In the Citrix Receiver client testing materials on the Apple iPad and the new development - Citrix XenClient, we received several questions from you about the price of such solutions. And although Citrix really makes money selling virtualization technologies, almost all of the company's solutions can be installed and used absolutely legally for free. For example, to find out how this or that technology works in practice, or even provide a small company with access to virtual desktops. In such a small scale, Citrix does not need to pay licenses; you only spend on Microsoft licenses and, of course, on hardware.
In our test configuration, we were able to do with just a couple of laptops. One (with a powerful processor and a large amount of RAM) played the role of a server. The other is the compact Lenovo ThinkPad X100e, ideally suited to the role of the client. However, the client can be any other device - for example, a smartphone based on a Symbian or Android platform, an iPhone or an iPad. With it, you can connect to a virtual machine on the server, or get remote access to the operating system running on "real" hardware. The second option is relevant when you want to get the resources of a powerful computer from a “light” client: for processing multimedia content or even games.
First, we formulate the problem: what do we want to get as a result? ')
• A laptop acting as a server. It runs three virtual operating systems: the user, to which we will connect from the client, and Windows 2003 Server, which acts as a domain controller for our small network.
• Another Windows Server 2003 virtual machine on which Desktop Delivery Controller will be launched, providing the process of connecting a client device to a virtual or physical machine.
• Computer with a Windows client OS, also included in the local network. To this system, working on real hardware, we will organize remote access from the client.
• Network device for networking computers. We used a regular home Wi-Fi router with gigabit Ethernet ports (for connecting a server and a computer) and a WiFi access point (for connecting a client laptop).
To get started, you need to download the XenDesktop Free Edition solution distribution from the Citrix website. The 1.34-gigabyte distribution of XenDesktop can be downloaded here after a quick registration. In the archive you will find the XenServer distribution, the XenCenter program for managing virtual operating systems, and the Desktop Delivery Controller for managing the delivery of virtual desktops. This edition of XenDesktop is free to use and allows up to ten users to work. All the main features and benefits of XenDesktop are shown in this video (with comments in English):
Next, we install XenServer: this process is unlikely to cause questions to any user who at least a couple of times reinstalled any operating system. The only point you need to pay attention to is the correct network settings. A typical installation process for XenServer can be viewed in this video with comments from Citrix system engineer Sergey Halyapin:
You can install XenServer on any computer or laptop, the only requirement: a 64-bit processor with hardware virtualization support - Intel VT or AMD-V. Read more about XenServer system requirements in the documentation . The following video demonstrates running a virtual machine on XenServer and installing Windows 2003 Server. Everything is much simpler here: from the client device we connect to the server, where the previously installed XenServer is already running, using the XenCenter program. We connect the library of operating system images (in ISO format) and install the OS in a virtual environment. The whole process of installing the OS and setting up the domain (with some minor abbreviations) is shown in this video .
On the second Windows Server 2003 virtual machine, we install the Desktop Delivery Controller component, which provides the process of connecting a remote client device to our virtual or real-world operating system. Instructions for configuring Desktop Delivery Controller is here . For a small company, this is the best solution: one powerful server will be responsible for managing our virtual computer park and supporting client virtual operating systems. Make sure that the server can pull this load.
Then everything is simple: we create the necessary number of virtual machines on the server, install Windows client OSes into them. In the virtual operating systems themselves, install the Citrix VDA agent and register these machines on the Desktop Delivery Controller. We install the same agent on our computer with a “real” Windows to provide remote access to it. At this stage, it does not really matter to which system we are connecting - virtual or working on hardware.
Finally, download from here and install Citrix Receiver on the client laptop. With its help, we connect to our desktop infrastructure, select the operating system for connection and work remotely! To connect to the virtual OS, it is enough for us to connect via WiFi or even over a cellular network, but transferring some complex content to the client machine, for example, three-dimensional graphics, will require a channel with a high bandwidth. HDX can quickly transfer 3D graphics over a relatively slow connection, but this is a topic for other material.
Of course, in the example shown, we have put together a fairly complex system: at home, remote desktop access via RDP will be sufficient. But we got a completely functional system for a small company with a domain controller and virtual desktops for employees using different client devices with different operating systems. And the one who works with graphic applications will be able to connect remotely to a powerful workstation.
Citrix commercial solutions provide much more flexibility. For example, in our case, each virtual machine constantly takes up space on the server's hard disk. Using the commercial version of XenDesktop, it is not at all necessary to allocate disk space for each virtual OS. In this case, the virtual OS image, programs and user data are stored separately, and when the client is connected, they are “collected” in a normal working environment. In this case, a more efficient server load is provided, and increased security: an incorrectly installed program or user error will not result in data loss. And the administrator can update the software centrally, since he will not need to work with each client OS separately.