Citrix Xenapp: Troubleshooting Printing Problems & Issues

For many years, printing has been the bane of the Citrix tech’s existence.  You work hard to put together a successful Citrix farm, carefully virtualizing applications and meeting user needs – but everything goes to pieces when the users try to print.  Citrix printing issues can usually be categorized into one of four categories:  Citrix issues, Print Driver Issues, Universal Print Driver Issues, or Application problems. Let’s take a look at a few common printer related trouble calls that a Citrix tech may receive:

How should printers be deployed in the environment?

In the old days, you would commonly deploy printers through a complex login script if you did anything at all.  Keep in mind that deploying printers with a login script can cause slow logins – See my other blog: http://citrixtechs.com/blog/?p=42

In many offices, users are responsible for mapping their own printers.  In today’s world through the magic of Microsoft GPO, printers can be deployed to a non-technical user base with relative ease.  Use the following article to guide you with such GPO based printer deployments:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722179(v=ws.10).aspx

  • Make sure to utilize the Citrix stress printers tool in your test/dev environment so that you can test print drivers before putting them into your production farm.

Problems with the print spooler?

Citrix techs usually spend some of their time wrestling with the print spooler.  The print spooler on a Citrix server may hang, stop responding, or gobble the entire CPU of a server in certain scenarios.  If you find that your print spooler is hung, the first thing you may try is to restart it through the services console.  If the print spooler refuses to restart, or it is gobbling 100% of the cpu in task manager – you may have a specific rogue printer drive that is causing the issue.  You’ll need to open the printers folder and see if there is a driver with stuck jobs on it.  If you find this, delete the driver from the server and watch as the CPU returns to normal in the task manager.

Problems with the Citrix printing account?

The Citrix printing account can occasionally go corrupt, or be missing key permissions needed for it to function properly.  If you suspect problems with this account, try switching the service from using this account to the local account to see if issues resolve.  If problems go away, then you’ll need to use the Citrix account recreation tool (CTX113554) to rebuild the account, and follow CTX113555 to make sure that the permissions are assigned correctly.

How are my Citrix print policies configured?

Remember that all aspects of printing can be controlled through Citrix print policies.  Until the latest version of Citrix, the Universal Print Driver (UPD) is available for client connected printers only.  Depending on how you configure the Citrix print policies, your users may or may not be allowed to use the UPD, or to use native drivers. If you’ve excluded certain drivers from your farm after using the Citrix stress printers tool, you can use Citrix print policies to prohibit specific rogue drivers that you know to be a problem on your farm.

My Citrix print policies are not being applied!

In most cases where this is reported, Citrix print policies are applied – but then they are taken away by some other rogue GPO or policy in the environment.  As with all GPO troubleshooting, the best way to troubleshoot this is to place a test server in it’s own OU and block all inheritance. Log in with a test user account, and verify that you can get the policy to work properly when other Microsoft GPO’s are completely out of the mix.  Once you’ve proven this, then start adding back one GPO at a time until you find the troublemaker.

Can Roaming Profiles be causing printing issues for users?

Absolutely!  There have been many cases recorded where Citrix techs had to delete and recreate user roaming profiles to solve printer auto-creation issues.  I’ve witnessed some cases where users were not getting their default printer assigned correctly according to policy, etc.

Problems with certain versions of the ICA Client?

There are many documented issues with older versions of the ICA client.  If you suspect a client issue, upgrade to a newer version of the client and see if the issue resolves.

Hot Fix and Patch level?

Every roll up pack for Citrix has contained multiple fixes involving printer and auto-creation of print drivers, etc.  For this reason, I generally recommend that you always make sure your farm is operating on the most recent hot fix roll-up package from Citrix.

Problems with the version of printer drivers on print servers?

You may need to experiment with different versions of print drivers to troubleshoot certain issues.  There have been documented issues with some PCL drivers, Ricoh drivers, etc – where certain versions did not work with Citrix, but when upgraded issues were resolved.  Also be aware that some print manufacturers may require that you be running a certain level of .NET framework in order for their drivers to function completely.

Is the printing problem application specific?

Someone may submit a ticket that they can’t print over Citrix via the Great Plains application.  The first thing you should do is have them try to print from Notepad or any other application.  If the printing issue only occurs through a specific application, work with the application vendor to trace the issue.  It could be that their application depends on a certain version of .NET framework or some other server side requirement in order for printing to function properly.  If you want to rule Citrix out completely, log in via RDP to the desktop of the terminal server in question and launch the problem application.  Try printing via RDP, and if the same issue occurs there – Citrix can be ruled out of the equation.

CPViewer.exe is gobbling resources and freezing my servers?

This is a known issue with Citrix printing when you are using applications that start many small print jobs.  This is common with check printing applications, or other apps that might send 100+ small print jobs to the queue at any given time.  The resolution is to employ a registry change (Mentioned in CTX114755) that stops this behavior.

Are there print related errors in the event viewer?

Most terminal servers and Citrix servers will have a certain amount of printer related errors in the event viewer.  You can determine if you are looking at relevant errors by the printer name that is specified in the error message and the time/date stamp.  Event viewer errors may be able to tell you if certain users are not able to get their printers when they log on, or if some printers are hung or having difficulty printing.

Should I use the Citrix Universal Print Driver?

The Citrix UPD has been a great invention that has gotten better with each revision of Citrix.  By using the UPD a savvy Citrix Tech can make sure he isn’t loading his servers up with a bunch of unnecessary print drivers.  Anybody who has run a Citrix farm for a period of time knows the dangers of allowing their clients to connect from home and print to their client attached printers.  While you may have carefully screened the printers you allow on your network in the office, the printers people have on their desks at home can pose a danger to your terminal servers.  If these drivers are allowed to load individually, they can interfere with or cause corruption with other drivers on the server.  By utilizing the UPD, a Citrix administrator can cut down on print driver headaches dramatically.  The only caveat is that some advanced printer functionality may be lost if the printers perform activities like stapling, collating, etc – so test UPD compatibility if you have important client printers in the environment.

Third Party Citrix print software?

Later versions of Citrix Xenapp seem to have dramatically fewer print problems than versions of the past.  I’d say that anyone running Xenapp 6 or newer will probably be ok utilizing the built in features for Citrix printing.  If you are running a version of Citrix older that Xenapp 6, you might want to consider using a 3rd party print software package like Tricerat Screwdrivers.  Screwdrivers allows you to completely turn off Citrix printing features from within Xenapp or Presentation Server, and rely completely on the third party tool for all printing activities.  While expensive to some companies, my experience has shown that companies with a lot of printer problems should at least consider using a third party tool like this to take some of the workload off of their Citrix administrators.

 

References:

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX113555

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX113554

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722179(v=ws.10).aspx

http://www.tricerat.com/products/screwdrivers

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX106812

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX114755

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