XenApp and XenDesktop

Server VDI

Use the Server VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) feature to deliver a desktop from a server operating system for a single user.

  • Enterprise administrators can deliver server operating systems as VDI desktops, which can be valuable for users such as engineers and designers.
  • Service Providers can offer desktops from the cloud; those desktops comply with the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA).

You can use the Enhanced Desktop Experience Citrix policy setting to make the server operating system look like a desktop operating system.

The following features cannot be used with Server VDI:

  • Personal vDisks
  • Hosted applications
  • Local App Access
  • Direct (non-brokered) desktop connections
  • Remote PC Access

For Server VDI to work with TWAIN devices such as scanners, the Windows Server Desktop Experience feature must be installed. In Windows Server 2012, this is an optional feature which you install from Administrative Tools > Server Manager > Features > Add features > Desktop Experience.

Server VDI is supported on the same server operating systems as the VDA for Windows Server OS.

To install server VDI:

Step 1. Prepare the Windows server for installation.

  • Use Windows Server Manager to ensure that the Remote Desktop Services role services are not installed. If they were previously installed, remove them. (The VDA installation fails if these role services are installed.)
  • Ensure that the ‘Restrict each user to a single session’ property is enabled.

    On Windows Server 2008 R2, access this property through Administrative Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration. In the Edit settings > General section, the Restrict each user to a single session setting should indicate Yes.

    On Windows Server 2012R2 or Windows Server 2016, edit the registry to set the Terminal Server setting. In registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\TerminalServer set DWORD fSingleSessionPerUser to 1.

Step 2. For Windows Server 2008 R2, install Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 on the server before installing the VDA.

Step 3. Use the command line interface of the installer to install a VDA on a supported server or server master image, specifying the /quiet and /servervdi options. (By default, the installer’s graphical interface blocks the Windows Desktop OS VDA on a server operating system. Using the command line overrides this behavior.)

  • On-premises XenApp and XenDesktop deployments: XenDesktopVdaSetup.exe /quiet /servervdi

  • On-premises XenApp and XenDesktop or XenDesktop Service deployments: VDAWorkstationSetup.exe /quiet /servervdi

You can specify the Delivery Controller or Cloud Connector with the /controllers option.

Use the /enable_hdx_ports option to open ports in the firewall, unless the firewall is to be configured manually.

Add the /masterimage option if you are installing the VDA on an image, and will use MCS to create server VMs from that image.


Do not include options for features that are not supported with Server VDI, such as /baseimage.

Step 4. Create a machine catalog for Server VDI.

  • On the Operating System page, select Desktop OS.
  • On the Summary page, specify a machine catalog name and description for administrators that clearly identifies it as Server VDI; this will be the only indicator in Studio that the catalog supports Server VDI.
  • When using Search in Studio, the Server VDI catalog you created is displayed on the Desktop OS Machines tab, even though the VDA was installed on a server.

Step 5. Create a Delivery Group and assign the Server VDI catalog you created in the previous step.

If you did not specify the Delivery Controllers or Cloud Connector while installing the VDA, specify them afterward using the Citrix policy setting, Active Directory, or by editing the VDA machine’s registry values. See VDA registration.

Server VDI

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