Automating Citrix Provisioning Server Install with RES AM

Here is a blog post I put together on automating the build of Citrix Provisioning Services using RES Automation Manager 2012. Before we get into the details I thought I’d mention a few resources and solutions I found on the way which helped me out. A big thanks to:

Before you can begin you will need to make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  • Provisioning Server Software (PVS 6.1 used for this example);
  • Windows Server 2003 upwards (Windows 2008 R2 SP1 used in this example);
  • NET 3.5 or higher is installed;
  • RES Automation Manager 2012;
  • Use the latest Citrix Licensing server.

I’ve split the automated process in to two distinct parts; creating the PVS database and installing PVS to make it easier to digest. If you’re lazy or just want to crack on you can just download the building blocks and get going! Note: you will need to update the resource references to the PVS 6.1 installation files.

Creating the PVS Database

Before you can automate the PVS installation we need to have a database in place for the PVS servers to connect to. Unfortunately for us there’s not an easy way to accomplish this as we need to generate an SQL script with our required database values. As we’re invoking the creation process from RES Automation Manager 2012 we can utilise parameters so we can prompt the administrator for these values at run time.

To create the SQL script we first need to install the Provisioning Services software on a clean Windows 2008 R2 server or if you have an install already you can obtain from here. Once installed we can run C:\Program Files\Citrix\Provisioning Services\DBscript.exe to launch the Provisioning Services Database Script Generator. Exciting stuff I know !!!

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If we complete the details with placeholders (as above) for the database name and farm name, DBscript will create the required .SQL script with values that we can use within our RES Automation Manager jobs. Click OK and it will create the CreateProvisioningServerDatabase.sql file in the path specified, complete with embedded placeholders.

We can now import this file as a resource into the RES Automation Manager console. Note: remember to tick the ‘Parse Environment variable and parameters’ checkbox. If you forget to do this we’ll attempt to create a database with a name of $[PVSDB] which probably won’t work (not that I’ve checked!).

To create the required SQL database we can utilise the CreateProvisioningServerDatabase.sql file with the built in RES Automation Manager database connector task(s) or via SQLCMD on the local Microsoft SQL instance. As we’re cheap and can’t assume that you’re licensed for the relevant connector, we’ve utilised SQLCMD in the building blocks. For more details on this, download them and have a look.

After the database has been created we need add SQL permissions to the database (if using a network user for the SOAP and STREAM services). This is achieved with a couple of SQL statements (see the building blocks for more information). If we’re using an Windows service account to run these services, the user will be configured later during the install… And now the fun begins;

Installing and Configuring PVS

Now that the database is created we can move on to installing the software, configuring and adding servers to the farm. Installing the software is no problem however configuring and adding servers to the farm is a bit more involved. The method I used for configuring the servers was by utilising the configwizard.ans file which holds all the configuration items. By running the %PROGRAMFILES%\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.exe /s the answer file is in turn created here C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.ans.

Once we have the configwizard.ans file we can edit it and embed our RES Automation Manager 2012 parameters within it. If you’d like to know what options can be configured in the answer file, run configwizard.exe /c. The configuration wizard will write a C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\configwizard.out file. Again, all this information is in our building blocks.

I used two different answer files one for the first server joining the farm and the other for all subsequent servers. Below is an example of the first server configwizard.ans file:

IPServiceType=$[IPServiceType]
PXEServiceType=$[PXEServiceType]
FarmConfiguration=2
DatabaseServer=$[DBSERVER]
DatabaseInstance= FarmExisting=$[PVSFARM]
ExistingSite=$[PVSSITE]
ADGroup=$[DOMAIN]/Builtin/Administrators
Store=$[PVSSTORE]
DefaultPath=$[STOREDRIVE]$[STORELOCATION]
UserName=$[SERVICEACCOUNTUSER]
UserPass=$[SERVICEACCOUNTUSERPASSWORD]
network=$[NETWORKACCOUNT]
Database=$[DBCONFIGUSER]
PasswordManagementInterval=7
StreamNetworkAdapterIP=$[STREAMINGSERVERIP]
IpcPortBase=6890
IpcPortCount=20
SoapPort=54321
BootstrapFile=C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\Tftpboot\ARDBP32.BIN
LS1=$[STREAMINGSERVERIP],0.0.0.0,0.0.0.0,6910
AdvancedVerbose=0
AdvancedInterrultSafeMode=0
AdvancedMemorySupport=1
AdvancedRebootFromHD=0
AdvancedRecoverSeconds=50
AdvancedLoginPolling=5000
AdvancedLoginGeneral=30000

Once the answer file/files have been created and modified, import them into the RES Automation Manager resources. Note: remember to select the ‘Parse Environment variable and parameters’ checkbox!

Finally to automate the actual PVS install, we need to make sure we download these resources to the C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\ directory on the target server. Then we kick off the configuration wizard which will apply the configuration, by running configwizard.exe /a. Once complete the services should start automatically and when you start the PVS console and connect you should be presented with the new farm, well hopefully anyway !!

Problems Encountered

If you do have problems using the answer file and the install fails the best place to start troubleshooting is under C:\ProgramData\Citrix\Provisioning Services\Log directory. If all goes wrong you will notice that there will be only one file here;  configwizard.log. And at the end of this file hopefully it should give you some meaningful reason as to the failure. If all works fine and the services start you should see around 8 Log files and have a big smile on your face :D.

I did have other issues whilst getting this to work. Here are a few notes in case they help:

  • No device License available when a new machine is booted using provisioning server you will see the error in the streamprocess log on the PVS server and also on the device a pop message will say “No device License currently available for this computer a system shutdown will be initiated in 96 hours. I found the resolution to this problem was to upgrade the license server to the latest build.
  • PVS Console install does not install via AM job – ensure that UAC is disabled and use a security context to run the job instead of the local System account.
  • After a server install I could not mount Vdisks on PVS server and might get an error similar to “Cannot mount Vdisk mapi error”. Looked at device manager and noticed that the Citrix virtual hard disk Enumerator driver was not installed correctly. To resolve this first remove the device and then go to %PROGRAMFILES%\Citrix\Provision Services\Drivers right hand click and install cfsdep2.inf and then go back to device manager and add legacy hardware and select “I have disk” and then point to same location and the file is cvhdbusp6.inf. It should then hopefully install this device without any issues. Or the Preferred option with RES AM create a module to download the following CFSDep2.cat, CFSDep2.inf and CFSDep2.sys to C:\windows\system32\drivers before installing provisioning server and all should be okay.
  • When using a service account make sure that this user is given the required permissions i.e read/write on the PVS store directory on the PVS servers / db_datareader and db_datawriter on the database although the latter can be done if you select configure user for database.

Building blocks now updated as there was a problem with the Service Account password passing through to the answer file, this should be resolved. Have also added a module to remove the answer file as the password is in plain text.

Hope this helps, Enjoy ! Smile Simon

Internet Explorer Personalisation with RES Workspace Manager

Looking at user settings, below are some recommendations for managing Internet Explorer with RES Workspace Manager. These are not RES “best practices” but tips and tricks picked up in the field after a number of deployments.

  1. Configure IE User Settings at a global level (or as an ‘auto launched’ application) so that they get applied to the user’s session at log on. There are lots of applications that rely on these settings and if they’re loaded in the background, they may not be available when needed and cause confusion.
  2. Do not use “Zero Profile” mode User Tracking for Internet Explorer. I’ve seen lots of deployments with this enabled and it generates very large User Settings (UPR2 and UPF2) files as IE touches lots of files and registry keys when running. This will certainly result in slower log on/off times and is not required – use the built-in User Settings template.
  3. Keep user Favo(u)rites, Cookies and History User Settings separate from the IE application User Settings, i.e. define two User Settings. This is contrary to the default User Settings template supplied by RES, however, but this allows users to reset the general settings for IE without affecting the their personal Cookies, Favo(u)rites and History. image
  4. We have found that when using the default User Settings template supplied by RES it doesn’t capture any typed URL history in Internet Explorer. To resolve this issue just add the registry key : HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs to the IE application User Settings.
  5. If you have multiple managed instances of Internet Explorer, i.e. shortcuts to URLs that point to IEXPLORE.EXE make sure you link the settings back to the “master” IE application. Creating “snapshots” of the same keys and files/folders can cause major inconsistencies to the user’s environment as RES Workspace Manager loads different settings depending on which shortcut is used.

Enjoy ! Additional comments and recommendations are more then welcome!

Thanks,

Simon

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