Citrix & VMware – Installer Mess!

At first I want to wish you all a happy new year. I had planned a different blog post as the first one but I had no chance of preventing me writing down these thoughts about the installers of Citrix XenDesktop (respectively XenApp) and VMware Horizon View.

Both companies have large-scale installations out there and both are on the market for a very long time. But although they should have experience with enterprise environments and customization possibilities for their software components they still have room for improvement.

Lets have a look at some examples:


Citrix XenDesktop VDA Installation

Some weeks ago Citrix released their stand-alone installer for the VDA component.

Before that they provided a way of extracting different files and folders from the ISO to reduce the package size. The KB-article can be found here:

Until that time the only chance of getting the right combination of files and folders for a reduced package size was trial and error. Then putting files together and checking the installer logs for errors during installation.
That way we were able to install the reduced packages for the Controller, VDA and Studio components back from Version 7.0 without the need of using the whole ISO from a network share.

The other infrastructure components?

StoreFront is straight forward but what about the Controller component or the Citrix Studio? Have you seen the KB-article about manual installation of the Citrix Studio?
No? Here it is:

You need to install all of this packages and the prerequisites that I don´t explicitly mention here:

PowerShell SDKs
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\ADIdentity_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\Broker_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\Configuration_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\Host_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\MachineCreation_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\MachineIdentity_PowerShellSnapIn_x**.msi
x**\Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller\Citrix.Common.Commands.Install_x**.msi
x**\Licensing\ Licensing Config.PowerShellSnapIn.msi
x**\Desktop Studio\PVS PowerShell SDK x**.msi
x**\Citrix Policy\CitrixGroupPolicyManagement_x**.msi

Desktop Studio MMC Snap-in
x**\Desktop Studio\Desktop Studio_x**.msi

Is this something you would call customer-friendly? Citrix was marketing its new simple GUI installation from the beginning of XenDesktop 7.0. Take a deeper look under the hood and it looks differently.

The concept of small building blocks

Please don´t get me wrong. I like the principle of creating small building blocks. But it doesn´t makes sense if I start giving packagers the “Desktop Studio_x**.msi” just to realize that there are some (or even more) things missing after the package has been deployed. The files and the documentation need some adjustment from Citrix in that case to make clear how things work.

But… Not everything is bad about the installers.


  • Generic installation of the complete infrastructure without the need to make configurations during installation
  • Ease of component installation: XenDesktopServerSetup.exe /quiet /components CONTROLLER /nosql … really simple and straight forward
  • Once packaged these packages can be used for different environments.

Don´t likes

  • Citrix assumes we would use the GUI to install customer environments. I am an Consultant and want to script and automate things. And large scale enterprises don´t click, they deploy with SCCM or something similar.
  • Missing stand-alone packages for the other infrastructure components

Lets have a look at how VMware does the job….


VMware View Connection Server Installation

If you log in to your account you are presented with a few download options regarding the installers for the infrastructure. Lets take the View Connection Server installer as example. This is one single file that is capable of installing the Connection Server, the Replica Server and the Security Server role. In my opinion straight forward until it comes to the point were you need to pair the security server with a connection server or the Replica Server with it´s counter part.

Commandline options are ok but unnecessary complicated in my opinion. The installation commandlines and options should be as simple as possible to prevent quoting errors or typos.


  • Simple installer structure
  • Smaller sources size then XenDesktop

Don´t likes

  • Unnecessary complicated installer options: Vmware-viewconnectionserver-y.y.y-xxxxxx.exe /s /v”/qn VDM_SERVER_Instance_TYPE=2 VDM_INITIAL_ADMIN_SID=S-1-5-32-544 VDM_SERVER_RECOVERY_PWD=password VDM_SERVER_RECOVERY_PWD_REMINDER=””password”””
  • No generic infrastructure installation possible


I suggest merging the Citrix and VMware developers to create the perfect installer experience :-).
The Citrix XenDesktop installers are easy to use and generic. Configuration is done after the initial installation. But they are badly provided from the ground up, making it unnecessary complicated for packagers to reduce the footprint of the packages.
VMware has the better concept for their installers. But if you dive deeper into the installation options and the need to configure some of the components during install, they lack of a generic possibility of installation.

If we take a further look at Microsoft and the installation of their infrastructure components then Microsoft takes the lead:

Add-windowsfeature RDS-RD-Server

It can´t be simpler to install a infrastructure role. As long as you don´t have to install the System Center Suite, that´s another topic.



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