April 28, 2021

I Was a Panelist Discussing Challenges of a Hybrid Workforce with Citrix


For those that are not aware, I recently made the move to join Liquidware as a Sales Engineer and subsequently moved away from my long tenure in consulting, while I am greatful for all of the customers and companies that I worked with. Sales Engineering has always been a goal of mine to formally get into and things have been great so far. In my role as a Sales Engineer, I am always asked to present and discuss not only Liquidware's products but present on past experiances I have had implementing virtualization with customers. Recently I was tab to speak on Liquidware's Unplugged webinar about The Challenges of a Hybrid Workforce with Calvin Hsu who is the V.P. of Product Management at Citrix and Jason Smith VP of Product Marketing at Liquidware.

For those of you that are not aware, Liquidware's Unplugged Webinar series is interactive webinars that are built exclusively for the end-user computing (EUC) community. More information can be found on Unplugged here.


Here is the recording of the Unplugged Session with Calvin Hsu.

Hopefully this webinar is a first of many that I will be able to participate in going forward. Please use the link above to stay up to date with future Unplugged sessions.

We would like to hear from you so feel free to drop us a note if you have any questions.

Johnny @mrjohnnyma

April 19, 2021

Replacing a Self-Signed Certificate on vCenter 7.x +


Demonstration on how to replace the self-signed certificate on VMware vCenter.


Having valid certificates is not only crucial today and going forward, it has been crucial for the last few years as well. Having valid certificates not only ensures that a certain security posture being maintained, it removes any unsightly certificate warnings that make various products unfriendly to use for the administrators/engineers/architects.

I recently made a transition from Nutanix Community Edition (CE) to VMware vSphere in my home lab due to upgrade issues with the most recent release of CE. VMware vSphere 7.x and above resolved an issue where the NIC in an Intel NUC 10 was not detecting during installation and the driver needed to be sideloaded before CE could be installed. This is a continuation of my blog series where I take a focus in on security from a virtualization standpoint. Here is a similar themed blog about how to replace the self-signed certificate in Nutanix Prism Element and Prosim Central.

Today we will talk about how to replace the certificate on vCenter and how significantly easier it has become to do so. Before I start, I am going to preface this that process only applies to VMware vCenter 7.0 and above at the time of this writing. If folks are still running a vCenter 6.5 or 6.7 this will not work there as the process is completely different. Also this not only affects Citrix, it affects VMware Horizon and any other solutions that integrate into vCenter.

How many of us have in the past or even today check the box on this message to acknowledge and trust the self-signed certificate in an on-prem or cloud based full Citrix Studio?

Most of us probably click through it without second thinking why  the warning applies or also just wave it off as “that is not my problem and it is the vSphere team’s problem”. While it may be the vSphere teams problem, security should be a concern from all IT folks as there are always ways that system compromises can easily be fixed if there was a security first mentality. In addition to this, replacing the certificate will remove the warning from vCenter when folks use the vCenter web console. 

In vCenter 7.0 and above it is very easy to replace the certificate so that the warning never even pops up when establishing the Hosting connection string from Studio. 

Configuration Steps:

First we will need to create a certificate, in my case I will be using a domain certificate authority (CA). A certificate from a 3rd party well trusted CA can also be configured in this manner as well. 

I find it easier to generate the CSR on the vCenter and later will have some interesting issues from generating the CSR elsewhere.

Go to vCenter and login as administrator@vsphere.local (this is the only account that has permissions to change the certificate management) On the Top, go to Menu -> Administration

On the left pane -> Click Certificate Management

Under Actions -> Click Generate Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

Fill out the information appropriately -> Click Next

Copy or Download the CSR -> Click Finish

Open a browser and go to https://domainca.fqdn.com/certsrv replacing with your domainca FQDN. In my case it is domain1.domain.lab. -> Click Request a Certificate

Click Advanced Certificate Request

Click Submit a certificate request by using a base-64-encoded CMC or PKCS #10 file, or submit a renewal request by using a base-64-encoded PKCS #7 file

Copy and paste the contents of the CSR file generated earlier into the large field -> Select the appropriate certificate template -> Click Submit

After submitting the certificate may be pending if the CA is configured for approval (as such in my lab). Get the proper approval to issue the certificate

After approval go back to https://domainca.fqdn.com/certsrv -> Click View the Status of a Pending Certificate Request

Click on the Request from earlier -> Click on the Request
Select Base64 encoded -> Download the Certificate

Save with to a location where it can be accessed with an appropriate name –> Click Save

The domain CA’s root and intermediate certificates are required to be exported as .cer as well. In my case, these can be found on the domain controller under Certificate Manager for the Local Machine -> Trusted Root Certificate Authorities Certificates.

Back on vCenter -> Administration -> Certificate Management we need to import the Root and intermediate certificates so that the cert is trusted. -> Click Add

Browse to the root cert -> Click Add

After adding, there are now multiple Trusted Root Certificates

For the Machine Cert section Click Action -> Import and Replace Certificate

Select Replace with external CA certificate where CSR is generated from vCenter Server (private key embedded) as the CSR was generated on the vCenter -> Click Next

On the first field -> Click Browse File and select the certificate that the Domain CA issued. On the second field -> Click Browse File and select the domain CA root certificate that was exported. If there are both root and intermediate certificates they may need to be combined in notepad –> Click Next

vCenter Services will automatically restart which will take a few minutes. It is common to get this message as services are restarted.

When vCenter is back and ready log back in and go to the Certificate Management section. The Machine cert should have an updated expiration date. Track that date and make sure to repeat the process again before the certificate expires to ensure everything continues to run smoothly for any services that integrate with vCenter.

There also are no longer certificate warnings when going to the vSphere web client and when the certificate is viewed, it is the appropriate certificate

The Hosting section in Studio connects to vCenter without a warning now as well.

If you tried to generate the CSR outside of vCenter and went through the process of generating the certificate. You could get this error like I did. There really isn’t a reason why the character was invalid but this is why I recommend generating the CSR on vCenter.


VMware has made it significantly easier to replace the certificate in vSphere 7.x then it was in 6.x. It makes it almost a no-brainer to do this in my opinion. We didn't need to incure any additional costs as the certificate was generated from a domain CA, but this process would work if you need to get a signed certificate from a third party CA. If we take an overall approoach of focusing in on security in each layer of the infrastructure, we significantly improve the security posture of the entire environment and eliminate as many security flaws in the environment as possible.

We would like to hear from you so feel free to drop us a note if you have any questions.

Johnny @mrjohnnyma

February 10, 2021

Stop Using Windows 10 LTSC

Windows 10 comes in all kinds of variations. If you have ever run Windows 10 in a virtual desktop capacity there has no doubt been a consideration of using the Long Term Service Channel (LTSC) as opposed to the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) that is traditionally used on physical endpoints. The two supported versions of LTSC out there as of this posting are Windows 10 1607 LTSB (this was the channel name before Microsoft changed it from Branch to Channel) and 1809 LTSC. As you see, these are locked in time versions of Windows 10 that have 5 years of support before upgrades are needed and if/when upgrades are performed and you can leapfrog from one version of LTSC to another version of LTSC to remain supported. The Semi-Annual Channel has servicing timeline of 18 months from release. Meaning you should be off that particular version 18 months after it is released to maintain support. If we look at the benefits of LTSC vs SAC, we can clearly see some very appealing things for it. 

Here are examples of the big ones: 
  • No Windows Store
  • No Microsoft Edge (we are talking about classic Edge not Chromium Edge)
  • No Cortana 
  • No feature updates
  • Less of the question “Who Moved My Cheese” (If you get that reference)

These few items have had administrators and engineers spend countless hours over the years trying to disable them in their virtual desktop environments via scripts, registry changes and disabling services. If we take a step back and look at it, running Windows 10 LTSC gives all of the good things and none of the bad things of running Windows 10 as a virtual desktop. I used to make the comparison as running Windows 7 with a Windows 10 wrapper and if you were running LTSC in your virtual desktop environment you were probably very happy.

Then on February 1st 2018, Microsoft had to come to mess it all up. They posted an article stating that Office 365 Pro Plus would no longer be supported on any version of Windows 10 LTSC effective January 14th 2020. With the wide adoption of Office 365 and the availability of E3/G3 or E5/G5 licensing and the ability to download the offline office clients from these subscriptions it is imperative to maintain support. Microsoft has always taken a stance that LTSC should only be used where the key requirement is that functionality and features don’t change over time. Examples include kiosks, medical systems, industrial process controllers, and air traffic control devices. These systems can have very detrimental effects on functionality if upgraded or are systems that do not have the ability to be updated due to security and network related reasons.

This caused panic and a need to pivot for the IT departments to shift away from LTSC back to the SAC and now administrators and engineers needed figure out a way to be able to test/accommodate these updates to prevent any issues in their virtual desktop environment.

The long story short or TLDR version of this. When deciding if LTSC or SAC version of Windows 10. This really should be a no-brainer and SAC is the only way to go. For those that say they will never go to Office 365 from their on-prem exchange as I have all of these requirements that prevent it, all I can say is “never say never”. You do not want to be reason why an entire environment is not supported and become the bottleneck towards environmental progress. If you are working with a VAR/partner and they tell you that LTSC is the way to go for your virtual desktop image, you may want to re-evaluate that partner as they may be leading you down a bad path.