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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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8 thoughts on “Citrix UPL and FSLOGIX – the best of both worlds

  1. Hi!
    Looking for some info about Citrix UPL and FSlogix I found your article, and I’m in the same situation as you.
    I work for a company in Spain, we are working with citrix since 2008 and since Citrix introduce Layers it become a very complex product for a medium size business (100 users) in Spain so I was thinking of move to Horizon or parallels to deploy vdi.
    I’ve working with Citrix PvD for a long time, and I thought it was a “great” technology but since it was depreciated and layers were introduced I found very complex to implement, so I decided to deploy STATIC WIN 10 VMs that are hard to manage.

    Now that UPL is available I implemented on lab VMs and it works, but I’m looking for some info on how to implement UPL with FSLOGIX and unfortunately I did not get any documentation until I found your blog.

    I was a little frustrated about it but now I know I’m not the only one in the world deploying UPL.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Like

    1. We are in the same boat as Jordi. We are using Citrix Cloud as our font end and Azure as our backend infrastructure. I have and azure vdi working with UPL and FSLogix but some times the start menu does not work sometimes it does and at times the outlook profile gets recreated. I was looking for a document on the best practices for FSLogix on Citrix VDI and UPL but have not found any. Need to know the various GPO settings for FSLogics etc. Any help would be appreciated.

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  2. Hi everyone, I’m in the same boat as everyone else. I tried implementing FSLogix with UPL and I ran into issues. The first login appears to work, but second and subsequent logins I get a profile is corrupted or I get logged in with a temporary profile, from there FSLogix breaks and I get nowhere.

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      1. I’m running UPL that was installed with VDA 2203 CU1, running the latest version of FSLogixFSLogix 2201 hotfix 2 (2.9.8228.50276). The first login is not an issue, but the second and following log in the profile gets corrupted. I have tried the default FSLogix naming for the cotainers and folder. I do notice that on the second log in when it kinda works i see the local fslogix profile local_trestuser then testuser and testuser.al0. I’m assuming the .al0 is the applayer profile adding the extension to differentiate it from the profile that gets loaded from FSLogix.

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  3. I did have the same issue in my own implementation, the altitude change was the first part of the fix, but in the end, I stopped using FSL w App layering as I was into other issues with apps installed on the master image vs apps installed in the personalization layer VHD. If I was doing it all over again, i’d just use Citrix UPM streaming instead of FSL

    Like

    1. Thank You for Your update. Yes, I was able to get passed the first issue by changing the altitude. But the main issue that I encountered was the inconsistency of both FSLogix and UPL, sometimes the profiles will load on the first and second log-ins, but on the third log in the profile will get corrupted. The reason we are using FSLogix is to leverage app masking, and we wanted to use UPL to manage the rare cases where a user wants to install an application on demand, which is something that FSLogix can not handle, but UPL seems to be able to address.

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      1. I definitely see the benefit, and was excited to use the feature, but I wasn’t able to achieve the reliability that I want for my consulting gigs. That being said, I do try out UPL at least once per year via whatever the latest current release is.

        Like

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