by Dane Young, CTP
If you’ve been following my blog posts over the last couple weeks, you have probably seen two major products have released to web, one shortly after the other. Here are two of my more recent posts:
As you can see from the dates on these two blog posts, XenServer 8.0 was released within two weeks of NVIDIA vGPU Software v8.0. Many of us in the Citrix/NVIDIA community were left wondering if this meant that we would have to wait another couple months for NVIDIA vGPU Software vNext, to see support for Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer) 8.0 added. As you can see from this screenshot taken at the time of launch, NVIDIA vGPU for XenServer 8.0 is not listed:
Much to my surprise, when I checked the NVIDIA license portal over this last weekend, NVIDIA vGPU for XenServer 8.0 was already added and is now available for download! (Insert applause sound effects here…)
Seeing that both NVIDIA v8.0 and Citrix Hypervisor v8.0 are now available, I felt it would be appropriate to write a quick blog post to show how simple and easy it is to get started with these latest and greatest versions for a basic Proof of Concept environment. In my lab, I have a number of older K1/K2 cards, but my latest system is a server with an NVIDIA Tesla P4, which you can read about here:
In this blog post, I will show you getting started steps for installation and configuration of Citrix Hypervisor 8.0 from a bootable USB drive, NVIDIA vGPU 8.0 Host Manager (hypervisor software), Windows Server 2019, and NVIDIA Driver installation. At that point, the basic POC gold image will be ready to install the Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA), connect to Citrix Cloud, and build the first Catalog/Pool of Server OS machines for App or Desktop publishing. Those steps are not included in this guide, as I have covered these concepts in previous blog posts, which you can find here and here.
To get started, you will need to download the latest Citrix Hypervisor software, which you can obtain for free here:
Be sure to grab the Hypervisor installer (ISO) as well as the XenCenter installer for Windows:
Next, obtain the latest NVIDIA vGPU Software v8.0 installation ZIP from NVIDIA here:
If you do not already have a license, you can obtain a Free Evaluation License for 90-Days, using the link provided at that site. Be sure to use the correct link for “NVIDIA vGPU for XenServer 8.0”, which will have a filename of: NVIDIA-GRID-XenServer-8.0_418.66-418.70-425.31.zip
Let’s get started!
To build a bootable USB installer for Citrix Hypervisor, I like to use this free utility, Universal USB Installer:
Configuring for Citrix Hypervisor is as simple as selecting the ISO and the following options:
Once Create is clicked, the formatting and installation process to the USB device will take 3-5 minutes, at which point it’s ready to plug into the server and boot.
You will notice a little Citrix rebranding has occurred with the splash screen now showing the following.
Press ENTER to install
Select the appropriate keymap:
OK to continue:
Accept EULA to continue:
Select the appropriate disk and check the box next to Thin Provisioning. OK to continue:
OK to continue:
Select Verify and OK to continue:
After a minute or two, media verification is complete:
OK to continue:
Enter and confirm a password for the Citrix Hypervisor ‘root’ account:
Select Static configuration and enter IP, Subnet Mask, and Gateway information. If appropriate, enter tagged VLAN information. OK to continue:
Enter a Fully Qualified Hostname (as registered in forward/reverse lookup in DNS), and a primary/secondary DNS Server. OK to continue:
Select the appropriate geographical area:
Select the appropriate time zone:
Select Using NTP:
Enter NTP information. I typically prefer to use tick.usno.navy.mil and tock.usno.navy.mil; 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 respectively. OK to continue:
Select Install Citrix Hypervisor to continue:
The precheck and installation process will take a couple minutes to completed:
After several minutes, you will be asked if you would like to install any Supplemental Packs. This would be a perfectly acceptable time to mount the NVIDIA Virtual GPU Software .ISO file, if you want to install the software during installation to save a couple steps and a reboot. For now, I’d like to demonstrate how easy it is to install through XenCenter, so I’ll select NO for Supplemental Pack installation:
Another couple minutes, depending on the speed of your server and local storage, and the installation will complete:
Unmount the Citrix Hypervisor installation media (CD-ROM or USB) to proceed. OK to continue:
During boot, you’ll notice the new Citrix Hypervisor splash screen:
Once booted, a Citrix Hypervisor configuration console is displayed. If you properly set everything during installation, nothing should be required from this console. All additional configurations can be performed through XenCenter.
From a Windows admin system, I have downloaded and unzipped the NVIDIA installer, and downloaded the Citrix XenCenter installation MSI. First, we’ll install XenCenter by double clicking on the installer.
Next to continue:
Select “All Users” and Next to continue:
Install to continue:
Launch Citrix XenCenter from the Start Menu:
Click Yes to check for updates:
Select Add Server:
Enter the IP Address, root username (default root) and Password as specified during installation. Add to continue:
Click Save and restore to auto-connect XenCenter when launched. OK to continue:
You can use this screen to learn more or Enroll for Health Check. Otherwise, click Close.
First, I’ll license the Citrix Hypervisor by connecting to an existing Citrix Licensing server in the environment. If you don’t already have a Citrix Licensing server, you can download one and request a trial license as part of the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops evaluation process. I won’t cover details on that process, but simply show how to connect Citrix Hypervisor to an existing Citrix Licensing Server. To do this, go to Tools -> License Manager:
Click Assign License:
Enter the IP Address (or DNS Name), and appropriate License version that aligns to the License Server. OK to continue:
If configured correctly, server will now show Licensed. Close to continue:
Next, we’ll install the NVIDIA Software, using the folder previously extracted from NVIDIA-GRID-XenServer-8.0-418.66-418.70-425.31.zip. Navigate to Tools -> Install Update:
Next to continue:
Select the bottom option (Select update or supplemental pack from disk). Browse to the Supplemental Pack .ISO file (should be the only ISO image in the extracted ZIP folder). Click Next:
Select the appropriate server(s) to apply the update. Next to continue:
The file will take just a moment to upload from disk to the Citrix Hypervisor’s local storage. Next to continue:
Installation prechecks will now take place. At this point in the installation, you may receive the following errors as show below:
The error messages may say “The update is not compatible with this server version.” or “You need to resolve the issues found before you can continue.”
IF THIS HAPPENS…YOU MUST REDOWNLOAD THE NVIDIA VIRTUAL GPU SOFTWARE FROM THE FLEXNET LICENSING PORTAL
There was an issue with the original NVIDIA .RPM file that was uploaded over the weekend. I discovered this issue, along with others in the community, reported the issue to NVIDIA Enterprise Support, and the .ZIP file has now been re-uploaded.
Sidenote: The original/bad zip file has an dash between the 8.0 and 418 in the file name (NVIDIA-GRID-XenServer-8.0-418.66-418.70-425.31.zip). The new/good zip file has an underscore between the 8.0 and 418 in the file name (NVIDIA-GRID-XenServer-8.0_418.66-418.70-425.31.zip).
If you downloaded the right zip file and goes well in the precheck, you should see the following all clear messages! Next to continue:
Since this is a non-production system, it’s safe to let XenCenter carry out all tasks automatically, which involve restarting the server. Install update to continue:
As the update is installed, you can monitor the progress, including rebooting of the server:
After a couple minutes, the installation is complete. Finish to continue:
Now that the NVIDIA Host Manager is installed, I’ll mount an SMB Share where my Windows Server 2019 media is located. To do this, you can right click the server and select New SR:
Select ISO library – Windows File Sharing (SMB/CIFS). Next to continue:
Name the Storage Repository. Next to continue:
Provide the path, username and password to connect to the SMB share. Finish to continue:
The new MDT SR shows available on the left panel. Next, we’ll build our first Windows Server 2019 virtual machine. Right click the host and select New VM:
Select Windows Server 2019 (64-bit) from the list. Next to continue:
Provide a Name for the new VM. Next to continue:
Select the ISO from the newly created SR in the drop-down. Next to continue:
Next to continue:
Change the VM specifications for CPU and Memory if desired. Next to continue:
Review the list of available GPU Profiles from the drop-down. This is also a good sanity check to confirm that the NVIDIA Host Manager is functioning correctly on the Citrix Hypervisor! Since I want to deploy two VMs on this host, I’m selecting the P4-4Q profile. Next to Continue:
Click Edit to change the size of the system disk (60GB for example is a good starting point for Windows Server 2019). Next to continue:
Change the networking properties if necessary. Otherwise, next to continue:
Review the configuration and click Create Now:
Once created, the VM will boot automatically, and in my case, using the LiteTouch ISO, will connect to my MDT server to pull down the server image. Alternatively, you could mount the Windows Server 2019 installation media, it just requires more manual configuration than MDT.
Once booted to the image selection menu, I’ll choose Deploy Windows Server 2019 Datacenter:
After a couple minutes, the installation and Windows Update process will complete. Windows has detected the new network, Citrix Hypervisor tools installation, and MDT task sequence is finished. I’ll click Yes to all prompts, which will reboot the VM. After a reboot, I’ll login again, and download the NVIDIA package to the Desktop.
From the NVIDIA folder, I’ll install the Windows drivers using
Yes to the UAC prompt:
OK to extract:
Agree and Continue:
Next to continue:
Installation will take a couple minutes, and the screen will flicker/blank during driver installation:
Once installed, the screen resolution will be nearly unintelligible. You’ll need to resize if you intend to use the console.
Right click and select Display Settings:
Select a resolution close to or equal to 1024 x 768 to make the Console easy to see. Close Display Settings:
Close the Driver installation window:
Open Device Manager and confirm the vGPU Profile and respective driver show up properly:
Right click on the desktop and select NVIDIA Control Panel:
Navigate to the Manage License section under Licensing. Specify the Primary License Server (IP or DNS) and Port Number. Much like the Citrix licensing server, this was previously configured in my environment. Click Apply.
For detailed information on the installation and use of the NVIDIA License Server, see the following:
After Apply has been clicked, a popup will appear in the bottom left “Acquiring NVIDIA license”:
When a license is properly acquired, the popup will change to “NVIDIA license acquired.”:
Under the licensed clients section of the NVIDIA License Server, the new client will be registered automatically:
To verify the build of the new Windows Server 2019 Datacenter VM, right click the start menu and click System:
Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see the Windows specifications, specifically the Edition, Version (1809), and OS build (17763.437) for example:
At this stage in the process, we’re ready to continue forward with the setup and configuration for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops using Windows Server 2019 with NVIDIA vGPU as our master gold image!
That concludes my overview guide for installing and configuring Citrix Hypervisor 8.0 with NVIDIA vGPU 8.0 and Windows Server 2019! I hope this guide has been helpful on your journey toward virtualizing the most graphics intensive Windows workloads.
I am very excited to see these technologies are now available, as it’s been a long time coming for Citrix Hypervisor/XenServer and NVIDIA GRID support of Windows Server 2019.
Follow me on Twitter (@youngtech) or other social media platforms, or check back in for more news and announcements.
Thanks for reading!