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Dec 14 / The Architect

My experiences with XenClient 2.1 – part one – installation and Receiver GUI

Introduction

I’ve been wanting to take a look at Citrix XenClient type 1 hypervisor for some time, but my trusty HP Elitebook 8530W, despite having the correct Intel v-pro chipset, contained an NVidia graphics GPU so was unsuitable.

I’d been wanting a smaller, lighter laptop for a while for use when travelling (the HP Elitebook weights alot, even with SSD hard disc) so checked the XenClient HCL and narrowed down my choices to either Lenovo X1 or X220. In the end, the Lenovo X220 won out, and I grabbed a bargain in the “Black Friday” sales.

This is the first part of a series on posts on XenClient:

Part 1 – installation and management GUI (this post)

Part 2 – Creating and configuring a Windows 7 VM

Part 3 – Hardware compatibility

Part 4 – Performance tests

Part 5 – Image management using Synchroniser

Part 6 – Findings

Click on any of the screenshot thumbnails for the full size versions.

Installation

This was remarkably simple. Downloaded the ISO (mycitrix account required), then because the Lenovo X220 doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive, I created a bootable USB pen drive using this utility from PenDriveLinux.

Booting from the into the XenClient installer, then followed the wizard to install the software. I chose to destroy the existing factory Lenovo Windows 7 partitions. Ideally, I’d have opted for creating a multi-boot configuration, but the rather small 128Gb SSD hard disc would of become a limiting factor, so I may just swap the hard drive over if I need an alternate OS/Hypervisor.

Tour of the XenClient Receiver

Citrix call the XenClient administrator interface “Receiver for XenClient”.

Ribbon

The XenClient Receiver GUI follows the now-familiar Citrix grey look and feel, with short-cuts across the top to the various configuration options.

There is battery status indicator in the far right corner, and network icon along side it to configure both wired and WiFi networks, and the System configuration button.

XenClient ribbon

On the left are Power Control drop-down, and Add VM shortcut.

Clicking on Network you get a list of the available wireless networks:

XenClient - Network display

As you can see my neighbourhood is “well connected” when it comes to WiFi!

You can choose “Edit connections..” from this menu to edit/remove any existing connections you have setup:

XenClient - Network connections editor

System options

Clicking on the System options we get the main configuration settings window appear.

1. Wallpaper settings

XenClient - system wallpaper settings

2. Power options

Here we can configure the lid closure actions, and screen brightness.

XenClient power options

3. Interface

The user interface options such as mouse/trackpad speeds and GUI language.

XenClient user interface options

4. Login

Note the message about synchroniser credentials. Unfortunately I didn’t grab a screenshot of this before I attached my system to a Sychroniser, so there may of been some additional options here.

XenClient login

5. Synchroniser

This is where you “pair” the XenClient with the remote Synchroniser. Once paired, the connection status, version of the server, and userid in use are reported as shown in the screen shot.

XenClient Synchroniser configuration

6. Software

The version of XenClient is shown here, with an option to update. It’s interesting that the update URL is not set, even when you’ve configured a Synchroniser.

XenClient System software settings

7. Hardware

Hardware details include memory usage, PCU and GPU types.

XenClient system hardware

8. Networking

The various MAC addresses and chipsets of the detected networking hardware.

XenClient Networking information

9. Status report

For troubleshooting, XenClient can build a status report, including screenshots of the VMs. This is wizard-based:

XenClient - producing status report stage 1XenClient - producing status report stage 2XenClient - producing status report stage 3bXenClient - status report final stage

The file is saved to /storage/status-report/ on Dom0 so can be retrieved using SCP/SFTP.

There is also a mini web server that you can temporarily bring online to server this file via Dom0 to an external PC via port 5000:

XenClient - downloading the troubleshooting file via browser

What does this file contain? Quite a bit! Here’s the complete listing:

acpi-info.tar.bz2 ac_adapter-state.log bed.out.tar.bz2 blktap2-devices.log
brctl_show.log config-data.tar.bz2 cpuinfo.log ctxusb-daemon-state.log
db.tar.bz2 df-h.log dirlisting.txt disksyncmgr.out.tar.bz2
dmesg-sysrq.log dmesg.log dmidecode.log edid-igfx.log
edid-parsed.log eth0-link-state.log eth0-oper-state.log ethtool.log
fdisk-l.log fstab.tar.bz2 guest-process-stats.log host-installer.log.log
hvm-info.log ifconfig-a.log ifconfig.log install-data.tar.bz2
iwlist-scan.log large-files.log ls-backend-certs.log ls-sys-block.log
lsmod.log lspci-mmnn.log lspci-mmnnv.log lspci-vvv.log
lspci-xxx.log lsusb-t.log lsusb-v.log lsusb.log
lvs.log mount-l.log netstat-ln.log netstat-tn.log
ping-uivm.log ps-axfl.log psauxZ.log pvs.log
rfkill.log route-n.log screenshots.tar.bz2 selinux-config.log
sound-alsactl-store.log sound-amixer.log status-report.log storage-disks-scan.log
swaps.log syslog.tar.bz2 temperature.log top.log
tpm_version.log txt-stat.log uname-a.log upgrade-data.tar.bz2
USB_fakenames.conf.log usb_pm_info.log user-report.xml.log vgmch_dump_regs.log
vhd-check.log vhdsync-cksums.tar.bz2 vm-customizations.tar.bz2 vms.tar.bz2
wlan0-link-state.log wlan0-oper-state.log xc-diag.tar.bz2 xenclient.conf.log
xenmgr-xenvm.tar.bz2 xenops_list.log xenops_physinfo.log xenstore-ls.log
xenstored-access.tar.bz2 xentop.log xen_dmesg.log Xorg.0.log.tar.bz2
 84 File(s) 1,389,543 bytes
 2 Dir(s) 16,000,061,440 bytes free

Keyboard shortcuts

There are a number of useful CTRL/ALT key combinations whilst inside the Receiver console:

CTRL+Q : Reload the console

CTRL+SHIFT+T : Open a SSH terminal window

CTRL+SHIFT+H : Open a larger terminal window

CTRL+SHIFT+I : Easter Egg! (ASCII Invaders – nice!)

CTRL+ALT+r : Create a status report

CTRL+ALT+Backspace : Lock the Receiver screen

CTRL+0 : Return to the Receiver (from within VM)

CTRL+n : Switch to VM number n

 

So that completes the installation and tour of the XenClient Receiver.

In part two, I’ll create a Windows 7 x 64 Virtual machine, and take a look round the options we have of exposing the underlying hardware (OEM indentification strings in the BIOS and 3D graphics chipset) to the VM, and what VM management features we have via Receiver GUI.

Thanks for reading. Check back soon!

Useful resources

PenDrive Linux – for creating the bootable USB installation

Kees Baggerman blog post – some useful tips on getting up and running

XenClient documentation (PDF) – sadly not on eDocs!

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