Citrix Provisioning

Deploying virtual desktops to VMs using the XenDesktop Setup Wizard

Using a Provisioning Services streamed vDisk, the Provisioning Services XenDesktop Setup Wizard (XDSW) assists in deploying virtual desktops to virtual machines (VMs) as well as to devices that use personal vDisks.


The PVS server must have direct access to the storage device to facilitate communication. The PVS user must have read\write access to the storage device to ensure successful provisioning with the HDD BDM.

The wizard:

  • creates VMs on a XenDesktop-hosted hypervisor using an existing machine template:
    • XenServer
    • ESX via V-Center
    • Hyper-V using SCVMM (when provisioning to a SCVMM server, the wizard automatically changes the network configuration of both the first legacy NIC and the second synthetic NIC for Gen 1 VMs). Refer to the SCVMM section for more information.
    • Nutanix Acropolis (from snapshots). See Nutanix Acropolis requirements for more information.
  • creates Provisioning Services target devices within a new or existing Provisioning Services Device Collection matching the XenDesktop catalog name.
  • assigns a Standard Image vDisk to VMs within the Device Collection.
  • adds the target to the selected Active Directory OU.
  • adds virtual desktops to a XenDesktop catalog.


For XenDesktop SetUp Wizard provisioned Gen 2 VMs, the BDM partition is FAT formatted with a drive letter. As a result, Windows in a PVS private image should be aware of the new partition. For example, a RDS PVS image using a writecache disk and BDM partition should see 2 partitions in private image mode.

When using the Linux streaming feature, consider that a new step was added to the XenDesktop Setup Wizard. You must add the SOAP SSL certificate to ensure that the Linux target can image the vDisk through the SOAP server. Refer to theinstallation article for more information.

ESX permissions

For ESX 5.5, the minimum permissions include the following:

  • Datastore Permissions
    • Allocate space
    • Browse datastore
    • Low level file operations
  • Network Permissions
    • Assign network
  • Resource Permissions
    • Assign virtual machine to resource pool
  • System Permissions - These permissions are automatically added when you create a role in vCenter.
    • Anonymous
    • Read
    • View
  • Task Permissions
    • Create Task
  • Virtual Machine/Configuration Permissions
    • Add existing disk
    • Add new disk
    • Advanced
    • Change CPU count
    • Change resource
    • Memory
    • Modify device settings
    • Remove disk
    • Settings
  • Virtual Machine/Interaction
    • Power Off
    • Power On
    • Reset
    • Suspend
  • Virtual Machine/Inventory
    • Create New
    • Create from existing
    • Remove
    • Register
  • Virtual Machine/Provisioning
    • Clone virtual machine
    • Clone template
    • Allow disk access
    • Allow virtual machine download
    • Allow virtual machine files upload
    • Deploy template
  • Global
    • Manager custom attributes
    • Set custom attribute


Other previously supported versions of ESX may require the same permissions to work with Provisioning Services 7.x.

Write cache considerations

To minimize the time it takes to provision, the XenDesktop Set Up Wizard discards any hard disks that are attached to a template.

The wizard provisions diskless VMs if the vDisk is in Standard Image mode and cache is set as cache on the server. If the cache is server-side, Provisioning Services does not automatically boot the provisioned VMs.

The wizard provisions VMs with write cache drives (the default size is 6 GB and the default type is dynamic), if the vDisk is in Standard Image mode and cache is set as cache on the local hard disk. To format the write cache drive, the wizard automatically boots the VMs in Standard Image mode with the cache on the server. After formatting completes, VMs are automatically shut down, then XenDesktop can boot the VMs as necessary.

If the write cache is stored on hypervisor local storage, configuring deployment through the XenDesktop Setup wizard varies depending on your hypervisor:

  • On XenServer, VMs are spread across multiple local storage resources. Create the template without storage (network boot).
  • On ESX and Hyper-V, you cannot use the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Setup Wizard to provision VMs if you are using hypervisor local storage.


When specifying names associated with storage devices, do not use a comma (,). Names associated with storage devices are retained by XenDesktop and separated by commas. For example, Storage 1, Storage 2, Storage 3. If a storage name includes a comma (for instance, ‘Storage1,East’) PVS erroneously recognizes this as two separate storage devices.

Virtual disk types

VMs provisioned through the XenDesktop Setup Wizard have new disks created and attached for local Provisioning Services write cache use. The default virtual disk types created are:

  • “Fixed” or “dynamic” depending upon the storage repository used in XenServer
  • “Dynamic” for SCVMM 2012 SP1
  • “Fixed” for SCVMM 2012
  • “Thin-provisioned” for ESX

There is a reg key to override the default types of write cache disks created by provisioning deployments on SCVMM and ESX. This does not apply to XenServer. To force “fixed” (or “eager-zeroed thick” for ESX):



Setting this same key to “false” will override to dynamic. Remove the key to return to default behavior.

Run the wizard

Run the wizard directly from the Provisioning Services Console or from a remote console.

  1. Right-click on any Site icon in the Console tree panel, then select the XenDesktop Setup Wizard… menu option. The XenDesktop Setup Wizard appears.

  2. Click Next to begin setup.

  3. On the XenDesktop Host page, enter the location of the XenDesktop Host address to connect to and to configure. The most recently used XenDesktop Controller (name or IP) is cached in the registry of the local machine running this instance of the Console.

  4. Select a XenDesktop host. If you choose a cluster, machines are evenly distributed across the hosts cluster.

    Note: XenServer 5.5 Update 2 virtualization settings do not display. These setting are added in XenDesktop as host connections using the Manually create VMs option. As a result, you cannot specify a network or storage location for them, therefore it is not listed in the XenDesktop Setup Wizard.

  5. Supply the host credentials (Username and Password).

  6. From the list of available templates, select the template to use for the host you chose. If using a previous version of the VDA or if the template is built using Windows Vista, select the check box. Valid templates must have a dynamic MAC address or a static address with a value (00:00:00:00:00:00 is not a valid MAC address).

  7. If there is more than one network available for the Virtualizations Settings, a page displays so you can select the appropriate network.

  8. Select a single Standard Image mode vDisk to assign to the collection of VMs.

  9. Create a new catalog or use an existing catalog from a previous release (Vista or Windows 7 with VDA 5.6). The options available depend on which catalog option you select:

    • If you chose to create a new catalog, provide a name and description for that catalog. Appropriate machine types include:
      • Windows Client Operating System – best for delivering personalized desktops to users, or delivering applications to users from desktop operating systems. Provides the option to save a user’s changes to a Personal vDisk.
      • Windows Server Operating System – best for delivering hosted shared desktops for a large-scale deployment of standardized machines or applications, or both.
      • Note that vGPU is supported only on desktop operating systems.
    • If you select an existing catalog using the drop-down menu, that catalog’s description, machine type, assignment type, and user data (if applicable) display.
  10. Select VM preferences. Preferences vary depending on the machine OS type and whether or not assigned user changes are discarded after the session ends.

    1. For Windows Client or Windows Server machines that are randomly assigned to users who do not require a personal vDisk:
      • Number of VMs to create (default is 1)
      • vCPUs (default is based on the previously selected template)
      • If the template has dynamic memory configured, two additional configuration settings are required (minimum and maximum memory).
      • Local write cache disk (default is 6 GB)
      • Boot mode; PXE boot (requires a running PXE service). BDM disk (creates a partition for the Boot Device Manager file).
    2. For Windows Client machines that are either randomly assigned or statically assigned to users who can save their changes to their personal vDisk, in addition to the preferences listed in option a above, the following preferences display:
      • Personal vDisk size (default is 10 GB). When booting a target device from a personal vDisk, the vDisk’s OS partition, C:\ by default, only shows the amount of space allocated to the personal vDisk, not the true size of the personal vDisk.
      • Personal vDisk drive letter (default is P). The drive letter the target device uses for the personal vDisk. The range allowed is between E: to U: and W: to Z:.
  11. Choose the appropriate method for adding Active Directory computer accounts:

    • Create new accounts
    • Import existing accounts

    The page that displays depends on which Active Directory method you select.

  12. To Create new accounts: An Active Directory administrator needs to delegate rights to the Provisioning Services Console user to allow Active Directory account creation or modification to manage computer account passwords.

    • Select the appropriate domain from the Domain drop-down box, then select from the OUs listed for that domain. The domain and OU default to those of the current user.
    • Select the machine-naming option from the Account naming scheme drop-down text box. Enter a valid naming scheme consisting of at least one hash symbol (#) that is 15 characters or less. Additionally, select a number/character fill option that will dynamically replace the hash symbols in the specified naming scheme, incrementing by one for each VM as they are created.
  13. To Import existing accounts:

    • Click Browse to browse for the appropriate OU to import, or click Import to import an existing .csv file in the following format:



      The Required count displays the number of VMs previously specified. The Added count displays the number of entries in the list. If you import machine account names that already exist in any of the following locations, they are not valid and do not display in the list; XenDesktop (as a machine), PVS (as a device), on the hypervisor (as a VM). If the AD structure contains a large number of objects or containers, or you are importing a large amount of machine accounts, the import may take a while as it must validate that each imported account does not already exist in Provisioning Services, XenDesktop, and the destination hypervisor. If this is the case, you should receive feedback in the form of an hour glass cursor while the import completes.

  14. Review all configuration settings. After confirming, the following actions take place one at a time across all hosts until configurations are complete:

    • If applicable, create a XenDesktop catalog
    • Create VMs on a host’s hypervisor using the machine template
    • Create BDM partitions, if specified
    • If using a Streamed with personal vDisk Catalog, create a personal vDisk, then attach the personal vDisk to the VM
    • Create a write cache disk of the specified size
    • Create Provisioning Services target devices then assign the selected vDisk to those devices
    • Add the target devices to the selected Provisioning Services Collection
    • Add the VMs to the XenDesktop catalog
    • Boot each VM to format the newly created write cache disk

If you cancel during the configuration, you must manually remove the following:

  • XenDesktop machines from the assigned catalog
  • Active Directory computer accounts that were created.
  • Newly created XenDesktop catalogs.
  • Provisioning Services target devices created in the selected device collection.
  • VMs created on any of the selected host hypervisors.

vDisks can be updated and reassigned to a target device that uses personal vDisks. However, the base disk must be of the same operating system and must have the machine SID. To accomplish this, copy the target device’s currently assigned base vDisk image, update the image to include new Provisioning Services software and drivers, then reassigning the updated vDisk to the target device. To reassign the vDisk, use the vDisk Properties Assign vDisk dialog on the Console.

Nutanix Acropolis requirements

The following are required when using Provisioning Services with Nutanix Acropolis:

  • An installed Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor plugin for PVS.
  • A XenDesktop host connection to AHV.
  • Nutanix Acropolis platform version 5.1.1 or greater.


Unique to AHV provisioning is the requirement to choose a container.

Important considerations when using Nutanix Acropolis hypervisors

When using Nutanix, consider the following:

  • Only the XenDesktop Setup Wizard is supported, not the Streamed VM Wizard.
  • Acropolis hypervisors use snapshots and not templates for VMs.
  • It’s considered best practice that a snapshot does not have an attached hard disk because the Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor does not remove the hard disk during provisioning.
  • To deploy machines that boot from BDM ISOs, the ISO should be mounted in the snapshot. The provisioned VMs will be set to use PXE boot and must be manually changed to boot from virtual optical drive.
  • For PXE booting, you must use a command line option to set the VM boot order to network prior to imaging.


For information related to the configuration and use of Nutanix Acropolis hypervisors, refer to the Nutanix documentation portal.

SCVMM requirements

Consider the following:

  • You cannot provision vGPU-enabled VMs on Hyper-V.
Deploying virtual desktops to VMs using the XenDesktop Setup Wizard