Virtualisation

Who Said On-Premises Email Was Dead, Look Out Exchange Server 2019 is Here!

Theresa Miller - 6 hours 18 min ago

Well if you haven’t heard Exchange Server 2019 is now in public preview. During Microsoft Ignite 2017 it was announced that Exchange Server 2019 would be coming out in 2018. This announcement put away fears that Exchange Server 2016 would be the last on-premises version. Microsoft came through and released the public preview of Exchange […]

The post Who Said On-Premises Email Was Dead, Look Out Exchange Server 2019 is Here! appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Multi Cloud-Are we all talking about the same Multi Cloud?

Theresa Miller - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 05:30

The latest buzz word of the day is multi cloud and its usage with the enterprise. Lots of confusion and speculation but what does multi cloud really mean? Are we all talking about the same thing when we say Multi cloud? Because there are different cloud services offering types the meaning of multi cloud can […]

The post Multi Cloud-Are we all talking about the same Multi Cloud? appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Your VMworld US 2018 Recap, Announcements and Sessions

Theresa Miller - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 05:30

VMware took the stage once again in Las Vegas in August 2018 as another VMworld came and went which was loaded with announcements and content.  Lots of updates were shared for existing products as well as new products and even a brand new acquisition.  Not only were there lots of technical content and and update […]

The post Your VMworld US 2018 Recap, Announcements and Sessions appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Storage Sense on Windows 10 configured with Intune

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 10:46

In a modern management scenario, enabling end-points to perform automatic maintenance tasks will reduce TCO by avoiding scenarios that might result in support calls. Storage Sense in Windows 10 is a great way to manage free disk space on PCs by clearing caches, temporary files, old downloads, Windows Update cleanup, previous Windows Versions, and more, but it it’s not fully enabled by default. Storage Sense can potentially remove gigabytes of data, freeing up valuable space on smaller drives.

Here’s how to enable this feature on Windows 10 PCs enrolled in Microsoft Intune.

Storage Sense Settings

Storage Sense can be found in the Windows 10 Settings app and has only a few settings that can be changed. Typically a user may enable Storage Sense and accept the default settings and for most PCs, the defaults are likely good enough. Here’s what’s available in Windows 10 1803:

Enabling Storage Sense in Windows 10 Settings

Settings are stored in the user profile at:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\StorageSense\Parameters\StoragePolicy

 Settings are stored somewhat cryptically with numbers representing various options.

Storage Sense settings in the Registry

These values translate to following options and values in the table below:

SettingRegistry ValueOptionRegistry Data Storage Sense01Off0 On1 Run Storage Sense2048Every Day1 Every Week7 Every Month30 When Windows decides0 Delete temporary files that my apps aren't using04Selected0 Not selected1 Delete files in my recycle bin if they have been there for over08Off0 On1 256Never0 1 day1 14 days14 30 days30 60 days60 Delete files in my Downloads folder if they have been there for over32Off0 On1 512Never0 1 day1 14 days14 30 days30 60 days60

Now that we know what the options are, we can decide on what to deploy and deliver them to enrolled end-points.

Configure via PowerShell

Using the values from the table above, a PowerShell script can be deployed via Intune to configure our desired settings. The script below will enable Storage Sense along with several settings to regularly remove outdated or temporary files.

# Enable Storage Sense # Ensure the StorageSense key exists $key = "HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\StorageSense" If (!(Test-Path "$key")) { New-Item -Path "$key" | Out-Null } If (!(Test-Path "$key\Parameters")) { New-Item -Path "$key\Parameters" | Out-Null } If (!(Test-Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy")) { New-Item -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" | Out-Null } # Set Storage Sense settings # Enable Storage Sense Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "01" -Type DWord -Value 1 # Set 'Run Storage Sense' to Every Week Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "2048" -Type DWord -Value 7 # Enable 'Delete temporary files that my apps aren't using' Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "04" -Type DWord -Value 1 # Set 'Delete files in my recycle bin if they have been there for over' to 14 days Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "08" -Type DWord -Value 1 Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "256" -Type DWord -Value 14 # Set 'Delete files in my Downloads folder if they have been there for over' to 60 days Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "32" -Type DWord -Value 1 Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "512" -Type DWord -Value 60 # Set value that Storage Sense has already notified the user Set-ItemProperty -Path "$key\Parameters\StoragePolicy" -Name "StoragePoliciesNotified" -Type DWord -Value 1

Modify the script as desired – at the very least the script should enable Storage Sense and leave the remaining settings as default. Save the script as a PowerShell file and deploy via the Intune console in the Azure portal. Ensure that the script runs with the logged on user’s credentials because it will write to HKCU.

Enabling Storage Sense with a PowerShell script in Intune

Assign the script to All Users and their PC will receive the script. It’s important to note that, because the settings are stored in HKCU and are not policies, the user can either disable Storage Sense or change other settings.

Wrapping Up

Storage Sense is a great feature to enable on Windows 10 PCs for both personal and corporate PCs. In a modern management scenario, it’s another tool in our kit for enabling end-points to be self-sufficient, so I highly recommend testing and enabling the feature by default. This article has shown you how to configure Storage Sense via Intune and PowerShell with all of the possible combinations required to configure it to suit your requirements.

Hold On…

Storage Sense shows you how much disk capacity has been cleaned in the previous month in the Settings app. For a bit of a laugh, you can modify the value where this is stored so that Settings displays spaced saved that’s clearly not genuine.

Messing around with the value of saved space

You’ll find the registry value (20180901) in this key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\StorageSense\Parameters\StoragePolicy\SpaceHistory

Image Credit: Photo by Florian Pérennès on Unsplash

This article by Aaron Parker, Storage Sense on Windows 10 configured with Intune appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

Everything You Need To Know About VMworld 2018

Theresa Miller - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 05:30

Once again, it is time for VMworld! VMworld 2018 is taking place in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay hotel RIGHT NOW! Here is everything you need to know to have a great time. One of the things everyone is most excited about when it comes to VMworld is always the new announcements from VMware. […]

The post Everything You Need To Know About VMworld 2018 appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Workstations in the Cloud? Let’s take a look at Citrix Cloud and VMWare Horizon Cloud

Theresa Miller - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 05:30

VDI workstation virtualization is a common approach for corporate desktop and application access, and it allows IT to centralize information in the corporate datacenter.  These approaches allow for some key business benefits, with the biggest being mobility. Users can work from anywhere and at anytime, allowing for a great amount of flexibility of work teams. […]

The post Workstations in the Cloud? Let’s take a look at Citrix Cloud and VMWare Horizon Cloud appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Citrix Workspace app deployed with Microsoft Intune

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Mon, 08/13/2018 - 04:57

Citrix Workspace app is here to replace Citrix Receiver with a new UI and capabilities (primarily for Citrix Cloud customers). Here’s how to deploy it across various supported platforms in a modern management capacity with Microsoft Intune.

Windows 10

There are multiple deployment options for Workspace app on Windows via Microsoft Intune:

  • Workspace app from the Microsoft Store. This version has some feature limitations but requires the least amount of effort to deploy
  • The full Workspace app that provides the best compatibility, but doesn’t ship as a Windows Installer file and therefore requires custom solutions to deploy
Microsoft Store

Adding the Workspace app from the Microsoft Store is well documented and should take only 5 minutes to get the app from the Store, synchronise to Intune and assign the app to your users. How’s that for done and dusted? – I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than package and maintain applications.

Citrix Workspace in the Microsoft Store

The Workspace app can be assigned as available for end-users to install via the Intune Company Portal or required for automatic deployment. Once deployed, the Store will take care of updates, thus there is no further action required by the administrator.

Citrix Workspace app in the Microsoft Intune Company Portal

If you have already deployed Citrix Receiver from the Microsoft Store via Intune, it should be automatically updated to Citrix Workspace. One they key feature limitations of the Microsoft Store version is pass-through authentication, so you might need to consider alternative deployment options

PowerShell

The Workspace app installer is a single executable just it has been with Citrix Receiver. This presents a challenge to deploy Workspace app as a line-of-business application with Intune which requires Win32 applications to be packaged as a single Windows Installer file. PowerShell scripts are a simple alternative, but deploying applications via PowerShell has two key considerations:

  • PowerShell scripts can’t be applied to computer groups
  • PowerShell scripts are executed on devices only when an Azure Active Directory user is signed in to the device

Deploying this way also means that the Workspace app will be deployed regardless of user choice and of course does not support deployment via the Intune Company Portal.

Like we’ve done previously with Citrix Receiver, the Workspace app can be deployed to Windows 10 machines via Intune with PowerShell without requiring custom packaging. We need a consistent URL that will always download the latest version of Workspace app and a command line to perform a silent installation. Your command line options might differ depending on your target environment, but the example script below will download and install the Workspace app.  

$Url = "https://downloadplugins.citrix.com/Windows/CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe" $Target = "$env:SystemRoot\Temp\CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe" $Arguments = '/AutoUpdateCheck=Auto /AutoUpdateStream=Current /DeferUpdateCount=3 /AURolloutPriority=Slow /NoReboot /Silent EnableCEIP=False' Start-BitsTransfer -Source $Url -Destination $Target -Priority High -TransferPolicy Always -ErrorAction Continue Start-Process -FilePath $Target -ArgumentList $Arguments -Wait

Once deployed, devices must then rely on auto-updates to ensure that Workspace app is kept up-to-date. 

Re-package Citrix Workspace app for Windows Installer

With the right tools and a bit of effort, Citrix Workspace app can be re-packaged into a single Windows Installer file. Once you’ve packaged the app with this method you’ll need to maintain the package and update it regularly. As with the PowerShell method though, auto-updates will keep Workspace app up-to-date once deployed.

Is this approach right for you? This requires maintaining and deploying a custom package and is dependent on how the environment is managed and available skillsets. Only you can answer that for your projects or environments. A custom package isn’t ideal and I recommend using the Microsoft Store version as the default approach instead.

Citrix Workspace app extracted Windows Installer files

HDX RealTime Media Engine

The Citrix HDX RealTime Media Engine – required for optimising Skype for Business under XenApp and XenDesktop, does come as a single Windows Installer file. This makes it easy then to deploy the engine to Windows PCs as a Required line-of-business application without modification or custom packaging. This will ensure that no user interaction is required to install the engine since most users are unlikely to know what it does anyway.

Bonus: Citrix Workspace app for Chrome

If you have Google Chrome deployed in your environment and you’d like to deploy the Citrix Workspace app for Chrome, this can be achieved with a PowerShell script that will either deploy it as a preference that users must approve or as a policy that will be automatically pushed out and users will be unable to remove from Chrome.

Google provides detailed documentation on deploying Chrome extensions on Windows.

Here’s a basic script to deploy Workspace app for Chrome via PowerShell that uses the app’s Chrome Web Store identifier (haiffjcadagjlijoggckpgfnoeiflnem) to tell Chrome to install the app on next launch. This shows both approaches – deploy as a preference or enforced.

# Citrix Receiver / Workspace app as a preference $Path = "Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Google\Chrome\Extensions" $Value = "update_url" $Data = "https://clients2.google.com/service/update2/crx" $Key = "$Path\haiffjcadagjlijoggckpgfnoeiflnem" New-Item -Path $Key -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue New-ItemProperty -Path $Key -Name $Value -Value $Data -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue # Citrix Receiver / Workspace app as a policy $Key = "Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome\ExtensionInstallForcelist" $ExistingValues = (Get-Item -Path $Key).Property $Value = [int]$ExistingValues[$ExistingValues.Count-1] + 1 $Data = "haiffjcadagjlijoggckpgfnoeiflnem;https://clients2.google.com/service/update2/crx" New-Item -Path $Key -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue New-ItemProperty -Path $Key -Name $Value -Value $Data -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

Add the script to the Intune portal and assign to a user group to deploy. Ensure the script runs in the system context because it needs to write to HKLM.

macOS

The Citrix Workspace app can be deployed as a line-of-business application with Microsoft Intune. The Workspace app download comes as an Installer package (inside an Apple Disk Image) that can be converted into suitable file format with the Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool, ready to deploy with Intune.

The Citrix Workspace app disk image

Convert the Installer

Instructions for converting a .pkg file to a .intunemac file are outlined in the documentation, and the basic process I have followed to convert the Citrix Workspace app installer file is:

  1. Download the Intune App Wrapping Tool for Mac executable – IntuneAppUtil  – to a local folder. I’ve downloaded it to ~/bin.
  2. Mark the file as executable. In my example, I’ve done this with:
chmod +x ~/bin/IntuneAppUtil
  1. Optionally copy the Install Citrix Workspace.pkg file to a local folder. You should also be able to run the converter against the copy stored in the disk image. In my example, I’ve copied the installer to ~/Projects/Intune-Apps.
  2. Convert the .pkg file into the required .intunemac format with a command similar to the following example – note that the -o switch should include a directory path only.
~/bin/IntuneAppUtil -c ~/Projects/Intune-Apps/Install\ Citrix\ Workspace.pkg -o ~/Projects/Intune-Apps -v

If successful the command line will look similar to the following screenshot:

Converting the Citrix Workspace app with IntuneAppUtil

The Workspace app installer will have been converted into a .intunemac format ready to import into the Intune portal for distributing to users.

The converted Citrix Workspace app

Distribute with Intune

With the prepared package, create a new line-of-business app in the Intune portal, select the .intunemac file and enter application information as follows:

  • Name – Citrix Workspace
  • Description – copy and paste the description from Workspace app on the Microsoft Store
  • Publisher – Citrix
  • Ignore app version – Yes
  • Category – Business or Productivity
  • Information URL – https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-workspace-app-for-mac.html
  • Privacy URL – https://www.citrix.com.au/about/legal.html
  • Logo – download the Workspace app icon in PNG format here

Once the details have been added, click OK to create the application. I initially had issues with uploading the application on Chrome on macOS. I was successful on Internet Explorer.

Adding the Citrix Workspace app as a line-of-business app in Microsoft Intune

Once the application has been created and assigned to users, it will be available for install in the Intune Company Portal. The application can also be set to required for automatic deployment.

Citrix Workspace available in the Intune Company Portal on macOS

Just as on Windows, updates to the Citrix Workspace app can be managed with the inbuilt updater, post-deployment.

HDX RealTime Media Engine

The Citrix HDX RealTime Media Engine is also available as an installer package that can be converted and deployed the same way as Workspace itself. Citrix Workspace app is now a 64-bit macOS application and will, therefore, require a 64-bit version of the HDX RealTime Media Engine. Right now, a 64-bit HDX RealTime Media Engine is in tech preview that can be downloaded, packaged, uploaded as a line-of-business application and assigned.

iOS

As at the time of writing, Citrix Receiver is still available on the iOS App Store and we should see it updated to Citrix Workspace app soon. Adding an iOS application in Microsoft Intune is, fortunately, a simple process:

  1. Add an application and choose ‘Store app – iOS’, then search the app store
  2. Search for ‘Citrix’, ‘Citrix Receiver’ or ‘Citrix Workspace’
  3. Choose ‘Citrix Receiver’ or ‘Citrix Workspace’ depending on what is returned
  4. Save the change and Add the application
  5. Assign the application as required 

The application will be available in the Intune Company Portal:

Citrix Workspace for iOS available in the Intune Company Portal

For existing deployments of Citrix Receiver, they should be updated to Citrix Workspace app automatically.

Android Android Store app

At the time of writing, the Workspace app for Android is not available in the Google Play Store, but a tech preview is available for download as an APK. I would recommend deploying Citrix Receiver via the Google Play Store, but with access to an APK file, you can deploy Android applications directly to enrolled devices as a line-of-business application with Intune.

The process for deploying Citrix Workspace app or Citrix Receiver on Android follows the standard Android store app deployment steps:

  1. Add an application and choose ‘Store app – Android’, then search the app store
  2. Name – ‘Citrix Workspace’ or ‘Citrix Receiver’
  3. Description – copy and paste the description from Workspace app on the Microsoft Store
  4. Publisher – Citrix
  5. Appstore URL – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.citrix.Receiver
  6. Minimum operating system – Android 4.4 (Kitkat)
  7. Category – Business or Productivity
  8. Privacy URL – https://www.citrix.com.au/about/legal.html
  9. Logo – download the Workspace app icon in PNG format here

Assign the application and it will be available to users in the Intune Company Portal.

Android Work Profile app

In the future, it’s more likely that organisations will leverage the Android enterprise capabilities, previously known as Android for Work. This also simplifies Android app deployment with a connection between Microsoft Intune and the Google Play store. Once configured, browse the Google Play store, approve a list of desired apps and these will then appear for assignment in the Mobile Apps node in Intune.

Here’s Citrix Receiver in the Google Play store.

Approving Citrix Receiver in the Google Play store

Once approved, you must choose how new permissions will be approved:

  • Keep approved when app requests new permissions – Users will be able to install the updated app. (Default)
  • Revoke app approval when this app requests new permissions – App will be removed from the store until it is reapproved.

You can approve and deploy Citrix Receiver today, which should be automatically updated to Citrix Workspace app once it is released.

Wrap-up

In this article, I’ve covered the high-level steps required for deployment of the Citrix Workspace app across the various major platforms supported by Microsoft Intune. Mobile platforms, including the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, will require the least amount of administrative effort to configure, deploy and update. For most organisations supporting Windows as their primary platform, even with Microsoft Intune, the choice of deployment solution will depend on Workpace app feature requirements.

This article by Aaron Parker, Citrix Workspace app deployed with Microsoft Intune appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

DEFCON: key reasons for IT ops people to attend

Theresa Miller - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 11:00

It’s August, I’m in Vegas, and I’m bringing you an ITOPS view of DEFCON 24. Every year I get back to my sysadmin roots and attend DEFCON. No, I’m not a hacker, but these are some IT ops people should get exited about DEFCON. You are forced to go off the grid. I’m not a […]

The post DEFCON: key reasons for IT ops people to attend appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Thunderbolt end-user experience macOS vs. Windows

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 04:01

Thunderbolt 3 (and USB-C) are here to provide a single cable for everything, although your experience with this technology will differ depending on your choice of operating system. Here’s a quick look at the end-user experience of TB on macOS and Windows.

Thunderbolt 3 on macOS

Thunderbolt on macOS just works – plug-in a TB device and off you go. This makes sense given that the standard was designed by Intel and Apple. Unpacking and plugging in a Thunderbolt dock with external displays, ethernet, audio etc., on macOS in just about every case will work without installing drivers.

Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro

Here’s Apple’s dirty (not so) secret though – excluding the MacBook Air (and the Mini that comes with TB2), all current Macs have TB3 ports, except for the MacBook. It has a single USB-C port only. Maybe that’s OK – the TB target market is likely to be purchasing the Pro line anyway, but Apple isn’t a fan of labelling their ports, so caveat emptor.

macOS provides a good look at the devices plugged into your TB ports:

macOS System Report showing Thunderbolt devices

Note that while the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, these are divided across 2 busses. If you have more than one device plugged in, ensure they’re plugged into either side of the laptop for best performance.

Thunderbolt 3 on Windows

Thunderbolt 3 on Windows 10? That is unfortunately not so straight-forward. 

I’ve been testing connection to my dock on an HP Elitebook x360 G2 that comes equipped with 2 x TB3 ports. The default Windows 10 image for this machine is an absolute mess that has a whole lot of software that isn’t required. Resetting the machine back to defaults strips it right back to the bare essentials, excluding the Thunderbolt driver and software. After plugging in a TB device, it isn’t recognised and no driver or software is downloaded from Windows Update. Interestingly, no driver or software was offered by the HP Support Assistant app designed to help end-users keep their HP PCs up to date.

Windows PCs equipped with Thunderbolt ports will have the driver and software installed by default, so typically this won’t be an issue; however, if you’re resetting the PC or creating a corporate image, you’ll need to install that software. Every OEM should supply Thunderbolt software for download, which for HP PCs is listed as Intel Thunderbolt 3 Secure Connect. The software is actually provided by Intel and available in various downloads on their site.

With the software installed and a device plugged in, the user sees a message box asking to approve the connection to a Thunderbolt device. Management actions such as approving or removing a device requires administrator rights on the PC. Pluggable has a good article on the entire user experience and troubleshooting.

Approving connection to TB devices on Windows 10

Once approved, the device can then be viewed and managed. 

Viewing attached TB devices on Windows 10

Of course, once plugged in, Windows sees the peripherals and connects to them as usual.

Peripherals plugged into a TB dock on Windows 10

Thunderbolt on Windows isn’t as simple as it could be. It would be great to see drivers installed directly from Windows Update instead of being available separately, but once installed everything works as you would expect.

Wrap-up

Thunderbolt will see as wide spread adoption as USB 3.1, but users with specialised requirements such as video editors, CAD, etc., will benefit from the available bandwidth, which today is 40 Gbit/s vs. 10 Gbit/s. Early USB 3.2 hardware with 20 Gbit/s speeds has been demonstrated recently and this may further reduce the need for some users to go to devices providing the higher bandwidth.

The end-user experience of TB on macOS vs. Windows 10 is kind of disappointing – Windows requires that you install drivers and the software requires administrative rights. Not an ideal experience for home or SMB users and these requirements might preclude the usage of Thunderbolt in enterprise environments. However my own personal experience on a MacBook is pretty awesome – just plug in and go. Looks like I’ll be on macOS for the foreseeable future.

Linda Xu

This article by Aaron Parker, Thunderbolt end-user experience macOS vs. Windows appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

Thunderbolt 3 – One Cable to Rule Them All

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 13:51

Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C have arrived to make our life easier and more confusing all at the same time. The promise of a single cable that does everything is appealing but for the average consumer, knowing what to purchase is challenging. This article is a view into my research into Thunderbolt, USB-C and 4K monitors and what I’ve ultimately purchased.

In an effort to reduce the clutter on my desk and improve my viewing experience for work, I’ve invested in a Thunderbolt 3 dock and a 4K monitor. This article isn’t necessarily a review of this hardware – instead consider this a walkthrough of how I made these specific choices and my experiences with a Thunderbolt 3 dock. In a follow up article, I’ll discuss Thunderbolt and high HPI experiences on macOS and Windows.

The Quest for Less Clutter

I work primarily from home and given my job, I’m in front of a computer for extended periods; thus, I need a clean and neat workspace to be able to focus. I’m not great at keeping my workspace tidy as I should be, so anything I can do to reduce clutter on my desk has got to assist. This is where the right choice in hardware comes in – I run a 13″ MacBook Pro that comes with four Thunderbolt ports, as my primary driver, so I have the opportunity to do everything through a single cable.

With the right solution, I should be able to run power to the laptop plus all other inputs and outputs from a Thunderbolt dock, providing me the ability to cleanly route cables (as much as I can). This also means that I can arrive at my desk or leave by pulling out or plugging in a single cable. Everything else I then need for travel remains in my backpack, requiring me to only transfer my laptop.

The Hunt for More Pixels

After upgrading to the MacBook Pro last year (from the MacBook Air), the biggest impact to my daily experience has been the quality of the display. Crisp text, icons and high quality OS and application artefacts in both macOS and Windows 10 is a joy to use. 

Did I mention this screen is amazing? I never want to see a pixel again #macbook #apple

— Aaron Parker (@stealthpuppy) August 2, 2017

I’m of course spoilt by having access to a MacBook display, but it’s driven me to want a similar experience from my external monitor. To that end, I’ve looked at adding a 4K display to my layout. I have been plugging into an external 1080p monitor for dual screen work and the difference in quality to a 4K display is noticeable. 

Playing Hardware Roulette

When I first started looking at simplifying my setup, I started with the monitor – originally I was looking at a USB-C or Thunderbolt monitor that could drive everything rather than the seperate dock and monitor that I’ve ended up with. The choices for USB-C monitors are still limited in 2018 and Thunderbolt even more so; however, it seems we’re at an inflection point with USB-C and I suspect that within 12-months, USB-C will be everywhere. Thunderbolt 3 is even appearing in a good number of PCs.

To make a choice for what works for you, I would recommend starting with a display with a resolution and size that suits your needs, then consider ports and how you’ll connect it to your MacBook or PC. However, unless you can test your hardware choices you’re often playing roulette when purchasing tech devices, so relying on reviews and crossing my fingers is what I’ve done with this purchase.

Pixels Be Gone!

High resolution displays are moving beyond 1080p with 4K monitors being a common option for both PC displays and TVs. With a pixel density matched to the right physical size of the display you can have resolutions where it’s impossible to see individual pixels providing an outstanding visual feast.

Here’s two articles I recommend reading on the topic of displays and pixel density – while written primarily for a Mac audience, they’re still applicable to Windows PCs:

The short version is this – the aim of a ‘Retina’ display is that you don’t see individual pixels, so as the screen size increases, you need to increase resolution.  Sounds simple enough, but I think it’s easy to believe that a 4K 27″ display will give you retina quality, which is just not the case.

So with the desire to improve my external display options, I needed to find the right monitor and look at how to connect to it.

Choosing a 4K Display

LG provides two purpose built monitors for the Mac both of which come with trade offs and caveats if you want to support cross platform:

  • The LG Ultrafine 4K monitor. This 21.5″ monitor has an amazing display with full macOS support (given that it was built for the Mac), but the additional 3 USB-C ports are USB 2 speeds only. With the peripherals I need to drive as well, this would just require too many additional dongles. On top of the $1010 AUD, I’d need to account for the price of additional dongles
  • The LG Ultrafine 5K monitor, this model does come with USB-C 3.1 ports, but to drive this display, you’ll need the 15″ MacBook Pro. It has the same number of USB-C outputs and the same issue with dongles if you have more than 3 peripherals to plug into it. This is the model I’ve seen in person and the display is outstanding

Both of these monitors should in theory work with Windows devices, but given that all control is provided in software (built into macOS), they aren’t really going to be a monitor to consider if you’re on PC. There’s plenty of reviews on these monitors if you’re interested.

There is a range of USB-C monitors available in 2018 which typically start at 27″ and for anything reasonable, you’ll be paying $500 USD and up, but I had three drivers for a choice in monitor:

  1. A 4K resolution to get to a Retina display as close as possible
  2. Keep the size 24″ to match my existing 1080p monitor and not go above a physical size that would show individual pixels
  3. Desk space – dual 24″ monitors takes up almost my entire desk, so anything larger would force me back to a single monitor setup

The choices of 24″ 4K monitors is even more limited and considering that I need to connect to it, I need to factor in the cost of a dock. Sticking with a 4K 24″ monitor should match the scaling of my existing monitor at 200%, so items should appear at exactly the same size, but four times the fidelity. However, I had no way of determining exactly how it would look before purchasing.

Picking the Right Cable

To drive a 4K monitor, you have a choice of DisplayPort or HDMI, but today, DisplayPort is your best choice – this might change soon though as HDMI 2.1 devices arrive. DisplayPort and HDMI are a bit of a mess right now with multiple versions that support different resolutions and frame rates. HDMI 2.0 is needed at a minimum, but DisplayPort 1.4 is pretty common.

With DisplayPort though, keep in mind you’re likely to require an Active DisplayPort cable when connecting over DP from a dock. This might be monitor and dock dependant and there’s no guarantee that the DP cable that comes with your monitor is an Active cable.

Thunderbolt 3 Docks

At this point, I should probably explain my choice of Thunderbolt over USB-C – it comes down to bandwidth. Thunderbolt is capable of 40 Gbps, while USB 3.1 over USB-C has a 10 Gbps maximum throughput. To drive 4K and 1080p monitors, 1Gbps ethernet, a USB microphone, scanner, audio and an external HDD, I need no bottlenecks over a single cable. I could possibly replace the 1080p monitor with another 4K, but I may be pushed the Intel GPU a bit far at that point. So Thunderbolt ensures that I have no issue with bandwidth for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a couple of great articles that test and compare various docks and I used these to inform my choice of dock.

  • Guidemaster: Picking the right Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C dock for your desk at ArsTechnica
  • The Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks at WireCutter
Thunderbolt Cable Considerations

If you do go down the Thunderbolt route, be aware that it too has requirements on cables – if you go beyond a 50cm cable, the bandwidth will half and you need to source an Active Thunderbolt cable to keep the 40Gbps bandwidth. My recommendation is to stick with a 50cm cable if you can.

Hardware Experiences

So what is the experience or usability like? Here’s a quick overview of my chosen hardware.

Caldigit TS3 Plus

Picking a Thunderbolt 3 docks was fairly simple – ensure I have enough ports, including DisplayPort, and see what the reviews recommend. With that info in hand, I settled on the Caldigit TS3 Plus. This dock has plenty of ports for all of the peripherals I need to plug into it, including DisplayPort and Ethernet.

Ports on the Caldigit TS3Pro Thunderbolt 3 dock

I have added a USB-C to HDMI adapter to connect my existing 1080p monitor. I’ve found StarTech adapters and cables to be good quality at reasonable prices. Interestingly, I’ve had to plug this into the second Thunderbolt port on the dock to get video out, so even though the dock as 2 USB 3.1 Type-C ports, only the second Thunderbolt port must support DP Alt Mode.

The dock came with a 50cm Thunderbolt 3 port and 85W output, thus the single cable powers my laptop and connects to all external peripherals. It’s a solid unit in brushed aluminium with a power supply larger than the device itself, which should hopefully assist with heat dissipation. 

The Caldigit TS3 Plus next to a 60W Apple power supply and its own external power supply

Thunderbolt on macOS is plug-and-play and  I was able to unbox the dock and plug-in within a few minutes. I have the dock on top of my desk rather than mounting underneath for access to the SD card slot and front facing USB slot. The only change I would have liked to see would be to have the audio ports on the back of the unit to make routing cables easier.

Purchase? Yes, absolutely.

Dell P2415Q

In 24″ 4K monitors I had basically two choices:

Based on reviews, an in-built USB hub and an optional speaker that attaches to the bottom of the monitor, I went with the Dell. It has bezels that are thicker than I’d like, but overall it provides a pretty good display. It’s not near the LG Ultrafine in quality, but it’s reasonable for the price. The difference in display quality due to the sheer number of pixels between this screen and the 1080p next to it, is huge.

The monitor comes with a cable with DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort connectors, which I assume is to either reduce cost, or enable input from Dell PCs with Mini DisplayPort. Thankfully it has work OK, going from full size DisplayPort into the dock and Mini DisplayPort into the monitor. Presumably then, the cable is an Active cable. There are two more full size DisplayPort ports available, so I should be able to plug in my desktop PC in the future.

Scaling in macOS and Windows 10 works a treat and I’ll discuss that in more detail in another article; however, what concerned me before the purchase is exactly how macOS would scale on screen windows. Fortunately, the default scaling is spot on.

Dell P2415Q scaling options on macOS

My audio inputs and outputs are now a little over the top:

macOS audio outputs / inputs with Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort

Purchase? Maybe – this depends on your space requirements and budget. Whatever you purchase, keep in mind the capabilities of your GPU and how sharp you want windows and text to appear on screen. The larger the screen the more chance you’ll see pixels.

Wrap-Up

Overall, I’m very happy with this setup. I’ve had a chance to tidy my workspace by connecting to a single cable that does it all. While I’ve chosen Thunderbolt, USB-C might work for you and the options for doing so are increasing. 

Fortunately, this particular setup has worked well and does support both Mac and PC. I started with the intention to discuss the software side as well and compare the experience of macOS and Windows 10 for Thunderbolt and high DPI screens,  but that will now have to wait for a follow up. 

Angela Compagnone

This article by Aaron Parker, Thunderbolt 3 – One Cable to Rule Them All appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

New VMware Fling – Horizon HelpDesk Agent

Andrew Morgan - from the trenches - Thu, 08/02/2018 - 13:09

Just a quick note on the blog that I’ve put together a new VMware fling, the first of many (hopefully!).

The VMware Horizon HelpDesk Agent is built on the Horizon HelpDesk API to be a more natural and fluid experience for windows administrators of Horizon. I’ve ensured that this application is as responsive and intuitive as possible by leveraging asynchronous calls where possible to ensure the user is rarely left waiting for responses.

With the HelpDesk Agent, you connect once and maintain your session throughout the day to the subscribed service, once you need it, you simply pull it up via keystroke and begin to search for the user you wish to assist or observe. I’ve optimised the search experience to remove some unnecessary steps and allowed quick access to the users data. You can maintain multiple open windows, access everything with simple key strokes, etc.

In addition to everything HelpDesk can do today, I’ve also added intelligence to measure the key performance metrics in the users session and provide a “Session Experience” metric to allow administrators to have an “at a glance” view of how the user is experiencing their session.

For a quick overview of the product here’s a quick video:

Wouter Kursten also wrote up a good overview here: https://www.retouw.nl/vexpert/new-euc-fling-released-horizon-helpdesk-utility/

To get access to the utility or learn more, head over to the VMware labs site: https://labs.vmware.com/flings/horizon-helpdesk-utility#summary

 

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

What FSLogix Cloud Cache can do for your Office 365 Deployment

Theresa Miller - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 05:30

It’s no secret that organizations that have a native Microsoft Office 365 deployment and non-persistent VDI will experience latencies when using Outlook. This will happen with the full Outlook client, because Outlook uses a cache file for email called an .ost file. The size of the .ost file is often quite large, is always changing, […]

The post What FSLogix Cloud Cache can do for your Office 365 Deployment appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

PowerShell: XenServer Count Function

Wag the real - Alain Assaf blog - Fri, 07/27/2018 - 14:42
Intro I’ve been hesitant to dive into XenServer PowerShell cmdlets, but there’s no rational reason to not do it. Citrix continues to make great strides in expanding and updating PowerShell for XenServer, PVS, and XenDesktop. Today, we’ll go over a function that queries an array of XenServer Poolmasters and returns the total VM count on […]
Categories: , Citrix, Virtualisation

IT Checklist: what are your must-haves?

Theresa Miller - Thu, 07/26/2018 - 05:30

If you’ve been in IT for a while, you probably have an IT checklist of some sort. Even if you’re not working in a full-on ITIL or Six Sigma shop, there is a basic list of items that you consider and plan out for each of the applications in your environment. A Basic IT Checklist […]

The post IT Checklist: what are your must-haves? appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

RTP PowerShell User Group: Adding Scheduled Jobs to your PowerShell Toolbox – July 25th.

Wag the real - Alain Assaf blog - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 13:44
July 25th, the Research Triangle PowerShell User Group will host Jeff Hicks. He will cover implementing PowerShell scripts with Scheduled Jobs. It proves to be an informative meeting. Check more at MeetUp – http://meetu.ps/e/Fynqw/z9BYg/d Thanks, Alain   Advertisements
Categories: , Citrix, Virtualisation

Adobe Reader DC deployment with Microsoft Intune Part 2

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 11:44

In the previous article we saw how to customise the Adobe Reader DC installation and deploy it via Microsoft Intune. Now that it’s installed on Windows 10 end-points let’s look at how updates work.

First though, it’s important to point out that the version of Adobe Reader DC deployed from the single file Windows Installer is 2015.07.20033, while the version that is current as of July 2018 is 2018.011.20055. The deployed version then is extremely out of date, and given that Intune cannot deploy Windows Installer Patch (MSP) files directly, the end-point needs to rely on the Adobe Acrobat update service to download and install updates.

Updating Adobe Reader DC

Adobe Reader (and Acrobat) installs the Adobe Acrobat Update Service. On typical enterprise PCs or virtual desktop environments this service may not be desirable, because updates are managed by Configuration Manager or monthly image updates. On a Windows 10 desktop deployed modern management style, it can be up to the device to ensure the OS and applications are kept up to date; thus, this service should remain enabled on those end-points.

The updater is actually two components – the Update service and a scheduled task that runs ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\ARM\1.0\AdobeARM.exe’ to check for, download and install updates.

The task has two triggers – one after user logon, but with a delay of 12 minutes, and the other at a scheduled time that is possibly different per device. Here’s the scheduled task:

Adobe Acrobat Update Task

In theory, the service should download and apply an Adobe Reader update within 24-hours after installation. In practice, your mileage will most certainly vary. In my testing (which wasn’t exhaustive), it would take more than that to download an update and I resorted to using the ‘Check for Updates’ option from within Adobe Reader manually. 

Update Process

Downloading and installing updates does not unfortunately go straight to the latest version. In my testing, my target PCs downloaded an intermediate update to 2015.023.20070 before the second update to 2018.011.20055. This means that in the real world, it could be several days before a PC has the most recent version installed.

Adobe Reader DC – An update is available

Fortunately, the updates are downloaded and installed without user intervention, meaning that the update process works for users without administrative rights to their PC.

To Deploy or Not Deploy

So understanding that to deploy Adobe Reader DC via Microsoft Intune requires deploying a version that is more than 3 years old and relying on the end-point to download and install updates, the question that should be asked – should you deploy Adobe Reader to Windows 10 machines via Microsoft Intune?

Here’s what you should consider:

  • Many organisations prefer Adobe Reader over 3rd party PDF readers for first party features and support.
  • Of the top 50 Windows desktop applications in 2018, Adobe Reader had the most vulnerabilities (source: Flexera), beaten only by Windows itself. If the option is to install an old version of Adobe Reader and rely on the automatic updater on the end-point to install the latest version, the time to update may be unacceptable for some organisations
  • PowerShell can be used to deploy Adobe Reader to Windows 10 PCs via Intune; however, this does not allow for user self-service installs and will require building in logic to account for failures in network connectivity during the download or retrying the installation if it were to fail
  • Windows 10 includes a capable PDF Reader in Microsoft Edge and other browsers also implement native PDF viewing features
  • Other PDF readers are available from the Microsoft Store, so it is possible to deploy and keep a PDF reader up to date simpler than the process I’ve outlined in these articles; however, many of these are less than ideal – the UI is often not great and many have up sell features built into them
Summary

In these articles, I’ve demonstrated how to package and deploy Adobe Reader DC as a native application via Microsoft Intune, while relying on the automatic updater installed by the application for an end-point to keep Reader up to date. This approach allows you to deploy Adobe Reader in the same way as other line-of-business applications for required or optional user-driven installs and then reporting in the Intune console.

Because Adobe haven’t released a newer version of the single file Windows Installer for Adobe Reader, you should consider carefully whether this approach is right for your organisation. Deployment of an old version of a high-target, popular application on Windows with the highest number of patched vulnerabilities is probably not a great idea. You might though have good reason to deploy it for features that your users require.

So what can you do if you need to deploy it?

  1. Make it an optional user-driven install and make most users rely on the PDF viewer built into their browser
  2. Deploy via PowerShell if you want to enforce the install on end-points (this could be targeted by Azure AD groups)
  3. Look at alternatives readers from the Store
  4. Request Adobe update their installer or make Adobe Reader available from the Microsoft Store

I would prefer install from the Store but that will require enough organisations asking for this feature. Adobe has a Feature Request form and I would encourage you to use it.

unsplash-logoRuss McCabe

This article by Aaron Parker, Adobe Reader DC deployment with Microsoft Intune Part 2 appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

WEM 4.7 UPDATE AVAILABLE

Wag the real - Alain Assaf blog - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 16:35
Intro Summer is time for vacations, beaches, and WEM Upgrades! Citrix has released version 4.7 of WEM. You can now download the new version here (requires Platinum licenses and login to Citrix.com). I’ve provided the release notes below. What’s new Workspace Environment Management 4.7 includes the following new features. For information about bug fixes, see Fixed […]
Categories: , Citrix, Virtualisation

Adobe Reader DC deployment with Microsoft Intune Part 1

Aaron Parker's stealthpuppy - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:46

Adobe Reader is of course one of the most common applications on Windows desktops and if you’re moving to a Modern Management approach you’re likely looking at how to deploy Adobe Reader DC to Windows 10 via Microsoft Intune. 

This is a challenge today because Adobe Reader DC comes as an executable, that while it can be extracted for the MSI, it includes support files that cannot be deployed via Intune. Microsoft only enables Windows desktop applications to be deployed from Intune where the installer is contained in a single file Windows Installer.

Adobe Reader DC Executable Installer

The Adobe Reader installer hasn’t changed much since as long as I’ve been writing about it (which has been way too long). What is different with Adobe Reader DC is that Adobe has moved to an evergreen model whereby they’re largely moved away from major releases and instead now deliver a continuous release cycle.

The current installer for Adobe Reader DC is a single executable that can run as is, or can be extracted for customisation typical of enterprise environments. When extracted it looks like this:

Adobe Reader DC extracted files

This just won’t work for deployment via Intune or the Windows 10 MDM channel. We need that single Windows Installer file. Better yet, we need Adobe to make Reader DC available via the Windows Store, but that’s a topic for another article.

Adobe Reader Windows Installer

Adobe does make a single file Windows Installer available for Adobe Reader DC, in various languages; however, the file was released in 2015 and unfortunately they’ve not updated it since. There has been several major releases and updates since March 2005.

Adobe Reader DC single file Windows Installer on the public FTP site

So, now we have a way to deploy the file, let’s see how to customise it and deploy via Intune.

Customising the Installer

Customisation of the Adobe Reader installer for enterprise deployment is well documented and I’ve written about previous versions several times. The same process applies but pay attention to any version specific settings.

Just like previous versions, you use the Adobe Customization Wizard to customise the installer for your needs and deploy a custom package.

Adobe Customization Wizard DC

However, we can’t customise the single file Windows Installer directly because when saving the customisations, we get this:

Adobe Customization Wizard DC – setup.ini was not found

To customise the installer, we need to use a 3 step process:

  1. Download and extract Adobe Reader DC executable installer
  2. Create a custom transform for this installer
  3. Apply the transform to the single file Windows Installer, so that the customisations are embedded into the installer. InstEd It! is a great free MSI editor to do that

I won’t go into a detailed step-by-step on how to use the Adobe Customization Wizard here because the documentation is detailed enough, but I will include a list of options I recommend you embed into the installer. There are some additional defaults and you may have specific options applicable to your environment.

OptionValue Personalization Options / EULA OptionSuppress display of End User License Agreement (EULA) Installation Options / Run InstallationSilently Installation Options / If reboot required at the end of installationSuppress reboot Shortcuts / DesktopRemove the Adobe Reader DC shortcut (no one needs that one on the desktop...) Online Services and Features / Disable product updatesDisabled (i.e. not ticked) - ensure Adobe Reader can update post-deployment Online Services and Features / Disable UpsellEnabled

As I’ve listed in the table, it’s important to keep the Adobe Updater enabled, so that once Reader is deployed via Intune, end-points can manage updates themselves. I’ll cover more on updates in the next article.

Now that you have a customised single file Windows Installer for Adobe Reader DC, you can import that into Microsoft Intune, and make it available for deployment.

Adobe Reader DC installed via Intune

Summary

In this article, I’ve taken a look at how to deploy Adobe Reader DC as a mobile application for Windows 10 devices enrolled in Microsoft Intune via MDM by creating a customised package based on a single file Windows Installer.

In part 2, I’ll take a look at how Adobe Reader is updated post-deployment and discuss whether this type of deployment is the right approach. There are other options and ideally I’d like to see Adobe make Reader DC available via the Microsoft Store.

Larry Costales

This article by Aaron Parker, Adobe Reader DC deployment with Microsoft Intune Part 1 appeared first on Aaron Parker.

Categories: Community, Virtualisation

Is Speech Recognition or Dictation in Windows 10 Good Enough Yet?

Theresa Miller - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 05:30

Is Speech Recognition or Dictation in Windows 10 Good Enough Yet? In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (1803), a new voice recognition option turned up. There was still the older ‘Windows Speech Recognition’ which has been around for a while, but Dictation https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4042244/windows-10-use-dictation seems to be a more modern implementation. I couldn’t find too […]

The post Is Speech Recognition or Dictation in Windows 10 Good Enough Yet? appeared first on 24x7ITConnection.

Pages

Subscribe to Spellings.net aggregator - Virtualisation