Citrix XenDesktop 7 App editon, updating the catalog

In this blog I’ll show you how easy it is with Citrix Machine creation services, here after called MCS, to update a catalog. I’ve implemented the App edition of Xendesktop 7.1 soon to be rerelease as XenApp.
The naming of the products will not change the way the catalogs are updated, a multi user server will always be a multi user server called XenDeskop App or XenApp.
In my previous blog I showed you the setup and working for XenDesktop 7 and the App edition. The blog post preceding this one are listed for you if you haven’t read them before.
We’ve all come across that time that we rolled out a server or desktop image to all of our users and then when you think you’re done a new application or local machine settings needs to be implemented. Before streaming and automation this would mean you would have to go past numerous of servers to add things.
With automation this has become so much easier, With Provisioning server one change and you can stream the vDisk to multiple machines. With Provisioning server you still had to do things to prepare the server to be deployed to multiple server.
In this project, due to licensing, we had to come up with an alternative for PVS, we had two alternatives to be chosen from;
  1. Use RES Automation Manager to deploy all Citrix XenDesktop 7 App edition server as a single server.
  2. Use MCS to use Citrix linked clone variant and deploy one server to be the base for the rest.
The first option would have been fine with the customer, they didn’t intend to reboot the servers that often and weren’t looking for anything fancy. Basic message from them is, it has to work and work flawless. Well I’ve never seen anything work flawless in my life but we’ll try to get as close to as the software allows us.
We chose MCS so that they will have a clean running server with no left over profiles etc every morning. 


At first you have to prepare the server that you will use to update the catalog. With MCS you don’t have to do anything to prepare deployment, you install the software and tweak along but after that you’re done.
We decided to roll out a new virtual machine and test our deployment with RES Automation Manager, which we use in any way to deploy all the servers in the network. Doing a deployment this way ensures us that every installation is done exactly the same way.

So after the server was up and running and all software was installed we finished tweaking and set of to update the catalog. I can’t write more about the preparing without going into application installation details and I’m sure you don’t want to go there.
There is no specific preparation that needs to be done, when you’re done installing and tweaking it ready to be deployed simple as that 🙂


To update the catalog their is one preparation I didn’t mention… you need to shutdown the machine you used as a base. If you don’t you will get the pop-up on every server asking “what just happened, why did I crash??”. So with a shutdown base server we connect to one of the controller servers and go to Citrix Studio.

 The catalog is a small one here only 8 servers running. As you can see it says Machine Creation service.

When you click on the catalog you’ll get a menu on the right side bar that shows update and rollback update.
We won’t be doing a rollback update but you can understand how that might come in handy when something goes wrong with a change you did. Clicking on Update Machine brings up a wizard;

 It show the impact the update will have on your environment, when you update the catalog it logical that all the servers or desktop within that catalog will be updated.

Next step is to select the master machine, the golden image as you might like. there are two options here to choose;
  1. Create your own snapshot on forehand and select that one;
  2. give the honors to MCS and let him or her create the snapshot.
I’ve tried both ways and haven’t seen a difference in behavior, I think I let MCS do the trick.
The last screen from the wizard where you can set options is the scheduling screen, here you can set whether you want instant deployment or wait for users to log of. You also can select that you wait a few hours before deployment. That might be handy when you want to schedule it for the evening and do the preperations during the day.
Clicking next gives a summary and as soon as you click Finish the show starts.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post there is no real status bar or screen that you can watch. The trick is to look at the clock and find out how long it takes (first time is a guess) and trust it all goes well.
When you right click the catalog and click on “View Machines” you can see some information about the status of the machines.. not enough to make sure you can tell when the update is done but I guess when the servers stays on registered long enough it’s ready 🙂
From a vSphere point of view you could also take a look and you will see that the servers are restarted, reconfigured and stuff like that. I think that a normal administrator should not have to look there to see if the update is going well. In some organizations they even might not have to possibility to look there.

The base disk is updated and the old base disk is deleted the moment it isn’t needed anymore.

UPDATE 8-02-2014

Yesterday I was updating once again and suddenly I stumbled upon a screen where I could see that the updated was finished. In the action tab it shows if the update has succeeded.
Still it would be nice to see a bar with a real status, it says here that it was finished in 6 minutes but I’m sure that it takes longer than that.


There is a bug in 7.1 that will not delete the empty basedisk folder when it should be, I got word from Citrix it’s fixed in 7.5.
Another bug is trying to delete base disk files that are long gone, hope that one is also taken of in 7.5
These messages don’t break the updating so they are annoying but nevertheless the update works.
At the end you’ll have a new image and you’re good to go.
Hope this gave some insight in the updating of Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 App with MCS.

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