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This chapter is from the book

Customizing the Installation of the ICA Client

Although the installation of the RDP client can be greatly automated, you need to develop custom techniques to deploy the client settings you need to your clients. With the ICA client, however, Citrix has taken many steps to ensure that not only the installation is easy but also the deployment of a standardized setup to all of your users. Using the customizable client .INI settings file, you can control all aspects of the client configuration, including the following:

  • Creation of custom ICA connections and application sets You can specify certain custom ICA connections and application sets that will automatically be set up during the client install.

  • Locking down the client You can lock down portions of the client, such as preventing users from creating custom ICA connections on their own.

  • Standardize ICA settings ICA settings, such as whether the user's local username and password are used can be standardized for your clients.

  • Disaster recovery You can set up the connection information your clients need to connect to a disaster recovery server farm and then deploy these settings in a standardized fashion, instead of relying on the manual entry of these settings for every client.

In this section you will learn how to create your own customized installation of the ICA client and how to best deploy the customized application to your users using web and other technologies.

The APPSRV.INI and PN.INI Files

The first step in building an easily deployable customized ICA client involves installing the Windows 32-bit ICA client on a test workstation and customizing the settings. Most settings changes for the ICA client are recorded in one of the following .INI files:

  • PN.INI Contains your application set connection entries and all associated settings for each published application set you created in the client. The PN.ini is generally changed for user settings only.

  • APPSRV.INI Contains general ICA client settings that are found under the ICA Settings dialog box which is under the Tools menu. In addition, all the custom ICA connection you set up and their associated settings are found in this .INI file. The APPSRV.INI is changed for administrator settings only as custom ICA connections are generally made to desktops.

Because every user on a workstation can have her own settings, these settings are normally found in the user's profile folder on the local workstation under the hidden %userprofile%\application data\ica client folder.

After you have set up the client the way you want it for your users, you would need to overwrite the PN.SRC and APPSRV.SRC files on the installation source with your customized PN.INI and APPSRV.INI settings files. When you now install the client using these source files, it will install every time with your customized settings.

The following instructions walk you through this process step by step:

  1. Make a copy of the source ICA client install files found either on the client CD or under the %systemroot%\system32\clients\ica\ica32\disks folder.

  2. Install the client from this folder onto a test workstation.

  3. Set up the custom ICA sessions and application sets that you want for your users. Change any ICA settings that you need changed. Test the settings and then close Program Neighborhood.

  4. Overwrite the PN.SRC and APPSRV.SRC files in your installation source with a copy of the PN.INI and APPSRV.INI files from your %userprofile%\ application data\ica client folder. This is a hidden folder.

  5. Install and test the client from the customized install source on another workstation.

  6. Verify that all the connection entries and other settings you created in step 3 exist and work.

You can make a separate set of install source files for every different set of settings your users need. To deploy these clients, you can either share these install folders on the network and install them from the network onto your workstations or follow one of the many more automated deployment techniques.

Special Settings in APPSRV.INI

Although nearly all settings in the PN.INI file can be set through the GUI, several settings in the APPSRV.INI file can be modified only within the .INI file itself. Here you will learn the most important additional settings available and how to set them properly.

While reviewing these settings, take a look at your APPSRV.INI file on your workstation. You will find it under the %userprofile%\application data\ica client folder. You will notice that the APPSRV.INI is broken down into several subsections. The subsection title and the settings for those settings that cannot be controlled from the GUI are as follows:

  • Browser Retry ([WFClient] Setting) Indicates the number of times the client attempts to contact the master browser. By default this is set to 3. If users are having problems contacting the master browser or any MetaFrame server in an XP environment from the client, you might want to increase this setting and the relate BrowserTimeout setting. On faster networks you might want to reduce the default values.

  • BrowserTimeout ([WFClient] Setting) Number of milliseconds waited for a response from the master browser or any MetaFrame server in an XP environment. The default is 1000 or 1 second.

  • ApplicationSetManagerIconOff ([WFClient] Setting) This is a very useful setting if you want to remove the ability for your users to go into the Application Set Manager and change their settings. You would use this setting if you publish applications to your clients and do not want them to make changes to the setting. The client will be able to access the published application icons for their default server farm only, and no other farm. They will not be able to set up new custom ICA connections, new application sets, or change any of their default application set settings. This is highly recommended because you can set up the client the way you want and then lock down the settings for your users.

  • CustomConnectionsIconOff ([WFClient] Setting) Removes the custom ICA connections icon, so that they cannot access and create new custom ICA connections. This setting and the following one are recommended together if you have multiple farms that users need access to, yet you do not want them to be able to make their own custom ICA connections.

  • FindNewApplicationSetIconOff ([WFClient] Settings)  Removes the Find New Application Set icon on the client so that users cannot connect to new application sets.

  • AddICAOff ([WFClient] Settings) Prevents users from creating new custom ICA connections.

  • DragoutOff ([WFClient] Settings) Prevents users from dragging an icon from Program Neighborhood to the desktop.

  • MouseTimer ([Connection] Settings) Amount of time in milliseconds that mouse movements are queued. By default this is set to 0, when you set that mouse movements are to be queued for a connection in the connection entry's properties it changes this value to 100 milliseconds. You can adjust this value as needed to achieve the response time you want with the mouse over slow connections.

  • KeyboardTimer ([Connection] Settings) Amount of time in milli-seconds that keystrokes are queued. This is set to 0 by default and is set to 50 if you enable keyboard queuing. Like the MouseTimer setting, you can change this setting if needed to get the keyboard responsiveness you want.

Figure 12.1 shows an example of a completely locked down Program Neighborhood. In this example, the following was done:

  1. Status bar and large buttons were removed using the options under the View menu.

  2. A connection to the default server farm was set up.

  3. Folders were created for certain applications.

  4. The Application Set Manager setting was removed using the ApplicationSetManagerIconOff setting in the APPSRV.INI.

Figure 12.1 Locked down Program Neighborhood.

Note how simple and clean the interface is. The simplicity of the interface means it is easier for your users to use and means less calls for your help desk. By standardizing your interface to something similar to that in Figure 12.1 and then making this customized client widely available for download from an internal web site or other means of deployment, you can ensure that client settings are standardized across the enterprise.

After you have added the connections that you want to the client and customized the interface as desired, it is time to "package" the custom client settings for deployment. To do this, just overwrite the .SRC files in the source folder for the client install with the APPSERV.INI and PN.INI files from your profile folder, as shown in the preceding section.

Automating the Initial Deployment

After you have a customized installation available for deployment, there are many methods of automating the initial deployment. You can create a self-extracting executable that contains the source files and email it to your users. You also can make such a file available on an internal support web site. The best way to automate the deployment, however, probably is to download and install the freely available software for creating a web-based ICA client installation. Because this is part of the NFuse package, you will find the steps for doing this in Chapter 19.

Another option you might want to experiment with for deployment is using the WinINSTALL LE tool to modify the MSI version of the Citrix ICA client. Many command-line options are available with .MSI files, such as the ability to do a silent install. For a list of the command-line options for MSI installs, see Chapter 11.

Author's Note

One problem with the MSI technique is that the client name will be the same for all stations. To get around this problem, one trick you might try is to leave the client name blank in the WFCNAME.INI file in the source files for the MSI. When you log on to the server, the server will automatically set your client name to the name of your workstation.

Using Client Update to Deploy

After your Citrix MetaFrame users have an initial version of the ICA client installed and can make a connection to your server, future updates to their client installs are very easy to do centrally using the Citrix Client Update feature. To update the client version for all the clients that connect to a particular server, follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest client installs from the Citrix web site and expand them to an empty directory. Normally you should download the CAB version of the files and use the expand [filename].cab [destination folder] -f:* command to expand them.

  2. Run the ICA Client Update utility from the Program menu, Citrix MetaFrame XP folder.

  3. Select New from the Client menu.

  4. From the Description dialog box that appears, click the Browse button and browse for the location where you expanded the client install files. There should be an UPDATE.INI update definition file that was included with the client installation. When you find it, click Open, and then click Next.

  5. At the Update Option screen, you have several options available on how the client will install. Select the options you need and then click Next.

  6. At the Event Logging window, check the box next to the type of event logging you want for the client installs and click Next.

  7. Click the Enable check box to enable the client and then click Finish.

At this point, the client install files will be added to the client update database. When users log on to the server, by default their client version number will be compared to the client version you installed in the database on the server. If the version on the server is newer, they will be prompted as to whether they should download the newer version of the client to their workstations. This process can occur in the background while the user is working. After the download has completed, the users will be prompted as to whether they want to disconnect, finish the update, and then reconnect to the server.

This automatic update process happens for every user who attaches to the server. For users across dial-up lines, the download times can be tedious, so be sure to warn users in advance of the upcoming client update. This process makes life much easier for the administrator, however, because all client updates can be deployed automatically.

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