Customizing the HP Smart Client

There is a great blog post from Ingmar Verheij explaining the new HP Smart Client software which is part of the new HP flexible Thin Client series (T410,T510,T610). Please read his blog to get a better understanding about the HP Smart Client software.

In this blog I will show you how you can customize the appearance of the Smart Client, I will give an example how to change the login page when connecting to a Citrix back-end, but you can also use this information when customizing the Smart Client for other protocol connections.

Ok lets start from scratch :
When you configure the Smart Client for use with XenApp\XenDesktop you will get the following logon screen :


(Screenshot is taken with a camera)

As you can see HP made a default page that looks very similar to the Citrix Web Interface 5.4 layout. In the Smart Client admin guide, there is a chapter about customizing the layout but I found it very unclear. So my goal was to get the existing files from the Smart Client to get an example of how this login page is constructed. Because every door on the Smart Client is locked, in terms of remote file management, there is no easy way to get to the files on the Smart Client.

To fetch the files I used the drive mapping feature of the Citrix Receiver for Linux, the default location of the drive redirection is \media, this is the mount point in Linux for USB sticks and other storage devices. By default this folder is mapped as drive leter Z: in the session. In the profile editor enable drive mapping and change the drivePathMappedOnZ value to /etc, see the below screenshot  :


After rebooting the Smart Client, logon to a XenApp\XenDesktop session and open the drive letter Z: You will now see the content of the ETC folder from the Smart Client, browse to the following folder hptc-zero-login\styles there you will find all the default styles from the different connection protocols, see screenshot :

In this case we will open the xen folder, because we want to edit the Citrix login page styles. Copy the folder from the Smart Client to a different location so we can start editing them, in the folder you will find this 2 files :

bgConfig.rtf

This file consists of the layout setting of the login screen, it’s very easy to edit this file and make customization to it, so I will not cover all the options but instead give an example :

Change the background color to white :

global {
color: FFFFFF; # White
padding: 20; # 20 pixels
}

Change the default footer text :

text {
name: ad line;
text: Welcome to bikinis.com, type in your cup size and password to continue;
position: %50%,85%;
alignment: hcenter vcenter;
color: 000000;
font-size: 16pt;
max-width: 98%;
context: login;
}

Change the logo :

image {
name: computers image;
source: /usr/share/icons/hptc-zero-login/mypicture.png;
position: 50%,50%;
alignment: hcenter vcenter;
context: login;
}

As you can see the image source directory is on the USR directory, if you want to retrieve them simply change the ETC drive redirect folder from the previous step to USR and browse to the /usr/share/icons/hptc-zero-login folder.

XenDesktop.qss

In this file you can edit the dialog text, in this example I will change it to Dutch :

}
LoginArea QLabel#loginHeader {
qproperty-text: Welkom;
color: white;
font-size: 20pt;
text-align: left;
}
LoginArea QLabel#userLabel {
qproperty-text: Gebruikersnaam;
color: white;
font-size: 12pt;
}
LoginArea QLabel#passwdLabel {
qproperty-text: Wachtwoord;
color: white;
font-size: 12pt;
}
LoginArea QLabel#domainLabel {
qproperty-text: Domein;
color: white;
font-size: 12pt;
}

Ok now we want to deploy this custom files to all the Smart Clients out there, to do this open the Profile editor and go to the additional Configuration Files section, add the files like this :

Now reboot the Smart Client and voila  :

Conclusion :
In this blog post I explained how you can customize the appearance of the HP Smart Client. You can also use this Drive Redirect option to view other files on the Smart Client such as the ICA client files. In this way you can deploy custom settings to the Smart Client by editing the files and deploy them through the Smart client Profile editor. This is useful when you cannot find the setting in the registry options in the Profile editor.

* Note you can also redirect the style directory so you can place them in a different folder, in this case I used the default locations, but the style directory can be set to a custom location with this option :

Follow me on twitter (@bramwolfs) if you want to be notified when a new blog post is available!

Please note that the information in this blog is provided as is without warranty of any kind.

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How to configure WebTrace functionality in RES Workspace Manager

How to configure WebTrace functionality in RES Workspace Manager

If you have read my previous blog posts, you will notice that they are all around Citrix products. The reason for this is simple, I just have a strong passion for the Citrix product portfolio and I’m working with them for a long time now. Even in my current role as “Independent” Technical Consultant, I sometimes doubt how independent i really are, this doesn’t mean I dislike competitors, but everybody has its preferences. I share this same passion and commitment for products from RES, and especially the combination between those two.

In this first RES blog post I wanted to talk about the WebTrace functionality in RES Workspace Manager, WebTrace allows you to track down internet usage of your users, of course this must be allowed by company policies and the users should be aware that there internet behavoir is monitored.
WebTrace is one of the few components in RES Workspace Manager that doesn’t completely work out-of-the-box, when you enable it in a WIN2008R2\WIN7 environment in combination with Internet Explorer you will soon see that there is no internet traffic being logged.
This is mainly because the Web Trace Browser Helper Object (BHO) is being blocked by the Internet Protected mode which is switched on by default on the Internet security zone.

To enable the WebTrace functionality you can follow this procedure :

Step 1: Switch on WebTrace in the Workspace Manager Console

Switch on the following option under Setup -> Usage Tracking :

Step 2: Configure an Internet Explorer policy to enable the WebTrace BHO for the users

Before we do this we first have to look up the Class ID of the Web Trace BHO by opening the properties of the BHO, the BHO can be found in Internet Explorer under Manage Add-Ons :

Ok now we know the BHO Class ID we can create the Internet Explorer policy, to enable the WebTrace BHO and block the users from disabling it you can follow this steps :

– Create a new (or edit existing) policy based on inetres.admx
– Search the policy for the option “Add-on List” and open it.
– Fill in the Class ID : {65363486-5B64-4199-9087-2CB3543A3BDC} with a value of 1, see screenshot :

– Enable the option “Do not allow users to enable or disable add-ons” (to block users from disabling the BHO)
– Enable the option “Disable add-on performance notifications” (to avoid performance popups for startup times of the add-ons)

The policy now looks like this :

Step 3: Configure an Internet Explorer registry key to disable Internet Explorer protected mode

**Warning:  Before you proceed, you should be aware that disabling Internet Explorer protected mode can have security implications**

Because the WebTrace BHO doesn’t work when Protected Mode is switched on (according to RES this is because the BHO needs more access to system resources which is blocked when running in Protected Mode) we need to turn it off for the Internet Security zone (it’s already switch off for the other zones by default). This can be done through the following registry key :

“HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\Zones\3” “2500”=dword:00000003
To make it more visual (click to enlarge) :

If Protected Mode is switched off users will get a message when browsing over the internet stating that Protected Mode is not turned on, to disable this warning import the following registry key :

“HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main” “NoProtectedModeBanner”=dword:00000001
And this looks like this :

That’s it, WebTrace will now start logging Internet traffic, which you can view in the Usage Tracking viewer in the RES Workspace Manager Console.

Conclusion :

In this blog post I showed you how you can enable the WebTrace functionality in a WIN2008R2\WIN7 environment when using Internet Explorer. It’s a nice feature but you should only enable it when necessary and take into consideration that Internet Explorer Protected Mode needs to be switched off for the WebTrace BHO to function, maybe RES will update the WebTrace BHO in the future so this would not be necessary anymore.

Please note that the information in this blog is provided as is without warranty of any kind.

Citrix UPS is awesome, but maybe it arrived too late?

Citrix Universal Print Server (UPS) is awesome, but maybe it arrived too late?

First I wanted to say that I think the Universal Print Server (UPS) is a really great feature, for those who doesn’t know the UPS feature yet, it’s build on the proven and evolved Universal Printer driver from Citrix which is used for client printer redirection for a long time, with UPS this Universal printer driver is extended to network printers also. UPS consist of a client component and a server component which you install on the print server.  I will not go into technical details about UPS, this is pretty much covered here.

While the Citrix UPS solves a lot of printing horror (think of unstable printer drivers, driver replication issues, print spooler crashes)  I do think we needed the Citrix UPS a while ago harder than we do now, this is mainly because of the following evolutions in the printing space :

1: Follow me printing concept
I see more and more customers that are moving towards a follow me printing concept, in this concept the user is presented with one print object (may be more if you want to preset printing defaults), when a user prints to this object the job is queued on a central print server, the user walks to the nearest printer and types in a code or provide a token\card and after that the print job is send to the printer, this concept has the following advances :

– User can walk to the nearest printer (no more connecting printers based on location or group)
– The user can take away confidential documents immediately
– Monitoring print behavoir and charge-back functionality
– And of course where this blog post is about : There is only one driver needed to connect to this printer object

To illustrate the follow me printing concept, I added a picture from Konica Minolta :

2: Universal Printer Drivers from the printer manufacturer
Yes there where (and maybe still are depending on the manufacturer) a lot of issues with universal  printer drivers, but the fact is that they are getting better and have broader support for different platforms and printing devices. The reason to use Universal Printer drivers from you manufacturer is simple :

– One driver to maintain
– Supports a wide range of print devices from the same manufacturer

3: Printer Driver isolation
Last but not least, in windows 2008R2 and Windows 7, there is a mechanism called printer driver isolation. Printer driver isolation means that the printer driver is isolated (Duh) from the print spooler and optionally also from other printer drivers. In this way a single bad printer driver cannot crash the entire print spooler, one side note is that your printer driver needs to support this isolation. If you never have looked at this feature, you should definitely do this because it can be a real life saver when you have a lot of printer drivers to manage.
While this is a nice build-in feature, it’s a little bit working around the issue so it’s not a reason to not look at better solutions like the Citrix UPS or option 1 and 2. The following isolation modes can be selected:

Driver-isolation mode Meaning
Shared Run the driver in a process that is shared with other printer drivers but is separate from the spooler process
Isolated Run the driver in a process that is separate from the spooler process and is not shared with other printer drivers
None Run the driver in the spooler process


Conclusion:
I’m sure there are a lot of good use cases for the Citrix Universal Print Server feature, and it’s even getting better in version 2 when there is also support for advanced printer properties.
For example it uses some nice compression technology between the client and the UPS, so if you are connecting to print servers over the WAN you better start looking at the Universal Print Server!

But on the other hand I do think the Universal Print Server arrived too late, we needed the Universal Print Server much harder a while ago then we do now because of the evolvements in the printing space I summarized in this blog.