Citrix UPL and FSLOGIX - the best of both worlds



I've been working with Citrix technology for 7 years, and most of that time has been working in the slow-moving world of financial industry IT

That being said, I left that world last summer, to work for a small company here in Quebec, called ProContact.ca. I wanted to focus on SMB, where I felt I could make a bigger difference, and I have !

however, I've still got some older habits, where I prefer to not to be applying new software as soon as it hits the digital shelf. As we all know, Microsoft hasn't done a great job with QA on Win 10:https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/187407/microsoft-has-a-software-quality-problem

To me, Citrix is almost as bad, a bit better? Some of the bugs I found working on the 7.15 LTSR track were just awful. 

In Dec of this year, Citrix finally updated the LTSR path for CVAD to 1912. I read over the release notes and something caught my eye, the User personalization layer (UPL) ported over from Unidesk. For a customer I was working with in 2019, we evaluated Unidesk, and found it overly complex and slow for what it touted. UPL as a replacement for long depreciated PvD sounded like a dream.

So, for the first time in a long time, I installed/configured/tested out a new feature on the SAME day it was released. It's been about a month since I started using a UPL enabled machine as my primary workspace, and i'm happy to report IT JUST WORKS

For our customer, we had already replaced UPM (mostly awful) with FSLogix (super great)
I setup UPL without any docs from Citrix (they didn't exist on the day CVAD 1912 was released), I did run into some issues, as UPL is a port-over from Unidesk, and installs a filter driver that directly conflicts with the FSLOGIX filter driver. 
I wasn't keen to go back to UPM (as Citrix suggests in their UPL tech article) neither was the customer

I ended up resolving this issue, after posting to the world of EUC slack channel, and the ever helpful James Klindon reminded me to check my ALTITUDE settings! Yep!

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2020/01/07/citrix-app-layering-and-fslogix-profile-containers/

With the amended ALTITUDE setting in place, i'm happy to report UPL / FSL are working perfectly togehter


A few notes:

  • A lot of folks are calling CVAD 1912 UPL a first release. This is and isn't true. Technically, the binary support is a port-over from the existing UNIDESK "user personal layers" feature.
  • Instead of requiring those dreaded Unidesk appliances, we just need an SMB share, and a Citrix policy that enables UPL and sets a path, that's it! The rest is managed by the filter driver that runs at boot
  • You don't have a lot of control over the folder structure created by the policy/Citrix layering service. With FSLogix you've got a lot more control, UPL creates sub-folders for each user in your UPL share as such
  • \\SERVER1\UPLSHARE\USERS\DOMAIN_USERNAME\A_OK
  • Again, this is a port-over from Unidesk. I hope they will change it, what is A_OK? :p
  • Performance is acceptable, but you're now at the mercy of having 3 VHD(s) mounted to a remote filter. If you're shared storage isn't up to snuff, your user experience will suffer. For the moment, our customer is running FSLogix and UPL containers on the same Nutanix filer, but it might change we decide to put UPL into mainstream use. We are looking for it as a replacement for Win 10 STATIC VMs , which are a pain to manage. For most of our users, we will be providing standard MCS non-persistent machines without UPL


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