Installing and Configuring Citrix XenDesktop 5.6

In this step-by-step guide I will install and configuring Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 (FP1) on a Windows Server 2008 R2 using a Microsoft SQL 2012 database installed on a separate server.

After installing XenDesktop I will add a Citrix XenServer host, register the XenDesktop Controller in Active Directory, install the XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent on a Windows 7 master VDI and I’ll show you how to setup XenDesktop Machine Creation Services (MCS), creating a streamed VDI Desktop Group (from Citrix Provisioning Services) and finally creating the User Assignments.


Before starting with the installation en configuration of XenDesktop you need to do some preparations. If you want to register the Citrix XenDesktop Controller in Active Directory, you need to create an OU for it. Optionally you can create an OU for each XenDesktop deployment group like “Assigned Desktops” and “Pooled Desktops”


The Citrix XenDesktop Controllers has the following prerequisites;

–       Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1
–       Internet Information Services (IIS) and ASP.NET 2.0. IIS
–       Visual J# 2.0 Redistributable Package, Second Edition
–       Visual C++ 2008 with Service Pack 1 Redistributable Package
–       Windows PowerShell version 2.0

Desktop Director prerequisites;

–       Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1
–       Internet Information Services (IIS) and ASP.NET 2.0
–        Windows Remote Management (WinRM) 2.0
–        Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher

Installing Citrix XenDesktop 5.6


Start the setup and click Install XenDesktop


Select “I accept the terms and conditions” and click Next


I’m using a separate SQL server, license server and StoreFront server so I select only the XenDesktop Controller, Desktop Studio and Desktop Director. Click Next


Click Install


Deselect “Configure XenDesktop after closing” and click Close. I’m using a separate Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Before configuring XenDesktop I need to update the SQL Shared Management Objects, otherwise XenDesktop will not connect to the database.

Installing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Shared Management Objects


Start the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Shared Management Objects setup and click Yes


Click Next


Select “I accept the terms in the license agreement” and click Next


Click Next


Click Install


Click Finish

Configuring Citrix XenDesktop 5.6


Start the Citrix Desktop Studio and click Desktop deployment


Enter the Site name (any name you like) and fill in the requested information for the database configuration. In my case I let this XenDesktop configuration wizard create the database. Be sure that the user account under which you configure XenDesktop have DBCreator and SecurityAdmin rights on the Microsoft SQL server. Alternatively you can generate the database scripts to create the database. Click Test connection


Click OK


Click OK


Click Next


Enter your Citrix License server and select the correct License model. Click Next


To add a XenServer host , select Citrix XenServer as Host type and fill in the requested information about the XenServer. Enter a Connection name (any name you like) and click Next


Enter a Host name (any name you like) and click Next


Select the storage you want to use for the virtual machines and click Next


Click Finish

Register the XenDesktop Controller in Active Directory (optional)


On the left side on the screen select Desktop Studio, in the middle of the screen open the PowerShell tab, as a final step, at the bottom of the screen click Launch PowerShell


Run the following command “Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned”. When asking to execute policy, type “Y” and hit enter.


Go to the folder “C:\Program Files\Citrix\Broker\Service\Setup Scripts” and run the following command;

.\Set-ADControllerDiscovery.ps1 –on –ExistingOuDN “<OU Distinguished Name>”

For example;

.\Set-ADControllerDiscovery.ps1 –on –ExistingOuDN “OU=XenDesktop,OU=Citrix,OU=Servers,OU=PoC,DC=Hobo,DC=LAN”

After running this script, restart the Citrix Broker Service.


In the OU specified in the previous step there is now a RegistrationServices Container, a Farm SCP serviceConnectionPoint and a Controllers Security Group where the XenDesktop Controller is member of.

Installing the Citrix XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent

Now that the Citrix XenDesktop Controller is registered in the Active Directory we can install the XenDesktop Agent on the clients. For this case I will use a Windows 7 Enterprise x64 client.


Start the Citrix XenDesktop setup and click on Install Virtual Desktop Agent


Click on Advanced Install


Select “I accept the terms and conditions” and click Next


Select what is applicable and click Next


I will install the Citrix Receiver as separate installation (newer version), the Citrix Receiver is not a prerequisite for the XenDesktop Agent. Select what is applicable and click Next


In this case I will not use the Personal vDisk feature. Click Next


Now that we register the XenDesktop controller into the Active Directory, we can let the Virtual Desktop Agent connect to the Controller by using the XenDesktop Site name. Select “Select from Active Directory” and click Next


Select Next


Click Install


Click Close

 Note: If using this client for XenDesktop Machine Creation Services (MCS) or for creating a Provisioning Services vDisk, enable DHCP and don’t use static IP addresses. 

Unattended Installation of the Citrix XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent

In addition to the previous steps, you can install the Virtual Desktop Agent unattended by running the following command for the same result as the manual install in the previous steps;

MSIEXEC /i XdsAgent_x64.msi FARM_GUID=<GUID> ENABLE_HDX_PORTS=1 /qn /norestart

The /norestart parameter is of course optional, but may be useful if you, for example, use SCCM to deploy this agent. If you don’t know your Farm GUID anymore, run the following PowerShell command on the XenDesktop Controller; Get-BrokerSite

The “BaseOU” is your Farm GUID you need for this installation.

Citrix XenDesktop Machine Creation Services (MCS)

Now that the XenDesktop controller is installed, registered in the Active Directory and have a Windows 7 client installed with the Virtual Desktop Agent. We can setup the XenDesktop Machine Creation Services (MCS) to deploy VDI’s.


In the main screen of the Citrix Desktop Studio next to Machine creation, click Configure


First I will create a “Dedicated VDI pool”. With dedicated VDI’s the user customization will be maintained after a reboot and every user will have his own assigned VDI. To create dedicated VDI’s, select Dedicated and click Next


Select the VDI you want to use as Master machine. (note: the XenDesktop Virtual Agent must be installed on the master machine). Click Next


Enter the number of virtual machines you want to create for this pool and the amount of CPUs and memory. Click Next


Select the target OU the computer accounts must be created in. Enter a naming scheme, the # symbol will be replaced with an incrementing number. Click Next


Enter a Catalog description for administrators and click Next


Enter the Catalog name and click Finish

Creating a Pooled VDI pool from Provisioning Services


To create a Pooled Desktop VDI catalog with clients using Citrix Provisioning Services (Windows 7 clients using a vDisk), right click Machines and click Create Catalog. For this case this machines will be non-persistent and users will connect random to VDI from this catalog.


Select Streamed as Machine Type. Enter the Provisioning Service address and click Next


Select the device collection from Citrix Provisioning Services you want to use for the Pooled Desktops and click Next


Enter a catalog description and click Next


Enter the Catalog name and click Finish

Creating the User Assignments


The final step is to create the User Assignments. On the left side of the Citrix Desktop Studio select Desktop Studio and then on the bottom of the screen next to User Assignment click Configure


First I will create the Assigned Desktop assignment. Select the amount of machines you want to add to this Desktop Group and click Next


Click Next


Click Next


Enter a Display and a Desktop Group name and click Finish


To create the second User Assignment, right click Assignments and click Create Desktop Group


In this case I will select the Pooled Desktops and add the maximum machines to this Desktop Group. Click Next


Click Next


Click Next


Enter a Display and a Desktop Group name and click Finish


Now when you add the Citrix XenDesktop controller to your Citrix StoreFront store, a user with the appropriate rights will see the two Desktop’s available on the webinterface.


About Robin Hobo

I work as a Senior Solution Architect with focus on the Modern Workspace. I am specialized in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), Windows 365 and Microsoft EM+S (including Microsoft Endpoint Manager - Microsoft Intune).

For my full bio, check the About Me page.

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