Citrix or Microsoft: Troubleshooting Process to Rule Out Citrix Xenapp

Often times when we get support calls for our Citrix Xenapp environments, our gut reaction is to be defensive and say that the problem could not possibly be Citrix.  With Microsoft, Networking, Storage, Databases, Printers, and Users all in the mix — there is plenty that could go wrong besides Citrix.  In reality, the problem could be Citrix related — or it might not be, so a scientific approach is warranted to make sure we properly rule components in or out based on hard data and facts.  In this article we'll talk about how you can rule out Microsoft, The Network, and Storage as the possible causes of your Citrix Xenapp issues.

Step 1 — Use Microsoft RDP APP Tool

By using the Microsoft RDP APP tool, we can take Citrix completely out of the picture, and determine if the problem still exists in a Microsoft only environment.  This is very useful, because it is a quick and simple way to show management or vendors where the problem is originating from.  If you deploy this tool and can't launch an application over RDP, then your problem is most likely originating from the Microsoft side.  Possible fixes could include hotfixes, configurations, or a call to your Microsoft TAM so you can get deep support.  If the RDP APP process works fine, then your problem is more likely to land on the Citrix side of the house.  Quite often, Citrix engineers will use this tool to determine cause before owning a case and working it.

To specify a program to start a connection using Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, complete the following procedure:

  • Open Start > Programs or All Programs > Accessories > Communications > Remote Desktop Connection

  • Click Options in the lower left corner to display additional tabs.
  • On the General tab, specify the XenApp server hostname, Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) or IP address.
  • Activate the Programs tab.
  • Select the Start the following program on connection: option.
  • Type the path to the executable and the folder, as shown in the following screen shot:

  • Click Connect.
  • Complete the Windows authentication if prompted.

More Information

You might receive the following error message:

To resolve this error, complete the following steps:

Presentation Server 4.5 or XenApp 5 on Windows Server 2003

1. Click Start > Programs or All Programs > Administrative Tools > Terminal Services Configuration.

2. Right-click on RDP-Tcp listener, in the Connections hive.

3. Select Properties.

4. Activate the Citrix Settings tab.

5. Clear the Non-Administrators only launch published applications option.

XenApp 6.x on Windows Server 2008 R2

1. Open the Citrix AppCenter management console.

2. Select Policies under your farm.

3. Activate the User tab.

4. Add a new or modify an existing user policy.
Note: You can edit the Unfiltered User Policy, to ensure that it is applied for all users to all servers.

5. In the Edit Policy Window, on the Settings tab, open ICA settings.

6. Enable the Launching of non-Administrator programs during client connection option.

7. Ensure that the policy is filtered properly to the user that is used for the RDP connection.
Note: You can edit the Unfiltered User Policy to ensure that it is applied for all users to all servers.

Step 2: Determine If There Is A Network Problem

Determining if there is a network issue in your environment can be as simple as running a PING command from the command line, or as complex as deploying Wireshark to capture packets for analysis.  Situations where you would suspect a network issue might include finding errors in your event viewer that mention a TIMEOUT, or a server that took too long to respond.  You might launch an application from your web interface to find XML errors in the EV perhaps.  In cases like this, you'll want to start by pinging your Xenapp servers from the Web Interface server (Assuming ping is permitted by your network appliances in between).  The next step might be to telnet from the web interface to your XML broker over the XML port you have defined (80 by default, but many use 8080).  If these basics tests fail, you should know immediately that something is going on with your network.  If the problem is of a more intermittent nature, you should consider running network tracing tools such as Wireshark.

For a short video on how to install and set up a network capture using Wireshark, play the YouTube below:

Another tool you might consider if you believe you have network problems on one of your Xenapp servers, or network latency issues to your Xenapp servers would be the SMC Console tool.  This is a relatively small utility that can be placed on a Xenapp server without installation, and run to monitor status of the network connectivity.  As you can see from the graphic below, the display is very simple to decipher — and it's a basic tool that can provide you with a lot of useful information when troubleshooting:


Step 3: Rule Out Storage As The Cause of The Problem

With the prevalence of Citrix Provisioning Server (PVS) — you can never assume that storage is not the issue.  Starting from the very basics, only certain storage manufacturers are recommended for use with Citrix, and beyond that only certain device drivers, BIOS versions, etc should be deployed with Citrix.  When PVS is in play, usually networking or storage will be your bottleneck if you are having a performance issue.  Depending on which storage manufacturer you are using, your troubleshooting tools will be different.  Typically the storage portion of a Citrix deployment will be managed by a seperate team, typically the "storage team".  For an example of how the storage team might view the logs, check IOPS, and rule storage out — check out the video below:




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