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XenDesktop 7.18 - MCS with User layer from App Layering 4

George Georgiadis




New with App Layering, experienced with MCS and PVS. I am trying to understand how this combination works and trying to implement to a lab, for an upcoming project.

Hyper-v 2016, XenDesktop 7.18 with MCS and App Layering 4 (because PvDisks are going to be removed soon). 


I have my environment configured (hypervisors, VMM, Citrix Servers, App Layer appliance etc) and I am about to create an image with Windows 10 to use with MCS. The thing is that I would use PvDisk for user data, if Citrix wasn't mentioned that this feature is deprecated. So, I give a chance to User layer using App Layering 4. I am reading the Citrix Docs for this product and it is not clear to me a few things.

Is there a walthrough on how I will create an image for User Layering using MCS? A small overview of the steps needed to be done in order to achieve this goal?


Thank you in advance,



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Aside from the online documentation, I am not aware of Citrix authored walkthrough. You might be able to find one in CTP's website,


The process of using User Layers is the same for all hypervisors and are used in non-persistent, pooled desktops and will not work in a session host(these are critical).  The very basic steps to setup a User Layer(UL)  are:


- Verify your environment meets the requirements - https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-app-layering/4/layer/enable-user-layers.html

- Choose a UL mode, Full, Office 365 or Session Office 365, in your case I think you would start with Full

- Setup a storage location, this is where the UL disks will be stored and it should be a reliable, stable, fast network, storage location

- Create an Image Template. Select Elastic Layering = Application Layering, set User Layer to Full

- Publish the image

- Manipulate the image as you would any other for use in an MCS catalog

- As domain users login, our service checks for the existence of the UL disk, use it, if present or creates a new one and attaches it the user's session


There are other settings, use of a Profile Manager,may be beneficial, and other information I might be missing. But, this may get you going and possibly others to chime in.


I also suggest you post your questions, with those known "we" can try to answer them.

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Yes, that is correct. Make sure the Gold Image used to create the OS layer is as basic as possible, preferably built from an ISO. Once the OS and Platform layers are ready you can publish to the Hypervisor. When creating the platform layer, make sure to select the appropriate hypervisor, also use the option, "..used for publishing layered images", and select the other three options as needed. The other option is rarely used, let's leave it at that for now. ;-) Also, when creating the image, select the option, 'Not Generalized", for sysprep.

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I am coming back to this post to add some more questions.


The concept of the project is to install all applications in the Golden image and not use application layering, because there are a lot of customized applications and the customer prefers to avoid complicated configuration in the implementation. In this case, adding all applications in the OS layers (including office, antivirus, acrobat etc), then create a platform layer just for domain join, VDA agent and Citrix Receiver, and then enable User layering and publish the image to the Hyper-V and the use it with MCS, is something that is functional and correct and also supported? Is there another way in the order of the steps ?


What implications may be with the update process of the image, regarding App Layering and MCS new versions of the desktop?


with just MCS and PvDisk, everything were very simple. Create a snapshot, update - add - remove applications, test and give to production at the next boot. Is App Layering more complicated comparing with plain MCS or it is my ignorance that create that false feeling?



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You should be able to accomplish this pretty easily but you don't want to install all the apps in the OS layer if you can avoid it.   (its best to keep that as clean as possible like Raymond mentioned in case you need to recreate an App layer then you have a clean starting point).   Instead create an individual Application layer for each app (ie. Office) which is in the tab just to the left of Platform layer in ELM.  The process to creating that will be the same as creating a platform layer but you don't need to add the packaging machine to the domain like you do for platform layer.   Just create the layer, open the packaging machine in your hypervisor, install the application (reboot a few times for good measure) and finalize.  Then in your Image Template just include that application layer along with your OS and platform layer and it will spin out an image including all those and they will essentially all be in the gold image that you need.    Whenever you have an update for each application layer just create a revision on the one you created and update your image template to include that new revision and export a new published image and thats your new gold image to use for MCS.      


Theres a few extra steps doing this rather than straight MCS but you get more flexibility if there is something wrong with your image and if you have multiple images to maintain this makes it simpler in the long run in my opinion

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Fair enough...... i suppose you could just create a revision on the OS layer and install everything that you need in there and then each month when you needed to make updates, make a new revision and update your image template to reflect those new versions and publish a new image that will be your mcs gold.   that wouldn't be as clean a solution w/ app layering but i think it would accomplish what you're looking for.  as long as you keep a couple of revisions of your OS / platform layer in ELM that you can revert to for your image template that would give you similar options like your snapshots you normally would maintain for straight mcs

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