At Citrix, we have a team called ‘Citrix on Citrix’ within the IT organization that is responsible for deploying Citrix technologies internally – ‘drinking our own champagne’ as the saying goes. The Citrix on Citrix team have deployed a managed Synchronizer for XenClient that includes images available for users to download (see Figure 1 below). Citrix® Synchronizer for XenClient™ enables laptops with XenClient to download centrally managed virtual desktops. Using Synchronizer, IT can centrally backup user data through the secure connection whenever the user connects to the internet, define security policies for managed laptops, disable lost or stolen XenClient laptops and restore a user’s virtual desktop on any XenClient based laptop.

I recently chatted with the Citrix IT team about their process to create the golden corporate image for XenClient deployment and wanted to share their experiences.

A bit of background first. The IT team provides employees with two images from the corporate Synchronizer: a standard Citrix Windows 7 corporate image and a personal Windows 7 image.  You’ll have to have Software Assurance or the Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) license from Microsoft to run multiple copies of Windows if you want to deploy this multi VM use case.

Corporate IT Image – Components

The corporate IT image is the same as that used for the Citrix internal XenDesktop deployment with a couple of exceptions.  It does not include the XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) install and it does have XenClient Tools installed.  More specifically, the corporate IT image includes:

  • XenClient Tools
  • Latest Windows 7 updates
  • Citrix Receiver for Windows
  • Office 2010 and various other productivity applications
  • Anti-virus
  • Citrix’ ESD (software deployment and management) tool agent

The image management team uses the MS Deployment Toolkit to automate the installation of the OS, applications, drivers, etc. for the master image.  These tools allow you to select what you want to install and it provides for unattended install of the selected components and best of all, it’s free.

Of note for enterprises with international presence, Citrix does not have geo specific images.  Language packs are all included in the standard image.

Corporate IT Image – Sysprep

Once the OS and applications above are installed in the master image, Citrix IT Syspreps the image and provides a Windows 7 unattended answer file.  Sysprep provides the option to run the ‘Out-of-box-experience’ and ‘General’.  Citrix IT runs both  (Sysprep /generalize /oobe). The answer file is in the form of an XML script. The Sysprep process:

  • Clears event logs
  • Clears SIDs and logins and disables the admin account
  • Adds the image VM to the AD domain
  • Provides a UI for the Citrix employee to specify their geographic location as part of the out-of-box-experience on first launch of the OS.
  • Adds a service account to the image for service desk access

Once the image has been Sysprepped and sealed, the image is uploaded to the Synchronizer for distribution to XenClient devices.

Personal Image – Components

The personal image is bare-bones.  It includes:

  • Citrix Receiver for Windows
  • Corporate provided personal anti-virus software
  • Adobe Acrobat

The user is able to install their own applications in this environment.

The personal image is also Sysprepped but without any answer file. As with the corporate IT image, once the image has been Sysprepped and sealed, the image is uploaded to the Synchronizer for distribution to XenClient devices.

At the end of the image creation and publishing process, the end user will see their desktop image options when they connect to the corporate Synchronizer.  An example is provided below.

Figure 1

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