While most IT pros heard about XenClient and even experienced the power of this bare metal hypervisor technology, not everyone cared about the back-end system (Synchronizer) yet.

You might have read my blog about why Synchronizer is a must

This blog is going to guide you through the VM life cycle management and the various deployment methods available with XenClient and Synchronizer. Using a With Step by step approach with many illustrations and screenshots it will give a an impression how straight forward and easy OS deployment can be. Self service scenarios and  backup / recovery initiated by the use will add lots of flexibility, remove load on the administrators and shorten the time to resolve in case of a hardware failure.

This blog refers to XenClient Version1 Service Pack . 

Step 1 – Author a golden image  

Authoring an image is the process of creating your golden master image. This includes a standard installation from a media or by invoking PXE boot and using your standard software distribution tool. On top of the normal OS install you’ll install the XeClient tools, which adds optimized drivers and service for e.g. power control.  After that you’re ready to upload the image to the Synchronizer for XenClient.


Step 2 – Upload an image to a Synchronizer

As seen on the illustration above, there are two choices when uploading and image:

  • Dynamic image mode
    • This will brake up the image in three disks, OS disk (read only), profile / data disk and application disk. This allows to layer the image and implement a true single image architecture which can deal with block level differential updates and user efficient user backups
  • Static image mode
    • Static image mode will be used in situation where a user is allowed to add anything to the image including additional applications. This will allow backups too, but not being limited to user data and profiles, hence creates more traffic when a backups is being transmitted.

Keep checking for updates on the product site, we’ll add another image mode with the next version of XenClient! 


 Use the upload button on the Citrix Receiver

 Enter the FQDN of the receiver (only the first time)


 Verify / Confirm the fingerprint (only the first time)

  Press CTRL+ALT+BSP to enter the secure login

 Enter your Credentials

 Enter the image name

 The upload process has started

 Successfully uploaded version 1 of a golden image
Step 3 – Assigning users/group to a VM

Since we uploaded a virtual desktop to the Synchronizer the next step is to create users / groups, if not already done and assign the image to the users / groups. During the assignment process, policies can be set such as “calling home” or backup frequency and limitation of USB device usage and much more.

 Define or select user

 Assign the image to the user

 Set policies

Step 3 – User self service VM deployement

Everything is set by know, to allow the user to install the assigned VM, the only requirement is a XenClient installed on the users computer. The installation of the XenClient can be done either, by booting from a optical media, a USB stick or by an full automated installation from the network using PXE boot.

 The user will select Download from Syncrhonizer

 The user will be requested to authenticate

 The user can choose from a selection of assigned VM’s

 The download of the image will start

Step 4 – Update a VM (golden image)

When ever an administrator want to update the OS, he just launches the VM and applies the updates and re-uploads the image. When an existing images is being re-uploaded, the system will increase the version number of that desktop. If the admin assigns a different VM name, a new desktop with version 1 will be created. As you can see in the illustration, only block level differences to the existing images will be compressed and uploaded to the Synchronizer.

The new version can then be assigned to users and groups. This allows an organization to maintain and switch between different versions and update users with newer build over time if required.



Step 5 – User Backup

When ever a the backup schedule, set by a policy is triggered or the user, if allowed starts a backup, all block level changes (depending on the image mode) since the last backup, are compressed and uploaded to the Synchronizer.

 User initiated backup

Step 5 – User self service recovery

The user self service recover function allows a user to completely restore hes desktop including all data based on the latest backup without any interaction with the IT department. The user just logs into the system and instead of choosing from a fresh image, he can select restore from backup.

 User selects Download from Synchronizer

User now chooses Restore from Backup

The download of the VM including the backup starts

I hope that gives you an impression about how XenClient with Synchronizer can not only help you for running multiple desktops simultaneously on a local computer but also streamlines the deployment and backup process for these clients.

Interested to experience this yourself?

Sign up for Synergy 2011, we’ll run a 3 hour hands on lab where we cover these tasks on real physical notebooks on a real network with real Synchronizers!

Check it out here:

Have fun with your XenClient and Synchronizer for XenClient!

Walter Hofstetter