Product Documentation

Creating vDisks

This section provides the information and tasks necessary to create a new base vDisk image.

vDisks act as a hard disk for a target device and exist as disk image files on a Provisioning Server or on a shared storage device. A vDisk consists of a VHDX base image file, any associated properties files (.pvp), and if applicable, a chain of referenced VHDX differencing disks (.avhdx).

When creating a vDisk image file, keep the following facts in mind:

  • You can create as many vDisk image files as needed, as long as you have enough space available on the Provisioning Server, or on the storage device containing the vDisk image files.
  • vDisk files use FAT or NTFS file systems for Microsoft operating systems.
  • Depending upon the file system used to store the vDisk, the maximum size of a VHDX file (vDisk) is 2 terabytes (NTFS) or 4096MB (FAT).
  • A vDisk may be shared (Standard Image) by one or more target devices, or it can exist for only one target device to access (Private Image).

Creating a new vDisk is the first stage in the lifecycle of a vDisk. To create a vDisk basically requires preparing the master target device for imaging, creating and configuring a vDisk file where the vDisk will reside, and then imaging the master target device to that file; resulting in a new base vDisk image. This process can be performed automatically, using the Imaging Wizard, or manually. Provisioning Services also provides the option to create a commom image for use with a single target platform or for use with multiple target platforms.

Note:

Your administrator role determines what displays and which tasks you can perform in the Console. For example, you can view and manage vDisks in sites in which you are a site administrator. However, unless the farm administrator sets a site as the owner of a store, the site administrator can not perform store management tasks.

Tip:

Citrix only supports automated vDisk capture; additional steps require a vDisk attached to the machine being captured (which ensures that a P2PVS switch can be used with P2PVS or ImagingWizard). Use automation steps to accommodate such scenarios.

The following provides an overview of the steps necessary to create a vDisk automatically and manually.

Automatically creating a vDisk image using the Imaging Wizard

This is the recommended method for creating new vDisk images.

Image of the vDisk image workflow

Note:

The master target device, physical or virtual, is prepared by installing and configuring the operating system of choice, as well as any applications that should be included in the base vDisk image. For details, refer to Preparing the Master Target Device.

To image the master target device, run the Imaging Wizard to automatically create a new vDisk file on a Provisioning Server or shared storage, and then image the master target device to that file.

Manually creating a vDisk file then creating the image using Provisioning Services imaging

This is the optional method used to create new vDisk images.

Image of the vDisk image creation method

  1. The master target device, physical or virtual, is prepared by installing and configuring the operating system of choice, as well as any applications that should be included in the base vDisk image. A vDisk file is then created on a Provisioning Server or shared storage, which can be accessed by any Provisioning Server that will provide the vDisk. The file must be mounted, formatted, then unmounted manually. This can be accomplished from the Console or from the target device.

    Note:

    In the Console, a new vDisk file can be created by right-clicking on the vDisk Pool or the Store, and then selecting the Create new vDisk menu option. Once created, vDisks display in the details pane when a site’s vDisk pool is selected, or when a store in the farm is selected.

  2. The master target device is imaged to the new vDisk file using the Provisioning Services imaging utility.

    Note:

    As a physical to virtual conversion tool, the imaging utility can convert a server or desktop workload from an online physical machine running Windows to a XenServer virtual machine or Provisioning Services vDisk. As a virtual-to-virtual tool, the imaging utility can convert a server or desktop workload from an offline virtual machine or disk, containing any guest operating system, to a XenServer VM.

Creating vDisk files manually

The following procedure describes how to create a vDisk file manually:

  1. In the Console tree, right-click on the vDisk Pool in the site where you want to add those vDisks, then select the Create vDisk menu option. The Create vDisk dialog appears.
  2. If you accessed this dialog from the site’s vDisk pool, in the drop-down menu, select the store where this vDisk should reside. If you accessed this dialog from the store, from the drop-down menu, select the site where this vDisk will be added.
  3. In the Server used to create the vDisk drop-down menu, select the Provisioning Server that will create the vDisk.
  4. Type a filename for the vDisk. Optionally, type a description for this new vDisk in the description textbox.
  5. In the Size text box, scroll to select the appropriate size to allocate for this vDisk file. If the disk storing the vDisk images is formatted with NTFS, the limit is approximately 2 terabytes. On FAT file systems, the limit is 4096 MB.
  6. In the VHDX Format text box, select the format as either Fixed or Dynamic (2040 GB for VHDX emulating SCSI; 127 GB for VHDX emulating IDE). If the VHDX format is Dynamic, from the VHDX block size drop-down, select the block size as either 2 MB or 16 MB.
  7. Click Create vDisk, a progress dialog opens. Depending on the disk size and other factors, it may take several minutes or more to create the vDisk. After the vDisk is successfully created, it displays in the Console’s details pane and is ready to be formatted.
  8. Right-click on the vDisk in the Console, then select Mount vDisk. The vDisk icon displays with an orange arrow if mounted properly.

A vDisk image can not be assigned to, or boot from a target device until that target device exists in the Provisioning Services database. After creating the target device, in the Console, select the Hard Disk boot option.

About the common vDisk image feature

The Common Image feature allows a single vDisk to simultaneously be supported by multiple target device platforms, greatly reducing the number of vDisks an administrator must maintain. The procedure for creating a common image depends on the target device platform.

Supported target device platforms include:

Create common images for use with XenServer VMs and physical devices, or blade servers

XenServer Platinum Edition enables the provisioning of physical and virtual servers from the same workload image.

Prerequisites:

  • Appropriate XenServer Platinum Licensing.
  • Support for PXE on the local network.
  • DHCP must be installed and configured on the local network.

Select from the following target device platforms:

  • Create a common image that boots from a physical or virtual server.
  • Create a common image that boots from a blade server.

Create a common image that boots from a physical or virtual server

To create a common image that boots from a physical or virtual machine, complete the procedures as follows.

Prepare the Master Target Device

Install a supported Windows Operating System with the latest patches and device drivers on a physical machine. This physical machine will serve as the master target device.

Install the Provisioning Services Target Device Software

  1. Log onto the master target device as a domain administrator, or a domain user (with local install privileges).
  2. Install the Provisioning Server Target Device software on the physical machine.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts by selecting installation default settings.
  4. When prompted, reboot the master target device from the hard disk drive.

Install XenConvert Software

XenConvert software and installation instructions can be downloaded from either the Provisioning Services product download site or the XenServer product download site.

After successfully installing XenConvert on the target device:

  1. Run XenConvert on the target device to convert the physical machine into a XenServer VM.

  2. Set the VM’s vCPU setting to be the same as the physical system’s vCPU setting.

    Note:

    This very step is important for NT5 OS.

  3. Change the XenServer VM MAC (it is using the Physical system’s MAC address of the NIC), or remove the NIC and add a new NIC.

  4. Boot the XenServer VM.

Install XenServer Tools

  1. Log onto the master target device as a domain administrator, or a domain user (with local install privileges).
  2. Run windows-pvdrivers-xensetup.exe, which can be downloaded from on the XenServer Product installation CD or product download site. The Citrix XenServer Windows Tools Setup warning dialog appears.
  3. Click Yes to continue the install.
  4. Follow the onscreen prompts and select the default settings. At the Choose Install Location dialog box, click Install.
  5. When prompted by Windows Plug and Play dialogs, select the option to find drivers automatically.
  6. When prompted select Yes for any unsigned driver dialog.
  7. When prompted,Rebootmaster target device.
  8. Verify that Provisioning Services successfully binded to the XenServer NIC and the physical systems NIC.

Image the Provisioning Server Master Target Device

Use either the Provisioning Services Imaging Wizard or XenConvert to create the XenServer vDisk image. When creating the vDisk image, you must select to optimize target device settings. Otherwise the VM may fail to boot.

After successfully creating the XenServer vDisk image, boot both the physical and virtual machines in Standard Image mode.

For details on using the Provisioning Services Imaging Wizard, refer to Using the Imaging Wizard. For details on using XenConvert to create the XenServer vDisk image, refer to XenConvert product documentation on the Provisioning Services or XenServer product download site.

Create a common image that boots from a blade server

To create a common image using the common hard drive method that boots from heterogeneous Blade servers, complete the steps that follow.

  1. Use the Console to create a new vDisk file.
  2. Log onto the blade server to create a new system:

    a. Install the OS on the new machine.

    b. Install HP System Pack (installs all drivers.

    c. Install all necessary Windows updates.

    d. Install Provisioning Services target device software.

  3. PXE boot from the new system’s hard disk drive, then verify that the system can recognize the vDisk. The vDisk is shown from “My Computer” as a partition.
  4. Physically move the HDD or HDDs in a RAID system to the other system (usually the older system).
  5. Boot from the new systems hard disk drive.
  6. After Windows installs the driver’s, reboot when prompted.
  7. Verify that NIC drivers installed correctly.
  8. PXE boot from the hard disk drive on the second system.
  9. Use either the Provisioning Services Imaging Wizard or XenConvert to create the vDisk image.
  10. After imaging completes, shut down the system.
  11. Set both systems to boot from the vDisk.
  12. On the Console, change the vDisk mode to standard cache on local hard disk drive.

Create a common image for use with multiple physical device types

Using the common NIC method, a single vDisk can simultaneously support different motherboards, network cards, video cards and other hardware devices. The result is a vDisk capable of being used by heterogeneous target devices, greatly reducing the number an administrator must maintain. Use the information in this article to create a common image for physical devices.

Prerequisites

  • Make sure all target devices using the common image have the a consistent HAL; they must have the same number of logical processors.

    Tip:

    A single processor, hyper-threading capable system is considered to have two logical processors when hyper-threading is enabled in the BIOS.

  • The BIOS structure, presented to the OS during the boot process, must be of the same format for all target devices that share a Standard Image. The BIOS Structure contains a list of all the components connected to the motherboard so that the appropriate drivers are loaded to allow the components to function properly.
  • Have either a 3Com Managed PC Boot Agent (MBA) or a PXE-compliant NIC available. This card is the common NIC that is inserted into each target device during the Common Image build process.
  • Install all the latest device drivers on each target device.
  • Device drivers are missing if devices do not respond after you configure the common image. For example, if a target device’s USB mouse and keyboard do not respond after you assign the common image to the target device, it is likely that you have not installed drivers for that target device’s chipset. Go to device manager and check to insure no yellow exclamation mark appears on any devices, especially USB Root HUBs and controllers.
  • Determine which target device contains the latest motherboard chipset. This target device is used as the first target device in the common image build process. The latest Intel chipset driver always contains all the drivers for the previous chipset, therefore it is not necessary to install as many drivers when you build the common image.
  • Except on the first target device, disable built-in NICs on all target devices that will use the common image (leave the built-in NIC on the first target device enabled). This prevents confusion about which NIC to use during the common image building process.
  • Install Provisioning Services components.

Building the common image

To build a common image:

  • Configure the master target device
  • Export specific data files
  • Boot the master target device
  • Add additional target devices to the common image

Important:

When building the common image, create a vDisk that has enough space to accommodate additional information that is added by the common image build process.

Configuring the master target device

  1. Insert the common NIC into the Master Target Device.
  2. Install the target device software on the Master Target Device. Select both the common NIC and built-in NICs during the installation process.
  3. Create a vDisk, then mount, format, and unmount it. You must create a vDisk that has enough space to accommodate additional information added by the common image build process.
  4. Run the Imaging Wizard on the target device to build the vDisk.
  5. (Recommended) Make a copy of the original vDisk created in Step 3 and save it in the vDisk directory on the Provisioning Server.
  6. On the first target device, copy CIM.exe from C:\Program Files\Citrix\Provisioning Services to a removable storage device, such as a USB flash drive. This utility is used to include disparate target devices in the common image.
  7. Shut down the Master Target Device and remove the common NIC.

Exporting specific data files

  1. Insert the common NIC into a target device that will be added to the common image, then boot the target device from its local hard drive.

    Note:

    Although the Windows OS must be installed on this target device, the target device software does not have to be installed.

  2. Copy CIM.exe from the removable storage device to this target device.

  3. At a command prompt, navigate to the directory in where CIM.exe is located, then run the following command to extract the information form the target device into the .dat file:

    CIM.exe e targetdeviceName.dat

    where targetdeviceName identifies the first target device that will use the common image. For example,TargetDevice1.dat.

    Copy the .dat file created in Step 3 to the removable storage device.

  4. Shut down the target device and remove the common NIC.

Note:

To include additional target devices with disparate hardware in the common image, repeat this procedure for each device, giving each .dat file a unique name.

Booting the master target device

  1. Reinsert the common NIC into the Master Target Device. Insert the NIC into the same slot from which it was removed during the Configuring the Master Target Device procedure. Before booting the Master Target Device, enter the BIOS setup and verify that the common NIC is the NIC used in the boot process.

  2. Using the common NIC, boot the Master Target Device from the vDisk, in Private Image mode.

  3. Copy CIM.exe and the .dat file associated with the first target device from the removable storage device to the Master Target Device.

  4. At a command prompt, navigate to the directory where the CIM.exe and the .dat file are located.

  5. Run the following command to merge the information from the .dat file into the common image:

    CIM.exe m targetdeviceName.dat

  6. Shut down the Master Target Device.

Adding additional target devices to the common image

  1. Insert the common NIC into additional target devices that will be included in the Common Image. Insert the NIC into the same slot from which it was removed in the Exporting Specific Data Files procedure.

  2. Using the common NIC, boot the target device off the vDisk in Private Image mode.

  3. Allow Windows time to discover and configure all the device drivers on the target device (this will take some time). If prompted by the “Found New Hardware Wizard” to install new hardware, Cancel out of the wizard and proceed to Step 4.

    Note:

    If Windows can’t install drivers for the built-in NIC on a target device, and the drivers can not be installed manually, the common NIC and the target device’s built-NIC are very similar to each other and the driver installation program tries to update the driver for both NICs. For example, this happens if the common NIC is an Intel Pro 100/s and the target device’s built-in NIC is an Intel Pro 100+. To resolve this conflict, openSystem Properties. On the Hardware tab, click theDevice Managerbutton. In the Device Manager list, right-click the built-in NIC and clickUpdate Driverto start the Hardware Update Wizard. ChooseInstallfrom a list or specific location and specify the location of the NIC’s driver files.

  4. Open Network Connections, right-click the connection for the built-in NIC and click Propertiesin the menu that appears. (The icon for the built-in NIC is marked with a red X.)

  5. Under This connection uses the following items, selec tNetwork Stack and click OK.

  6. From a command prompt, run the following command:

    C:\Program Files\Citrix\Provisioning Server\regmodify.exe

    Note:

    After completing Steps 4-6, reboot the target device and allow Windows to discover and configure any remaining devices. If prompted by the “Found New Hardware Wizard” to install new hardware, proceed through the Wizard to complete the hardware installation.

  7. Using the original vDisk, repeat Step1 through Step 6 for each of the additional target devices to be included in the Common Image.

  8. Once target devices have been included in the Common Image, on the Console, set the disk access mode for the Common Image vDisk to Standard Image mode, then boot the devices.