Citrix Default Printer Won’t Retain

The Windows default printer is a magical thing. This is the printer that is selected by default when you print in an application. Depending on your particular printing workflow this may be the only printer you ever use. Some applications have a quick print functionality that sends a print job to the default printer using default settings and no prompts (for example, portrait orientation and a single copy). To make a printer your default, simply right-click it and select default printer.

default_printerWhen you use Citrix, a Windows default printer is still a Windows default printer. The difference is that Citrix has administrative policies to help you decide what will be the default.

I recently ran into an issue with a new XenDesktop v7.6 environment where users could select a new default printer using the method above but the next day when they logged on to their desktop it was set back to Microsoft XPS Document Writer. A quick note on Microsoft XPS Document Writer, as you may have noticed it installed on your computer, it is really a print-to-file driver Microsoft created to allow you to save print output in the Microsoft XML Paper Specification.  If you have never used it, do not feel bad, it is more likely you have used the immensely popular PDF format made popular by Adobe before becoming an open standard in 2008.

By default, the user’s current printer is used as the default printer for the session. For example, my laptop’s default printer is HP Deskjet 3520 series (Network).  When I logon to my Citrix desktop it will redirect the laptop printers into the session including my default printer.  That is ideal for a laptop user.

redirected_printer

For my next example, I am using a thin client that does not have a default printer because it does not have an OS. It can only connect to a Citrix desktop. When I logon from the thin client it will not see a default printer so it will make the first printer on the Citrix desktop the default. Often times this ends up being the Microsoft XPS Document Writer instead of the HP Deskjet 3520 series (Network).

At first, the issue seemed related to a Windows user profile issue since everyone lost their setting from one logon to the next.  After verifying that other Windows user settings were being retained (i.e. wallpaper, Office settings, and the printer mappings themselves), I moved on to Citrix print policies.   There is a specific policy I found interesting:

Default printer

citrix_default_printer_policyLooking closer at the policy it defaults to “Set default printer to the client’s main printer”.  Most of the time this will result in using the default printer on the user’s endpoint (e.g. laptop or desktop).  If that endpoint is a thin client or even an iPad it will not have a default printer to redirect so you will end up with the first printer in the session.

I made a new policy and set it to “Do not adjust the user’s default printer” and gave it a higher priority then the others and assigned it to my test user account.

citrix_default_printer_policy_detailsI then ran a gpupdate on each test worker to verify it had the new policy.  To test, I logged on with the test user, changed my default printer to a network printer.  I then logged out and put that test server in maintenance mode ensuring my next logon would go to the other test server.  Success, my new default printer was retained.  To be extra sure there was not anything cached locally, I rebooted both non-persistent workers and logged in again.  Success.  The final steps were to make the policy apply to more users and have them test before rolling it out to everyone on both the test and production workers.

Printing is rarely thought of as complicated but it always is.  If you are running into a similar issue then this policy change could be your answer.

Brian Olsen @sagelikebrian

BriForum Comes to Denver

IT conferences are a great way to catch up on what is new, take classes, and network with peers in the industry. I have been lucky enough to attend great shows like Citrix Summit and Synergy as well as VMware VMworld over the years. The conference for me that always fell just out of reach was BriForum. This year it is all going to change. I am more than a little excited that one of the world’s premier IT conferences has chosen Denver, Colorado for this year’s US location. BriForum is an independent conference that provides vendor-neutral perspective on current and emerging technologies and services.

redrocks

Check out this year’s list of sessions:
http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/gabeknuth/archive/2015/03/09/check-out-the-list-of-sessions-for-briforum-denver-2015-july-20-22.aspx

If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed a third of the way down the list a special session, “vSGA, vDGA, vGPU, and Software – When and Why“, being presented by Lewan’s very own expert speaker Kenneth Fingerlos (@kfingerlos).

kenneth_sm

Kenneth will be talking about the new graphics intensive workloads that are possible in VDI thanks to highend GPUs from NVIDIA.  He will specifically be digging into the different methods you can use to virtualize the GPU and when and why you would want to choose each method.  I promise you this will be a deep technical dive preparing you for your next graphics intensive virtual desktop project.

Check out the Lewan IT Solutions Technical Blog for more great technical information from Kenneth.

Come join Lewan at BriForum 2015 if you would like to learn more about solutions from Citrix, VMware, Microsoft and much more.

Brian Olsen (@sagelikebrian)

Why is a smaller number of virtual CPUs better?

Note: This article is designed to serve as a high level introduction to the topic and as such uses a very basic explanation. Papers for those that wish to dive into more technical details of the topic are available elsewhere.

In a virtual environment such as VMware or Hyper-V, multiple virtual machines (VMs) operate on the same physical hardware. In order to make this function, a small piece of software, called a hypervisor operates to schedule the virtual resources with the physical hardware. As a virtual machine enters a state where CPU resources are required the VM is placed into a CPU ready state until enough physical CPUs are available to match the number of virtual CPUs.

The hypervisor will schedule VMs to available physical resources until all resources that can be scheduled are used.

Each VM will run on the physical CPUs until either it needs to wait for an I/O operation or the VM uses up its time slice. At that point the VM will either be placed into the I/O wait state until the I/O completes or be placed back in the ready queue, waiting for available physical resources.

As physical resources become available, they hypervisor will schedule VMs to run on those resources. In some cases, not all physical resources will be in use, due to the number of virtual CPUs required by the VMs in the ready state.

The process continues as VMs either wait for I/O or use their time slice on the physical CPUs.

In some cases there are no VMs in the ready state, at which point the scheduled VM will not time out until another VM requires the resources

Often a VM with fewer virtual CPUs will be able to be scheduled before one with more virtual CPUs due to resource availability.

In some cases a VM will complete an I/O operation and immediately be scheduled on available physical resources.

Algorithms are in place to ensure that no VM completely starves for CPU resources but the VMs with more virtual CPUs will be scheduled less frequently and will also impact the amount of time the smaller VMs can utilize the physical resources.

A VM with high CPU utilization and little I/O will move between the ready queue and running on the CPUs more frequently. In this case, the operating system will report high CPU utilization, even though the VM may not be running for a majority of the real time involved.

In these situations, operating system tools that run within the VM may indicate that more CPUs are required when, in reality, the opposite is actually the case. A combination of metrics at the hypervisor and at the operating system level is usually required to truly understand the underlying issues.

Lewan Named to 2015 Tech Elite 150 List

For the third year in a row, Lewan has been recognized for our exemplary approach to delivery of Managed IT Services and been awarded a spot on the 2015 MSP Elite 150 list, part of CRN’s Managed Service Provider 500 (MSP500) list. The Elite 150 group is recognized as large data center-focused solution providers with a strong mix of on-premise professional services as well as off-premise services.

From CRN:

This annual list distinguishes the top technology providers and consultants in North America whose leading approach to managed services enables their customers to improve operational efficiencies, elicit greater value from their IT investments, and successfully leverage technology to achieve greater competitive advantage.

In today’s world of outsourced IT, the expertise of MSPs has become increasingly important to organizations. The plethora of choices in terms of consumption and procurement of technology can become overwhelming. To help facilitate companies’ selection and adoption of managed services and providers, CRN, the leading media outlet for technology vendors and solution providers who serve end-user customers, has identified the top 500 MSPs.

“The allure of Everything-as-a-Service to organizations is largely rooted in the appeal of predictable operational expenses, cost-cutting, resource allocation and access to on-demand/pay-as-you-go technology. Therein lies a great need for the expertise of managed service providers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “We congratulate the managed service providers who have engineered, or re-engineered, their businesses to deliver the services their customers rely on for future growth and ongoing success.”

Lewan Named to 2014 Tech Elite 250 List

Lewan has once again earned a prestigious spot on CRN’s 2014 list of Tech Elite 250 IT Solution Providers. This elite group of IT solution providers have invested in the training and education needed to earn the most advanced technical certifications from leading vendors.

Lewan Technology, CRN Tech Elite 250From CRN:

In compiling the list, CRN editors worked with The Channel Company’s research group to define the most customer-beneficial technical certifications in the IT channel. These technical certifications – from vendors including Cisco, Citrix, Dell, HP, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware, and Symantec – have enabled solution providers to deliver the most premium products, service and support to their North American customers.

“The solution providers highlighted on our annual Tech Elite 250 have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and gained industry credibility by investing in the IT certifications necessary to stay competitive and deliver the highest level of service to their customers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “These featured solution providers have enhanced and strengthened their partnerships by earning some of the most difficult certifications from some of the biggest names in IT. We congratulate these organizations and look forward to their continued success.”

Thinking about a VDI initiative? Watch this.

Lewan Solutions Architect, Kenneth Fingerlos, wowed the crowd last month at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) 2014 with his presentation on VDI, “Virtual is Better than Physical Delivering a Delightful User Experience from a Virtual Desktop“.

GTC is the world’s biggest and most important GPU developer conference. Taking place in Silicon Valley, GTC offers unmatched opportunities to learn how to harness the latest GPU technology, along with face-to-face interaction with industry luminaries and NVIDIA experts.

Leveraging his industry leading expertise, Kenneth “delivered in spades,” as described in a review of his presentation for The Register:

The VDI talk was the kind of GTC session I love. It’s where a real-world expert talks about how a difficult task is actually accomplished. Not the theory, not how it should work on paper, but what it takes to actually move a project from Point “A” to Point “We’re done with this”.
Ken Fingerlos from Lewan Technology delivered in spades with his “Virtual is Better than Physical: Delivering a Delightful User Experience from a Virtual Desktop” GTC14 session. Delightful? Hmm…In my past lives, I’ve had to use some virtual PCs and my experience ranged from “absolutely unusable” to “omg I hate this”.
It’s easy to see that Fingerlos has been around the block when it comes to VDI. He has all the right credentials, ranging from VMware to Citrix to Microsoft. But more importantly, he’s been there and done it.

Read the complete review from theregister.co.uk

Kenneth’s GTC Presenter’s Bio

View the complete session and slide deck:
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Creating a Recurring Email in Windows Server 2008 Using Exchange 2010

On occasion, an organization may have a need to send a recurring email. In the case of one of our customers, there was a need to send a weekly notice to users that patches would be applied to the terminal servers overnight with a friendly reminder to save any work. To set this up is really quite simple. Here is how:

First, open the Task Schedule and choose Create Task. This will open the Task Properties window.

Task Scheduler ActionsOn the General tab of the Task Properties window, fill in a Description. Choose the user account from which you would like to send the email. Finally, choose “Run whether user is logged on or not” and “Run with highest privileges.

Task Scheduler Task PropertiesOn the Triggers tab, click New. Make selections as appropriate for the frequency and be sure to check Enabled.

On the Actions tab, choose “Send an e-mail” from the Action drop-down menu. Fill out the From, Subject, and Text of the message. Add any appropriate attachment and fill in the SMTP server address. If the Scheduled Task is being configured on your Exchange server, you can simply enter 127.0.0.1 for the SMTP server. Click OK to return to the Task Properties window.

Task Scheduler New ActionOn the Conditions tab, specify the conditions under which the task should run.

On the Settings tab, you should choose  “Allow task to be run on demand”.

After clicking OK to close all the Windows, right-click the task, and click Run to test. Ensure that the test email is received by the intended recipient(s).

In some instances, you may need to configure a Receive Connector on your Exchange server which allows anonymous relay. You can find a instructions for doing that on Microsoft’s website here.