Speaking at the Nordic VMUG on Thursday Nov 20th

Fairly recently it was confirmed that I will be attending the Nordic VMUG in Copenhagen next week on Thursday Nov 20th at the Bella Center venue.  I’m presenting the closing keynote on the state of End User Computing industry and will speak about things that have changed in the industry with respect to End User Computing.  I’ll speak about changes in remoting protocols, features that have been recently added to end user computing that removes barriers in Terminal Services and VDI that allows workloads that were never possible to be centralized before to be provided to end users quickly an seamlessly.   Most importantly, I’m super excited to be presenting along side some industry heavyweights…in knowledge, not kilos ;)   Here’s a shortlist of some of the rock stars that are presenting at this event:

In short it’s an amazing lineup and I’m looking forward to catching presentations by many of these greats.   Sadly I’m not landing until around 10am, but I’ll be catching as much as I can as soon as I get there.   My presentation is at 4pm, but checkout the full agenda here.

I hope to see you there!

PSA: Software GPU can reduce your virtual desktop scalability

During a presentation that I gave at the E2EVC Conference in Barcelona a few weeks ago, I spoke of a situation whereby the addition of a software GPU into a virtual desktop can cause Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome to all leverage this software GPU for advanced rendering of 3D graphics.   When a GPU is normally present on a physical workstation, this is a great way to accelerate the performance of these applications on a desktop computer.  When you’re using these products in a virtual desktop environment, things change slightly.  All of the major virtual desktop solutions (VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft RDVH) enable a software GPU in the virtual desktop session when their VM enlightenment drivers are installed into the virtual desktop image.  This software GPU enables things like Windows Aero to function even when a physical GPU isn’t present in the virtual machine.  This is generally a good thing as it allows for a “like-physical” desktop experience.  However, emulating a real GPU in software (CPU) takes its toll from a performance perspective.   Ultimately, it can result in a significant degradation of user experience as well as a reduction in scalability of the virtual desktop platform.   In many cases, that scalability can be restored, by following one of two paths:

1) Actually deploy a GPU in your servers and leverage the GPU for offloading the GPU instructions from these applications.   NVidia GRID vGPU technology is a method that can be used to generate good scalability and great performance / economics.

2) Disable the use of accelerated graphics in Office, IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc which forces them to use software rendering in lieu of the software emulated GPU (essentially you’re going to use software rendering in both cases, only not pretending to be a GPU saves significant CPU).   This doesn’t provide the benefit of the GPU acceleration, but if you don’t have a GPU in the host machines anyway, this will preserve some scalability.

How each application implements acceleration differs, but here’s a few screenshots to indicate where this setting is disabled so that software rendering is used instead of software GPU emulation:

Internet Explorer 11 (and 9 and 10 as well):

Choose Internet Options, then under Accelerated Graphics check the box for “Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering”

IE11

Google Chrome:

Click on Settings, then “Show advanced Settings”, then de-select “Use hardware acceleration when available”

Chrome

Firefox:

Click on Tools->Options.  Then click on the Advanced tab across the top, then General Tab below.   Uncheck “Use hardware acceleration when available” as shown here.

Firefox

Microsoft Office 2013 (applies to 2010 as well):

Open Microsoft Word and choose File->Options.  Then click on the Advanced item in the left window pane, scroll down to the Display section and select / check the box for “Disable hardware graphics acceleration”

Office2013

Controlled Deployment:

All of this information is great and all, but you probably don’t want to instruct every user on how to change these settings.   Instead, it’s easier to just inject these settings for all users on your virtual desktop platform.   Many of these settings manipulate registry values in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive or store preferences in the user profile and therefore it’s not something that you can turn on/off in machine registry modifications or GPO.  However, you can either adjust these in your default user profile, or what I prefer to do is just build a set of Group Policy Preferences entries to adjust these for every user as they logon to my virtual desktop platform.   Unfortunately, Chrome and Firefox cannot be managed this way, but there are ways of solving those as well.  Here are the relevant settings you’ll need to incorporate to disable software GPU emulation in these apps.

IE 9, 10, 11:

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main

Value:   UseSWRender

Type:  REG_DWORD

Data: 0x1

Office 2010:

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Gfx

Value: DisableHardware

Type:  REG_DWORD

Data:  0x1

Office 2013:

Key:  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics

Value:  DisableHardwareAcceleration

Type:  REG_DWORD

Data: 0x1

Google Chrome:

Unfortunately Google Chrome does not have a simple registry entry that can be used to alter its use of a software GPU.  Google Chrome stores its preferences into files in the Local AppData folder of the user profile.  There are, however, several ways that you can carry out this change:

1) Ensure that any place where Google Chrome can be launched from you’ve appended the –disable-gpu switch to the end of the chrome.exe command line.   This will make sure a software renderer is used.

2) Download and implement the Google Chrome AD GPO templates to adjust the behavior of Chrome when used in an AD GPO environment.  Details on this process can be found here.

3) Deploy Chrome to your users using a master_preferences file.  This is only useful if Chrome isn’t already deployed.  Details on this process can be found here.

4) Configure a managed deployment of Google Chrome using the Google Apps Admin Console.   Details on this process can be found here.

Special thanks to @scott_matteson for some great write-ups on Google Chrome deployments that I’ve linked above.

Firefox:

There are multiple ways to implement an override for Firefox, but like Google Chrome the settings that are active for Firefox are not maintained within registry entries, but rather are stored in preferences files in the user profile (at least with Firefox it’s a roaming folder location).   The two settings that you’ll want to disable are named gfx.direct2d.disabled and layers.acceleration.disabled.  Like Google Chrome there are multiple ways to alter the preferences:

1) Deploy Firefox with a pre-configured set of preferences.   See here for more details.

2) Create a all-companyname.js or user.js preferences override that Firefox will leverage when launched to build a default user configuration.  More details on this here.  The preference entries you want to disable hardware acceleration are:

user_pref(“gfx.direct2d.disabled”, true);

user_pref(“layers.acceleration.disabled”, true);

3) Jeremy Moskowitz (Group Policy MVP) has added support for Firefox settings into his PolicyPak product.  While I have not personally verified that the hardware acceleration setting is included, I assume that it’s in there.   Details on Jeremy’s PolicyPak configuration for Firefox can be found here.   This method will allow you to use GPO to manage Firefox settings.   NOTE:  There have been various add-ins for Firefox over the years that allowed for GPO management, but they have been somewhat problematic.   If you want GPO-style management, go with PolicyPak.

That should be enough information to get you started.   I’m currently extremely busy in my new career, but hopefully I’ll get some time to put together some videos to illustrate the impact of these settings differences in the coming weeks.

 

App-V Error 0A-0000E005, but not from the usual suspects

I recently received a report from a customer of mine using App-V 4.5.1.16811 on XenApp 4.5 whereby a user would encounter error 0A-0000E005 whenever the user would try to start an App-V application on XenApp.  The error looks like this:

AppV-0A-0000E005

Those familiar with App-V will recognize this as a very common error that usually is due to a corrupt UsrVol*.pkg file in the users App-V user data directory.  This user’s problem was a bit different because this user was getting it on all App-V applications.  Also, purging the user’s App-V user data directory did nothing to solve the issue.

I did some digging on the Internet and came up with all the usual suspects.  Upgrading the client to App-V 4.6 wasn’t an option because it’s a production environment and that would require proper planning / execution.  Besides, only this user was having problems.  There were approximately 2k other users that were happily running their apps on App-V 4.5 all day long.

So I poked around this user’s configuration a bit more.  While the user was logged on, I then purged their HKCU\Software\Microsoft\SoftGrid\4.5\Client\Applications list.  After doing so, the error message changed to a 14-00000003 error message as seen below.

AppV-14-00000003

Progress, as in I changed the error, but unfortunately did not fix the problem.  One other thing that I noticed that was strange about this user is that they were unable to logoff successfully from Citrix.  It seemed like userinit.exe was never properly ending and therefore their sessions would get stuck on the XenApp server.

This XenApp environment uses Flex Profile with only AppData folder redirection (not my favorite, but I digress).  So I started going after the only thing that made this user any different from anyone else and that which would follow this user from Citrix server to Citrix server….our old friend AppData.

Rather than purge app data in it’s entirety I decided to selectively delete the AppData contents until I could narrow down what was causing the issue.

The result?   The Microsoft Crypto folder appears as though it may have been corrupt.  Once I deleted it, she was all set.  It solved both the App-V error as well as the session hang/logoff issues.  If you look on the Internet you’ll find scads of problems related to the Crypto folder being corrupt.  Specifically with respect to App-V, I haven’t seen any, but chalk this up to one now.  ;-)

Hope this helps someone else out there.

RES Software and Overlap (Pierre Marmignon) bury the hatchet

A little over a month ago, I blogged about an upsetting discovery that Pierre Marmignon of Overlap Group in France was being sued by RES Software for releasing a freeware User Environment Management tool.  Many people in the server based computing space were really upset with this lawsuit and thought that RES was making a big mistake.  I just received notification from RES’s PR firm that this issue has been mutally resolved and that Pierre will be allowed to continue with VUEM development.  Apparently it was all just a big misunderstanding.  Hooray!

Here’s the text of the PR release:

 

OVESYS and RES Software Reaffirm Partnership Agreement

 

OVESYS, a subsidiary of OVERLAP Groupe, and RES Software entered into a distribution agreement for RES software products on January 10, 2009. A number of reports have recently circulated regarding this partnership, and RES Software and OVESYS would like to confirm that any misunderstandings between the two organizations have been resolved. Both RES Software and OVESYS have reaffirmed that their partnership status has returned to its previous standing, and both companies are committed to continuing to work together to grow business within France.

 

OVESYS is a specialist in the integration of IT infrastructure solutions. The company does not develop its own technologies, and the only applications that can be brought to market by OVESYS are those of its partners, including RES Software — a Dutch-based company that has developed a wide range of software solutions for virtual desktop environments. RES Software products can be important components of desktop virtualization projects that OVESYS offers its customers.

 

“RES Software is a strong member of the French IT community and we highly value our partner relationships with companies such as OVESYS – OVERLAP Groupe,” said Philippe Pech, RES Software France Managing Director. “It is important for us to continue to deliver excellent products and solutions together with our partners to better serve our French customers.”

 

“RES Software delivers valuable products in the emerging virtual desktop category, which we feel is one of the strongest growth areas for IT in the next several years,” said Stéphane Deliry, OVERLAP Groupe Managing Director.

 

About OVERLAP Groupe

OVERLAP Groupe is a leading French company for the integration and management of high-end computing infrastructure solutions. The group offers support in the transformation of its customers’ infrastructure with service offerings ranging from virtualization to outsourcing, including support and funding while continuing to be a major partner of the largest companies in the industry (IBM, HP, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, Symantec, etc.). The search for innovation for its customers is a strategic component for the group including Cloud Computing which is at the heart of its current developments.  OVERLAP Groupe was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Courbevoie, France

 

OVERLAP Groupe is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris (compartment C), the capital of OVERLAP Groupe consists of 3,756,400 shares.

OVERLAP Action Groupe – ISIN code: FR0010759530 – Ticker: OVG

BSAAR OVERLAP Groupe – ISIN code: FR0010681569 – Ticker: OVGBS

Bonds OVERLAP Groupe – ISIN code: FR0010681551

OVERLAP Groupe is a member of MiddleNext.

 

About RES Software

RES Software, the proven leader in dynamic desktop solutions, is driving a transformation in the way organizations manage, maintain and reduce the cost of their desktop infrastructure. The RES Software award-winning, patented products enable IT professionals to manage and deliver secure, personalized and compliant desktops independent of the underlying computing infrastructure – thin clients, virtual desktops, physical desktops, or server-based computing environments. The company empowers customers, from small to medium-sized businesses to global enterprises, to reduce desktop complexity and meet the essential needs of a dynamic workforce that requires on-demand access to their personalized workspaces. For more information, follow updates on Twitter @ressoftware and visit www.ressoftware.com.

 

 

If you can’t beat them, sue the pants off of them…

Been a long time since I blogged, but I’m not apologizing for that.  Just been too busy with customer consulting lately.  Besides almost everything has gone to Twitter for me anyway.

Anyway, I just booked my airfare to head over to Paris for the Advanced Citrix Training class I’m putting on there with Benny Tritsch.  Benny and I were in Paris last year for the same class and I’m thrilled to be bringing it back there.  While I was having some conversations with a few different people in France I’ve heard rumblings that the reason for the delay of the release of CitrixTools.NET Virtual User Environment Manager (or VUEM) is because Pierre Marmignon’s employer has been slapped with a lawsuit by RES Software.  I love the various tools that Pierre has developed and I know that he’s been working on VUEM for a very long time and I can only believe that it’s crushing him that this has happened and it’s preventing the release of the tool.  To be completely honest I haven’t personally tested VUEM myself, but I’ve heard very nice things about it from other bloggers / consultants that have done testing with the early alpha releases, etc.  I’m sure that it’s bothering Pierre after spending so much time on this tool that such a horrible thing could happen.  I don’t know what Pierre’s thoughts are on this as I haven’t spoken to him about it yet, but I’m frankly a little surprised at this lawsuit situation.  From what I know about VUEM it doesn’t really compete with RES Software at all.  It’s probably closer of a competitor to something like Liquidware Labs or Immidio as it’s not nearly as feature complete as a RES PowerFuse or AppSense Environment Manager.  That being said I can think of about 70 million reasons why RES might be a little nervous right now.  To be clear I’ve got a great deal of respect for a lot of the guys at RES (especially guys like Max Ranzau @RESguru).  But situations like this really make me question their intentions.  Are the freeware tools of a community guy really at risk of upsetting the business of a large company like RES?  Come on guys…   You should be investing as much time, energy and money on improving and promoting your products and not trying to shut down a guy who’s done a lot of good for a whole lot of people.