Monthly Archives: October 2012

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WSUS for XenApp?

“Is there something like WSUS for XenApp, or is it possible to extend Microsoft WSUS in order to download and apply updates and hotfixes to our XenApp servers?” No. But you can try my simple XenApp hotfix deployment framework that I want to share with you today.

Introduction

While (Cloud) service providers have evolved (or are evolving) an ideal approach to maintain their XenApp server farms there are uncountable companies across all sizes that are running one or more XenApp farms w/o a proper maintenance concept. Plenty of these companies indeed have service time windows with corresponding tasks. But quite often the implementation lacks class meaning that at the worst the admin updates each and every damned (sorry) XenApp server by hand.

A year ago or so, I developed a bunch of batch files that build a simple script framework for automated XenApp hotfix installation. My goals were to build a solution that supports the broadest range of XenApp farms as possible on the one hand and to build a “learning” framework that identifies new hotfixes in the source folder tree on its own (and releases the admin from the challenge to script). Therefore I chose Batch scripting and ini files instead of PowerShell and XML. Furthermore my solution either relies on MFCOM (API for legacy XenApp before version 6) nor it uses XenApp PowerShell Cmdlets. It just leverages cmd.exe and some standard commands that you’ll find on every Windows Server with Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services. In short, the XenApp hotfix deployment framework is designed to update XenApp 4.5/5.0/6.0/6.5 on Windows Server 2003/2003 R2/2008/2008 R2.

Simple means basic. Please don’t expect a superduper allrounder solution. The script framework cares about the sessions though (if you want), gives them some (configurable) grace time and repeatedly sends a warning message. And it disables logons as well. This seems quite a lot but in a perfect world you would like a solution that monitors itself and stops processing on all remaining servers in case of fault for example.

Requirements

The XenApp hotfix deployment framework just needs storage space on a central folder share. The scripts and related files on its own allocate less than 200 KB, but you need to take the hotfix files into account as they’ll be stored inside the framework’s folder structure as well.

Strictly speaking, a dedicated active directory account that runs the maintenance process is not really required. But it is recommended to create such an account, especially if you opt for an automated invocation of the maintenace process via scheduled task for example.

Give the account that runs the maintenance appropriate access on the above mentioned share. Of course the account needs administrative access on the XenApp servers to be able to install the hotfixes successfully.

That’s all, nothing more required from a technical perspective.

Overview

The XenApp hotfix deployment framework consists of a main script, a bunch of library scripts, one or more config files, a folder structure, and – last but not least – a naming convention with a hidden sense (below more).

The main script, XenAppMaintenance.cmd, initializes and controls the progress of the maintenance work.

The config file, Settings.ini, includes changeable global settings that configure logging and session warning timeframe for example. Additional config files (per XenApp Server) can be placed aside the Settings.ini in order to overwrite to common settings for whatever reason or purpose.

The folder structure separates the framework components. This helps the admin to locate easily a config file or to save a new hotfix for example.

The naming convention for additional config files, for library scripts, and hotfix subfolders make up an important part of the framework. For example a part of a hotfix subfolder name is tied to the library script that the framework shall use in order to install the hotfix inside that folder.

Setup

This section outlines the steps to configure the XenApp hotfix deployment framework for your XenApp Farm:

  • Create an Active Directory user (optional)
  • Create a directory on a file server and share it.
  • Apply appropriate NTFS and share security.
  • Download and unzip the XenApp hotfix deployment framework to the shared folder
  • Open the file\Config\Settings.ini in order to configure settings (optional).
  • Download hotfixes from www.citrix.com. For each hotfix, create a subdirectory in the Source folder of the framework. A hotfix subdirectory consists of three parts separated by an underscore: three-digit installation order number, action library script, and optionally a comment. For example, the subdir “010_InstallMsp_CTX126679” stands for order number 10, use action script “InstallMsp” to install the hotfix, and article number CTX126679.

Invoke Maintenance

This is simple. Just double click XenAppMaintenance.cmd or create a scheduled task.

 

Disclaimer: I hope that the information in this post is valuable to you. Your use of the information contained in this post, however, is at your sole risk. All information on this post is provided “as is”, without any warranty, whether express or implied, of its accuracy, completeness, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement, and none of the third-party products or information mentioned in the work are authored, recommended, supported or guaranteed by me. Further, I shall not be liable for any damages you may sustain by using this information, whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential, even if it has been advised of the possibility of such damages.