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Author Archives: Travis Sales

Integrating VMware ThinApp with a Citrix XenApp Implementation

By Tina de Benedictis, Technical Marketing Manager, Enterprise Desktop, VMware End User Computing

If you have a Citrix XenApp implementation, have you considered adding VMware ThinApp virtualized applications to enhance XenApp application presentation?

By virtualizing the Windows applications that you present with XenApp, you can overcome some of the limitations of XenApp. ThinApp is the premier virtualization tool for Windows applications. For more information about the advantages of virtualizing your legacy Windows applications with ThinApp, see VMware ThinApp: Application Virtualization Made Simple.

How does VMware ThinApp enhance XenApp?

ThinApp packages make the XenApp deployment more efficient and solve many of the problems of XenApp implementations. XenApp becomes better with ThinApp virtualized applications through the following capabilities:

  • Requires only a single application instance: With ThinApp in a XenApp implementation, you need only one copy of the virtualized application stored on a ThinApp file share. With other applications presented with XenApp, you must install the same application on each of the XenApp Servers in your server farm, and each of these native installations must be individually maintained.
  • Application conflict is eliminated: To avoid application conflicts, Citrix isolates applications from each other via XenApp silos, which requires additional hardware. ThinApp isolates applications with software, not hardware. ThinApp virtual applications are isolated from each other and therefore can be placed on the same XenApp Server. 
  • Recovery is simpler: If a XenApp Server fails, you have to reinstall the XenApp server. However, if you have stored your virtual applications separately on a ThinApp file share, you have only the baseline XenApp server to reinstall, and you do not have to reinstall the applications. 
  • Updates are simpler and faster with ThinApp: With a standard Citrix XenApp setup, you must update each natively installed application on each XenApp Server, and you need to take each server offline to update the applications. If you use ThinApp to virtualize applications, you update only the single application on the file share, and ThinApp applications can be updated automatically while in use.
  • ThinApp can virtualize IE6, and the migration to Windows 7 is eased: ThinApp allows you to virtualize Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), and you can package IE6 along with a legacy application that depends upon IE6 or an older version of Java. Users can run virtual IE6 alongside a later version of native IE on the same desktop. The migration to Windows 7 or to later Windows versions becomes easier if you have the option of carrying forward any IE6-dependent legacy applications.

For full details on these points, see Integrating VMware View and VMware ThinApp with Citrix XenApp, which also suggests adding VMware View to the implementation.

How do you integrate ThinApp with XenApp?

With ThinApp virtual applications on a file share and shortcuts to those applications on a XenApp Terminal Server, the ThinApp packages stream over the LAN to the XenApp Server. The XenApp Server provides the ThinApp applications to users as standard XenApp published applications, available over the Internet or a WAN or LAN.


Figure 1: ThinApp Virtual Applications Streamed to the XenApp Server, Then Remotely Displayed to Endpoints 

To enable ThinApp packages for XenApp presentation, you create XenApp published applications as you would for natively installed applications on a XenApp Server. The ThinApp applications appear as standard XenApp published applications to all authorized end users running either Citrix Receiver or the Citrix Web Interface.


Figure 2: ThinApp Virtual Application Presented by XenApp

If you want to combine XenApp application presentation and ThinApp application virtualization with the VMware virtual desktop solution, VMware View, see:

Integrating VMware View and VMware ThinApp with Citrix XenApp




Close Your Virtual App Security Gap

VMware and eEye have developed an integrated security solution for our customers running VMware’s ThinApp application virtualization technology. With this integrated solution, you are now able to include ThinApp-deployed applications as part of your overall security strategy – something that wasn’t possible before. And it's only available from eEye and VMware.


With the latest release of eEye Retina, security teams are given unprecedented levels of visibility to manage vulnerabilities in virtualized environments to:

  • Reduce risk by ensuring VMware ThinApp applications are properly discovered and are part of standard vulnerability management processes
  • Increase visibility and automate vulnerability assessment for VMware ThinApp packages
  • Complement existing Retina capabilities in securing ESX and ESXi virtual machines

ThinAppTV Has Arrived!!

Small TV
Calling all ThinApp'ers. Oprah may have her "OWN" network, but we have ThinAppTV!!! So, sign up with Vimeo and start uploading your videos. The ThinApp team will start adding them to the channel so everyone can have a resource for all of the cool stuff in and around ThinApp in one place. In addition, the ThinApp team will also start uploading videos with the cool "tips and tricks" that you often see us talk about on the Blog.  Tune in at http://vimeo.com/channels/thinapp

Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 7

"Web Apps are the new DLL Hell"

Desktop application installation conflicts have been a persistent problem since the early days of Windows.  These problems created an emphasis to use more web apps which offered the promise of being accessible from any computer and from any browser.   That promise didn’t hold true for many reasons:

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HP has integrated VMware ThinApp with the HP Client Automation policy-based management platform

HP leverages new capabilities with ThinApp to better offer their customers a single-pane of glass for the management of the virtual applications.
Customers can also
use reports generated by HP Client Automation software to track virtual
and physical applications for tighter asset management.

What do you mean by “Clean PC?”

What do we mean when asked to use a "clean PC" for capturing our applications? This question has many answers and ultimately depends on what you want to capture. But since that common answer is a little too vague, let's dive into this topic briefly to discuss what is technically involved here.

We all know that when we ThinApp our applications we are simply parsing the differences between two snapshots of our workstation. That in itself is simple enough, but the idea of the "clean PC" really should be phrased as the "The software I want in my ThinApp that is not currently installed, so therefore the differences in my snapshots will be reflected in my capture. " 🙂 The problem is that is way to difficult to place on the SetupCapure window and thus we use the term "Clean PC". But, that is essentially what we mean.

Consider the following. I want to capture my application that requires the .NET framework. Should I already have .NET installed locally or not? This is the simple question that comes up time and again. The answer is equally as simple. Do you want your application to include the .NET framework so you don't need it on the target workstation or would you rather manage that requirement outside of ThinApp. When looked at in this context, it's much easier to make the decision of what to have pre-installed versus what to install during a capture. But what does that have to do with the idea of a clean workstation???

The idea of a clean workstation is just one that does not have the software pre-installed that you want to capture. That's really it. So, the real trick is to understand what software requirements our applications need. Most of the time we find that in the System Requirements provided to us from the application vendor. Other times, we have just learned what an application needs as a matter of practice. When you hear of folks using a "clean PC" that only has the latest SP and no other components like .NET, Java, etc…, one may ask, "Why do they bother if all they need to ensure is that their software isn't already installed?"That too is an easy answer. It's because most of our apps are LOB and we often have very little information to begin with. If I use a workstation like I just described, then the prevailing idea is that if my application needs anything, it will either install it for me or scream about it during the install. This type of error dialog is common for developers who write their setup routines to look for these types of supporting components.

So, what type of workstation will you use to capture your applications on? Just ask yourself this one question, "do i know what my application needs to have in order to run and will the workstation I use this on have those already?" After that, you decide what type of workstation makes the best platform to capture your applications. If you're like me, I have several flavors in VM Workstation to allow me the option to pick and choose what makes sense for the application in hand. Ultimately, you will do what makes sense too, but I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the technical impact to what we call a "clean PC"

Custom Use of Snapshot files

Ever wanted to keep an existing snapshot for later use? Below is a summary of the actions required to copy a .snapshot file and use it again. Keep in mind, this is an advanced technique and is used in particular circumstances. It’s always recommended that use you the Snapshot feature of VMware Workstation to revert your capture desktop back to a clean environment.

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Using IE 7 on Vista as a Virtual Entry Point

It’s not uncommon to use a local copy of Internet Explorer (IE) as a way to present virtual applications to the desktop. The most common example is a virtual package of Java that is then launched with the local Internet Explorer. As such, this normally works without any modification. However, in a Vista environment, you can run into a unique circumstance.

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ThinApp for VI Admins – Communities Roundtable #15 podcast

Check out the August 27th Podcast from the VMware Communities team.



Using a File Share for AppSync

AppSync allows you to update your ThinApp applications via http or https. However, we don’t always have a web infrastructure to use or perhaps we would rather use a file share or replicated share like DFS or a NAS device. With AppSync, you can use these types of locations for the AppSyncURL= field. Remember, all we need is a URL location specified for the feature to work, so if you want to use a file share, follow these guidelines for your configuration of choice.

For a UNC:

\\server\share\path\to\file “convert this to” file://server/share/path/to/file

For a Local path:

c:\path\to\local\file “convert this to file:///c:/path/to/local/file (note there are 3 slashes following file: here)