In my earlier post, I showed you some videos on installing and configuring XenClient but also some basic stuff about the options in Virtual Machine as well as the client-side interaction with the Synchroniser. I’ll dive deeper into both the virtual machines and the Synchroniser. Also, I’ll insert some of  my semi-random thoughts about the whole package along the way.

Virtual Machines

I’ve tinkered around some more. I inserted a USB drive, swapped it between VMs, played some HD-content (both 720p and 1080i) while switching between my work and home VM and even tried to get application sharing (with Citrix Dazzle) to work. Sadly, that last one was a big miss, it required multiple reboots (to get the agents installed), editing text files, and even then, it didn’t work, even after starting all over again, disabling the Windows Firewall, playing around with Remote Desktop settings, etc. I did however manage to get my multi monitor setup working on one of the VMs! Truth be told, multi monitor is a bit buggy (as Citrix clearly states) and certainly doesn’t win any prizes (monitor flickers when changing VMs, etc). That being said, I really liked the fact that it did work. Also, the 3D (HDX) support out-of-the-box (ticking a single box did the trick) amazed me. I was able to view both a 720p and a 1080i WMV HD video without any major glitches. I must add that only one virtual machine can enjoy 3D/HD capabilities at the same time.

Synchroniser

I fail to see the added value for the Synchroniser completely. It doesn’t allow for any import/export from a Citrix XenServer or XenDesktop VDI farm and doesn’t allow for import from a VHD (converted with XenConvert). This only thing is currently does is upload/synchronisation from a running XenClient instance for backing up and restoring. Also, you can assign the backup to other users, so they can use the desktop image. Without any good integration with VDI or a virtualization platform, there’s really no good central management of your desktop images, thus making Synchroniser more or less useless at this point. I did use it once to restore a Windows 7 desktop to my XenClient machine after I killed it, but that’s about it. I also fail to see the distinction between a ‘New VM’ and a ‘Restore VM from Backup’. I don’t really know what either one does differently, except for overwriting a previous VM or downloading a new copy.

Nonetheless, here are some screenshots:

Citrix Receiver for XenClient

So, let’s change focus to the main part: the XenClient itself. I’ve spent a couple of hours getting to know it, and am pleased, overall. Let me begin by saying that it won’t install inside a VMware Workstation VM. Bummer :).

There are a lot of little things that tell me that it’s an obvious RC, like the boot time and locking up when I (gracefully) shutdown a VM. It takes about two whole minutes from power on to usable XenClient. Remember, XenClient adds the hypervisor layer, and that layer will boot and shutdown whenever you use your laptop, unlike a server with a hypervisor that will only boot every couple of months. Those two minutes are without booting any VMs though, that will set you back another minute or two. Also, I wasn’t able to autoboot my personal VM on XenClient boot. Sleeping and waking the system is good though, about 5 seconds when no VMs are active. Even with running VMs, it was as fast as I expected:

XenClient has good support for WiFi-adapters, USB-controllers and the like. Although XenClient currently has a very restrictive HCL, I can assume that the ones on there do work fantastic. My Dell Latitude E6500 certainly does. The interface is good, has the right amount of options in the right place, although I wasn’t about to fire up esxtop xentop or any other way to show load information.

What’s next?

I’m still trying to sort out the application publishing deal. I will have to rebuild the lab to see if it’ll work. More on that later. Maybe.