Introduction and Overview

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 General Availability (GA) released on October 2nd 2018. In this blog post, I’ll show how getting started Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has never been easier! If you’re not familiar, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is the rebranding of XenApp and XenDesktop, Citrix flagship product for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) deployments. In a production deployment, you may decide to break up the logical components of the Citrix architecture, as demonstrated in the Technical Overview on Citrix Product Documentation:

In this blog post, I’ll demonstrate how easy it is to get started, running all core roles on a single Windows Server 2019 virtual machine, including: StoreFront, Delivery Controller, SQL Database, Studio, Director, Licensing, and the Server VDA. This single server deployment is perfect for basic evaluation environments and minimizes the complexity normally associated with a multi-node, multi-tier architecture. The only component in the above diagram that I will not be deploying/configuring is the Citrix Gateway (component provided by NetScaler).

To get started, we need three main components:

  • Virtualization platform (in this blog post I’ll show how to deploy using VMware Workstation, but in reality this could be any leading Type 1 or 2 hypervisor)
    • This process could easily be performed in a public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, etc. I will not be tying into the hypervisor connection for this post, so the virtualization platform is irrelevant.
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2019 ISO (the following file was downloaded from the Volume License Service Center, VLSC: SW_DVD9_Win_Server_STD_CORE_2019_64Bit_English_DC_STD_MLF_X21-91656.ISO)
  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 1808.2 or later (the following file was downloaded from MyCitrix: Citrix_Virtual_Apps_and_Desktops_7_1808_2.ISO)

Install and Configure Windows Server 2019

To get started, we’ll build a clean Windows Server 2019 virtual machine from scratch. Mount the Windows Server 2019 ISO to a new virtual machine and fire it up. Press any key:

Windows boot sequence will start:

Accept the defaults and click Next:

Click Install now:

Select Windows Server 2019 Datacenter (Desktop Experience) and click Next:

Accept the license terms and click Next:

Click Custom:

Select the unallocated space and click Next:

The installation will proceed and may take up to 10 minutes:

Once completed, the virtual machine will reboot:

Windows will finalize the setup process:

Once started, an Administrator password must be set:

Hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to login:

Login with the Administrator username and password previously set:

The first time you login, a prompt will popup for the network and a notification for Windows Admin Center (new in Windows Server 2019):

Mount the VMware Tools installation media and you’ll see a prompt in the bottom right. Click it:

Click Run setup64.exe:

Click Next:

Leave Typical selected and click Next:

Click Install:

The installation will take a couple minutes:

Click Finish

Click Yes to restart:

Windows will restart automatically:

After restarting hit CTRL+ALT+DEL:

Login with the Administrator username and password:

Server Manager will launch automatically. From here, we’ll rename the server and join the domain. Click the Local Server tab on the left and click the default servername (“WIN-xyz123”):

Click Change:

Name the server (in my case, WS19CTX01) and specify the domain to join:

Specify credentials to join the domain:

Click OK to confirm domain join was successful:

Click OK to confirm restart is required:

Click Close:

Click Restart Now:

The server will restart automatically:

Once rebooted, hit CTRL+ALT+DEL but instead of logging in with the default Administrator username/password, login with an account on the domain you previously joined:

After logging in, you may receive a prompt to adjust VMware Tools settings, which will require you to login again:

In Server Manager, navigate to Local Server again, and click the “On” link next to IE Enhanced Security Configuration:

Change both settings to Off and click OK to save these settings:

Install Citrix Delivery Controller Role

Next, we’ll go ahead and install the Citrix Delivery Controller role on the server, using the process described below.

Mount the Citrix installation media and click the popup in the bottom right:

Click Run AutoSelect.exe:

Click Yes to the UAC prompt:

The splash screen for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops will load briefly:

Next to Virtual Apps and Desktops, click Start:

In the top left, click Delivery Controller to start the initial installation:

The necessary installation files will take a minute to load (spinning wheel next to Get Started):

Accept the license agreement and click Next:

Leave all components selected (default) and click Next (in a more complex deployment, these roles can be broken out to separate servers):

Select all features (default) and click Next:

Configure the firewall automatically (default) and click Next:

Click Install:

After a couple prerequisites have been installed, a reboot will be required. Click Close to start the reboot:

The reboot process will start automatically:

After the reboot, login and the Citrix installation should resume where it left off:

This installation process may take several minutes to complete:

After installation, select your preference for Smart Tools or Call Home (I will not configure it at this time). Click Next:

That’s it! The default components have been installed. Leaving Launch Studio selected, click Finish:

Configure Citrix Site in Studio

Once Studio launches, we’ll finalize the Citrix Site configuration. Let’s continue…

Click Deliver applications and desktops to your users:

Name the site, in my case I’m simply using WS19 to indicate this is a brand new site for Windows Server 2019. Click Next:

The Database names will populate automatically, but these can be changed if desired:

By default, Citrix will allow a 30-day trial. Click Next:

For now, I’ll select No machine management. We can always come back and configure a hypervisor connection later. Click Next:

Leave both options unselected (default) and click Next:

Click Finish to start the database creation process:

It will take a couple minutes to create the databases, Citrix site, StoreFront server group, and all other default settings for the new environment:

Once configured, you will have an empty site, ready to be populated with Machine Catalogs, Delivery Groups, and other options. At this point you can minimize Studio, we’ll come back to it later:

Install Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) Role

Now that the Delivery Controller role has been installed and configured, we’ll install the Virtual Delivery Agent, turning this server into a Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) virtual machine for serving up applications and desktops.

Next, we’ll With the Citrix installation media still mounted, double click to launch the installer again.

Click Yes to the UAC prompt:

This time, we’ll select Virtual Delivery Agent for Windows Server OS in the top right:

Select the bottom option (Enable Broker Connection to a Server) as we will not be using any image management features for this basic setup. Click Next:

Leave Citrix Workspace App unselected (formerly Citrix Receiver) and click Next:

Select Citrix Supportability Tools, Citrix User Profile Manager, and Citrix User Profile Manager WMI Plugin and click Next:

For the Delivery Controller configuration, we will point the VDA back at itself, using the Fully Qualified DNS Name (FQDN). Type the FQDN and click Test Connection:

If the installer can communicate to the Delivery Controller role successfully, a green check will appear. Click Add:

Confirm the Delivery Controller has been added and click Next:

Select all Features and click Next:

Allow the Firewall to be configured Automatically (default) and click Next:

Review the installation summary and click Install:

Click Close to restart the server:

The server will restart automatically:

After a reboot, login and the installation should resume:

Once installed, configure Call Home (I’ve opted not to participate). Click Next:

Leave Restart machine selected and click Finish:

The server will restart automatically:

Configure Machine Catalog and Delivery Group in Studio

Next, we’ll finalize the VDA configuration in Studio and publish our first Apps and Desktops. Let’s continue…

Once restarted, login and open Citrix Studio from the Start Menu:

Click Yes to the UAC prompt:

You’ll see the empty site that has basic configuration settings.

Right click the Machine Catalog tab and click Create Machine Catalog:

Review the Introduction to learn more and click Next:

Select Server OS and click Next:

Leave the defaults, since we will not be configuring any image or power management features at this time:

In the Machines tab, click Add Computers and type the server name in the dialogue to add it to the list from Active Directory. Once added, click Next:

Name the Catalog and click Finish:

It will take a moment to create the catalog, but you will see a progress dialogue at this time:

Once the Machine Catalog has been created, right click Delivery Groups and click Create Delivery Group:

Review the Getting started information and click Next:

Select the server from the recently created Machine Catalog and click Next:

Click the Add button and search for an Active Directory group to use for entitlements for this Delivery Group (for example, Domain Users). Once added, click Next:

Click Add -> From Start Menu to select the applications that will be published from this Delivery Group:

Scroll down to find the appropriate applications (for example Notepad and the RDP client) and click OK once selected:

Click Next:

Click Add to publish a desktop from this server VDA:

Provide a Display name for the Desktop (as it appears in StoreFront). Click OK:

Review and click Next:

Review and name the Delivery Group. Click Finish:

If all steps were performed correctly, you should now see the new Delivery Group visible in Studio:

Validate Functionality by Launching Apps and Desktops through StoreFront

To confirm that everything has been setup correctly, I’ll go ahead and install the Citrix Workspace App (formerly Receiver) and test access to Apps and Desktops from StoreFront.

By default, the StoreFront site has been configured, but a redirect has not yet been setup in IIS (we can configure that manually at a later time). The default store is created at: http://<servername>/Citrix/StoreWeb. We can open a browser and navigate to this URL:

If StoreFront is functioning properly, I get a prompt to Detect Receiver:

Since it’s not already installed, I’ll check the box to accept the license agreement and click Download:

Click Run:

Click Yes to the UAC prompt:

Click Start:

Accept the agreement and click Next:

Optionally select Enable Single Sign-on and click Install:

The installation process may take a couple minutes:

Once completed, click Finish:

Once installed, click Continue and Citrix Receiver should be detected:

StoreFront loads and detects Receiver (Workspace App) has been installed:

Provide a username/password in the following format: DOMAIN\Username and click Log On:

By default no Apps or Desktops will show in the Favorites view. Click around to see the Apps and Desktops now available via StoreFront:

On the Apps view, Notepad and Remote Desktop Connection client will be available. Click Notepad to validate published applications work properly:

The published application will start, as indicated by Citrix Receiver:

Notepad will launch from the VDA as expected:

Validate functionality by launching the RDP client as well:

On the Desktops tab, click the published desktop to validate functionality:

The Desktop Viewer will appear while the connection is established:

Since I logged in as an administrator, Server Manager launched automatically (for non-privileged accounts this will not launch by default):

That’s it! In this blog post, I have demonstrated how simple and easy it is to get up and running with Citrix on Windows Server 2019. This is a basic environment perfect for evaluation use, but not ideal for a scale-out production deployment. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Take care and enjoy Windows Server 2019 with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop!
Dane Young, MBA
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