Citrix Linux VDA now supports Ubuntu 16.04

Last year I wrote a blog on how to find out which Linux distributions are supported by VMware/Citrix, at the time I struggled to find some of the Citrix info as there wasn’t a master list in their documentation. With the recent 7.12 XenDesktop release though this changed and there’s now a nice clear list in the System Requirement Documentation (at the time of writing for 7.12), this reads:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise:
    • Desktop 12 Service Pack 1
    • Server 11 Service Pack 4
    • Server 12 Service Pack 1
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    • Workstation 6.8
    • Workstation 7.2
    • Server 6.8
    • Server 7.2
  • CentOS Linux
    • CentOS 6.8
    • CentOS 7.2
  • Ubuntu Linux
    • Ubuntu Desktop 16.04
    • Ubuntu Server 16.04

It’s great to see the addition in 7.12 of support for Citrix users for the Ubuntu OS. It is important you use a supported _version_ to ensure support. There’s a really good overview of this addition and other details of the latest Linux VDA from the Citrix Product Manager for the product, Vipin Borkar, on the Citrix blog – worth a read, here.

VMware Linux VDA Support

For VMware there is similar documentation linked to from their Linux VDA home page in the “Horizon 7 for Linux FAQ”.

  • Which flavors of Linux are supported in the first release of Horizon 7 for Linux?
  • Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.6 and 7.1, CentOS 6.6, and NeoKylin 6 Update 1 (Chinese), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP3 are supported with Horizon 7 for Linux.

 

NVIDIA GRID Support

NVIDIA GRID vGPU technologies also support some Linux OS versions and distributions. These are a subset of those supported by VMware and Citrix so you need to also check that as well as using a supported OS for the Linux VDA in use that you also use a version supported by the vGPU technologies. The OS versions and genres supported for each hypervisor are listed in release notes for the driver for each hypervisor, these are available in the driver download but have been added to NVIDIA’s knowledge base for certain releases, e.g.

 

If you are mixing vendors for VDI and hypervisor, e.g. Citrix XenDesktop on VMware ESXi you will also want to double check the hypervisor and Linux VDA support matrices overlap.

 

XenServer Support for Linux Guest OSs

This is documented in the “Citrix XenServer® Virtual Machine User’s Guide” for the relevant version of XenServer e.g. for 7.0, here: http://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenserver/xenserver-7-0/downloads/xenserver-7-0-vm-users-guide.pdf

 

ESXi/vSphere Support for Linux Guest OSs

Supported Linux OSs are listed in the “VMware Compatibility Guide”: https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software

 

NVIDIA GRID: More info on vApps and VPC/vWS Licensing

lukeblog
Check out Luke Wignall’s blog on NVIDIA GRID licensing and other GRID topics!

I wrote a blog on RDSH (including XenApp) licensing and the options available with NVIDIA GRID vGPU and GPU-passthrough a few weeks ago, which you can read – here (including support for multi-monitor and resolutions). Since then my colleague Luke has added some more information in a blog where he outlines various case studies including many on vApps, which is worth a read here:

Luke answers how many licenses and what type you will need for various use cases, answering questions such as:

  • Q: I am deploying Citrix XenDesktop for 5000 global users, using two data centers, to meet a follow the sun productivity goal.  The data centers are also backup sites to each other.  I expect at most 1200 users at each of our three regional areas to be on during their workday, connecting to their closest data center, but there is some overlap (people working late or starting early) so I am architecting with a buffer for a total of 1500 virtual desktops.  I need to be able to run all users from either data center of one should go down. My users are all engineers and their apps require Quadro.
  • Q:  I am deploying virtual desktops but using XenApp to do so, and am looking for improved end user experience, for 1000 users.  At any given time I expect no more than 850 users to be connected.  I have no other desktop delivery method.
  • Q:  I chose to run XenApp on a bare metal host, so no hypervisor (I would question the decision to forgo the flexibility and manageability of virtualization), delivering three Microsoft Office applications so .  I have 500 users but expect no more than 350 of them to be connected at any given time.  I have no Virtual desktops for these users.
  • Q:  I have 250 engineers using CATIA and similar apps, they must have Quadro drivers, but usually only 200 of them are working at any given time.  I also have 1000 knowledge workers that range from sales to support, their apps do not need Quadro but perform much better with GPU (=happy users), of those I typically see 800 actively on their desktops.  I am deploying VMware Horizon.  We have a set of web apps that all 1250 employees use for time keeping, expenses, and safety training, these I am delivering with XenApp.

 

There is a lot of information on GRID licensing in our knowledge base – just search on “GRID licensing” on our KB home page here:

Highlights include:

Licensing Documentation:

Of course one of the best references is the official licensing guides on the GRID resources page (under deployment guides) here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/grid-enterprise-resources.html. In particular these two are useful:

 

Questions

Any questions – ask below or on the support NVIDIA GRID forums at https://gridforums.nvidia.com

NVIDIA GRID: Citrix HDX adds support for Relative and Absolute Mouse Modes to Linux Receiver

Update: 14th September 2016 – Receiver For Windows 4.5 released today now adds support for Windows in addition to Linux!

Just a quick blog to highlight the availability on the Citrix HDX/ICA protocol of a feature enabling Relative Mouse mode. This is a particularly interesting for many NVIDIA GRID vGPU and graphical users as it enables better behavior of certain gaming like applications, particularly those favoured in federal simulations (battle and flight-simulators) e.g Bohemia Simulations VBS 2 & 3. Before on certain application without using an addition gamepad device the mouse could behave strangely ending up with the user pointing their barrel at the ground or sky. Continue reading NVIDIA GRID: Citrix HDX adds support for Relative and Absolute Mouse Modes to Linux Receiver

Optimising TCP for Citrix HDX/ICA including Netscaler

MArius
Marius Sandbu – NGCA (NVIDIA GRID Community Advisor)  aka Clever Viking!

The TCP implementation within Citrix HDX/ICA protocol used by XenDesktop and XenApp and also Citrix Netscaler is pretty Vanilla to the original TCP/IP standards and definition and the out-of-the-box configuration usually does a good job on LAN. However, for WAN scenarios particularly with higher latencies and certain kinds of data (file transfers), Citrix deployments can benefit greatly from some tuning.

 

One of our new NGCAs (NVIDIA GRID Community Advisors) Marius Sandbu has written a must-read blog on how to optimize TCP with a Citrix Netscaler in the equation: http://msandbu.org/tag/netscaler-tcp-profile/Marius highlights some of the configuration optimisations hidden away in the Netscaler documentation and you’ll probably want to refer to that  documentation too (https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/netscaler/11-1/system/TCP_Congestion_Control_and_Optimization_General.html).

Citrix HDX TCP is not optimized for many WAN scenarios but at the moment it can also be tuned manually following this advice: CTX125027 – How to Optimize HDX Bandwidth Over High Latency Connections. This is one configuration I’d love to see Citrix automate as having to tune and configure the receiver is fiddly and also not possible in organisations/scenarios where the end-points and server/network infrastructure might be provided by different teams or even companies (e.g. IaaS).

 

For Citrix NVIDIA GRID vGPU customers with looking at high network latency scenarios – it really is worth investigating the potential and benefits of TCP window tuning. I’d be really interested to hear feedback if you have tried this and what your experience / thoughts are too!

 

Norwegian, Marius Sandbu was recently awarded NGCA status by NVIDIA for his work with our community through his Netscaler, remoting protocols and experience with technologies such as UDP and TCP/IP. You can follow him on twitter @msandbu and of course do follow his excellent blog on http://msandbu.org/ !!!

NVIDIA GRID – A Guide on GPU Metric Integration for Citrix XenServer

Just a quick blog aimed at those looking to develop GPU hypervisor monitoring products by integrating the NVIDIA GPU metrics exposed by XenServer via their APIs. Really it’s a bit of a guide as to where to find the information provided by Citrix.

GPU-Graph

Background

Two NVIDIA GPU technologies are available on Citrix XenServer:

  • GPU (PCIe) pass-through (including GPU-sharing for XenApp and VDI passthrough)
  • vGPU (shared GPU technologies)

Owing to the nature of PCIe passthrough whereby the hypervisor is bypassed and the VM itself obtains complete control and sole access to the GPU, host and hypervisor level metrics are not available to the NVIDIA SDK and APIs on host nor to the hypervisor.

Developing a supported solution

Many Citrix customers insist on a monitoring solution being certified by the vendor via the Citrix Ready program. ISVs are advised to join the Citrix Ready program (access level is free) to obtain advise on developing a supported product and to eventually certify and market their product. In particular ISVs are recommended to evaluate the conditions of the vendor self-certification “kit” for supported products.

Whilst monitoring can be performed by inserting a kernel module or supplemental pack into XenServer’s dom0 this is an unsupported mechanism that Citrix generally will not support and customers are rarely willing to compromise their support agreements to use such products. ISVs are strongly advised to consider using the XenServer APIs and SDK to access metrics in a supported manner. See: https://www.citrix.com/partner-programs/citrix-ready/test.html (under XenServer-> Citrix XenServer (6.x) Integrated ISV Self-Certification Kit).

XenServer SDK / API

The XenServer API provides bindings for five languages: C, C#, Java, Python and Powershell.

XenServer maintains a landing page for ISV developers: http://xenserver.org/partners/developing-products-for-xenserver.html

Additionally there is developer (SDK) support forum where many XenServer staff answer questions: http://discussions.citrix.com/forum/1276-xenserver-sdk/

XenServer Metrics

XenServer captures metrics in RRDs. Details of the RRDs, code examples and information on how the XenServer SDK can be used to access the metrics are given on this landing page: http://xenserver.org/partners/developing-products-for-xenserver/18-sdk-development/96-xs-dev-rrds.html

XenServer have integrated many of the metrics available from NVIDIAs NVML interface into their RRDs. This means customers can access the metrics via the XenServer APIs in a supported manner rather than inserting unsupported kernel modules to call NVML in the hypervisor’s host operating system (dom0).  See https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2014/01/22/xenserverxendesktop-vgpu-new-metrics-available-to-monitor-nvidia-grid-gpus/

XenServer APIs – querying GPU infrastructure:

For information on which VMs have vGPUs, the type of vGPU profile etc. see http://nvidia.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4117/kw/citrix%20monitoring under “Checking your GPU configuration” for links to appropriate XenServer documentation.

 

Useful links:

 

NVIDIA GRID: Linux Guest OS support for Linux distributions on Citrix and VMware

I was recently involved in a support inquiry where a user wanted to know if NVIDIA GRID vGPU was available on Linux VDAs with the Linux guest OS, OpenSUSE LEAP (the answer at the time of writing is that it’s NOT!). Finding the answer was a lot harder than I expected as both VMware and Citrix documentation took a bit of hunting around.

Much of the marketing around Linux VDA’s mentions support for “SUSE”, “CentOS” or other genres of Linux, such as this blog. It is important that customers check both their hypervisor and VDI solutions official support matrix as both Citrix and VMware only certify, QA and support specific versions of Linux Guest OSs (usually only enterprise supported versions). Customers may find themselves unsupported by the virtualization vendors if they fail to check that the OS and specific version is supported by both their hypervisor and VDI solution (especially if mixing vendors such as Citrix XenDesktop on VMware ESXi).

Both vendors are evolving their Linux support rapidly and customers must check the documentation associated with the relevant versions of VMware/Citrix products they intend to use.

NVIDIA cannot provide support for guest OSs unsupported by the relevant virtualization vendor and as such customers are recommended to contact VMware/Citrix if they wish to use alternative versions/distributions. It is very likely many other varieties of Linux will “work” but customers should be aware that they will be unable to obtain hypervisor or VDI support in the event of an issue.

At the time of writing Horizon 7 on ESXi supports:

  • Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.6 and 7.1
  • CentOS 6.6
  • NeoKylin 6 Update 1 (Chinese)
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP3

 

At the time of writing Citrix XenDesktop 7.9 on XenServer supports:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise:
    • Desktop 11 Service Pack 4
    • Desktop 12 Service Pack 1
    • Server 11 Service Pack 4
    • Server 12 Service Pack 1
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    • Workstation 6.7
    • Workstation 7.2
    • Server 6.7
    • Server 7.2
  • CentOS Linux
    • CentOS 6.7
    • CentOS 7.2

Ongoing if you want to check the OSs available for a Linux VDA you should follow the advice below.

Citrix

XenServer Support for Linux Guest OSs

This is documented in the “Citrix XenServer® Virtual Machine User’s Guide” for the relevant version of XenServer e.g. for 7.0, here: http://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenserver/xenserver-7-0/downloads/xenserver-7-0-vm-users-guide.pdf

XenDesktop Guest OSs Supported by the Linux VDA

This can be found in the Linux VDA product documentation for the relevant version of XenDesktop under the section “System Requirements” e.g. for XenDesktop 7.9 Please see http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/xenapp-and-xendesktop/7-9/install-configure/suse-linux-vda.html (This is where I had to hunt around as bizarrely Citrix detail the genres and versions of Linux supported under each supported OS rather than in a master list, so the SUSE documentation is where you can find RHEL and other supported versions listed)

VMware

ESXi/vSphere Support for Linux Guest OSs

Supported Linux OSs are listed in the “VMware Compatibility Guide”: https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software

Horizon Support for Linux Guest OSs

The versions and distributions supported by Horizon are listed in the FAQ for the appropriate release e.g. for Horizon 7, here: http://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/products/horizon/vmware-horizon-for-linux-faq.pdf

More Lenovo Servers Support NVIDIA GPUs Including the M60

Lenovo have recently qualified and announced support for more NVIDIA GPUs for several servers including the x3650 M5 (E5-2600 v4), details can be found on Lenovo’s site, here:

Also recently listed is the x3500 M5:

This means Lenovo have worked with NVIDIA to test and certify that both parties hardware, firmware and software is fully-compatible, thermally and electrically stable.

Lenovo and vGPU/GPU-passthrough

Lenovo’s “redbook” site with server specifications and support also carries a wealth of information about Lenovo’s investment and joint development to support GPU technologies and virtualization including NVIDIA GRID vGPU. In particular their reference architecture designs including considerations for GPU usage are excellent and available for both VMware and Citrix infrastructures. You can read them here:

I’ve found the best place to start a search on Lenovo’s site is here: https://lenovopress.com/redpxref-system-x-reference and here:

 

Hypervisor Support

The GRID M60 card is now supported on more bare-metal/physical servers. Customers looking to use the M60 card with GRID vGPU in conjunction with a hypervisor such as Citrix XenServer or VMware ESXi should verify that the server OEM has also certified with the hypervisor by checking the VMware/Citrix HCL (Hardware compatibility list), details of how to do this can be found in these NVIDIA Support articles: