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ThinIO Public Beta is go!

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

logoLets get right to it!

Warm up your labs or fire up your golden images ladies and gents, we’re delighted to announce ThinIO’s brief public beta will begin today!

This project has taught us some really interesting things about Windows IO, how Windows behaves and how the hypervisor and storage can behave. This project really felt like a David vs. Goliath task as we (members of our community with a desire to simplify this issue) attempted to tackle one of the largest issues in our industry, storage bottlenecks and Windows desktops.

What’s really unique about our approach is there are no hardware lead times, no architecture changes needed and no external dependencies. ThinIO can be installed in seconds and the benefits are seen immediately.

Read more…

HDXWatcher and PCOIPWatcher – Realtime, easy virtual desktop traffic reporting.

February 24, 2014 13 comments

logoWhen checking the bandwidth requirement of multimedia sites, checking how much additional bandwidth video conferencing is going to require or even troubleshooting WAN capacity issues, it’s extremely useful to have a visible interpretation of realtime bandwidth consumption from your virtual desktop.

I wrote a tool quite some time ago called watcher2 while troubleshooting a similar issue. I finally took the time to refactor that tool for use with XenApp 6.5 , XenDesktop and VMware View and they are finally available to download! Both watcher utilities also include a latency counter which was a request that came in over and over.

HDX and PCOIP watcher by default dock to the top of the screen and can be moved left or right as below:

hdx watcher docked

pcoip watcher docked

They can now also be completely un docked:

hdx watcher

pcoip watcher undocked

How do they work?

The tool finds your username in the performance monitor counters for session bandwidth, once it finds this entry it reads your performance monitor data once every second and reports on it.

In the case of PCOIP watcher, it reads the PCOIP counters from performance monitor.

what do the values mean?

All values are in either Kilobits per second or Megabits per second.

In = Traffic from the client to the virtual, this may spike during large copy / paste jobs,web cams or copying data from a usb key to the session:
Out = Traffic from the virtual desktop to the client, mainly audio or video traffic causes this to spike.
Latency = The delay between your client and the virtual desktop.

Can I Configure it?

Two thresholds are available, a yellow warning and a red warning, currently . These default values can be written to  HKCU\software\sessionmonitor or HKLM\software\sessionmonitor. E.G:

Do they have any dependencies?

.net framework 3.5

if you are running XenApp 6.5 or XenDesktop 5.6, ensure you have the latest hot-fixes installed or the counters may be incorrect.

How do I launch it?

Allow the user to run it manually, or place the executable in their start-up folder or login script.

Where Can I download it?

Here:

What’s coming next:

  • Native Microsoft RDP Counters.
  • Realtime graphs and recording.
  • source code is available on request.

Announcing the ThinKiosk v4 Release

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

ThinkioskReflection

Thinkiosk Version 4.0 is the culmination of 9 months hard work, rebuilding ThinKiosk in a new development style to include the enterprise features many of you requested, adding a management server, secure key redirection technologies, local group policy control and a number of other features. After weeks of rigorous testing we’re delighted to announce the availability of ThinKiosk version 4… Today!

With the release of Version 4.0 we’re lifting the cloak on the company we’ve setup in order to support and further develop ThinKiosk, ThinScale Technology. We’ve set up ThinScale as a little software company to publish applications to the virtualisation community, tackling the smaller issues and annoyances we face day to day as consultants and administrators. More clever little products are in the pipeline, but for now enough about the company!

ThinKiosk Versions:


The largest change around ThinKiosk 4.0 is the version introduction. ThinKiosk will ship in two editions, Enterprise edition and Community edition. Remko and I took a look at the product back in October last year and identified area’s that the project needed investment in order to reach and fulfill it’s full potential. We also noted that a number of customers really wanted the support and functionality offered by a professional product. After much deliberation we took the decision at that point to invest the time and resources into the product to ensure it fulfils it’s potential, this in turn justified the need for a chargeable Enterprise product.

 

ThinKiosk Community Edition.

  • The community edition is free and will always remain free, we want to make sure the community will always have the benefit of the product.
  • The Community edition is still one of the most powerful Windows alternatives on the market, including paid for products.
  • The Community edition is an extremely powerful piece of software with one or two limitations in comparison to the Enterprise product.
  • The Community edition will receive functionality from the enterprise edition over time.

We’re extremely proud of the community edition and we do recommend it if you do not require the functionality of the Enterprise Version.

 

Enterprise Edition.

ThinKiosk Enterprise Edition will include all the current functionality you know and use in ThinKiosk, along with loads of additional features and benefits. The enterprise version of ThinKiosk delivers far more value than the competitor products and from a functionality perspective beats them hands down even in its first release.

An exact side by side comparison can be found along with pricing and details on the ThinScale Licensing page.

Some of the New goodies are listed below!

 

Central Management:

ThinKiosk 4.0 new central management server. With this central management console, you can:

  • Manage off domain machines.
  • Push updates.
  • Perform remote power commands.
  • Remote Control end users.
  • Report on your current ThinKiosk hardware.
  • and much more.

 

MagicFilter:Magic Filter

Allow me to introduce our new ‘dynamic key pass-through technology’ MagicFilter. Magic filter will now block local Ctrl + Alt + Del and windows + L keystrokes and “magically” send them on to the remote desktop environment as if the user is working locally. This gives the user an immersive, native feeling desktop experience from the ThinKiosk client.

We are extremely proud to say we are the only Windows Thin Client vendor on the market who can do this.

 

Integrated Browser:Intergraded browser

ThinKiosk 4.0 is a fully fledged browser, so you can allow your users access to web resources without compromising on security. You can layer in as many bookmarks as you like to the browser or you can simply allow the users to browse the sites they wish via the address bar.

 

And so much more!

I covered a lot of the functionality previews back in April in the feature teaser.

 

Want to learn more?

Remko and I will be doing a webinar with the good folks over in www.xenappblog.com next week, sign up to hear our story and get some insider information on the product road map!

 

And without further ado:

I’ve taken enough of your time for now, to jump right in click the download button below and we’ll send you everything you need to get started.

The (not so) wonderful world of Lotus Notes in SBC & VDI, Guide Updated.

Just a quick note to say I’ve updated the original Guide to Lotus Notes in SBC / VDI environments with another 2 years of begrudging, pain and bug fixes.

A link to the updated article is here. Best of luck!

A

ThinKiosk 4.0 preview and feature teaser:

May 23, 2013 43 comments

ThinkioskReflection

Everyone having a Good Citrix Synergy week? Some great new products announced! Ready for more announcements?

Great!

After 5 months of coffee, tears of frustration and hair pulling we’re absolutely delighted, thrilled and relieved to announce ThinKiosk 4.0 is nearly ready. Complete with my new partner in crime Remko Weijnen (I’ve been saying ‘we’ for ages, now you know who… awesome eh?) we’ve worked some long nights to get this version out the door.

With that out of the way, we’re proud to announce some of the new features coming in 4.0. Bear in mind this is just a preview, the final features and details of the product are still being hammered out, but below is a taster of some of the functionality you can expect to see shortly.

 

Back to the drawing board:

ThinKiosk 4.0 is a complete rewrite and refactor of ThinKiosk. It’s built on the 4.0 .Net framework which has brought a lot of simplicity and new features to our tool-set. ThinKiosk 4.0 was built with three main aims:

  • Enterprise Ready.
  • Fool Proof.
  • Secure by Design.

With ThinKiosk 4.0, your setup time will go from days to minutes. Out of the box, ThinKiosk is ready for the following technologies without any local machine tuning:

  • Citrix XenDesktop / XenApp.
  • Citrix VDI in a Box.
  • VMware View.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.

For the exact details of each of these optimizations, follow the subsequent blog posts / documentation.

 

New Look and Feel:

Without further ado, lets start with the new look and feel:

mainWindow

ThinKiosk 4.0 has also been built on the industry leading graphical interface DevExpress giving us a really shiny, professional and sleek interface. Finally giving us an Interface we can be proud to put on your desktops.

ThinKiosk’s interface has been further improved giving you an Applications tab for Publishing desktops for VMware View, Microsoft Remote Desktop services or Citrix Desktops via ICA file or local applications.

appscreen

This Applications tab has been modelled after the windows 8 Metro err, I mean Windows 8 UI. This provides a similar look and feel to the new Windows start menu and it really breathes new life into old hardware. With this tab, you can publish shortcuts to VDI Desktops or local applications making it a one stop shop for applications.

You can flick from one tab to another easily, or disable the one you do not wish to use.

 

It’s all about the customization!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? Agreed!

Themes:

 ThinKiosk 4.0 will ship with over 8 themes and wallpapers, customization of the splash screen, buttons… everything!

foggy black office 2010 black Office 2010 Blue Office 2007 Pink office 2007 Green

The Applications tab can also be completely customized to your tastes:

cust

 

 

Lock down:

As with Previous versions of ThinKiosk, every button and object in ThinKiosk can be locked down to exactly what you wish, for example here’s a stripped back browser session:

lockdown browser

 

Or a stripped back application window:

 

lockdownapps

Anyway… Enough about the appearance, Lets talk tech!

 

Introducing the new ThinKiosk Broker Service and Management console:

tkbroker

The ThinKiosk Broker, Management Console and ThinKiosk clients use an all new ThinKiosk TCP protocol (I never ever, ever want to see a tcp socket again for as long as I live, writing this protocol was a killer!) to allow you to centrally manage, catalog and report on your ThinKiosk devices. The protocol is lightening fast and secure by design.

This new framework will form a long blog post itself, but some quick fire information is below:

  • Complete off domain management.
  • Auto device registration, just point ThinKiosk at the broker and it will check in and download the default profile.
  • Remote Control / Shadowing of end point devices via the console.
  • Device Grouping for profiling multiple devices or creating an organisation structure.
  • Remote actions (power off, restart, update).
  • Device Reporting.
  • No Enterprise database software necessary.
  • Audit logging.

Unlike other Thin Client protocols and software, ThinKiosk does not accept any inbound connections, in user or system context. Removing the ability to hijack thin clients… which is all too possible with certain vendors!

The console is simple, and quick to navigate:

MC

Installation of the broker takes roughly 5 minutes and is ready to serve your Devices as soon as you configure the default profile.

 

New Profile Handler:

The ThinKiosk client has received an overhaul and with it we’ve streamlined the profile. ThinKiosk no longer requires group policies or the clunky offline config tool, we have a new profile system based on XML files with a fitting profile editor to match:

profile editor

No more configuring 5 group policies for one url, the new policy manager is clean, self explanatory, full of new functionality and uses the same interface whether you are using the ThinKiosk management console or modifying the local profile.

If you want to still use group policy to deploy configuration? No problem! just drop the file on the client via group policy preferences!

 

And the Client!

Lets talk about the 4.0 client.

 

Supported platforms:

Windows XP – Windows 8

 

Browser Ahoy!

browser

ThinKiosk is now a fully fledged browser, complete with address bar. If you want to allow your users to browse around, now you can.

 

Browser improvements:

The ThinKiosk 4.0 browser will:

  • Supress scripting errors.
  • Allow you to add your sites to the trusted sites via policy.
  • Auto tunes the browser for VDI portals.
  • Auto circumvent silly SSL untrusted or mismatched errors (great for POC’s *cough* VDI in a Box *cough*)
  • ThinKiosk now runs as an Internet explorer executable. No more flicking between iexplore.exe and thinkiosk.exe.

 

VDI Improvements:

Now to the nuts and bolts!

 

Local login pass through:

Now that you have the ability to add direct VDI connections. ThinKiosk will handle the log in experience and pass the credentials to the responsible technology:

login

This integration allows ThinKiosk to better manage the desktop experience and provide your users with a single login pane rather than the recurrent login screens you can experience with Microsoft / Citrix file connections.

These connection files can also be auto launched, to remove that pesky click first thing each day.

 

Citrix Technologies:

  • Log off screen redirection for Web interface, storefront and VDI in a box.
  • Log off the web portal when a desktop launches for the above platforms.
  • Support for Adding ICA file connections.
  • Auto configuration of Single sign on from local pc to remote desktop. (Nightmare previously).
  • VDI in a Box auto browser tuning for compatibility.
  • Optionally disable the Citrix Desktop viewer (CDviewer.exe).

 

VMware View:

  • Support for publishing multiple pool connections
  • Support for publishing multiple direct desktop connections.
  • Support for PassThrough.
  • Disables Certificate checking by default for quick POC’s.
  • Pass through ctrl alt del / Windows + l (more on this later).

 

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services:

  • Support for publishing multiple connections.
  • Support for 2012 RDS and VDI.
  • SSL Certificate warning suppression.
  • Support for login once.

 

Improved local application handling:

ThinKiosk 4.0 has an improved local application engine, When you add an application to the Applications tab, it will automatically pull in the icon window and you can also specify to launch apps but hide them (think run key entries). If ThinKiosk is restarted via admin task, it’s smart enough to know not to relaunch them.

Environment variables for paths and arguments are fully supported and i’ve also added a variable for 32bit program files paths… I always wondered why Microsoft didn’t do this, but I digress.

 

Windows secure keystroke blocking and passthrough:

You asked… (and asked and asked and asked and asked). It’s done, with ThinKiosk 4.0 you will be able to block CTRL + Alt + Del, [Windows] + [L] etc.

Pass through of these keystrokes to the remote desktop is available for VMware View already and will be coming shortly after 4.0 for Citrix and Microsoft connections.

machine lockdown

 

Group Policy Lockdown:

By default when you install ThinKiosk 4.0, it will arm the PC with the most restrictive policies via the local group policy engine, disabling access to all admin utilities and even local disks. This lockdown can be tuned or turned off via policy if required.

ThinKiosk performs privileged actions via the ThinKiosk Machine service which installs as part of the installation.

 

Auto log in account:shell

ThinKiosk will ship with it’s own user account for fast deployment. This account will be created on the local machine and gives you a quick an easy method to manage local accounts on non domain joined PC.

The accounts password is synchronized with the ThinKiosk unlock password you specify.

This account is completely optional and you can turn it off or substitute it with a domain account of your choice.

ThinKiosk will also manage the Windows Shell replacement policy itself via policy, so no more mucking around with local group policy or registry keys.

ThinKiosk also now encrypts the auto login account using LSA.

 

Active Setup:

as

With ThinKiosk as shell, you can now run Active Setup with ThinKiosk’s improved Active Setup Async.

Active setup Async is a utility we have implemented into ThinKiosk that will perform active setup 60% faster than standard Microsoft active setup via a threading and queuing engine, the end result is active setup support ( for example: HDX flash redirection) with a much faster (and prettier)  interface.

 

Start up Script:startup sript

ThinKiosk can now implement the local group policy engines start-up script to allow you to manage off domain PC’s. With the start-up script, you can install software, updates, disable services, uninstall software, delete files, profiles… anything!

The only limitation here is your own imagination or scripting abilities.

If the latter is a concern? worry not, we’ll be creating a scripting library where ThinKiosk enthusiasts can share and collaborate on similar tasks.

 

Local session control:session

ThinKiosk 4.0 offers you the ability to control local volume, printers, screen saver and even background color.

 

Improved debug logging:debug window

ThinKiosk logs everything, every action, command, hiccup… everything.

If something isn’t quite working as expected, chances are the debugging window will announce in triumphant glory exactly what is broken!

 

Redundant profile management:

ThinKiosk takes a copy of it’s profile on each check in to an FTP server or Broker server.

In the event of the server being offline ThinKiosk attempts five times to connect before failing back to the local profile allowing your users to continue working without an outage.

If the broker server becomes available again throughout the day, ThinKiosk will check back in to allow management but will not disturb the user.

 

And so much more!

I’m not going to go on and on, but as you can see… It’s awesome!

Check back in a few weeks for the release as we ready the build.

Announcing SBC Printers, A simple printers interface for XenApp / VDI

January 4, 2013 11 comments

A little irk of mine with Windows 7 and server 2008 R2 was the Devices and Printers interface. This mix of peripherals is fine for standard desktops, but in SBC / VDI the devices list generally contained items you didn’t want users seeing, or ejecting for that matter!

default interface

Not happy with the Irk, and still on my app developing buzz, i decided to write SBC Printers:

default

SBC-Printers is a simple little .net 4 application, leveraging WMI for printer enumeration and control.Because SBC Printers is an executable, it can published as a XenApp application. Sbc Printers can also be installed as the default printers interface on the start menu:

start menu

So really your users won’t know the difference or care for that matter!

SBC-Printers also comes with securable options for adding or deleting local printers:

add

delete

The display of add or delete can be controlled via the settings file in the installation directory:

settings file

Installation:

  1. Download the following MSI
  2. Install the MSI to the default directory.

To restrict the standard printers dialog from users, but leaving it accessible to administrators:

  • Browse to c:\program files (x86)\SBC-Printers\bin

powershell

  • run the powershell script below, make sure to run it as an administrator!

That’s it, once the Powershell script runs. it removes the users access to the registry classes giving them access to the standard devices and printers interface. Which means we’re now ready to provision SBC-Printers to replace it.

Provisioning the replacement to the user:

Now just import the userkey.reg into the users profile on login, you can do this via your user profile manager of choice, or use Group Policy preferences.

That’s it!

As you can see I haven’t streamlined the install process too much, this is mostly down to the simplicity of the tool. If you like SBC-Printers but would like a better installer, just drop me a comment below.

Roll back:

if you need to restore the standard interface, uninstall SBC-Printers then add the (local computer\users) group back to the following registry keys ACL:

  •  HKCR\software\classes\CLSID\{A8A91A66-3A7D-4424-8D24-04E180695C7A}
  • HKCR\software\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{A8A91A66-3A7D-4424-8D24-04E180695C7A}

The curious case of the major XenApp outage.

December 21, 2012 12 comments


Here’s a really strange and interesting issue I faced late last week that resulted in a few head scratching moments and late nights.

An Issue began two weeks ago intermittently in a XenApp 4.5 farm used for hosted desktops, intermittently NonPagedPool bytes would shoot through the roof, the event logs would become inundated with event 333 errors and the servers would lock up completely.

The running sessions could no longer open new applications, performance was extremely poor and RDP’ing to the XenApp server would result in an RPC error. Disconnecting the sessions remotely would also result in an RPC error or TSAdmin was completely incapable of connecting to the server. We had no choice but to dump the servers using NMI and pray for a crash dump.

No changes had been made to the environment in a number of weeks and the last change to the environment was a “Citrix Ready” printer driver from Lexmark. As the days progressed the issue got worse and worse with more servers going offline day by day. Although we did initially catch a number of crash dumps, we hit a bad run of luck with most of them being corrupt on restart.

By day six, 9 servers went offline throughout the day, I was pulled in to assist resolve this massive issue.

 

 

I fired up the windows debugging tools and managed to get a look at a crash dump fresh from a locked up server.

Using !vm i pulled the virtual memory statistics at the point of the crash:


!vm


So we had a serious non paged pool leak as we suspected, but what exactly was chewing up all that nonpaged?

Running !poolused 2, i was able to drill down into the drivers using nonpagedpool and view which driver tag was using the largest amount of the pool as below:


poolused


reviewing the list, i was immediately alarmed by the amount of ram in use by the “Ica” pool tag. Having reviewed 100’s of memory dumps I had never seen the Ica pool tag listed in the top 20, never mind using 99721328 bytes (~95mb).

The Ica pool tag is fairly obvious as to who owns it, but just to be on the safe side and to drill down to the owning driver, I ran the following command on the drivers folder to find references to the “Ica” pool tag.

findstr /m /l Ica *.sys

findstr


So we got quite a few hits off the Ica pool tag. Quite a number of the above drivers are Microsoft’s, which is not suprising in the grand scheme of things as we all know the origination of the RDP protocol.

So with a little more information to hand, I set about googling this chain of events to see if it’s either documented, or hotfixed. A search yielded quite alot of articles including a private hotfix and a Rollup pack.

Drilling down into the technotes to see if I could find a potential cause for this issue, I was left a little wanting with the lack of information available:

Servers with Hotfix Rollup Pack 6 installed can run out of non-paged pool memory in the ICA Pool tag. The issue occurs when users log on to the server and its frequency increases with the amount of time since the most recent restart and the number of logons since the restart.

What irked me here, was the lack of information and the fact that these servers had been running HFRP 6 for roughly 18 months with no issues similar to this.

Why all of a sudden are we losing servers all over the place to such an issue?



I dug further into the hotfix notes with help from my good friend and all round cool Citrite James Denne, the hotfix specifically noted:

When a server is in low memory condition the <Redacted>() spins in an infinite loop by constantly allocating an OUTBUF and trying to write it on the stack. This problem happen when system is going in and out in low memory condition.

So there’s a great explanation of the issue from the horses mouth, but again there was a niggling problem in the back of my head…

These servers weren’t spinning in and out of low memory, our pool usage reporting would have caught this?



I was satisfied to see a hotfix was available, but in the back of my head I was concerned about the change that may have caused this issue, it’s still unclear what is causing this low memory condition to spin the infinite loop and why we couldn’t see the low memory scenario before it happens. Being an massive issue, we had to make a quick turn around here. We had a choice of going to HFRP 7 or using the private hotfix available. I chose the private hotfix, for two reasons:

  • Mass Deploying a roll up pack to fix one problem is like tapping a nail in with a sledge hammer.
  • My experience with HotFix Rollup Packs is they fix your issues, but introduce at least one new one.

We took all the servers offline for emergency maintenance that night and cautiously waited for the morning to come and see if our issue was resolved.

and so we patiently waited…



Once hotfixed and rebooted, we arrived at the office early to watch as the user sessions began to filter in to the Farm. All was quiet for the first hour or so, but then the phones started.

once the user load hit 15-16 users per XenApp session, a number of servers began to again log a number of eventlog 333’s as below:


333.

Dammit.



Frantically we connected to the console of a server, to check the paged pool states but again no alerts on pagepool size? as below the ICA pool tag was nowhere to be seen:


healthypoolmon


And the ica tag was at a much more respectable / expected value as below:


icatag


Our next clue came in the form of the following, when users were logging in they were getting the following error:


proferror

So we’ve fixed our Ica memory leak, now what the hell is happening?



If memory usage for the pools are ok but we’re still getting errors about flushing to the registry, and now new user profiles can’t load their profiles, my hunch was there had to be something wrong with the registry hives…

I used command prompt to open the “Documents and Settings” folder and ran the following command:

dir /s /a ntuser.dat

With a quick glance, i found the following:


ntuser


The “Citrix Print Manager Service” user account had a registry hive of over 50mb? What in the name of superman is hiding in that registry hive?

To rectify the issue immediately, we stopped the above print manager service and forced the hive to be unloaded with delprof. Once we had done this, the user profiles began to load again on each affected server. But we’re now unable to use client redirected printing.

To regedit!



I mounted the registry of a profile that had failed to delete and drilled down to see what all the fuss was about. As this was  now firmly in the printing land, I went looking for keys to match the Lexmark driver change from a number of weeks ago.

What I found was extremely interesting, for each client redirected printer ever mapped with the Lexmark driver, we had an entry under both the PCLPlugin and PSPlugIn keys:


pclplugin


Although this was a really questionable practice from lexmark, I examined the keys under each entry for the PclPlugin key and they consisted of just a few small binary files of which were no more than a KB or two.

Upon looking at the same keys under PSPlugin, I found a new key, called GDL. This GDL key was absolutely massive and there was one for each and every time a client printer had been redirected using the Lexmark V2 driver.


gdl


I exported both both the users hive, and the psplugin key to text and the comparison is below:


comparison


The GDL key itself was over 3mb per redirected printer!?!?:


gdl

So there we have it.



The route cause was as follows:

This Lexmark driver has a weird tendency to store an unbelievable amount of crap in the registry for users.

The Citrix print manager service also suffers this faith when it maps a redirected printer.

As more and more users were testing in production (GRRRR!) / beginning to use a new printing solution on a customer site, this registry file began to grow and grow ultimately flooding the maximum registry size of 30% of the paged pool ram.

As the registry hive size was growing out of control, the Ica driver ran into a low memory situation and ultimately caused the infinite loop.

The Ica loop and nonpaged saturation was masking the printer driver bloat in the registry.

As the days went on, more and more servers began to saturate the Maximum registry size and go offline.

Corrective actions:

  • Enforce a policy to not allow native drivers, in any way, shape or form when redirecting printers where possible.
  • Obtain the latest driver from Lexmark is you have lexmark printers.
  • Give lexmark an earful for not testing their drivers.

Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t test things in production.
  • Don’t trust a vendor with “Citrix Ready”, it’s up to them to test these things and they regularly don’t.
  • Create a monitor for registry size (perfmon > system > % Registry quota in use)
  • install the debugging tools on the XenApp 4.5 servers as this issue is going to become more prevalent. *

* This isn’t going to get any better.

As Vendors move further and further towards 64 bit architectures they can and will forget about the extremely restrictive memory sizes available in 32 bit versions of windows, 64bit windows has so much memory available for the pools they can be as sloppy as they want without much concern.

Server 2003, Windows XP and XenApp 4.5’s death bells are knelling and have been for some time.

You are going to see pagepool’s floods and other such nasties more and more in the coming months before you finally decommission your old server 2003 environment. My advice to you is to:

  • get very comfortable with the following tools:
    • PoolMon.
    • Process explorer.
    • Windows debugging tools.
  • Have a good read of the following article: 333, read it, read it again.
  • Never be afraid to have a look at a dump file yourself.
  • Throw an issue at every vendor possible during troubleshooting, it’s in their interest to prove it’s not their software at fault.
  • Understand your pagepool sizes and limitations.
  • Never trust a printer driver.
  • Never, ever, ever trust a Vendor to behave accordingly or follow the Citrix Ready standards.
  • If you absolutely, positively need to run something in server 2003 or XP, consider using XenDesktop hosted apps to isolate the problem to a singular kernel away from the bulk of your task workers.