In this post I’ll discuss deploying Citrix XenDesktop 4. XenDesktop is part of Citrix’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology that allows us to manage the publishing of Windows XP/Vista/7 desktops to clients. In many ways from the user’s perspective this is similar to publishing a full desktop with Citrix XenApp, but rather than users sharing desktops on a Windows server each user gets their own individual desktop host machine. One of the great things about XenDesktop is that we can publish virtual desktops regardless of whether the desktop host is a virtual machine hosted on Citrix XenServer or VMware vSphere, or a physical computer.
Generally you would use XenDesktop in situations where applications are not compatible with running on a terminal server or XenApp, or if each virtual desktop has unique requirements such as USB support. There is a one to one relationship and we’ll need one Windows desktop host for each user that connects. The hosts can be pooled so that we’ll only need one for each concurrent user.
The core application service that we’ll be deploying for XenDesktop is something called the Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC). The DDC is installed on a server and its job is to register desktop hosts and broker client connections to them. When we set up a DDC we create a farm and we can install multiple DDC’s for availability. If you have an existing XenApp farm it is recommended that you install the DDC in a new farm. Don’t worry, both XenApp and XenDesktop DDC farms can make use of a common Web Interface so that users have a single place to access their applications and desktops.
As for install requirements currently Windows 2003 SP2/R2 x86/x64 are the only supported operating systems for the XenDesktop DDC. In addition the server must be configured as a member of an Active Directory domain. The installation will need to write to an OU in Active Directory to store objects to support the DDC and the registration of desktop hosts. To allow this we will need to be logged on as a domain administrator during the installation. If you want the most control create this new OU in Active Directory before starting the install. You are also given the option to create a new OU within an existing OU during the installation routine.
In this example I will be installing XenDesktop Express, which is available as a zip archive on the Citrix website. I will configure a desktop host running Windows XP. Also I will make use of an existing SQL 2005 database server for the farm data store so the SQL Native Client will need to be installed on the DDC server. You can find links to download the SQL Native Client here. Be sure and download either the x86 or x64 version depending on the architecture of your Windows 2003 server. If you choose to use an existing SQL Server you will also need to create a new database for the XenDesktop farm before starting installation.
Install XenDesktop Desktop Delivery Controller
Now let’s start by inserting the DVD or ISO media for XenDesktop. The ISO is labeled “DDC_VDA.iso” and contains the installation files for both the Desktop Delivery Controller as well as the Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) that we will install on each desktop host. The ISO comes bundled inside the XenDesktop Express zip file.
Select Install Server Components. The installer may prompt you to install .Net 3.5 SP1 if it is not installed on the server.
Accept the license agreement and click Next.
In my example I will install the Citrix License Server so make sure all of the component options are checked (the picture is incorrect). Click Next.