Upgrading Citrix XenApp 7.x VDA version using PowerShell

With the advent of XenApp 7 and more recently experiencing the higher frequency of VDA cumulative updates I would generally recommend implementing Citrix Machine Creation Services or other imaging mechanism (such as Provisioning Server) when rolling out new versions of the Virtual Desktop Agent to a large number of catalogs.

However, what happens when you only require one XA server per catalog, or when each one of those servers is handled manually when new application code is deployed? This is more common than you might imagine, especially in Citrix deployments which have per-customer or per-app specific catalogs. The work involved in maintaining a master image can be significant and the serviceability of such relies upon someone knowing how to treat image updates in a way that won’t introduce problems that could arise weeks or months later.

One customer of mine has at least 80 catalogs running one or more XenApp VMs and so it simply doesn’t make sense to maintain a single master image for each, especially when application code updates are delivered frequently. So I set about creating a simple PowerShell script which works in a VMware environment to attach the Citrix upgrade ISO and then run the setup installer within the context of a remote PowerShell session.

Using this method you can easily carry out a bulk upgrade of tens (possibly hundreds) of statically assigned VDAs individually by attaching the ISO and installing the update automatically. The advantage of this time saving approach is that it can even be run in a loop so that the upgrade is only attempted when a server is idle and not running any sessions.

NB – as always, please validate the behaviour of the script in a non-production environment and adjust where necessary to meet your own needs.

Here’s a walkthrough of the script, along with the complete example version included at the end.

  1. The script will load the required plugins from both Citrix and VMware PowerShell modules/plugins (I generally run things like this on the Citrix Delivery Controller and install PowerCLI alongside for convenience)
  2. Request credentials and connect to vCenter via a popup
  3. Request credentials for use with WinRM connections to remote Windows servers via a popup
  4. Create a collection of objects (XA servers) which are powered on, do not have any active sessions and don’t already have the target VDA version installed (see $targetvda variable)
  5. For each VM, sequentially:
    1. Attach the specified .iso image file to the resulting VMs
    2. Determine the drive letter where the XA ISO file has been mounted
    3. Create a command line for the setup installer, and save the command into c:\upgrade_vda.cmd on the XA server
    4. Connect via PowerShell remoting session to the remote XA server
    5. Adjust the EUEM registry node permissions (as per https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX215992)
    6. Execute the c:\upgrade_vda.cmd upgrade script on remote machine via PS session
    7. Disconnect the PowerShell remote session
    8. Reboot the VM via vCenter in order to restart the XA services

Review the script and edit the following variables to reflect your use-case:

$vcentersrv = "yourvcentersrv.domain.com"
$targetvda = '7.15.4000.653'
$isopath = "[DATASTORE] ParentFolderName\XenApp_and_XenDesktop_7_15_4000.iso"

Edit the selection criteria on the VMs which will be upgraded:

$targetvms = Get-BrokerMachine -DesktopKind Shared | Where-Object {($_.AgentVersion -ne $targetvda) -and ($_.PowerState -eq 'On') -and ($_.HostedMachineName -like 'SRV*')}

All servers in my example environment begin with virtual machine names SRV* so this line can be adapted according to the number of VMs which you would like to upgrade, or simply replace with the actual named servers if you want to be more selective:

($_.HostedMachineName -in 'SRV1','SRV2','SRV3')

Finally, consider modifying the following variable from $true to $false in order to actually begin the process of upgrading the selected VMs. I suggest running it in the default $true mode initially in order to validate the initial selection criteria.

$skiprun = $true

Additional work:

I would like additionally to incorporate the disconnection of previous VDA .ISO files from the VM before attempting to upgrade. I have noticed that the attached volume label search e.g. Get-Volume -FileSystemLabel ‘XA and XD*’ that determines the drive letter selection is too wide, and will erroneously detect both XA_7_15_4000.iso and XA_7_15_2000.iso versions without differentiating between them.

I would also like to do further parsing of the installation success result codes in order to decide whether to stop, or simply carry on – however I have used the script on tens of servers without hitting too many roadblocks.

This script could also be adapted to upgrade XenDesktop VDA versions where statically assigned VMs are provided to users.

Final note:

This script does not allow the Citrix installer telemetry to run during the installation because it requires internet access and this generates errors in PowerShell for XenApp servers which can’t talk outbound. You can choose to remove this command line parameter according to your circumstances:


Citrix also optionally collects and uploads anonymised product usage statistics, but again this requires internet access. In order to disable Citrix Telemetry the following setting is used:

/EXCLUDE "Citrix Telemetry Service"

Additionally the Personal vDisk feature is now deprecated, so the script excludes this item in order for it to be removed if it is currently present (so be aware if you’re using PvD):

/EXCLUDE "Personal vDisk"

PowerShell code example:

# Upgrade VDA on remote Citrix servers

if ((Get-PSSnapin -Name "Citrix.Broker.Admin.V2" -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) -eq $Null){Add-PSSnapin Citrix.Broker.Admin.V2}
if ((Get-PSSnapin -Name "VMware.VimAutomation.Core" -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) -eq $Null){Add-PSSnapin VMware.VimAutomation.Core}

$vcentersrv = "yourvcentersrv.domain.com"

if ($vmwarecreds -eq $null) {$vmwarecreds = Connect-VIServer -Server $vcentersrv}            # Authenticate with vCenter, you should enter using format DOMAIN\username, then password
if ($creds -eq $null) {$creds = Get-Credential -Message 'Enter Windows network credentials'} # Get Windows network credentials


$targetvda = '7.15.4000.653' #Add the target VDA version number - anything which isn't correct will be upgraded
$isopath = "[DATASTORE] ParentFolderName\XenApp_and_XenDesktop_7_15_4000.iso" #Path to ISO image in VMware
$skiprun = $true #Set this variable to false in order to begin processing all listed VMs

$targetvms = Get-BrokerMachine -DesktopKind Shared | Where-Object {($_.AgentVersion -ne $targetvda) -and ($_.PowerState -eq 'On') -and ($_.HostedMachineName -like 'SRV*')}
Write-Host The following XA VMs will be targeted
Write-Host $targetvms.HostedMachineName
if ($skiprun -eq $true) {write-host Skip run is still enabled; exit}

foreach ($i in $targetvms){

if ($i.AgentVersion -ne $targetvda) {
    Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName found VDA version $i.AgentVersion
    if ($i.sessioncount -ne $null) {Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName found $i.sessioncount users are logged on}

    if ($i.sessioncount -eq 0) {#Only continue if there are no logged-on users

        Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName verifying attachment of ISO image
        $cdstate = Get-VM $i.HostedMachineName | Get-CDDrive
        if (($cdstate.IsoPath -ne $isopath) -and ($cdstate -notcontains 'Connected')) { $cdstate | Set-CDDrive -ISOPath $isopath -Confirm:$false -Connected:$true;Write-Host ISO has been attached}

        $s = New-PSSession -ComputerName ($i.MachineName.split('\')[1]) -Credential $creds
            #Create the upgrade command script using correct drive letters
            Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName -NoNewline
            invoke-command -Session $s {
                $drive = Get-Volume -FileSystemLabel 'XA and XD*'
                $workingdir = ($drive.driveletter + ":\x64\XenDesktop Setup\")
                $switches = " /COMPONENTS VDA /EXCLUDE `"Citrix Telemetry Service`",`"Personal vDisk`" /disableexperiencemetrics /QUIET"
                $cmdscript = "`"$workingdir" + "XenDesktopVDASetup.exe`"" + $switches
                Out-File -FilePath c:\upgrade_vda.cmd -InputObject $cmdscript -Force -Encoding ASCII
                Write-Host " wrote script using path" $workingdir
            #Adjust the registry permissions remotely
            Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName updating registry permissions
            Invoke-Command -Session $s {
                $acl = Get-Acl "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\EUEM\LoggedEvents"
                $person = [System.Security.Principal.NTAccount]"Creator Owner"
                $access = [System.Security.AccessControl.RegistryRights]"FullControl"
                $inheritance = [System.Security.AccessControl.InheritanceFlags]"ContainerInherit,ObjectInherit"
                $propagation = [System.Security.AccessControl.PropagationFlags]"None"
                $type = [System.Security.AccessControl.AccessControlType]"Allow"}
            Invoke-Command -Session $s {$rule = New-Object System.Security.AccessControl.RegistryAccessRule($person,$access,$inheritance,$propagation,$type)}
            Invoke-Command -Session $s {$acl.AddAccessRule($rule)}
            Invoke-Command -Session $s {$acl |Set-Acl}
            #Execute the command script
            Write-Host Processing $i.HostedMachineName, executing VDA install script
            Invoke-Command -Session $s {& c:\upgrade_vda.cmd} # Runs the upgrade script on remote server
            Remove-PSSession $s #Disconnect the remote PS session
            Restart-VMGuest -VM $i.HostedMachineName -Confirm:$false #Restart the server following either a successful or unsuccessful upgrade

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