XenApp and XenDesktop

Prepare to install

Deploying XenApp and XenDesktop begins with installing the following components. This process prepares for delivery of applications and desktops to users inside your firewall.

  • One or more Delivery Controllers
  • Citrix Studio
  • Citrix Director
  • Citrix StoreFront
  • Citrix License Server
  • One or more Citrix Virtual Delivery Agents (VDAs)
  • Optional components and technologies such as the Universal Print Server, the Federated Authentication Service, and Self-Service Password Reset

For users outside your firewall, install and configure an additional component, such as NetScaler. For an introduction to using NetScaler with StoreFront, see Integrate XenApp and XenDesktop with NetScaler Gateway.

How you can install components

You can use the full-product installer on the XenApp and XenDesktop ISO to deploy many components and technologies. You can use a standalone VDA installer to install VDAs. All installers offer graphical and command line interfaces. See Installers.

The product ISO contains sample scripts that install, upgrade, or remove VDAs for machines in Active Directory. You can also use the scripts to manage master images used by Machine Creation Services (MCS) and Provisioning Services (PVS). For details, see Install VDAs using scripts.

As an automated alternative to using the installers, Citrix Smart Tools uses blueprints to create a XenApp and XenDesktop deployment. For details, see Smart Tools product documentation.

Information to review before installation

  • Technical overview: If you’re unfamiliar with the product and its components.
  • Changes in 7.x: If you are moving from a XenApp 6.x or XenDesktop 5.6 deployment to the current version.
  • Security: When planning your deployment environment.
  • Known issues: Issues you might encounter in this version.
  • Databases: Learn about the system databases and how to configure them. During Controller installation, you can install SQL Server Express for use as the Site database. You configure most database information when you create a Site, after you install the core components.
  • Remote PC Access: If you’re deploying an environment that enables your users to access their physical machines in the office remotely.
  • Connections and resources: If you’re using a hypervisor or cloud service to host or provision VMs for applications and desktops. You can configure the first connection when you create a Site (after you install the core components). Set up your virtualization environment any time before then.
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager: If you’re using ConfigMgr to manage access to applications and desktops, or if you’re using the Wake on LAN feature with Remote PC Access.

Where to install components

Review the System requirements for supported platforms, operating systems, and versions. Component prerequisites are installed automatically, except as noted. See the Citrix StoreFront and the Citrix License Server documentation for their supported platforms and prerequisites.

You can install the core components on the same server or on different servers.

  • Installing all the core components on one server can work for evaluation, test, or small production deployments.
  • To accommodate future expansion, consider installing components on different servers. For example, installing Studio on a different machine than the server where you installed the Controller allows you to manage the site remotely.
  • For most production deployments, installing core components on separate servers is recommended.

You can install both a Delivery Controller and a VDA for Server OS on the same server. Launch the installer and select the Delivery Controller (plus any other core components you want on that machine). Then launch the installer again and select the Virtual Delivery Agent for Server OS.

Ensure that each operating system has the latest updates. For example, installation of a Controller on Windows Server 2012 R2 or a VDA on Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 fails if Windows update KB2919355 is not installed.

Ensure that all machines have synchronized system clocks. The Kerberos infrastructure that secures communication between the machines requires synchronization.

Optimization guidance for Windows 10 machines is available in CTX216252.

Where NOT to install components:

  • Do not install any components on an Active Directory domain controller.
  • Installing a Controller on a node in a SQL Server clustering installation, SQL Server mirroring installation, or on a server running Hyper-V is not supported.
  • Do not install Studio on a server running XenApp 6.5 Feature Pack 2 for Windows Server 2008 R2 or any earlier version of XenApp.

Permission and Active Directory requirements

You must be a domain user and a local administrator on the machines where you are installing components.

To use the standalone VDA installer, you must have elevated administrative privileges or use Run as administrator.

Configure your Active Directory domain before starting an installation.

  • System requirements lists the supported Active Directory functional levels. Active Directory contains more information.
  • You must have at least one domain controller running Active Directory Domain Services.
  • Do not install any XenApp or XenDesktop components on a domain controller.
  • Do not use a forward slash (/) when specifying Organizational Unit names in Studio.

The Windows user account used to install the Citrix License Server is automatically configured as a Delegated Administration full administrator on the license server.

For more information:

Installation guidance, considerations, and best practice

During installation of any component

Usually, if a component has prerequisites, the installer deploys them if they are not present. Some prerequisites might require a machine restart.

When you create objects before, during, and after installation, specify unique names for each object. For example, provide unique names for networks, groups, catalogs, and resources.

If a component does not install successfully, the installation stops with an error message. Components that installed successfully are retained. You do not need to reinstall them.

Analytics are collected automatically when you install (or upgrade) components. By default, that data is uploaded to Citrix automatically when the installation completes. Also, when you install components, you are automatically enrolled in the Citrix Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), which uploads anonymous data. During installation, you can also choose to participate in other Citrix technologies (such as Smart Tools) that collect diagnostics for maintenance and troubleshooting. For information about these programs, see Citrix Insight Services.

During VDA installation

The Citrix Receiver for Windows is included by default when you install a VDA, except when using the VDAWorkstationCoreSetup.exe installer. You can exclude the Citrix Receiver from the installation. You or your users can download and install (and upgrade) Citrix Receiver and other Citrix Receivers from the Citrix website. Alternatively, you can make those Citrix Receivers available from your StoreFront server.

The Print Spooler Service is enabled by default on supported Windows servers. If you disable this service, you cannot successfully install a VDA for Windows Server OS, so ensure that this service is enabled before installing a VDA.

Most supported Windows editions come with Microsoft Media Foundation already installed. If the machine on which you’re installing a VDA does not have Media Foundation (such as N editions), several multimedia features will not be installed and will not work. You can acknowledge the limitation, or end the VDA installation and restart it later, after installing Media Foundation. In the graphical interface, this choice is presented in a message. In the command line, you can use the /no_mediafoundation_ack to acknowledge the limitation.

When you install the VDA, a new local user group called Direct Access Users is created automatically. On a VDA for Desktop OS, this group applies only to RDP connections. On a VDA for Server OS, this group applies to ICA and RDP connections.

The VDA must have valid Controller addresses with which to communicate. Otherwise, sessions cannot be established. You can specify Controller addresses when you install the VDA or later. Just remember that it must be done.

Restarts after and during VDA installation

A restart is required at the end of the VDA installation. That restart occurs automatically by default.

To minimize the number of restarts needed during VDA installation:

  • Ensure that a supported .NET Framework version is installed before beginning the VDA installation.
  • For Windows Server OS machines, install and enable the RDS role services before installing the VDA.

If you do not install those prerequisites before installing the VDA:

  • If you are using the graphical interface or the command line interface without the /noreboot option, the machine restarts automatically after installing the prerequisite.
  • If you are using the command line interface with the /noreboot option, you must initiate the restart.

After each restart, run the installer or command again to continue the VDA installation.


Full-product installer

Using the full-product installer provided in the XenApp and XenDesktop ISO, you can:

  • Install, upgrade, or remove core XenApp and XenDesktop components: Delivery Controller, Studio, Director, StoreFront, License Server
  • Install or upgrade Windows VDAs for server or desktop operating systems
  • Install the Universal Print Server Ups Server component on your print servers
  • Install the Federated Authentication Service
  • Install the Self-Service Password Reset Service

To deliver a desktop from a Server OS for one user (for example, for web development), use the full-product installer’s command line interface. For details, see Server VDI.

Standalone VDA installers

Standalone VDA installers are available on the Citrix download pages. The standalone VDA installers are much smaller than the full-product ISO. They more easily accommodate deployments that:

  • Use Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) packages that are staged or copied locally
  • Have physical machines
  • Have remote offices

By default, files in the self-extracting standalone VDAs are extracted to the Temp folder. More disk space is required on the machine when extracting to the Temp folder than when using the full-product installer. However, files extracted to the Temp folder are automatically deleted after the installation completes. Alternatively, you can use the /extract command with an absolute path.

Three standalone VDA installers are available for download.


Installs a VDA for Server OS. It supports all the VDA for Server OS options that are available with the full-product installer.


Installs a VDA for Desktop OS. It supports all the VDA for Desktop OS options that are available with the full-product installer.


Installs a VDA for Desktop OS that is optimized for Remote PC Access deployments or core VDI installations. Remote PC Access uses physical machines. Core VDI installations are VMs that are not being used as a master image. It installs only the core services necessary for VDA connections such deployments. Therefore, it supports only a subset of the options that are valid with the full-product or VDAWorkstationSetup installers.

This installer does not install or contain the components used for:

  • App-V.
  • Profile management. Excluding Citrix Profile management from the installation affects Citrix Director displays. For details, see Install VDAs.
  • Machine Identity Service.
  • Personal vDisk or AppDisks.

The VDAWorkstationCoreSetup.exe installer does not install or contain a Citrix Receiver for Windows.

Using VDAWorkstationCoreSetup.exe is equivalent to using the full-product or VDAWorkstationSetup.exe installer to install a Desktop OS VDA and either:

  • In the graphical interface: Selecting the Remote PC Access option on the Environment page and clearing the Citrix Receiver check box on the Components page.
  • In the command line interface: Specifying the /remotepc and /components vda options.
  • In the command line interface: Specifying /components vda and /exclude “Citrix Personalization for App-V - VDA” “Personal vDisk” “Machine Identity Service” “Citrix User Profile Manager” “Citrix User Profile Manager WMI Plugin”.

You can install the omitted components/features later by running the full-product installer. That action installs all missing components.

Prepare to install