Getting Started with Xendesktop 4 (Part 2)

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In the first article of this article series I described the available XenDesktop editions, the features within those several versions, followed by the information about which version will suite your organization and why. In this article we will focus on the real installation and configuration of the product using free XenDesktop express version.

First, we need to download the XenDesktop software from the Citrix site. You need to have or create a My Citrix account to be able to download the product. At present version 4.0 is available for download. Optionally, Feature Pack 1 and Feature Pack 2 can be downloaded and installed afterwards.

The download includes the XenServer, the XenServer Management Console and the actual XenDesktop software components, so you don’t have to download these parts separately. Remember that XenServer is not required to run XenDesktop. XenDesktop is also supported on other hypervisors like VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper-V. For this Getting Started article series we are going to use XenServer and we will describe the installation steps for this product.


First check if the hardware you would like to use complies with the hardware requirements and/or is mentioned on the Hardware Compatibility list. If you don’t have any hardware available you can install XenServer as a virtual machine for example, within VMware Workstation although, this is not officially supported. Just Google “install xenserver on vmware workstation” and you will find several documents and videos on how this can be accomplished.

The installation of XenServer is delivered as an ISO file with the name `XenServer_virtulization_platform.iso`. Make sure that the media is available for installation, by burning the ISO file onto a CD. The installation of XenServer starts with a screen asking you if you would like to install XenServer using the standard installation steps or the advanced steps.

Figure 1: Choosing the standard or advanced installation option

When you choose F1 or <ENTER> you opt for the default installation steps. Selecting F2 delivers the option shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2: The advanced installation options

In this article we won’t be using the advanced options. The standard installation procedure is envoked by pressing  <ENTER> or the <F1> key.

During the installation the first dialog box asks you to specify which kind of keyboard layout you are using. By pressing the spacebar you can select the correct keyboard layout. Via <TAB> you can move to the next button to continue the installation, another way to accomplish this is using <F12> to also continue to the next dialog box.

Figure 3: Choosing the correct keyboard lay-out

The XenServer boot media can also be used to convert a physical machine into a virtual machine (P2V). Because we are installing a XenServer host, we have to choose the option Install or upgrade XenServer Host. Like the previous dialog box you can use <TAB>, <F12> or <ENTER> to continue after the selection or the right option.

Figure 4:  Install a Xenserver host or P2V the current OS on this machine

The next dialog box is just an informative message that you will start the XenServer installation and that all current data on the disks will be erased. Via the OK button the installation will continue.

Figure 5: Informative message that all data will be destroyed on all disks

Like all other installations the License Agreement will be shown and you need to accept the license agreement to continue with the installation using the “Accept EULA” button.

Figure 6: The User License Agreement of XenServer

Hopefully the next dialog box is not shown, because it informs you that your machine does have hardware virtualization support available. First of all this will impact the performance and secondly you don’t have the possibility to run based Windows Virtual Machines on your XenServer host, so you won’t be able to use XenDesktop. Most time this is caused that hardware virtualization is disabled in the BIOS. Otherwise you should search for other hardware.

Figure 7: Hardware Virtualization Assist support not found

XenServer can be installed from a CD or from a network location using HTTP, FTP or NFS based resources. I expect you will use the local media option for this setup, otherwise you already have a couple of XenServers running in your infrastructure. In that case you are already familiar with installling XenServer and you would skip this article and continue the articles series with the next article describing the installation steps of XenDesktop.

Figure 8: Select installation source

When using Linux Virtual Machines on your XenServer you should install the Linux Pack. Because we won’t use any Linux machines for this articles you can choose “No”.

Figure 9: Install the Linux Pack feature

XenServer offers the possibility to verify the installation source on any errors. If you would like to that you select the option Verify Installation Source, if you would like to skip this test choose Skip Verification. For the article I will use Skip Verification.

Figure 10: Choose to verify the installation source or skip the verification

The following step is an imporant step. In the dialog you need to add a password for the root account of the XenServer. This password is needed to logon the XenServer both on the console as to set-up a connection using the administration tools later. Choose a good password and fill this in two times.

Figure 11: Filling in the root password

Logically the XenServer need to have a connection with the network. In the next dialog you need to fill in the network address, subnetmask and gateway for the XenServer. It is possible to use a DHCP server, but I advise to use a fixed IP addres or at least a reserveration in the DHCP scope for XenServer hosts.

Figure 12: Configure the network component of XenServer

A second dialog for the network components is displayed. Here you need to fill in a (unique) hostname and the DNS server available within your infrastructure. As for every hypervisor DNS is critical, so double check the settings you configure.

Figure 13: Configure the hostname and DNS servers

Next the Time Zone needs to be configured, this is done by selecting first selecting the area your data centre is located, followed by selecting a nearby city as shown in the below displayed figures.

Figure 14: Selecting the region

Figure 15: Followed by seleting the correct (nearby) city

The last step for the time setting is to specify if you would like to manual configure the correct time or use the NTP protocol. While correct time settings are crucial in every infrastructure I advise to use the NTP option but remember that you need to have a NTP server address.

Figure 16: NTP or manual entry of the correct time

When choosing NTP the next dialog box option you will be asked to fill in (up to three) NTP servers. After filling in the NTP server or when you choose manual time entry the last dialog box will be shown that all information needed is collected and that the actual installation can be started using the Install XenServer button.

Figure 17: Starting the actual installation proces

When you have chosen to set the manual time a window will appear where you need to configure the time and date settings. When the installation is finished the below message will be shown. Press the OK button.

Figure 18: Installation completed

After the reboot the the server will show the console as shown in the next figure. You can re-configure settings in case you made a mistake for example, reconfiguring the nework setings. Also some new configuration can be made via this console like adding the server to a resource pool. In the next article we will see how to installed XenCenter (the management GUI of XenServer) where you can also change these settings.

Figure 19: Running XenServer host


In this article I have shown the basic steps to install a XenServer, which will be used to host the virtual desktops out of XenDesktop. The upcoming article will continue with installing the XenCenter managemant console and the preperation steps to install the XenDesktop software.

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