Thinkiosk: Turn your current PC’s into Citrix ready thin clients, with minimum hassle.
this post is a reference to the 1.0 release, please go to http://www.andrewmorgan.ie/thinkiosk for the latest information or use the menu’s above.
With alot of uncertainty in the Citrix Thin Client market (Citrix SoC), the increasing demands for client offloading (HDX redirection) and the abundance of suitable hardware in your current infrastructure, there has never been a greater need for hardware recycling.
Using current defunct hardware to provide a better experience to the user can slash the cost of new customer roll outs and also provide a stop gap solution as we all patiently wait to see what Citrix will deliver with their System on Chip design.
With this in mind I recently set about evaluating products in this market. I tested both Linux based distro’s and the Citrix Desktop appliance lock.
- The linux devices had driver related issues and didnt support the full feature list of Citrix’s HDX technologies.
- The Citrix Desktop Appliance lock (although great) lacked control and flexibility.
Ultimately, not satisfied with my options I decided to develop my own solution to this Problem
The product I have developed, ThinKiosk, is a lightweight .Net framework application designed to replace the shell of the pc it runs on. ThinKiosk is free to use and the source code will also be available for further development.
ThinKiosk is a secure browser window that is designed to leverage the configuration and flexibility provided by the Citrix Web interface. Thin Kiosk allows the users to use multiple desktops, applications etc and adds additional configuration options to empower the user. Allowing users to configure screen resolution, keyboard, audio etc without allowing too much access to the pc.
With ThinKiosk you can present multiple desktops or individual applications to whoever logs into the kiosk.
ThinKiosk allows companies to leverage all of the Citrix HDX components, along with the Branch repeater plugin on top of hardware capable of client side rendering, at no additional cost.
As ThinKiosk will run on Windows devices, you can use your current antivirus and Windows Update products to manage these devices. No extra configuration, no messing.
ThinKiosk is free to use for any individual or business. So feel free to use it!
That being said, I don’t consent to ThinKiosk being used as follows:
- Included as part of a bundle package.
- Integrated into a “paid for” service
- Sold as a service.
ThinKiosk can be deployed using an MSI and a very simple Group Policy ADM file.
ThinKiosk has been designed to replace the windows shell option using the Group Policy Custom User Interface option. This allows you, as the administrator to replace the shell based on computer or user policies, Allowing quick fall back to the native desktop during testing.
The below operating systems have been tested with HDX and Flash redirection:
- Windows XP.
- Windows Thin PC.
- Windows Media Player 11
- Internet Explorer 8 & above
- Adobe Flash Player 11
- Citrix Receiver Enterprise 3.1
- Microsoft .net framework 2 to 3.5 sp1.
.net framework 4.0 has mixed results
ThinKiosk can bedeployed to an auto login account, domain or local. Thin Kiosk can also be configured to run as the end user. The setup options are flexible to how you wish to deploy it.
A recommended configuration for ThinKiosk would be to configure an auto login account on the PC’s, so when the PC boots it auto logs in presenting the web interface for the user to log in as themselves.
This allows for quick boot times, removes any complications provided by the users group policies and allows users to fall back to their own profile in the event of missing functionality during initial testing.
Group Policy Configuration options:
Below are the configuration options available in the ADM file:
URL – The Web Interface URL.
This admin menu contains cmd, explorer, a custom url and resizing options. These tools are handy for troubleshooting
Allowing a user to log off.
WindowMode – Displays ThinKiosk in a window instead of fullscreen.
Window mode allows users to stack open applications at the bottom of the screen, handy for users who need multiple applications.
WindowModePercent – The percentage of the primary monitor to be used by ThinKiosk.
Auto Login Options:
As part of the Group Policy template, I’ve configured options to make configuring the default login as part of the policy. These options aren’t currently available in Microsoft Group Policies and have been provided for extra value. These settings Dont need to be used.
All configuration of ThinKiosk is via the ADM file, but the corresponding registry keys will be published for non domain use below:
ThinKiosk checks both machine and user keys on load in that preference.
Machine keys take preference over user keys.
Recommended Group Policy:
Citrix Web Interface Considerations:
Below are some quick fire recommendations to make the web interface configuration faster and easier.
Dedicated web interface site for ThinKiosk:
As a number of the configuration options needed for ThinKiosk will not suit a standard web interface site, I suggest you configure a dedicated site for ThinKiosk.
Session time out:
As users will be authenticating on this web interface then most likely launching a desktop, I suggest a session time out as low as 5 minutes.
Default ICA file options:
Below are a few Default ICA options that are useful for ThinKiosk:
Forcing the use of the desktop viewer:
[ApplicationName] .... connectionbar=1 TWIMode=Off
Force the Citrix receiver to use full screen:
[Application] ... DesktopViewer-ForceFullScreenStartup=true
head over to the downloads page for more information.
- The first login after installing the receiver causes ThinKiosk to hang on client detection.
Update: this issue only happens with < Web interface 5.3, Web interface 5.4 works fine. If this does happen, just restart the endpoint.
- Multi User language packs for Spanish, Greek and French are being developed.
- Central management for Shutdown and Boot options.
- Keystroke to enter admin mode. This is in progress and expected soon.
- Auto add the Web interface to Trusted Sites.
I’m really interested in feedback and your use case for ThinKiosk, drop me an email on andrew [at] andrewmorgan [dot] ie and let me know what you like and more importantly, what you need.
A big thank you to@shanekleinert for initial testing and feedback.
A big thank you to the following people for providing translation help:
- Dutch Language and ADMX files - @dennis_van_dam