure AD Same as the original time synchronization setting
Azure AD Azure AD Same as the original time synchronization setting

Note:

The original time synchronization is controlled by the following registry setting and cannot be changed:

  • Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Config

Value: MaxAllowedPhaseOffset, MaxNegPhaseCorrection, and MaxPosPhaseCorrection

  • Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Parameters

Value: Type

To disable MCS from changing the time synchronization setting, set the value of the following registry setting in the master image:

  • Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Citrix
  • Name: TimeSyncMethodKeep
  • Type: DWORD
  • 0 (Or, value TimeSyncMethodKeep not configured): Does not keep original time synchronization setting.
  • 1: Keeps original time synchronization setting and default parameters values.

Important consideration about setting custom properties

Custom properties must be set correctly at New-ProvScheme and Set-ProvScheme in GCP and Azure environments. If you specify non-existing custom property or properties, you get the following error message, and the commands fail to run.

  • In Azure: Invalid property found: <invalid property>. Ensure that the CustomProperties parameter supports the property.
  • In GCP: Invalid property found: <invalid property>. Ensure that the value supplied for the property is supported in the Hypervisor.

Troubleshoot

Important:

After creating the machine catalog using Web Studio, you can no longer use the Get-ProvTask PowerShell command to retrieve the tasks associated with machine catalog creation. This restriction is a result of Web Studio deleting those tasks after machine catalog creation regardless of whether the catalog is created successfully.

Citrix recommends collecting logs to help the Support team provide solutions. When using Citrix Provisioning, use the following procedure to generate log files:

  1. On the master image, create the following registry key with the value of 1 (as a DWORD (32-bit) value): HKLM\Software\Citrix\MachineIdentityServiceAgent\LOGGING.

  2. Shut down the master image and create a snapshot.

  3. On the Delivery Controller, run the following PowerShell command: Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_NoAutoShutdown -Value $True.

  4. Create a catalog based on that snapshot.
  5. When the preparation VM is created on the hypervisor, log in and extract the following files from the root of C:\: Image-prep.log and PvsVmAgentLog.txt.
  6. Shut down the machine, at which point it reports the failure.
  7. Run the following PowerShell command to re-enable auto shutdown of the image preparation machines: Remove-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_NoAutoShutdown.

Image preparation issues

Because MCS creates many machines from a single image, some steps are performed to ensure that all machines are unique and correctly licensed. Image preparation is a part of the catalog creation process. This preparation ensures that all provisioned machines have unique IP addresses and correctly announce themselves to the KMS server as unique instances. Within MCS, image preparation occurs after selecting the master image snapshot. A copy is made to enable the catalog to isolate itself from the selected machine. A preparation VM is created, based on the original VM, but with the network connection disconnected. Disconnecting the network connection prevents conflicts with other machines, while ensuring that prepared VM is only attached to the newly copied disk.

A small instruction disk, containing the steps required to run the image preparation, is attached to the prepared VM. This prepared VM starts and the image preparation process begins. Image preparation includes the following processes:

  • Enable DHCP. Enabling DHCP ensures that provisioned machines don’t cause IP address conflicts. DHCP is enabled on all network cards.
  • Microsoft Windows KMS Rearm. Rearming KMS ensures that Microsoft Windows is correctly licensed. The rearmed OS is invoked so it is correctly reported as a new instance to the KMS license server.
  • Microsoft Office KMS Rearm (if Microsoft Office is installed). Rearming Microsoft Office ensures that any version of Microsoft Office (2010+) is registered correctly with their KMS server. Once Microsoft Office rearm is invoked, it reports as a new instance to the KMS license server.

Tip:

When the image preparation process finishes, the instruction disk is obtained from the hypervisor. The hypervisor contains the information gleaned from the image preparation process.

There are various reasons that the image preparation stage can fail. A failure message similar to the following appears: Image Preparation Office Rearm Failed.

These failures are discussed below.

Enable DHCP

These failure cases are caused by network cards that do not support static IP addresses. For example, earlier versions of Dell SonicWall network cards. The operation failed as a SonicWall card is a firewall network card, so setting the card to DHCP makes no sense as that only supports DHCP. This was fixed later versions of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. However, if it is seen on other types of network cards it should be reported to Citrix via the forums or your support contact.

Note:

This PowerShell setting in the following examples is applied to the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops site, so it affects all new catalogs and image updates performed to existing catalogs.

If you encounter this issue with other network cards, you can resolve it by running a PowerShell command on the Delivery Controller:

Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_Excluded_Steps -Value EnableDHCP

Microsoft Office Rearm

There are various KMS rearm failures that can happen during the Microsoft Office rearm stage. The main failures are:

  • Some Microsoft Office runtimes, for example, Access Runtime, can invoke the Office rearm, causing it to fail.
  • A KMS version of Microsoft Office is not installed.
  • Rearm count exceeded.

If the error is a false positive, you can resolve it by running the following PowerShell command on the Delivery Controller:

Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_Excluded_Steps -Value OfficeRearm

Microsoft Windows Rearm

Various KMS failures can happen during the Microsoft Windows rearm stage. The main failures are:

  • The version of Windows installed is not activated using KMS. For example, it is using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK).
  • Rearm count exceeded.

If the version of Microsoft Windows is correctly licensed, you can clear OS rearm by running the following PowerShell command on the Delivery Controller:

Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_Excluded_Steps -Value OsRearm

Instances of complete failure

The image preparation machine is not connected to the network by design, this means that sometimes the image preparation stage can only report a complete failure. An example of this failure type resembles: Preparation of the Master VM Image failed. Make sure the selected image has a supported OS (for example, Windows 7) and the correct version of the VDA (7.0 or later) installed.

The main reasons for a complete failure are:

Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) is not installed, or VDA version 5.x is installed

If the VDA 7.x is not installed on the master image, then image preparation times out after 20 minutes and report the above error. This is because there is no software installed on the master image to run the image preparation stage and report success or failure. To resolve this, make sure the VDA (minimum version 7) is installed on the snapshot selected as the master image.

DISKPART SAN Policy

The whole image preparation stage can fail due to the DISKPART SAN policy set on the master image. If it is not set to bring the image preparation instructions disk online, the machine is shut down and Image preparation reports a failure after 20 minutes. To check this on the master image run the following commands:

C:\>; Diskpart.exe
DISKPART>; San
<!--NeedCopy-->

This command returns the current policy. If it is not Online All, change it by running the following command:

DISKPART>; San policy=OnlineAll

Shut down the master image, create a snapshot of that machine and then use that as the base MCS image.

If image preparation fails for another reason

If image preparation is failing and there is no clear reason for failure, you can bypass the image preparation process when creating an MCS catalog. However, bypassing this process can cause issues with KMS licensing and networking (DHCP) on your site. Use the following PowerShell command:

Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_DoImagePreparation -Value $false
<!--NeedCopy-->

Whenever possible, collect logs for the Citrix Support team Either report the issue to Citrix via the forums or via your support contact. To collect logs:

  1. On the master image create the following registry key with the value of 1 (as a “DWORD (32-bit) value”): HKLM\Software\Citrix\MachineIdentityServiceAgent\LOGGING.
  2. Shut down the master image and create a snapshot. On the Delivery Controller, start PowerShell, with the Citrix PowerShell snap-ins loaded, and run Set-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_NoAutoShutdown -Value $True.
  3. Create a catalog based on that snapshot.
  4. When the preparation VM is created on the hypervisor, log in and extract from the root of C::
Image-prep.log
PvsVmAgentLog.txt
<!--NeedCopy-->

Shut the machine down. At this point it reports the failure.

Run from following PowerShell command to re-enable auto shutdown of the image preparation machines:

Remove-ProvServiceConfigurationData -Name ImageManagementPrep_NoAutoShutdown

Where to go next

For information on creating specific cloud services catalogs, see:

If this is the first catalog created, Web Studio guides you to create a delivery group.

To review the entire configuration process, see Install and configure.

You can create a Citrix Provisioning catalog using the Full Configuration interface and PowerShell. This implementation provides you the following advantages:

  • A single unified console to manage both MCS and Citrix Provisioning catalogs.
  • Have new features for Citrix Provisioning catalogs, such as, identity management solution, on-demand provisioning and so on.

Currently, this feature is available only for Azure workloads. For more information, see Create Citrix Provisioning catalogs in Citrix Studio.

More information