The Citrix Universal Print Server and its limitations?

Citrix Universal Print ServerMy inspritation for this blogpost comes from a tweet from Barry Schiffer asking if there’s some roadmap material for the Citrix Universal Print Server, as the feature set is limited. So I asked myself, what features are missing..?

 

Citrix Universal Printer Server, the case:

To be honest, I didn’t even know what features where included as we’re not using the Citrix UPS in our standard workspace solution. So I went to my archive and dug up the presentation given by Niek Boevink on real world experience with the Citrix Universal Print Server, a blogpost from Bram Wolfs: Citrix UPS is awesome, but maybe it arrived too late? and I found the eDocs on Citrix Universal Print Server stating the following:

When determining the best print solution for your environment, consider the following:

  • The Universal Print Server provides features not available for the Windows Print Provider: Image and font caching, advanced compression, optimization, and QoS support.
  • The Universal print driver supports the public device-independent settings defined by Microsoft. If users need access to device settings that are specific to a print driver manufacturer, the Universal Print Server paired with a Windows-native driver might be the best solution. With that configuration, you retain the benefits of the Universal Print Server while providing users access to specialized printer functionality. A trade-off to consider is that Windows-native drivers require maintenance.

To use the Universal Print Server with a Windows-native driver, enable the Universal Print Server. By default, if the Windows-native driver is available, it is used. Otherwise, the Universal print driver is used. To specify changes to that behavior, such as to use only the Windows-native driver or only the Universal print driver, update the Universal print driver usage policy setting.

The disadvantages according to the presentation by Niek based on a tech preview from the Citrix UPS:

• Technology Preview (beta)

• Only basic functionality (No stapling, ….)

• Only supported for XA6.5

 

What do we need?

When you’re looking for the Citrix UPS on the download page you’ll need to download the whole package, the Citrix UPS isn’t available as separate download:

What we need to install and configure the Citrix UPS:

  • Citrix Universal Print Server package (including UPServer and UPClient).
  • Group Policy Management software.
  • Citrix XenDesktop Virtual Desktop Agent (but for the sake of this blogpost I’m expecting you to already have the VDA installed.)

How does it work?

UPS adds additional support to network printing, it offers limited driver installations on XenApp and XenDesktop environments and is more efficient with network traffic.

From the planning guide: the Universal Print Server feature comprises of the following components:

  • Client Component: This component is installed on a XenApp server or XenDesktop virtual desktop. It receives the EMF or XPS based print stream from the Citrix UPD and forwards it to the print server. Both the print commands and print data are sent over the wire using their own respective ports. Defaults are TCP 8080 for the print commands and TCP 7229 for the print data.
  • Server Component: The Citrix UPServer component needs to be installed on a Windows based print server. It retrieves the print data and forwards it to the respective printer by means of the Citrix UPServer Virtual Port Monitor.

Think about the default TCP port for the print commands as I see a lot of Citrix XML custom configuration running on TCP Port 8080.

 

ups_3

Because of this architecture the Citrix UPD supports any print device, any advanced printer functionality (i.e. stapling, sorting) and does not limit resolution or color depth.

Limitations?
  • When using the Universal Print Server, a maximum of 50 active concurrent consumers of print streams is allowed. This means that up to 50 print jobs can be handled simultaneously, independent of the number of actual printers in the environment. When the 51st print job is submitted, it is queued and processed after a currently-running print job completes.
  • The Citrix Print Provider does not support client-side rendering.
  • To configure a non-standard HTTP/SOAP port for the Universal Print Server web service, you must use PowerShell cmdlets to configure the session printer policy
  • Fonts used on the server are not installed on the client and so the fonts are getting embedded into the job.
  • PDF documents or any documents that contains the embedded images and an image that is on multiple pages.
    It is included multiple times that makes the job even bigger, or if the application does not use GDI to render the contents.This is a limitation of how EMF processes jobs. It sees the images at the exact resolution that the client presents it, and records it even if the job does get scaled down by the actual printer driver.

Like I said, I got a lot my information from eDocs but Citrix released the Printing Planning Guide which contains a lot of information about printing and is certainly a document you want to read when planning and designing print functionality for Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp environments. Next to that I found CTX089874 very useful to find the limitations of the Citrix UPD. While typing this blogpost I realized that there are a lot of advantages that come from the UPS but nevertheless I’ve never used it so I’m curious for some real world experiences with the Citrix UPS.

 

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Kees Baggerman

Kees Baggerman is a Staff Solutions Architect for End User Computing at Nutanix. Kees has driven numerous Microsoft and Citrix, and RES infrastructures functional/technical designs, migrations, implementations engagements over the years.

6 comments

  1. Hi Kees,

    Good summary of the current status of the Citrix Universal Printer Server as part of the XenDesktop 7 offering. I would have expected that with the release of XD7 the UPS would be a native part of the installation and not a separate component, that’s unfortunate. It seems like Citrix is repeating what they did with old products: first make (or buy) a bunch of products and then come with a product that merges all in one (aka XD7).

    Having a limit of 50 concurrent print jobs sounds as “plenty” but in an enterprise environment this could be a problem, making it not enterprise ready IMO.
    Withouth native built-in high availability / load balancing this creates a SPOF, a potential risk at least.

    I wonder how the roadmap of the UPS looks like, is it seen as a nice-to-have addition (to compete with for instance ThinPrint / triCerat) or a core function like the universal printer driver? Is Citrix planning this as stand-alone product (stepping in the software-defined-printing market)?

    I’m sure a Citrix product manager can enlighten us with some insights 😉

    Cheers
    Ingmar

  2. I tested UPS 1.0 for quite some time and with Xerox and HP UPD the spool service just crashes.

    Apparently one of Citrix UPS developer quits, that would explain why they aren’t putting much effort into the product.

    I would recommend you take a look at Tricerat Project Thorx, it’s really impressive so far. It’s printing 2.0 in my view. 🙂

    Citrix needs to improve UPS quickly or buy a company that’s does it right because they are way behind the competition and this nightmare must stop. All the new XD7 features are great but please let’s fix the basics first.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Thanks for you blog, I’m currently facing a printer re-design project. So I’m looking into the docs and your blog really was a good source. After all I’m probable stick with the current MS solution 🙂

  4. Andrew Gerrie says:

    I can’t quite work out if the UPS works inside the ICA channel (client printers only) or outside of it.

    If the UPS client sits on the VDA or the XenApp server then I guess it can work outside of the ICA channel and doesn’t rely on the Receiver. I’m mainly interested in the compression rather than driver management but if the jobs are compressed on the VDA in the datacentre then sent over the WAN to the print device in a remote office, surely something needs to decompress it at the remote site before printing which is something Receiver would handle if using the UPD instead.

  5. […] The Citrix Universal Print Server and its limitations? […]

  6. XenApp DevOps Guy says:

    We’ve implemented UPS because we have dependencies on UNC printing, and won’t install drivers on the XenApp boxes. Enterprise wide we have over 22,000 print queues, over 10,000 employees. And it’s a hospital: definite paper hogs. 50 jobs is not a biggey because >50 get queues, not dropped. So far, the UPS has been a good fit becuase UNC print server queues on Windows clients get inherited in users sesssions and the queues that can’t be inherited fall back to CUP which has been almost flawless since the PS4 days.

    That’s my 2 cents worth.

    Oh. yeah. Citrix now supports UPS load balancing with a Netscaler now (or imminently).

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