User Personalisation Layer first impressions

With Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 1912, Citrix introduced a new feature, Citrix User Personalization Layering which replaces Personal vDisk. It is powered by Citrix App Layering and is designed to extend the capabilities of pooled (random machine catalogs to enable the persistence of user-installed ,applications and data. The user personalization layer is designed to work with Machine Creation Services or other Citrix Provisioning machines in a pooled (random) machine catalog. The applications and data the user creates are stored on their own user layer virtual drive in a VHD file. The user layer VHD files are mounted on the image when the user logs in.

With this article, I am going to list all of the steps that I have done in my HomeLab setting this up.

Keep in mind that there are some requirements for this to work:

  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 1909 or later
  • Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA), version 1912
  • Citrix Provisioning, version 1909 or later
  • Windows File Share (SMB)
  • Windows 10 Enterprise x64, version 1607 or later

A profile management solution, such as Citrix Profile Management is recommended.

Some applications are not supported:

  • Enterprise applications[, such as MS Office and Visual Studio.
  • Applications that modify the network stack or hardware. Example: a VPN client.
  • Applications that have boot level drivers. Example: a virus scanner.
  • Applications with drivers that use the driver store. Example: a printer driver.

Install & Configure

Setting up Storage Location.

The First Step is to set up a storage location. I have created a file share on my Domain Controller/File Server. I real-life scenarios you must set this up on high availability storage. Initial user layer size is set to (0) this means a default layer size of 10 GB. This can be changed during the setting of the appropriate policies in Studio. I will get into that later on. 

Installing or updating the VDA in Windows 10

When installing the newer version of the VDA which is part of the CVAD 1912 release you now get the option for “Citrix User Personalization Layer”. With the additional Components section. This box needs to be checked during new install or upgrade. Then continue with the installation through the remaining installation screens. The VDA needs to be configured as needed, and rebooted a couple of times during installation.

Machine Catalog Creation

I created my Machine Catalog for Windows 10 VM’s with the following setting

If you would like to use the Pooled-Static catalog. Make sure you select the following settings.

The user personalization layer does not support pooled-static catalogs configured to use Citrix Personal vDisk or assigned as dedicated virtual machines.

Policies.

Next step is to create to appropriatie policy setting with two specific parameters:

  • Where on the network to access the user layers.
  • How large to permit the user layer disks to grow. 

My file location for this “test”

For this “test” I selected 5GB. Remember that the default value of 0 results in 10GB layer disks.

Also, remember that changing the layer size does not change the size of previously created layers

And off course applied this to my Delivery Group”

Citrix Profile Management

If you are using Profile Management with the user personalization layer feature, turn off the deletion of the user’s information on logoff. Depending on how you are deploying the settings, you can turn off deletion either using a Group Policy Object (GPO) or the policy on the Delivery Controller (DDC).

For details about available Profile Management policies, see Profile Management policy descriptions and defaults.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)

If you are using SCCM with the user personalization layer feature, follow Microsoft best practices for preparing your image in a VDI environment. Refer to this Microsoft TechNet article for more information.

Testing

First logon to one of the Windows 10 Desktops. After logging into the machine I checked the Disk attached to this VM.

As you can see a 5Gb drive is created and attached.

Next thing is to install some applications. For this test i decided to install two small applications:

  • Putty
  • FileZilla

As you can see in the following picture I have installed both Putty and FileZilla on the Win10-UPL-02 machine.

And both are able to start successfull

Remember we created the fileshare for the VHD files. So this is what it lookes like.

Next step is to logoff and logon to a new machine 

As you can see after logon to a different Windows 10 VM  –> Win10-UPL-01. I can start the previous applications.

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