Winning with StoreFront!

OK, so winning might be stretching it a little bit, but I’ve been spending a lot of time on StoreFront lately and I’ve gathered a few tips and figured out a few things to help your StoreFront deployment go a little smoother.  On top of this these tips will (hopefully) make your StoreFront deployment work a little faster, but I still can’t get it to operate as quick as Web Interface.

What I won’t cover is how to set it up, load balance it, or front it with Access Gateway/NetScaler as there are plenty of guides already out there for that.  Some examples are here, here, here, and more – just google it.

Access Gateway builds

You need to use a .e, or “Enhancement” build to work properly with StoreFront.  As at time of writing, the recommended version is 10.0.73.5002.e which you can download from Citrix here (login required).  In the future you will be able to use mainstream builds, however even with the initial 10.1 release of NetScaler this is not yet the case (AGEE feature is still in tech preview mode).

Certificates

Ensure you have the right certificate on your StoreFront server(s) before you start installing as StoreFront will hard code it’s URL based on the certificate installed and bound to IIS.  Note that even if you have an Access Gateway with a “real” trusted certificate your devices will still need to trust the internal certificate on the StoreFront servers when they are inside your network.  iPads have an option to ignore trust issues with the certificate, but Android and Windows devices do not.

.Net Config Files

Get familiar with the Microsoft .Net config file structure as you will end up editing many of them.  A lot of options, even some that were previously in the GUI with Web Interface, are now controlled by options in the .config files and must be edited by hand which unfortunately makes them more prone to human error.

Aside from configuration options though, an important setting particularly if your StoreFront servers do not have direct internet access is the the following line:

<generatePublisherEvidence enabled="false"/>

As per CTX117273 make the change to the .Net config files in both C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework and C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64.  Then search for every .config file under C:\Program Files\Citrix\Receiver StoreFront and C:\inetpub\wwwroot and check each one.  If it has the following lines

<runtime>
 <!-- Set enabled=false, if this machine does not have external access to the internet -->
 <generatePublisherEvidence enabled="true" />
 </runtime>

then go ahead and change the “true” to “false”. This will disable the checking of the certificate used to sign the code, and part of this process does CRL lookups on the fly. If you server does not have internet access the whole process slows down waiting for the lookups to time out. Even if the server does have direct internet access, disabling all these checks seems to have a measurable improvement in the responsiveness of your StoreFront site.

Note that after you enable certain features, eg you enable the pass-through authentication method, a new folder will be created under StoreFront program files folder with an additional .config file so best to check for these regularly during the setup process and a final check when you are done configuring and installing all features.
In addition to these, you can disable the CRL check in the Internet control panel as per below.CRL Check

Miscellaneous settings

In the WINS tab under Advanced Settings on your network adapter, choose the “Disable NetBIOS over TCP/IP” option.

Change the Startup mode of the “Citrix Credential Wallet” service to “Automatic (Delayed Start)”.

Change PowerShell execution policy to “bypass” using the below command.  Similar to the CRL check, it disables checking for digitally signed scripts and associated CRL lookups.

Set-ExecutionPolicy -scope LocalMachine bypass

Set-ExecutionPolicy

Use DebugView.  It’s a handy tool that will tell you why something is failing when you get no feedback from the console or event viewer.  The logfiles it generates can be pretty large, but it’s worth combing through to see what’s going on.  You can download it from the Microsoft SysInternals page here.

Conclusion

I think that’s about it!  Not all these tips will have an effect in every environment, and please understand there is a security risk that comes with disabling CRL checks.  However I’ve had much greater success with StoreFront with making all the changes here so now they are part of my standard build procedure for new installs.

If you’ve found something that works for you and I haven’t mentioned it here, please leave a comment and I’ll update the post.

UPDATE for StoreFront 2.0

Fortunately for those installing StoreFront 2.0, Citrix have made life a little easier and in every .config file I have looked at so far (generated by StoreFront), the generatePublisherEvidence setting is already set to “false”.

Everything else I’ve written here still applies, including the generatePublisherEvidence setting in Aspnet.config files under the various C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET folders.  Note also a new KB article from Citrix on speeding up the first time login for StoreFront, CTX137400.

One thought on “Winning with StoreFront!

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