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Windows Server 2003 / 2008 - Terminal Services / Citrix / Thin Client - Memory Limits and use

Posted on 2013-05-13
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Last Modified: 2013-05-17
Hello, I have a client who uses an application that has the following requirements:

Windows Server 2003/2008 (32 bit)
Citrix Metaframe 4.5

The application is not scheduled for an upgrade to use 64 bit technology until two years.

I would prefer 64 bit but am bound by what the application requires.

In a Windows Server 2003 32bit mode Windows will only allow use of 4gb of RAM.  Can TS or Citrix use memory above the 4gb limit if the machine can hold 64 gb of ram?

How about for Server 2008?

I would like to put in place one or two servers with 30 users but not sure if this will work.
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Question by:tucktech
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by:Sekar Chinnakannu
ID: 39161171
First Citrix Metaframe 4.5 server wont support 2008 server, you have to plan for the upgrade xenapp 6.5 to enable the applciaiton to run in 64 bit servers or add 2003 64 bit server in Citrix Metaframe 4.5 and give a try.
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by:BurundiLapp
ID: 39161247
Windows 2003 Enterprise & DataCentre can use the /PAE switch to address more memory than 4GB ( http://support.microsoft.com/kb/283037 ), we use this in only one instance on a physical 2003 Enterprise server and it does recognise and use the full 8GB of RAM we have in the server.
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161251
True - you could install 2008 RTM / SP1(?) - whatever isn't R2 anyway and XenApp 6.0 but you're limited to 4GB RAM by the OS. Well certainly in Standard - I'd need to lookup Enterprise etc.
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161264
Yeah 2008 Enterprise and Datacenter will use up to 64GB: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Server_2008
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161282
Personally I'd prefer to put XA 6.0 on 2008 x86 than stick with 4.5 and 2003, which is why I've mentioned it.

I would not try to put in 2003 x64 - of the several PoC's I did over the years they were generally poor performing (worse, usually than x86), were not binary compatible (all patches, for example, from both MS and Citrix needed to be specific to x64), suffered from driver issues and is actually a separate product in its own right.

Whereas 2008 x64 and x86 shared a common binary code and underlying architecture.
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by:BurundiLapp
ID: 39161323
After using XA6.0 for some time in a PoC and then going to XA6.5 I would recommend going to XA5 or XA6.5 and avoiding XA6.0.

If your client has access to these obviously, if only Metaframe 4.5 is available then you are going to have to stick to 2003, avoid the 64 bit version as Tony says.

Our old metaframe 4.0 solution has been running for about 11 years now with little problem, get 4/4.5 setup right and it will do the job but you are going to be missing out on a lot of features and improved performance compared to the newer versions.
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d1234567 earned 250 total points
ID: 39161342
1) you have PS4.5, that means that you should run over win2k3

2) win2k3 enterprise or data center let you handle the resources that you need.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc758523%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

3) Windows 2008 is supported since XenApp 5.0

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX112374
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161361
After using XA6.0 for some time in a PoC and then going to XA6.5 I would recommend going to XA5 or XA6.5 and avoiding XA6.0.

Sorry but I have to disagree - you're talking about running on a ten year old, out of support OS with an equally old, out of support application solution.

Drivers etc will be a problem for newer hardware.

Forced with a choice to put in a 5 year old OS as opposed to a 10 year old one isn't much of a choice, granted, but simple things like enhanced group policies, application support, driver support are compelling.
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by:BurundiLapp
ID: 39161391
It largely depends what the OP client has available though doesn't it, given the choice I would advise putting in XA6.5 on W28kR2, but if that choise isn't available to them, if they only have Metaframe 4.5 and 2003 or 2008 then they are stuck with that.  XA6.0 was a pain, XA5.0 wasn't as feature rich but it was at least more stable and less buggy than XA6.0 and XA6.5 is what XA6.0 should have been, but it's all academic if the client doesn't have it but personally I wouldn't want to go to XA6.0 now unless it was my only option.

If they are stuck with 4.5 then go with 2003, match the software to it's intended OS, however I would push them to go for better if they can.

Windows 2003 is EOL from extended support on 14/07/2015, there are no more service packs coming for it and updates will be for security issues only.

As Tony says getting the drivers could be problematic if the hardware is quite new, are you re-using older hardware or buying new?
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161415
Definitely agree - R2 and 6.5 is the much preferred approach. I think 6.0 was down to how tightly you can get away with controlling it to be honest - it was a complete grounds up rewrite and you're right, as such, it had ...quirks :-)

I would also admit a bias of not wanting to go back to 2003 _but_ you are absolutely right - I may well be making moot points. If it's simply not available then 2003 it would have to be.

I do stand by one point though - do not be tempted to try x64. It was an absolute dog...
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by:tucktech
ID: 39161428
The application requirement are going to drive any hardware and OS requirements.    I am not knowledgeable about  Citrix and I have only used RDS in windows 2008r2.

The software will NOT run on it.

I would prefer to reuse. Asking a different way, If I have Server 2008 32bit standard or Server 2003 32bit standard will it allow me to use more than 4gb for TS/RDS?

Do I have to move to a datacenter version?
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by:Tony1044
ID: 39161437
The application requirement are going to drive any hardware and OS requirements.    I am not knowledgeable about  Citrix and I have only used RDS in windows 2008r2.

The software will NOT run on it.

Well you could always put in a new server solution around 2008 R2 and publish legacy applications into it from 2008 x64 or even 2003. It might also be worthwhile investigating App-V if you have the budget

I would prefer to reuse. Asking a different way, If I have Server 2008 32bit standard or Server 2003 32bit standard will it allow me to use more than 4gb for TS/RDS?

Do I have to move to a datacenter version?

No but you would have to use Enterprise. Having said that, investigate Datacenter anyway as it, being per-core licensing might actually work out cheaper
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by:tucktech
ID: 39161492
Tony1044,  are you suggesting to run Windows XP or Windows 7 VM 32bit to comply?  That might work.  Because VDA licensing for Microsoft is on a subscription I guess "reinvesting" is on a yearly cost anyway so I am "leasing" not buying.

All, I was hopping I could re use standard windows 2003 server, to reuse and/or to buy old equipment to comply to software requirements.  I don't know what is practical for the number of users on Windows 2003 32bit TS
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by:BurundiLapp
BurundiLapp earned 75 total points
ID: 39161526
I don't know what is practical for the number of users on Windows 2003 32bit TS

That largely depends on the application you are running, you'd have to monitor the memory usage on a test box to work out how many users you could get on it and extrapolate from there.

If the app will only run in a 32bit os then the best you can get is to set it up on a  Windows 2008 Enterprise OS with Xenapp 5.0 (a lot better than 4.5) as Xenapp 6+ are 64 bit only.

If it is to be part of a larger roll out of Citrix you have the potential of using Xenapp6.5 on Windows 2008 R2 and streaming the app in from a Xenapp 5.0 server but the app would have to be compatible with streaming, some just aren't, particularly if they need to interact with other apps.

Testing it in a PoC/Lab environment is your only option unless the software designers can confirm that configuration.
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by:Tony1044
Tony1044 earned 75 total points
ID: 39161537
Sorry no - I wasn't suggesting a VDI solution but what you can do is have applications on say a XenApp, x86 server and present them via Citrix / RemoteApp (whichever you wanted) into a new, 2008 R2 based solution.

App-V is Microsoft's application virtualisation software.

Burundi is correct - every RDS and/or Citrix implementation is different and you need to test with real world users to get a realstic value of users. You tend to see, particularly where legacy apps are involved, a sudden drop-off.

Mind you...having said all of that...VDI may be worthwhile investigating for you.

But it tends to be complex, costly and challenging to manage, so not something to consider lightly.
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