This article explains how to create a Platform layer that allows Layered Images to run flawlessly when deployed to Citrix MCS running on VMware vSphere. This Platform layer can also be used to package your App layers in VMware vSphere.
Prerequisites: Platform layer for Citrix MCS
When creating a Platform Layer, the software installers for your platform must be available in a location that's accessible to the Packaging Machine where you are creating the Layer.
When creating a Platform Layer for publishing images to an MCS environment, you need:
An OS Layer
Network access to App Layering Tools
Access from the Platform Layer Packaging Machine VM to the OS Machine Tools (in the installation download package).
Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) installed on the Platform Layer
The Citrix VDA installer for the Windows OS you are using must be installed on the Platform Layer.
Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC)
The Citrix DDC software must be installed on the server where the Layered Image will be published.
As part of the Connector Configuration, if you include a script to run on the newly published Layered Image, you will need the following:
- Agent - Installed and running on the DDC. This allows the appliance to run the script on the DDC.
- PowerShell Snap-in - Appropriate PowerShell Snap-in must be installed on the DDC.
Citrix resource information
The Citrix info listed in this MCS Connector Configuration topic.
VMware vSphere prerequisites
Network access to the OS Machine Tools
Access from the Packaging Machine VM in vSphere to the OS Machine Tools download (available with other App Layering downloads).
vSphere software and settings
Access to the vSphere software to install on the layer.
vSphere resource information
The vSphere info listed in vSphere Connector Configuration.
Connection Broker prerequisites
You need any installers, tools, and settings required to run your connection broker on the hypervisor you are using.
Required Tools and Settings
- App Layering OS Machine Tools download
- KMS settings, if using KMS licensing
Prepare a new Platform layer
To create a Platform Layer you prepare the layer using the Create Platform Layer wizard, deploy a Packaging Machine in your environment, install the tools and configure the settings for MCS, and finalize the Layer.
Select Layers > Platform Layers and select Create Platform Layer in the Action bar. This opens the Create Platform Layer wizard.
In the Layer Details tab, enter a Layer Name and Version, both required values. Optionally, you can also enter other values.
- In the Version Details tab:
- (Required) Enter a name for the New Version. This can be the software version or other identifying information.
- If you are adding a version to an existing layer, the Base Version field lets you choose which version to use as the starting point. The default choice is the latest version.
In the OS Layer tab, select the OS Layer you want to associate with this Platform Layer.
In the Connector tab, choose a Connector Configuration for the platform where you are creating this layer. If the configuration you need isn't listed, add a New Connector Configuration and select it from this list.
Example: If you are creating the layer in your vSphere environment, select the vSphere connector with the information needed to access the temporary storage location where you will package this layer.
- In the Platform Types tab, select This platform will be used for publishing Layered Images, and the Hypervisor, Provisioning Service, and Connection Broker to which you will be publishing the Layered Image.
Note: If you are not using a Provisioning Service or a Connection Broker, select None in that field.
In the Packaging Disk tab, enter a file name for the Packaging Disk. This disk will be used for the packaging machine (the virtual machine) where you will install the tools, as described in the next two sections.
In the Icon Assignment tab, select an icon to assign to the layer. This icon represents the layer in the Layers module.
- To use an existing image, select an image in the image box.
- To import a new image, click Browse and select an image in PNG or JPG format.
In the Confirm and Complete tab, review the details of the App Layer, enter a comment if required, and click Create Layer. Any comments you enter will appear in the Information view Audit History.
Expand the Tasks bar at the bottom of the UI, and double-click the Packaging Disk task to show the full task description.
Once the Packaging Disk has been created, the Taskbar displays the location of the Packaging Disk in your environment.
Next, you can deploy the Packaging Machine for your Layer.
Deploy a Packaging Machine
The Packaging Machine is a virtual machine where you install the tools for your selected environment.
Note: The Packaging Machine is a temporary VM that will be deleted once the new Platform Layer has been finalized.
Log into the Packaging Machine
The Task Description in the last step above) contains the location of the Packaging Machine in your environment.
- Log into your vSphere web client.
Back in the Management Console, use the instructions in the expanded Packaging Disk Task to navigate to the Packaging Machine.
- Power on the Packaging Machine.
Install the platform tools on the Packaging Machine
This section explains how to install the software to be used by the Platform Layer. This includes the hypervisor, provisioning service, and/or connection broker software that your Layered Images will need to run in the target environment.
Keep in mind that the state of the software before you finalize the layer is what the image will use.
Remote log into the Packaging Machine. Be sure to log in using the User account you used to create the OS.
Install the tools that your Layered Image will need to run in your environment. This includes any hypervisor, provisioning service, and connection broker software that you're using, along with any drivers, boot-level applications, and files needed.
If some of the installation requires a system restart, restart it manually. The Packaging Machine does not restart automatically.
Make sure the Packaging Machine is in the state you want it to be in when the image is booted:
- If the tools you install require any post-installation setup or registration, complete those steps now.
- Remove any settings, configurations, files, mapped drives, or applications that you do not want to include on the Packaging Machine.
Next, you'll need to shut down the Packaging Machine and verify that the Platform Layer is ready to finalize.
Verify the Layer and shut down the Packaging Machine
Once the tools are installed on the Packaging Machine, the next step is to verify that the Layer is ready to finalize. At this point, any required post-installation processing needs to be completed. For example, a reboot may be required, or a Microsoft NGen process may need to complete.
To verify that any outstanding processes are complete, you can run the Shutdown For Finalize tool (icon below), which appears on the Packaging Machine's desktop.
To shut down the Packaging Machine so you can finalize the layer
- If you are not logged into the Packaging Machine, remote login as the user who created the machine.
- Double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon. A command line window displays messages detailing the layer verification process.
- If there is an outstanding operation that must be completed before the Layer can be finalized, you are prompted to complete the process. For example, if a Microsoft NGen operation needs to complete, you may be able to expedite the NGen operation, as detailed below.
- Once any pending operations are complete, double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon again. This shuts down the Packaging Machine.
The Layer is now ready to finalize.
Layer integrity messages you may see during the finalization process
Layer integrity messages let you know what queued tasks must be completed before a Layer is finalized.
The new Layer or Version can only be finalized when the following conditions have been addressed:
- A reboot is pending to update drivers on the boot disk - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
- A post-installation reboot is pending - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
- An MSI install operation is in progress - please check the Packaging Machine.
- A Microsoft NGen operation is in progress in the background.
Note: If a Microsoft NGen operation is in progress, you may be able to expedite it, as described in the next section.
Expediting a Microsoft NGen operation
NGen is the Microsoft Native Image Generator. It is part of the .NET system, and basically re-compiles .NET byte code into native images and constructs the registry entries to manage them. Windows will decide when to run NGen, based on what is being installed and what Windows detects in the configuration. When NGen is running, you must let it complete. An interrupted NGen operation can leave you with non-functioning .NET assemblies or other problems in the .NET system.
You have the choice of waiting for the NGen to complete in the background, or you can force the NGen to the foreground. You can also check the status of the NGen operation, as described below. However, every time you check the queue status, you are creating foreground activity, which might cause the background processing to temporarily pause.
Forcing the NGen to the foreground will allow you to view the progress and once the output has completed, you should be able to finalize the layer.
Force an NGen operation to the foreground.
Normally, NGen is a background operation and will pause if there is foreground activity. Bringing the task into the foreground can help the task to complete as quickly as possible. To do this:
Open a command prompt as Administrator.
Go to the Microsoft .NET Framework directory for the version currently in use:
Enter the NGen command to execute the queued items:
ngen update /force
This brings the NGen task to the foreground in the command prompt, and lists the assemblies being compiled.
Note: It’s okay if you see several compilation failed messages!
- Look in the Task Manager to see if an instance of MSCORSVW.EXE is running. If it is, you must allow it to complete, or re-run ngen update /force. Do not reboot to stop the task. You must allow it to complete.
Check the status of an NGen operation
Open a command prompt as Administrator.
Check status by running this command:
ngen queue status
When you receive the following status, the NGen is complete, and you can finalize the Layer.
The .NET Runtime Optimization Service is stopped.
Once the software is installed and ready to finalize, and you have shut down the virtual machine, you'll need to finalize the Layer.
Note: When you finalize a Layer, the App Layering software may delete the Packaging Machine so as not to incur extra cost for storage.
When the Layer has been verified and is ready to finalize:
- Return to the App Layering Management Console.
- Select Layers > App Layers, and then the layer you just prepared.
- Select Finalize in the Action bar.
- Monitor the Task bar to verify that the action completes successfully and that the Layer is ready to deploy.