At Citrix Synergy 2018, we made several announcements showcasing how we’re helping organizations on their digital transformation journey — especially for those customers who have a significant Linux workforce.

Our Synergy session, SYN130 — Demystifying Linux VDI: how to deliver Linux virtual desktops on-demand, not only covered the progress of the Linux VDA since its release a few years ago, but also best practices from a longtime Citrix customer. Southern Company, a large gas and utility company in the Southeastern US, discussed its movement toward Linux VDA from Metaframe for Unix and the valuable lessons learned during its transition to the digital workspace.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Synergy, you can view the breakout session on-demand. During the session, I also covered some of the feature enhancements on the roadmap for Linux VDA. Today, I am excited to announce the availability of some of those features with the release of Linux VDA 7.18.  This valuable post-Synergy release delivers multiple key features that provide enhanced user experience and security for Linux deployments, so let’s take a look at what those are!

Support for Citrix Machine Creation Services

One of the biggest offerings with the release of 7.18 Linux VDA is support for Machine Creation Services. Aside from Provisioning Services, one of the most in-demand features, Machine Creation Services offers easy ways to provision Linux VDAs, in addition to Provisioning Services. It’s all about giving our customers choices that best fit their deployments. Now customers can decide between PVS or MCS depending on their environments.

Now with Machine Creation Services, creating and updating a large number of Linux virtual desktops is simple and seamless. You start out managing your golden image and continue to manage that single golden image. All patching is done in one place and then copied to your servers when they boot up. Server build consistency is assured because all of your servers are using a single shared copy of the disk image. If a server becomes corrupted, simply reboot it and it’s instantly back to the known good state of your master image. Upgrading your environment is also extremely fast. Once you have your updated image ready for production, you simply assign the new image version to the servers. Additionally, roll-backs can be done in the same manner, so problems with new images will not take your servers or your users out of commission for an extended period of time. Similarly, those provisioned non-persistent virtual machines are also great for use cases such as on-premises secure browser implementations.

Support for Federated Authentication Service

The Citrix Federated Authentication Service is a privileged component, designed to integrate with Active Directory Certificate Services. It dynamically issues certificates for users, allowing them to log on to an Active Directory environment as if they had a smart card. This allows StoreFront to use a broader range of authentication options, such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) assertions. With the latest Linux VDA release, Linux users enjoy improved productivity without impact to their organizations’ security.

Selective use of the H.264 video codec to compress graphics

This feature enables HDX Thinwire to detect and encode parts of the screen that are frequently updated using the H.264 video codec, for example, video content. Still, image compression (JPEG, RLE) and bitmap caching continue to be used for the rest of the screen, including text and photographic imagery.

While the Windows VDA has had selective H.264 support for some time, this release, now brings selective use of the H.264 video codec to Linux users.

Users get the benefit of lower bandwidth and better quality for video content combined with lossless text or high quality imagery elsewhere. To enable this feature, change the policy setting “Use video codec for compression” to “Use when preferred (default)” or “For actively changing regions”.

Support for hardware encoding using H.265

With this release, Linux VDA now supports the H.265 video codec for hardware acceleration of remote graphics and videos. Thus, along with NVIDIA GRID GPUs that support H.265 in NvENC, Linux VDA can now save more bandwidth of full screen encoding mode. This is easy to recognize in your deployments.

To benefit from this feature, enable it on both the Linux VDA and on Citrix Receiver. If the GPU at the endpoint does not support H.265 decoding using the DXVA interface, the H.265 Decoding for graphics policy setting is ignored and the session falls back to using the H.264 video codec. For more information, see H.265 video encoding and Configure graphics.

Enhancement for TW+ source

Within this release, the “Build to lossless” preference of the Visual quality policy setting is now H.264 instead of JPEG for moving images. H.264 encoding offers superior image quality. The Use video codec for compression policy controls that preference, with the default being “Use when preferred.” To force “Build to lossless” to use JPEG as previous releases do, set the Use video codec for compression policy to “Do not use video codec.” If Citrix Receiver does not support Selective H.264, “Build to lossless” falls back to JPEG regardless of the policy settings.

DTLS encryption for secure user sessions

Previously available as an experimental feature, DTLS encryption is a fully supported feature in this release. XenApp and XenDesktop support the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol for TCP-based connections between components. XenApp and XenDesktop also support the Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) protocol for UDP-based ICA/HDX connections using adaptive transport.

Client IME user interface synchronization

In previous releases, the client IME user interface (including the composition window and candidate window) was positioned in the upper left corner of the screen and sometimes it is far from the cursor in the text edit area. It did not follow the cursor and sometimes was located far from the cursor in the text input area, especially in the application delivery mode.

Starting with this release, Citrix is enhancing the seamless experience with the client IME.

Tech Preview – Enhanced HDX 3D Pro for multi-monitor sessions

Previously, hardware encoding by using NVIDIA cards could support only a limited number of monitors with the overall resolution not to exceed 4096 x 4096. This release introduces an experimental feature to exceed this limitation.

Try out these awesome features by upgrading to Linux VDA 7.18 today! Let us know what you think of the latest Linux VDA enhancements by following me on Twitter.