MED-V: The Case of the Unresponsive Word Window


I recently resolved a long standing issue that affected legacy web applications running inside a MED-V 2.0 workspace. Often web applications will trigger documents and other objects that will launch within their respective host application either through an instance of that application via COM or through a special control via ActiveX (like PDF documents.)

On more than one occasion involving one or more application the parent windowed application (usually a legacy version of Internet Explorer) will trigger an application to launch containing critical data sent to that application by way of the web application. Usually this followed a Java process that would crunch some data and then generate a document object, populate the data and then launch the form from within Microsoft Word. What was happening in every case of this issue was – the Word Window never displayed when running inside a MED-V workspace.

Make sure the problem is not resolved with the super-secret hotfix.

First of all, if you are experiencing the occasional disappearing window, there was an out of band hotfix for the Windows XP RDPShell that addressed disappearing windows. You can call up Microsoft support and request this hotfix by its name (KB2446473.) However, this only addresses a flaw in the RDPShell and did not likely apply in the cases I mentioned above because these problems were not intermittent. They were very consistent and could be reproduced consistently.

Tracking it down . . . 

Running the workspace in full screen mode never exhibited the issue. This issue only occurred when running in the seamless mode of MED-V. Launching a parallel command prompt in the workspace and running tlist.exe revealed that the WINWORD.EXE process was running so the application was not crashing. Killing the MEDVGUEST.EXE process from a command prompt prior to attempting to reproduce the problem caused the issue to go away as well. This led to me down the path of investigating what was really going on. The active Word window was being sent behind the browser window and was not being brought to the foreground for the RAIL mechanism used by MED-V to display the active window. Further debugging revealed LockSetForegroundWindow as a common denominator. Some research into the SetForegroundWindow function (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms633539(VS.85).aspx)  and/or LockSetForegroundWindow function (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms633532(VS.85).aspx)  yielded a way to control this.

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop 
  • Value: ForegroundLockTimeout
  • Data Type: DWORD

Reference: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc957208.aspx

If the time required to launch the Word application window is less than the value specified in the ForegroundLockTimeout, the application will be launched behind the Internet Explorer window.

If the time taken to load the Word window is greater than the time set in ForegroundLockTimeout registry key, the window will be launched on top of Internet Explorer. Setting this value inside the workspace to 0 resolved the issue.

While this may likely resolve all instances of this type of problem bear in mind that I also learned that if the base priority of Internet Explorer is higher than the Microsoft Word window, it will still be launched behind the Internet Explorer window to avoid active window focus change.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Role of Server Groups in App-V 4


The Role of Server Groups in App-V 4

Server groups are for configuring a server or server farm to have alternate provider policies, server-centric application management, and/or alternate logging pipelines to databases.

Provider Policies

Provider policies are bound to users and servers by way of server groups. Provider Policies can control client configuration for:

  • Publishing/Refresh Intervals
  • In prior versions of Softgrid, this also controlled Authentication methods. This has been deprecated in 4.5. Only Windows Authentication is supported
  • Type of License enforcement

Some Administrators would rather manage their provider policies by server as opposed to simply user groups, therefore they use this method. After creation of the server group object, an administrator can then associate an alternate provider policy with the server group:

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Provider Policies can also toggle application usage on and off. Alternate Pipelines for logs can control excessive database traffic going out on the WAN

 

Application Association and Management

You can also associate applications with a specific server group:

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Assigning applications to a specific server group involves configuring the application itself for server group membership. You will then see the application show up under the “Applications” tab in the properties of the server group.

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The applications tab is for informational purposes only to determine a quick view of which applications associated with each server group are currently enabled.

Logging

Once you create a server group, you can also use this to control the pipeline for logging. This will require at least one server object to reside in the group. This has to originate as a pre-created server object. You can pre-create a server object by right-clicking the server group and selecting “New Application Virtualization Management Server.”

Once your servers have been configured/installed inside the server group, you can control the log pipeline methodology (although the options are more limited starting with version 4.5 and later. While the “File” option is available in the interface, it no longer works on versions 4.5 and later. The only log type supported is SQL Database.

By default, the destination is the AppVirt Database using the same SQL server that was specified when the database was first created during the installation of the first App-V server. The default event type is “Warnings/Errors.”

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Given the potential growth of the MESSAGE_LOG table inside the SQL data store and the additional web traffic it can create, some App-V server administrators will leverage local datastores for logging while using a central App-V datastore for application and overall management control. Each server can then send these messages to that server’s MESSAGE_LOG table.

Categories: Uncategorized

App-V 4: Factors that can cause Performance Issues with App-V 4.x Servers


For those of you still using App-V 4 (hopefully at least App-V 4.6 on the client side and 4.5 SP2 on the server side due to supportability) you may have been reading about how App-V 5 resolves a lot of limitations of App-V 4 – especially those that revolve around scalability. I dealt with many customers in support and still get questions on existing App-V 4.x deployments. The most common one revolves around keeping the existing 4.5 server(s) running optimally. I figured I would let the users out there (who are still using App-V 4.5 servers) know that I know they are still out there and remind them of the key factors that lead to performance issues

Watch the Cores and Dispatcher

App-V 4.5 runs usually on four instances of the core process (SGHWVR.EXE or SQLQVR.EXE if using the lightweight streaming server) as well as the dispatcher service. These are usually the key processes to monitor for CPU spikes. In normal operation, utilization should be evenly dispersed. In some cases you may see one or more spiked out due to likely one of the related issues listed below:

Update 4.5 Server to at least 4.5 SP2 plus these Hotfixes.

You should be running at the very least HF2 for App-V 4.5 SP2 with this hotfix being applied:

“Hotfix Package 2 for Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 SP2: March 2011” http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2507096/en-us

The App-V 4.5 Management Server should be updated to at least version plus the following should you be working with SQL database mirroring:

“FIX: An App-V 4.5 SP2 server cannot recover when an application virtualization database fails over” http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2873468/en-us

In addition to these hotfixes, you may want to also include this out of band fix which involves adjusting the back end database. I personally worked on this issue while I was in support and I can tell you that this fix makes a tremendous impact but must be done with caution:

“A publishing refresh might time out and return the 0A-10000005 error code on an App-V 4.5 client” us

Check the Database Values of Server Objects

If you are running with a less than optimal amount of cores or suspect performance issues after pre-creation of server objects prior to scaling out, you could be falling victim to the default limited values that come with pre-creating server objects. Check out this article to resolve it: http://blogs.technet.com/b/appv/archive/2010/05/10/pre-creation-of-server-objects-may-yield-certain-sub-optimal-values-in-the-app-v-sql-database.aspx

Large SFT-Server.LOG file

When the server log gets too large or is set to a high verbosity level, it can impact performance. Regular maintenance of the log files (planned purging) as well as setting an optimal verbosity level (2 likely) will prevent this from occurring. The logging level for the Application Virtualization Management Server can be changed in the registry at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\SOFTGRID\4.5\SERVER\SOFTGRID_LOG_LEVEL

Keeping it at a level no greater than 3 is recommended.

Large APPLICATION_USAGE and MESSAGE_LOG tables

These tables can grow very large if unchecked, be it intentionally (i.e. no SQL agent running, running SQL Express) or unintentionally. The background of this long standing issues can be found here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/appv/archive/2008/08/04/troubleshooting-softgrid-database-growth-issues.aspx

The trouble is that you might be encountering this issue because the SQL jobs are not running properly or at all. Especially if you are running a more recent version of SQL Server or have just migrated databases. The Technet gallery has some scripts that can help you fix these jobs should they be failing:

SQL script that creates the SQL 4 Jobs that are required by the App-V DB: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SQL-script-that-creates-b6345446

SQL script to allow App-V Check Usage History job to run on SQL 2008: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SQL-script-to-allow-App-V-959bc1d4

SQL script to allow App-V Check Usage History job to run on SQL 2008 #2: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SQL-script-to-allow-App-V-f656ac69

Limitations of Ephemeral Ports Used for RTSP

Delays in launching and launch timeouts can be traced to a defining limit in the amount of service requests an App-V management or streaming server can hold. This is due to the ephemeral port range defined by the default App-V 4.5 server configuration – http://blogs.technet.com/b/gladiatormsft/archive/2011/08/31/how-to-adjust-increase-reduce-the-rtcp-rtp-port-ranges-for-use-with-rtsp.aspx

Streaming Performance due to improperly configured Offloading or Block Size

Both the Underlying TCP offloading stack configuration and the block size for RTSP can be factors to slow streaming performance:

TCP Offloading Information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951037

RTSP Streaming Issue with block size: http://blogs.technet.com/b/gladiatormsft/archive/2011/11/28/the-default-block-size-of-64kb-in-app-v-4-6-and-later-may-cause-slow-streaming-with-certain-network-configurations.aspx

As App-V 4.5 is in extended support, the likelihood of new problems is low but not impossible with App-V 4.6 SP3 running on modern operating systems. However, I would recommend you verify the above before contacting support.

Categories: Uncategorized

Important Read: Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality

March 21, 2014 2 comments

If you believe in the openness, freedom, and affordability of the Internet, this blog is very important. – http://blog.netflix.com/2014/03/internet-tolls-and-case-for-strong-net.html

Are you still Using MED-V? If so, do NOT install this update


If you are currently still running MED-V 2.0, be very aware of a known issue. If you install the RDP/RDC 8.1 update for Windows 7 SP1, you may notice after installing the update, you are seeing application crashes of the MED-V Workspace. This update is labeled KB2830477. It was originally released last year and there were sporadic reports of problems with MED-V hosts running it. It has recently been re-released (February 11, 2014) and I have noticed many more reports of this occurring. This issue has been reported for both XP Mode and MED-V in the Technet forums as well.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/ffe5c710-9fb1-4540-9d85-9d76e3a79846/kb2830477-causes-problems-in-wn7-x64-and-xp-mode?forum=w7itprovirt

Right now, there is an investigation ongoing. I would advise in the meantime that you do not install this update on MED-V hosts. If you have already installed this update on MED-V hosts and are experiencing the problem, you can simply uninstall the update and the issues should disappear.

Please note that this is an optional update. This update is not needed for MED-V or Windows 7 functionality. It is not a security update either. It may provide enhanced features if you need to connect your Windows 7 host to Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2-based RDP Sessions or RemoteApps.

Here is the subsequent KB article on the update:

KB2830477: “Update for RemoteApp and Desktop Connections feature is available for Windows”

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2830477/en-us

Categories: MED-V, RDS, VPC Tags: , , , , , ,

Microsoft adds software boot camps as prizes for Imagine Cup 2014


Microsoft has already announced that one of the World Finalist teams in its 2014 Imagine Cup student competition will get to meet co-founder Bill Gates. Now there’s word that the company will give the winners in three of its categories some extra prizes in the form of software boot camps and experiences.

Read More: http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-adds-software-boot-camps-as-prizes-for-imagine-cup-2014

Enabling Advanced Windows Installer Logging

March 17, 2014 1 comment

Throughout my tenure while working in support, I would occasionally come across issues where the issue I was troubleshooting with a particular product was the actual installation. Too often the error would be some generic error (with an error code of 1603 or something similar) or one of those “unexpected errors.”

One way to get to more detailed information was to enable advanced debug logging of the Windows Installer service. You can enable advanced logging for a particular package by using the following synatx when attempting to run the installation:

Msiexec /i <path to your .msi package> /L*V C:\Setup.log

where the “L*V” is what enables the Windows Installer to create a verbose log file.

But what if you want to turn on debug logging for not just the packages being installed, but also for the Windows Installer service itself? This was used to isolate the strict name checking issue with App-V 5 MSI wrappers. You will need to do what we call the “Voice Warmup” trick. It gets its name from the fact that enabling all options spells out “voicewarmup.” To do so, do the following

1. From an elevated command prompt, stop the Windows Installer Service if started:

net stop msiserver

2. Open up the Registry Editor.

3. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer.

4. Create a new string value (REG_SZ) called “logging.” (No Quotes)

5. In the data field, type “voicewarmup!” (No Quotes)

6. In the same key, you will also need to create a new DWORD value called “debug.”

7. In the data field, type “7.”

8. Exit the Registry Editor.

9. Restart the Windows Installer Service.

net start msiserver

After you install (or attempt to install) the application, the log files will be located in %TEMP%.

I would advise not keeping these values in place on a production server.

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