Saturday, December 3, 2011

XenApp 6 HP Universal Drivers with Session Printers

XenApp 6 HP Universal Drivers with Session Printers

In a few words I can tell you that using HP Universal drivers with Xenapp 6 to create or add session printers to user's ICA session is not a good idea. The drivers corrupt very quickly. I was involved in a Citrix Xenapp 6 deployment, a small deployment, of six servers. The installation was fresh so there was no history to be brought into the mix and be factored in as a collateral cause. Xenapp was installed on 6 new virtual 2008 R2 servers (The virtual architecture was VMWare 4.1) . It was a new Citrix xenapp farm and the server 2008 R2 server had all the OS updates. The xenapp servers ha the following hotfixes:

The Citrix Online-Plugin was updated through the office to version 12 of the full plug-in. All desktops were XP. The goal was to add session printers through Citrix policies. What printers were added depended on the location the user was in. If they were in office location A they would get a certain number and type of printers. If they were in location B they would get another different set of printers and so on. The policy used the ip address of the client as the method to determine the location. That worked well. Session printer creation worked well in all tests before the app went live. Apparently, the one thing I can conclude is there was not enough load on the server to be an issue. Once the office had gone live with their published applications, within a week there very strange things happening. Printers that were not supposed to be part of the session were listed. Ghost or phantom printers that were in the session and did not belong could not even be printed to. The users would get access denied messages. The logs on the server were riddled with errors. Default printers were being set to these ghost or phantom printers and even when changed , they would just revert back. Then, there was no consistency either as to what "extra" printer would appear in the session at each login.
The problem was traced down to the HP Universal driver. Yes, it was the latest release from HP and yes all printers were on the supported printer list from Citrix.
The tool that was used to test the printer drivers was StressPrint. The driver was removed and re-installed. All seemed well for a few days and then the problem arose again. Of course this time the driver was removed and printer specific drivers were used.


Anonymous said...

I've been using Citrix for many years through the various versions from Metaframe, Presentation server, and even the latest release of Citrix Xenapp and Xendesktop (which now is in one installer, one product).
Citrix is most well known for it's xenapp and xendesktop product of multi-user applciation server but also has products like gotoassist, gotomeeting, and of course gotomypc. These products similarly have to do with screen sharing, some with desktop support, and sending mouse and keyboard movements of the network to a remote computer just as with 4RemoteSupport's software for desktop remote support through the web. Drivers and printing in general have always been an issue with Citrix Xenapp, Presentation server, and xendesktop deployments. There are time that new installations and deployments are problem free but those instances are mostly due to proper planning, the right printer selection, and at time by keeping the printing environment simplified. HP is well know for many computing and network hardware. They have been a leader in developing new and innovative printing and scanning products. Also well known for their server line-up. They have rack, tower and blade servers. They all have the depth of technologies and decades of development in their design. Unlike their desktop line-up however, the servers have a special method for diagnosing and connecting to it for remote control and access even when the server operating system does not boot. Just as 4RemoteSupport provides software for desktop and computer remote control for online support through the web and across the internet, HP has their integrated ILO technology in almost all server. This technology like 4RemoteSupport, with simple initial configuration permits:

Online desktop remote control
Web based desktop remote control
Online computer remote control software

Software for web based online desktop remote support through the web provides and opportunity for small to large IT Support organizations to fulfill SLA agreements with access to computers and servers across the web with speed that cannot be challenged by legacy support methods. Although most companies with use their own integrated platforms for remote control access through the web, HP ILO and Dell iDRAC technologies permit access to servers that have been first initially installed and still do not have an operating system on them yet, server that may be having an issue and are not booting into their installed operating system, or servers that need upgrades and updates that require the server to be offline.

gg1177 said...

Printing and print drivers have for so long been a problem with Citrix implementations. I believe HP does creates the best compatible drivers and provides the best support for drivers. We have encountered many issue over the years and even still while implementing Xendesktop 7.x, there are issues that arise. When supporting our customers and implementing Citrix Xendesktop solutions with hosted shared or dedicated virtual desktops, we u use policies and scripts to install client drivers. Using scripting allows us to provide better support to our clients.

support-g1 said...

Microsoft's driver version 4 has surprised us. The first encoutner with installing and implementing this driver resulted in very positive results. The driver worked so well in a Citrix 7.x implementation. We had installed dedicated virtual desktops in the cloud for our client. The driver was used for an HP printer. We were able to support the driver installation by using scripts. The driver worked so well that when the customer changed the printer with a newer HP, there weren't client side problems. Supporting this installation was surprisingly easier than traditional or past similar installations.