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Application virtualization, IoT and Cloud Computing, Blog of Sacha Thomet

Citrix Receiver 4.11 – Keyboard and Language Bar

In Citrix Receiver 4.11 there is a new feature for Improved Control Over the Remote Language Bar for Seamless Published Applications (See https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX231913 ). This is especially for us here in Switzerland nice and important as we have four official spoken languages and also different Keyboard layouts. There is German, French, Italian and Romansh. Romansh is more or less neglected but beside German the languages French and Italian play a significant role.

As I plan to roll out the Receiver 4.11 in my company, my aim is to keep the possibility open for the user for configure that on receiver, but I want to have a pre-defined setting. By the way, earlier we always hid the Language bar by making use of the SeamlessFlags (on server side). But I experienced that this had in Server 2016 a negative impact to the logon time, don’t ask me why … But it’s a fact and i’s reproducible so I keep the Language bar visible and now I’m very happy that this is configurable in Receiver.

The configuration of this both features is is described here https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/receiver/windows/current-release/improve/keyboard-layout-and-language-bar.html and it’s possible to hide this Advanced feature with a reg Key.
But there is just described the config via GUI for the user! And there is today no way to configure that in the ADMX 🙁 

With the help of ProcMon and Total Commander I just found out which two settings are getting touched when User set this preferences:

Local Keyboard is in the good old Appsrv.ini – the value is LocalIME=1 to use the local keyboard

Language Bar is HKCU\SOFTWARE\Ica Client\Engine\Configuration\Advanced\Modules\LocalIME
DWORD: DisableLanguageBar

So if you want to configure this for all users you need to “patch” the AppSrv.ini to set the local Keyboard and/or Adjust the reg key above to disable the Language Bar on receiver side.

My Smart Home – Chapter 3-2: Smartacus – Use cases

Article will be translated to english soon

Die Anwendungsfälle von IoT sind nahezu unbegrenzt, eher setzt die Vorstellungskraft Grenzen als die Technik. Wie Smartacus auf Ihrer Webseite wirbt sind im Bereich Smart Home folgende 3 Ziele die am meisten gesehenen:

  • Energieverbräuche senden (“intelligentes” Heizen und Beleuchten)
  • Komfort steigern (z.B. Szenenbasierte Geräte/Lichtsteuerung)
  • Sicherheit erhöhen (Licht einschalten beim Heimkommen, aktive Sensoren bei Abwesenheit)

Ich habe mit der Smart Home Geschichte angefangen, weil ich es spannend finde zu sehen was möglich ist, meiner Frau verkaufe ich es natürlich als Komfortverbesserung.

Achtung! Mit einem falsch eingesetzten Smart Home lässt sich im Übrigen auch genau das Gegenteil erreichen! Ein nicht gut konfiguriertes System kann den Komfort verschlechtern, die Sicherheit reduzieren oder auch mehr Energie verbrauchen. Hier ist es wichtig zu wissen was man macht und welche Produkte man einsetzt. Ich verzichte zum Beispiel absichtlich im Moment auf eine smarte Türöffnung wie es sie z.B. von Nuki gibt. Auch messe ich den Stromverbrauch meiner Komponenten bevor ich diese integriere. Die Smartacus Basisstation braucht zum Beispiel nur 7 Watt beim Start und 4 Watt im Betrieb.

Aber nun weiche ich vom Thema ab … eigentlich wollte ich in diesem Blog-Post Beispiele bringen wie Smartacus eingesetzt werden kann. Natürlich sind diese Anwendungsfälle auch auf andere Smart-Home Systeme anwendbar.

Hier meine ersten realisierten Anwendungsfälle

Intelligentes Heizen

Wer braucht 22° wenn er schläft? Ist es nicht Schade wenn in der Nacht die Wohnung stärker geheizt wird als nötig, bei tieferer Temperatur schläft man nicht nur besser sondern man spart auch Energie! Hier erreichen wir sowohl den Energiespar-Effekt wie auch die Komfortsteigerung. Zu realisieren ist das Ganze im Smartacus Portal via den Reiter Zeitsteuerung.

Auch wird viel Energie verpufft, wenn man Fenster oder Türen öffnet, gerade jetzt wo wir Temperaturen weit unter dem Gefrierpunkt haben, dreht die Heizung voll auf wenn es rapid Kalt wird.

Mit Einsatz eines Tür-/Fensterkontaktes (1) kann dies verhindert werden und wir heizen nicht das Dorf sondern der Heizkörper Thermostat (2) regelt die Temperatur runter. Dies geschieht über den Reiter Dienste:

Natürlich muss man dran denken auch einen “Gegendienst” zu bauen welcher bei Schliessung der Tür die Heizung wieder auf die Wunschtemperatur stellt.

Intelligentes Beleuchten

Früher habe ich Weihnachts-Beleuchtung einfach mit einer mechanischen Zeitschaltuhr dazu gebracht nur am Abend und am Morgen zu leuchten. Ein smarter Zwischenstecker (3) lässt sich zwar wie eine Zeitschaltuhr konfigurieren und man erreicht damit dass Weihnachtsdeko nicht für die Katze leuchtet, aber toll ist das man es Beispielsweise mit einem Multisensor (4) erweitern kann und somit die Beleuchtung auch abhängig von Helligkeit oder Bewegung steuern. So kann jemand um 02:00 in der Nacht an unserem Balkon vorbeilaufen und der Leuchtende Stern geht auch für diesen Nachtschwärmer an.

Intelligentes “dummes” Heizen

Dieser Winter war wieder besonders kalt und letzte Woche als bei uns eine Aussentemperatur von -14° Celsius herrschte ist es wieder passiert, uns sind im Keller die Wasserleitungen zu gefroren.

In unserem alten Haus, welches ein umgebautes Bauernhaus aus dem letzten Jahrhundert ist, lässt sich dieses Problem leider nur durch jeweils kurzfristiges elektrisches Heizen lösen. Im Keller gibt es keine Möglichkeit anders zu heizen. Eine leider sehr ineffiziente und verschwenderische Lösung.

Zum Glück reicht es, wenn wir im Keller eine Temperatur von 4-5° erreichen, das Problem ist dass sich die im Haushalt gebräuchlichen Elektroöfen nicht auf 4° einstellen lassen, die Skala beginnt irgendwo bei 15°.

Mit dem Multisensor (4) und einem smarter Zwischenstecker (3) lässt sich auch dieses Problem lösen und wir können unseren Keller auf 5° heizen.

My Smart Home – Chapter 3-1: Smartacus – non tinker solution? Unboxing and putting into operation

Beside of Citrix and virtualization topics I had already Smart Home and IoT topics in the past here on this blog. You can find  posts about smart switches and bulbs or about a smart switch combined with the LaMetric smart watch.

Recent weeks I wrote about my smart mirror and about Home Assistant, both are projects which require advanced IT knowledge and are only interesting for people with according skills and time for a DYO project. REST and Python should not be unknown words … Often I was asked “Sacha can you please also build this for me?” I have a full-time job, I have a family, I’m active for the Citrix community and sometimes I work in my free time as a Scuba Diving Instructor. So, I’m pretty engaged and I cannot spend time to do this for others. But in my opinion, everyone should have the possibility make his home smart.

Some weeks ago, Smartacus has come to my attention. This complete solution is pretty similar like the Home Assistant which I blogged about last week, it combines different components to one place. Smartacus is a product by Energie 360° and is developed for the market in Switzerland.

Compared with Home Assistant is Smartacus a commercial product for End-users, which don’t have the time or skills for a DYI project. 

In December, I received my Smartacus Start package, in this post I write about the chosen components, the Unboxing and putting into operation.

Packages – the components

It’s possible to choose predefined packaged from Smartacus or to build an own individual set. Basically a  Smartacus-setup consists a central unit and one or more sensors and “actors”.

The central unit has connections to the local components and is connected to the “Smartacus-Cloud” in the Internet. But now I’m already way to technical, Smartacus is for End-users which won’t know too much about the tech.

If somebody don’t know what he need, it’s possible to talk with the Chatbot on the Smartacus web site. The Chatbot will help to choose what you need and fill up the shopping basket. A nice example how a Chatbot can help.

In reason, I don’t have a photovoltaic system and I’m living in a rented apartment I decided to start only with the radiator thermostat system and some added components.

This System would be definitely thrilling in an owned house with a photovoltaic installation.

Unboxing

I opened the package and immediately I remarked that Energie 360° and Smartacus are not boring people. Even I didn’t ordered the energy package, I received some personal energy for the time on which I install my Smartacus System. Some food and an energy drink …

I ordered the following components : 

  • Central Unit
  • 3x Radiator thermostat
  • 2x Door- / Window Sensor
  • 1x Smoke detector
  • 1 Multi Sensor
  • 1x flush-mounted switch relay
  • 1x Switch und measure plug

Putting in operation

Central unit

To put the central unit in operation is an easy thing, just plug in the Ethernet cable to the switch or router, plug in the power cable in – and the physical installation is done.

After the Smartacus central unit is online you can login to the portal and configure your setup, the system will guide you through all steps.

I was in doubt to have another central unit in my network, I have already one for my Philips Hue and one for my WirelessTags. I thought another new device which needs power… but this time I was positively surprised, it consumes 7 Watt on start-up and 4 Watt in normal operation.

Integration of Smart Devices

The integration of new devices is simple, on the portal the binding of a new device is handled in three steps. The action which has to be done on the device is explained on the portal.

Formerly I had already radiator thermostats from another manufacturer, but those I removed after I found out that already a slightly touch demolish the installation.

This new radiator thermostats supplied by Smartacus are manufactured by Danfoss and are from the quality perspective much better and stable. The installation can be done in a few minutes:

My interim conclusion at this point:

+ very easy installation
+ high quality components
– Limited number of components by Smartacus

My Smart Home – Chapter 2: Home Assistant

After my smart mirror project which was exciting, I can still only see the values of the integrated sensors on the mirror. The problem that I can’t control my smart devices from one place still exists.

The conglomeration of smart devices in my home is very various, I need to work with something which is open for almost everything imaginable.

On Facebook I saw a post of an acquaintance who adverted for Home Assistant (home-assistant.io). Home Assistant is an open-source home automation platform running on Python 3. Track and control all devices at home and automate control. Perfect to run on a Raspberry Pi.

Hass.io (Home Assistant) is still in development but works already good. I’ve started with version 0.48 or so and now in December 2017 we are on 0.60.

First I started with Hass.io on a Raspberry Pi 3, but then I’ve upgraded my Synology NAS and the new one is able to run Docker, so I moved my Home Assistant to a Container on my NAS.

I don’t write here now a post how to install and run Home Assistant, that you can find in Getting started on hass.io, the intention of this post is a short Intro for Home Assistant with some hints for the practise.

For Hass.io there is also a mobile app, you can use the App if you are in the same network like your Home Assistant server or you have a VPN connection in this network. It’s also possible to expose the server to the internet, it contains all you need for that like duck dns and Let’s Encrypt. But I won’t do that for security consideration.

Devices and Components

Home Assistant has a very broad range of supported smart devices, I added the following devices to my system:

A short demo how that looks on my environment:

Automation

Before I used Home Assistant I automated some of my smart devices with IFTTT, with hass.io I can now do that “On Premises”.

I created the following “recipes” for my home automation:

  • If the IKEA lamp in my living room turns on, also turn on the lights in my vitrine (LED plugged in a MyStrom Smart Plug):
  • If my UniFi controller don’t see any Wifi Mac address of the mobile phones of my family members, the automation “Away-Mode” turns on. This procedure powers off some Smart Plugs, bring my Sonos Player to pause, and all Hue lights will be turned off.

In contrast to IFTTT it’s possible with hass.io to combine things almost indefinite. It’s possible to define so called Conditions.

Helpful hints

If you try Home Assistant and you starting to create and modify your *.yaml files, really use a text editor which show you invisible characters! Python is very fussy for syntax errors even when only an invisible character.

Make backup from your files before you modify it, this can help to avoid some frustration.

If you intend to add a MyStrom Smart Button, I found out that this doesn’t work currently if your Home Assistant Web GUI is protected with a password.

Conclusion

A big benefit of Home Assistant is that it’s an open system with a large developer community, there are many components integrated and it’s possible to integrate by your own.

The downside of Home Assistant is that’s currently not yet a solution for an Enduser without any IT skills. More and more it’s now configurable via Web GUI but without any IT knowledge it’s impossible to manage it.

+ Command centre for your Smart Home
+ Cheap
+ Interaction with your smart components is possible
+ many Components integrated
+ App for your mobile phone or tablet computer
+ – Open Source (Open to integrate other things, improve code vs Security)
– Not an End-user product
– Needs Maintenance

A short preview for my third Smart Home article, I will show you something which is also usable for End-Users without IT Knowledge. I know the readers of my blog are mostly IT Pro’s but I’m sure you have also friends who want to play the Smart Home game and have no clue how to start.

My Smart Home – Chapter 1: The Mirror

A colleague complained that he has a 22-inch screen which he doesn’t use anymore but he can’t sell it for a valuable price. So I said he can give me the screen for free and I would convert it to something cool, I had already an idea what I want to do with it …

My intention was to display some measurement data of my home which I collect with Netatmo or WirelessTag . Furthermore, I had the idea to supersede the paper wall calendar with a digital calendar. We use already Google calendar but my wife has the opinion that she need a calendar not only accessible with a computer or a mobile phone, there must be also something on the wall to get faster an overview about the upcoming events.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall …

So I told my wife that I plan to install a monitor screen in our entrance area, honestly the enthusiasm was very limited. I found out that the WAF – the wife acceptance factor for a monitor screen in the apartment is pretty low. So I needed another idea, accidentally I saw the  MagicMirror² Project which is the solution for my Software Plattform and also the word “Mirror” solves the WAF-Problem.

So there is now no more a monitor screen, instead my project is a Mirror, a Smart Mirror to be precise. Behind the Mirror is a Raspberry Pi 2 located which is powered on 24/7, rather the power of the screen itself is controlled by a MyStrom Wifi Switch  in early morning a motion dedector turn the mirror on, at other hours in the day the screen can be activated with a push on a MyStrom Wifi Button. If the Mirror is powerless it looks like an ordinary mirror.

At the end this was how my prototype looks like:

It was a long journey and I invested a lot of hours until I was happy with the result of my project.

First I started to cover the screen with an acrylic glass laminated with a mirror foil. I was not satisfied with the result, I had inclusions of dust and air under the foil. Only the more expensive but high-grade real Spy-Glass from myspiegel.de made me happy.

It was also difficult to decide which content should appear on the display.

Content

Currenlty my configuration shows ths content:

Top left
– Date and Time
– Google calendar from my an my wife

Top right
– Weather forecast
– Hue Status
– Recent Calls (Fritzbox)

Bottom left
– Trello Task of our family

Bottom right
– Power meter of different Powerplugs (REST via MyStrom)
– battery state of charge of my EV

Bottom center
– Headlines of “Berner Zeitung” the local Newspapar (RSS)

Component List

  • 22″ Screen who has a Digital Input – Raspberry has only HDMI (I took an old one and removed the Case – on your own risk!)
  • Raspberry Pi & Power Supply
  • Spy Glass – I ordered on myspiegel.de
  • Smart Plug (optional)- e.g. I have this one MyStrom Wifi Switch 
  • Smart (IoT) Button (optional) – e.g. I have this one MyStrom Wifi Button.
  • Motion Sensor – e.g I have one from WirelessTag  (optional)
  • Some pieces of wood from your local DYO Store

(As Tools I used a hot glue gun, a saw and some screwdriver )

Conclusion

The mirror definitely gives an added value, but it’s really only for DYO’er or Nerds … No Enduser-Friendly product. It also needs maintenance.
This is a device for consume information but you cannot interact with your devices. Maybe in Some years possible with a “Touchscreen-Mirror”.

+ Added value in a Smart Home
+ Cheap
+ – Open Source (Open to integrate other things, improve code vs Security)
– Not an End-user product
– Needs Maintenance
– Only shows information, no interaction with devices

Fatal error during installation (1603) on StoreFront upgrade to 3.12

Today I’ve upgraded Citrix StoreFront Server from 3.9 to 3.12

as every time first I shut down all of the following services:

net stop W3SVC
net stop CitrixConfigurationReplication
net stop CitrixCredentialWallet
net stop CitrixDefaultDomainService
net stop “Citrix Subscriptions Store”
net stop “Citrix Peer Resolution Service”
net stop CitrixServiceMonitor
net stop CitrixTelemetryService

then I run CitrixStoreFront-x64.msi, reboot the server and after that I do that on the second node. Most time this goes pretty flawless.

But this time, my upgrade failed with an error:

CitrixStoreFront-x64.msi’ failed with error code 1603. Fatal error during installation”

I remember I had this already one time before, but what the hell was the solution … a short search with Google showed me:

https://discussions.citrix.com/topic/371535-storefront-upgrade-to-301-from-300-fails

Well I’m on StoreFront 3.9 and when I have a look into “C:\Program Files\Citrix\Receiver StoreFront\Services\ProtocolTransitionService\Citrix.DeliveryServices.ProtocolTransition.ServiceHost.exe.config” I see in some lines “Version=3.8.0.0” – but I have 3.9, so I replace all “Version=3.8.0.0” to “Version=3.9.0.0”

Result: StoreFront upgrade to 3.12 is successful – All’s well that ends well.

No more able to start SOAP on PVS

After the last monthly Microsoft Security Updates one of my PVS Servers was no more able to start the SOAP service. I received an Event 7000 with the message:

The Citrix PVS Soap Server service failed to start due to the following error: The service did not respond the the start or control request in a timely fashion.

I live in Bern, and we are known as slow-paced people here in Bern, probably because of our slow sounding accent. So my idea is if the service need more time to start, I’ll give him more time.

I’ve created a new DWORD called ServicesPipeTimeout  with the value 120000 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control which means the service has 2 minutes time to start. After a reboot my SOAP was again up and running.

By the way and additional tip according this service… SOAP is sometimes bitchy … it’s a good idea to set the service to auto restart after a crash.

XenApp & XenDesktop Avoid CEIP

Already in February when I updated my Citrix environment to 7.13 I’ve seen that it’s difficult to avoid call home on the license server from now, I made a short message on twitter:

Now when I updated to 7.14 I had the issue again, because my license server and my delivery controller cannot communicate outside there is also a ugly message in Studio:

It’s pretty easy to complete turn off Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP):

Just add this line to the Citrix.opt file on the license server:

#CITRIX CEIP NONE

How to bring your network back online in minutes with Ubiquiti UniFi gear

Less than a month ago I decided to buy a new WiFi Access Point to increase the quality and possibilities of my Home Wifi. Until now I just had a “Fritzbox” which is already very nice for home use. Fritz does anything, Fast WiFi, Modem, Router, Voip, Call answer machine, DECT Gateway and it’s stable and easy to configure. Of course I wished to have a more enterprise like network setup, especially because also my lab environment is in my home network and a lot of IoT stuff. But honestly the components I had known that allows enterprise features was not in my budget.

So first plan was to just increase WiFi. I just bought ans Ubiquiti UniFi AP-AC-Pro without any ulterior motive. But to be honest, the new AP was like a starter drug. I saw what all is possible and for a price which is also payable for home use and with no extra license costs. I don’t want to write a review here about my new awesome Ubiquiti gear, if you wish to know more about that stuff see here the blog post from my fellow CTP Jason Samuel: Building a secure high visibility WiFi network using Ubiquiti Networks UniFi gear

Just to say, now, some weeks later I have a Router (UniFi Security Gateway 3P), a managed Switch (UniFi Switch 16 POE-150W) and two WiFi AccessPoints (UniFi AP-AC-Pro and UniFi AP-AC-LR) in my Network from Ubiquiti. Finally I’m able to segment my home network in virtual networks (VLANs) and to make all more transparent, hopefully more secure and of course easier to manage for me. Currently I have 3 different WiFi SSIDs and 4 VLANs. Software defined network is great and let me do things i just dreamed before. When I think about all the “use cases” I’m now really sure that a lot of Security considerations should be made for improvements in the network segment should be done … but that’s another topic …

The USG 3P, UniFi Security Gateway comes with 3 Ports, WAN, LAN and Voip. The Software of this devices will be always further developed and new features comes with every new version. Some features are also implemented as beta features, e.g also to make out of the Voip a WAN2 port:

With this feature it’s possible to have a Second WAN link and to use it as Failover or as Weighted LB. Of course for home use a second WAN link is not common. But definitely interesting for some small companies or maybe branch offices which need a reliable connection to the internet.

I have currently only one connection to the Internet, a cable connection with 250M down and 25M up from “Quickline”. Until now when I had an outage I was still able to use my 4G WiFi Hotspot from Huawei to access the Internet with my Laptop.

Last Saturday my Cable Internet connection was interrupted exact in that moment where I was doing some lab works with my network components. So I decided to have a closer look at this WAN 2 Feature. I connected a Zyxel travel router (NBG2105) with the Cat5 cable to the USG and with WLAN to my 4G WiFi router, I configured the Voip Port for WAN2. Wow after 30 minutes I was back online with my whole network.

On WAN2 there can just be anything what is providing an Internet link and give an IP address via DHCP in my case. Of course first I connected the Zyxel NBG2105 with the cable to my laptop and connected with it to my WiFi router. The most important thing here with the NBG2105 is that the Switch is set to Client:

Of course the Speed of 4G is not near my cable connection but it’s still better than be offline:

And now I have not just the solution to “How to get back online” but rather also to “Stay always online”.

Sacha’s blog now also in German

I started my blog in 2013 in English with the idea to reach more readers worldwide. Now I decided to provide my information also in German because I know I have some readers from Germany, Austria and of course my home country Switzerland.

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