Recently, I’ve been fielding lots of questions related to Remote PC functionality available with the latest version of XenDesktop. Remote PC is a combination of the XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) and the Remote PC broker. These two separate items allow users to access their physical desktops remotely along with having their desktop automatically assigned inside XenDesktop.

How do you enable RemotePC when installing the XenDesktop VDA?

To install the XenDesktop VDA on a physical desktop and enable Remote PC functionality, no special switches are needed as is the case is when enabling HDX 3D pro . The XenDesktop VDA should deployed as MSI package with the DDC FDQN set via transform file or set via GPO (CTX127301) . If the Windows firewall is enabled on the desktop, the VDA should be installed with the “ENABLE_HDX_PORTS” & “ENABLE_UDP_PORTS” switches to automatically open the firewall ports. If you keep the Windows firewall disabled like me (not recommended!), these switches are not needed.

Can I have RemotePC functionality without the Remote PC service on the DDC?

Yes, the VDA can be installed on a physical PC without the Remote PC service running on the Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC). An administrator would then have to manually add the user’s computer inside XenDesktop. Also, the Remote PC service can also be used without physical desktops in the equation. A use case could be automating the process of adding existing virtual desktops into the XenDesktop environment.

Are Remote PC desktops supported in StoreFront and the HTML5 client?

Yes, Remote PC desktops works with StoreFront and will appear inside Receiver and Receiver for Web. The HTML5 client may also be used to connect to Remote PC desktops.

How do users get assigned users to their desktop?
After the XenDesktop VDA is installed, the next domain user that logs into a console session (locally or via RDP), is automatically added assigned to that desktop. If another domain user logs on to console session, they will also be added to the desktop user list. You can restict what users can get added to the desktop user list by modifying the UserSecurityGroup option in the RemotePCAccessConfig.xml file.

How do you deploy Remote PC to users?

On an organizational wide scale, administrators have multiple options for deploying the RemotePC feature. They can deploy the VDA automatically through their package management software or they can allow users to opt into installing VDA on their own. If not all users require remote access to their physical device, an internal website can be created that allows users to download the VDA themselves. The website should also explain the benefits of having remote access and the steps needed to install the software. This is as simple as clicking the executable and then rebooting the device.

Who are the best candidates for Remote PC?

The individuals who would benefit the most from Remote PC are users that can not be easily transitioned to a virtual desktop although they require fast and secure remote access to their data and applications. Of course, RemotePC is a great feature for anyone that is still using a physical desktop or laptop that requires remote access along with all the great HDX features Citrix has to offer such as Aero & Media Redirection. For users that have multiple monitors, their configuration should be tested with RemotePC before providing them access. While RemotePC supports multi-monitor configurations, it does introduce some issues that could potentially impact the end user if they have icons spread across monitors or have monitors of varying resolutions.

How does Remote PC differ from HDX 3D Pro on a physical computer?

HDX 3D Pro allows a physical desktop or virtual machine with a graphics card (GPU) passed through to utilize the GPU to render DirectX and OpenGL applications. It also can utilize different compression algorithms instead of the standard ICA protocol. Remote PC uses the standard ICA thinwire protocol and does not allow offloading to the GPU to render video files or 3D apps. HDx 3D Pro is also built into the standard VDA although it requires that you install it via command-line switches.

How does the RemotePC Service work?

A new service has been introduced that  sits on a single DDC. The service calls a PowerShell script (RemotePCAccess.ps1) that is executed periodically. The PowerShell script takes care of automatically creating a Catalog, Desktop Group, and adding machines, eliminating the need for administrators to manually populate their XenDeskotop environment.