Installing and Configuring Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 (Part 1)

In this first part of the article series I'll start by explaining that XenApp 7.5 and XenDesktop 7.5 are actually the same product and therefore also the same installation and configuration steps apply. After this explanation I'll describe the installation steps of the Delivery Controller.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to :



With the first release within the 7th version, Citrix announced that the XenApp product was at end of life and the functionality was integrated into XenDesktop 7.0. Unfortunate for Citrix the customers did not understand this message and there was lots of confusion around this. Citrix responded by re-introducing XenApp again in version 7.5. 

Actually it was bringing back the original product name and will be based on the new FMA architecture. There are only two different license models available; one for XenApp and one for XenDesktop. The Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp matrix provides a good insight of what the differences between the licenses are. With the release of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6, many features that were available in XenApp 6.5 but not in previous 7.x releases have been introduced again, so the version 7 release is a real XenApp comparable product.

To explain what XenApp and XenDesktop are becames a bit more complicated, especially because, from a technical standpoint, it’s the same product. In this article I’m going to describe the installation and basic configuration steps for XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6. I try to use the name XenDesktop 7.6 through the article, but hopefully you understand that you can read XenApp here as well (and if I use XenApp by accident, you can also read XenDesktop).


Installation  of Delivery Controller

The installation starts with a screen where you need to choose whether you would like to install XenApp or XenDesktop. As described in the introduction you are actually installing the same product, only a different name is shown in the installation window.

 Figure 1: Choose between XenApp or XenDesktop

After choosing which “product” you would like to install, the available options are shown. Each XenDesktop infrastructure requires at least one Delivery Controller. For the XenApp 6.x people this is comparable with a XenApp Controller Host (aka Data Collector). The server/desktop that will host the desktop and/or applications is now called a Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA), but I will dive deeper into that later on in this article series.

As we are setting up a new XenApp 7.6 infrastructure, we start with installing a Delivery Controller via the Deliver Controller “button”. You could also browse the DVD ISO and pick the installer yourselves. However keep in mind that you are responsible for installing the required supporting components. Using the installation wizard those prerequisites are installed automatically.

 Figure 2: The installation options offered by the XenDesktop installation wizard.

The installation wizard continues with the installation steps for the Delivery Controller. The first step is accepting the license agreement.

 Figure 3: Accepting the license agreement.

The next step is to choose which component of the XenDesktop Suite you would like to install on the Delivery Controller server. You can install all components offered on the same server; however in (larger) production environments you would separate some of these components. Let’s do a quick walk through to the offered options and my recommandations.
  • Delivery Controller
This is the core functionality which assigns users to a server/desktop hosting the chosen Desktop or Published Application(s). This is a required component for a Delivery Controller.
  • Studio
Studio is the Management Console of XenDesktop 7.x. Within this console the whole configuration is executed. This can be installed on the Delivery Controller and/or on a separate Admin Server. I always install the Studio on the Delivery Controller also, but it is not required.
  • Director
Director is the second (Management) Console of XenDesktop 7.x. This console is available for monitoring and troubleshooting purposes and is built on top of Internet Information Services. In production environment I do not install this component on the Delivery Controller, but on a separate server (often combined with StoreFront).
  • License Server
Each Citrix product requires a License Server. The license server is often already available in the environment (an upgrade of the license software may be required). I normally install this on a separated server, most times together with the RDS License Server.
  • StoreFront
StoreFront is the access point for the end-user connecting to the XenDesktop infrastructure. StoreFront is the successor of Citrix Web Interface. StoreFront is also built-on IIS and I normally install this on a different server(s).

 Figure 4: Selecting the core components to install on the Delivery Controller.

For this article series I will install all components on the Delivery Controller, except the License Server as I have this one already running. You see in Figure 4 that Citrix shows a nice warning when de-selecting an option that you need to have the component installed at least once. When you decide to separate the components you can find them as a separated installer in the screen shown in Figure 2.

After selecting the core components you need to select the features you would like to install. Citrix XenDesktop requires an SQL database. I would recommend using a specific SQL server, but for Proof of Concept you could use the SQL express on the first Delivery Controller. If you install the Director you should also install the Windows Remote Assistance feature so you can shadow the end-users out of the Director console. I have an SQL server available, so I don’t need the SQL Express edition. 

 Figure 5: Selecting the core components to install on the Delivery Controller.

The Delivery Controller uses a few ports for communication (80 or 443). The installation wizard offers to automatically configure the Windows Firewall to allow these ports. You can also decide to configure those manually (but why would you?).

 Figure 6: Let the installation configure the Windows firewall rules.

 Figure 7: Let the installation configure the Windows firewall rules.

As Citrix nowadays separates the installation and initial set-up, the wizard is completed to start the installation. In the summary window the selected components, features and firewall are shown. Also the installation directory is mentioned as the supporting components (prerequisites) which will be installed automatically.

 Figure 8: Summary of the installation wizard including the prerequisites that will be installed.

During the actually installation a nice progress overview is shown including the time remaining before the installation is finished.

 Figure 9: The installation progress.

After the actual installation phase the wizard will show that all components are installed and offers to start the Studio console to start the initial set-up.

 Figure 10: Installation phase finished.

The XenDesktop Delivery can be installed on Windows 2012 or Windows 2012 R2 operating systems. As all communications are executed through the Delivery Controller, in a production environment you would install at least two Delivery Controllers. As the installation does not contain any configuration anymore, the installation steps are exactly the same for the second (and other if more than two are installed) Delivery Controller. In the next article I will describe the initial setup and show the differences in the set-up of the first Delivery Controller and the next Delivery Controllers.



In this first part of the article series "Installing and Configuring Citrix XenApp 7.6" I started trying to explain that XenApp 7.5 and XenDesktop 7.5 are actually the same product and therefore also the same installation and configuration steps apply. After this explanation I described the installation steps of the Delivery Controller. In the upcoming article I will continue with the initial set-up of the Delivery Controllers.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to :

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