Personal vDisk Catalogs

When configuring Machine Catalogs for PvD, here are a few things to consider.  I’ve run into this a couple times and couldn’t wrap my head around what went wrong and then things just started working.  These tips apply whether you create your catalog with Provisioning Server or with Machine Creation Services, although they may be implemented slightly differently.  I’ll get to why in just a minute.  Also, there’s probably more ways than what I’m recommending, but these are things that you will at least want to consider when you set up your Machine Catalogs.  Here’s a good reference point to start off reading, and then come back to my post:  Citrix eDocs for PvD and PVS 7.x.  Also, just make sure to always faithfully execute that “Update Inventory” task whenever you make updates to your PvD catalog.

If you are doing just one vDisk or just one Machine Catalog for your desktops, then it’s not such a big deal.  And, it doesn’t matter if your vDisk or your Machine Catalog is PvD or non-PvD if you do just one Machine Catalog:  just always act as if it’s either one or the other and be consistent.  But, if you want to have both at the same time, you just can’t treat the vDisk that you use for PvD targets the same as the one that you use for non-PvD targets, or vice versa.  The same principle is true for MCS-based Machine Catalogs as well, only with MCS, we’ll be discussing the VM-based snapshot for your “known state” anchor point.  And I don’t know if anyone else is calling that snapshot an “anchor point”, but it is basically that point at which the state of your target devices is known and that state to which it will return upon reboot.  I submit it is a perfect use of the word “anchor”:  it keeps you where you want to stay.

The first thing to account for is to use two distinct vDisks (if PVS) or two base machine images (if MCS).  With vDisks, one way to do that would be by installing the PVS agent on the VM and doing your XenConvert as soon as that’s done.  Then, with the vDisk in Private mode, while you redirect the page file and Event Viewer files to the write cache drive, also install all the organization’s applications before installing the VDA for 7.6.  Before you install the VDA, shut down the vDisk and make a copy of it; at that point, you would have two identical vDisks in Private mode.  One vDisk will be for the non-PvD target devices and one will be for the PvD target devices; neither of them will have the VDA 7.6 at this point.

The Private mode vDisk dedicated to the non-PvD target devices will have the VDA 7.6 installed and choose all the options except the Personal vDisk.  Then, reboot the target device as the VDA installation routine requests and then shut down the VM and put the vDisk into Standard mode.  This will be the target device collection for non-PvD devices.  You can use the XenDesktop Setup Wizard on the PVS server to create the VMs/target device collection/Machine Catalog.  The other Private Mode vDisk would have the VDA 7.6 agent installed with all the same options except you would choose the Personal vDisk option.  You can use the same master target device that you used for the non-PvD vDisk to do that, or you can have one master target for non-PvD and one for PvD.  It doesn’t really matter, but if you are creating the VMs by cloning them and adding them manually to the PVS server target device collection, don’t forget to create AD accounts for them in the correct OU.

The second thing is to install the “VDAWorkstationSetup.exe”, which is what happens when you download the VDA 7.6.100 from VDA 7.6.100 for Server OS and Workstation OS.  You’ll notice there’s a download for the Server OS agent and one for the Workstation OS agent.  The path to the download is a little confusing in that you need to go to “XenDesktop” and then “Components updated or added since the initial release”.  Once you do that, you have to sift through all the options of XenServer, XenClient, the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 1.6 for Microsoft Lync (which there is an Optimzation Pack 1.7 available as well), and then you have the option for “Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA)”.  It is a 457 MB download for the Workstation OS and the Server OS Delivery Agent is 358 MB.

Then, of course, you need to update your VDA with the following hotfix as of right now, which will be superseded at some point, I’m sure:  The good news is that the link itself should indicate when it is superseded and provide the next step up for the VDA 7.6.

Then, you just need to make sure to create the machine catalog with the option to persist the changes through a Personal vDisk and perform that “Update Inventory” task in the base image, whether that’s presented through PVS or MCS.

As I said, these are just some major things you need to ensure are completed in addition to whatever else you may already be doing in your procedures.  There are a lot of other things to consider and I’ll save those for a future blog entry.