Thinkiosk: Turn your current PC’s into Citrix ready thin clients, with minimum hassle.

Note:

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

ThinKiosk:

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.

Licensing:

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.

Deployment:

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.

Tested Configurations:

The below operating systems have been tested with HDX  and Flash redirection:

  • Windows XP.
  • Windows Thin PC.
The below software components have been tested and are recommended:
  • 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

Setup:

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.

E.G. http://citrix/Citrix/XenApp

ShowAdminMenu – Displays an admin menu in thinkiosk.

This admin menu contains cmd, explorer, a custom url and resizing options. These tools are handy for troubleshooting

ShowLogOff – Displays the LogOff button to the users.

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.

e.g. 90%

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.

Registry control:

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.

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREThinKiosk
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREThinKiosk
Under these keys, the following registry items can be configured:
URL – REG_SZ – e.g. http://citrix/Citrix/XenApp
SHOWADMINMENU – REG_DWORD e.g. 1
SHOWLOGOFF – REG_DWORD e.g. 1
WINDOWMODE – REG_DWORD e.g. 1
WINDOWMODEPERCENT – REG_SZ e.g. 95

Recommended Group Policy:

Below you will find a quick screenshot of the recommended group policies to configure with ThinKiosk:
These policies aren’t a bible, just a recommendation of what I’ve found to work well.

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

Download:

head over to the downloads page for more information.


Known issues:

  1. 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.

Future Improvements:

  1. Multi User language packs for Spanish, Greek and French are being developed.
  2. Central management for Shutdown and Boot options.
  3. Keystroke to enter admin mode. This is in progress and expected soon.
  4. Auto add the Web interface to Trusted Sites.

Feedback:

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.

Credits:

A big thank you to@shanekleinert for initial testing and feedback.

Translations:

A big thank you to the following people for providing translation help:

48 thoughts on “Thinkiosk: Turn your current PC’s into Citrix ready thin clients, with minimum hassle.

  1. Tom

    It would really help many people if you can make this work without having to modify one’s web interface server.

    Thank you, Tom

    Reply
  2. Tom

    Another way to do it would be to keep the same web interface server but have one standard access link for remote access etc. and a separate access link for ThinKiosk?? You’d need to provide documentation of how to configure these — might be easier rather than asking people to maintain two different WI servers, one for remote access (outside the LAN/WAN), one for internal access (in the LAN/WAN).

    Reply
  3. Andrew Morgan

    Hi Tom,

    you can publish numerous web interface sites on single web interface server. You dont need multiple servers.

    For arguments sake, In my case I:

    1 – Created a new web interface site on my current web interface called Kiosk.
    2 – added the farms,and any specific settings i wanted.
    3 – Modified the default.ica file as covered above
    4 – assuming my web interface url is http://citrix, I pointed the kiosk devices (via group policy, to http://citrix/Citrix/Kiosk).
    5 – it works.

    I’ll pass on documenting how to create a new web interface site if that’s ok, the Citrix knowledge base sites are extremely useful for this kind of thing.

    Reply
    1. Tom

      This perhaps should be documented?? (as opposed to what you say above): “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.”

      What are these above-mentioned configuration options?? Are they for the WI?? Are they for ThinKiosk?? If a ThinKiosk computer calls to a standard WI, what will happen??
      Not everyone reading this blog is a Citrix expert, many Citrix admins do not know every last thing we should know because we must do many other things besides Citrix.

      My suggestion is to document like this:
      1) Create a new custom web interface on the WI server according to Citrix’ instructions.
      2) Document what to do specifically for ThinKiosk in the WI or on the WI server or wherever.

      Thank you, Tom

      Reply
      1. Andrew Morgan

        Hi Tom,

        We all have day jobs, that being said I’ll throw together some documentation on this next week.

        Bear in mind this is a 1.0 release, This early release was targeted at Citrix admins. I’m focusing on application feedback and languages at present.

        Your points about documentation are valid, Thanks for your feedback, I’ll email you when I’ve updated the documentation.

        Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hi Jerome,

      Thanks for the feedback, a Friend of mine (@barryschiffer) is currently doing the translations to a number of languages, including French, as we speak.
      I expect to release a French Version before the end of the week.

      As far as roadmap goes, I’ll publish it shortly.

      Reply
  4. Antony

    Hello Andrew, i tried ThinKiosk and the simplicity to use it is fabulous.

    But i meet some issues with it, i know that it’s only v 1.0 but i want to give you some feedback.

    Actually i wanted to test the WindowMode because i need to launch more than one app from the web interface.

    During my tests i noticed that sometimes apps are launched behind ThinKiosk so i need to Ctrl+Alt+Tab to get my application window.

    Another issue is that when i minimized an app windows to work with another one, i am no longer able to restore (maximize) the one i minimized. I need to kill the session to work again.
    Maybe ThinKiosk is overlaping on the display and make under-placed windows to be usable.

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. Erwin

      Hi Andrew, first of all thanks for your great product. I was wondering if there is a solution for the issue of Anthony? I have the same thing. We are testing in a test environment and were hoping that there is a ALT-TAB function to switch between published apps from the Thinkiosk console. Thanks alot guys!!!

      Erwin

      Reply
  5. Bram

    Hi Andrew,

    Very nice and handy tool!
    At a customer we are looking to replace the RES subscriber with Thinkiosk.
    Is it possible to add a “Local Printers” option in the menu, that opens the printers CPL?
    We are using printer redirection and we need to set some local printer options now and then.

    Thanks!
    Bram

    Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hi Bram, great idea. I’ll start working on it shortly and Try to include this in 1.1. Would you like devices and printers under the admin menu, or exposed to the users under settings?

      Reply
      1. Bram

        Hi Andrew,

        Good to hear!
        Under the user settings will be fine, so they can change there default printer etc.

        I have also 2 other feature requests :)
        But only if you got some spare time!!

        1:
        Is it possible to add a option under the user menu that re-opens the URL (so it gets back to the main login url).
        We are using WI through the CAG (Netscaler) and when the WI session expires, it only says : Please reopen your browser, but afcourse that is not possible :)

        2:
        Is it possible to add some local applications under de user menu?
        For example we want the user to open teamviewer so IT can remote control the Thinkiosk PC.
        Maybe it’s an option to add this through registry keys, this way the user menu can be more dynamic.

        Many thanks Andrew, keep up the good work.

        Kind Regards,
        Bram

        Reply
        1. Andrew Morgan

          Hi Bram,

          I’ll include a “home” button, it’ll be disabled by default and you can enable it via reg / policy / switch.

          with regards to 2, It’s on my todo list to allow you to use 3-5 custom menu’s. I wont get to this with release 1.1.

          Reply
  6. Chris

    Andrew, this is a great utility and works as promised. I really like the idea of using this to extend the useful life of some hardware before ultimately replacing it with a thin client. Does anyone have any experience using this on Windows Vista? I know this sounds crazy, but if I use this on XP, then the solution is unsupportable once XP does EOL in April of 2014. Using the OEM Vista license would give me a few more years of service. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hi Chris,

      No reason vista shouldn’t work. But to be honest as you’re recycling hardware I wouldn’t worry about that EOL all that much. You’ll get better performance out of XP.

      It’s your call, but I haven’t excluded Vista support.

      A

      Reply
      1. Chris Bradburn

        Andrew, thanks for the response. I would only use Vista to make my security folks happy. They will likely freak if I try to run Windows XP one day beyond its EOL. I’ll report back how Vista works. Thanks again.

        Reply
  7. Nauzet

    Hi Andrew¡¡¡
    I’ve try the app and it works nice¡¡¡
    If you want I can help you to translate it to Spanish
    ThankU

    Reply
  8. Nez

    Hi Andrew,
    A great application! Works a treat. I have one little question in relation to passthrough. We are using an embedded OS and want to passthrough the windows creds, but seems to not want to do it :( Is this something you have come across or aware of?

    Many thanks on this smashing app!

    Best regards

    Nez

    Reply
      1. Nez

        HI Andrew,
        Brilliant! Our Web Interface is 5.4 and we are using both Xenapp 5.0 and Xenapp 6.5…long story regarding 16bit apps :(
        I did have a good read through in regards to using a single domain logon, however for us we need people to logon for auditing purposes.
        Anyway, thank for your reply and look forward to hearing fro you!

        KInd Regards

        Nez

        Reply
        1. Andrew Morgan

          Hi again Nez,

          Sorry for the delay, I have been pulling my hair out with this one! Was single sign on working on the web interface but not the desktop? Or both?

          Ive found Single sign on with web interface 5.4 is achievable to log in to the website, but the launched desktop will prompt for credentials, after hours of testing I can’t seem to find a way around this.

          It works fine outside of ThinKiosk which is eve more frustrating, considering its just an embedded browser.

          I’ll be at #e2evc this week and talking about ThinKiosk, I hope to gather some interest from citrix in helping with these niggles as it would he mutually beneficial.

          I’ll be in touch again next week.

          A

          Reply
      2. Pete Mitchell

        I’ve noticed the same thing as Nez. I’m using Windows ThinPC and passthrough to the XD works fine when I hit the website with IE, but not via ThinKiosk.

        Reply
  9. Pete Mitchell

    Andrew Morgan :
    Is the web interface prompting? Or the desktop?

    If you’re asking me, it’s failing when it tries to launch the desktop. Passthrough to the web interface is fine.

    Reply
    1. Nez

      Hi Andrew,
      Apologies for my delayed reply! Thank you for looking at this as it would really be the icing on the cake to have this working. It looks like Windows credentials are being passed on to the Web Interface. Now I know a browser like Firefox exhibits similar problems with passthrough…an issue I do see if I say run Internet Explorer in kisok mode.
      I hope you manage to get interest from Citrix as I think its a really good addition to a Citrix experience.

      Reply
      1. Andrew Morgan

        Hey nez / Pete

        when you get a moment, remove thinkiosk from the shell replacement and put in internet explorer instead. That way instead of thinkiosk launching IE will when the user logs in.

        When you do this, do you have the same issue?

        This would help massively.

        Reply
  10. Nez

    Hi Andrew, we have tried this and the passthrough works. So if we run IE in kiosk/locked down mode it passes through the domain credentials to the Web Interface and it becomes a single sign on. Looks like a component of IE supports this…
    I hope that helps. Let me know if I can help any further!

    Cheers

    Nez

    Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hey Nez,

      Did you see my previous comment? Try renaming ThinKiosk.exe to iexplore.exe. It worked straight away for me but i would like external validation before I start writing a permanent fix.

      A

      Reply
    1. Daniel Crowhurst

      Hi Andrew,

      im also having the issue with the desktop asking for credentials after i have logged into the WI using pass-through. When i use IE i get the same issue. Any ideas on how to resolve this? It works fine in IE and Thinkiosk if the WI is set to explicit log in.

      Thanks,
      Daniel

      Reply
    1. Daniel Crowhurst

      Andrew,
      Thanks for the guide. I also had to change my Windows Authentication providers order within IIS. I have added this on the guide page as it may help someone else.
      Daniel

      Reply
  11. Lee Eppleston

    Andrew

    I am running a proof of concept with XenDesktop and you ThinKiosk on Windows Thin PC. Can you tell me if there is a way to stop the process from being killed or do you have an option in the config to force a restart of ‘thinkiosk.exe’

    Reply
  12. Bill Meredith

    Andrew, I have been testing this product and Love it….. A couple of things I wanted to ask you. Is it possible to get a copy of the source code and do you know of a way to disable the Ctrl+Alt+Del function? Many thanks for the product.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hi Bill,

      Disabling cad in standard windows operating systems is tricky. Possible in xp, not possible in vista 7 or 8. Windows embedded and thin PC have a group policy.

      I don’t share the source code for ThinKiosk. Sorry about that,

      A

      Reply
  13. Gary Ankers

    Hi Andrew, just wanted to say thanks for this amazing tool. We run a Citrix environment for our remote offices and this has made my job in re-provisioning old PC’s a breeze. Spot on bud.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>