XenApp & Internet Explorer – Improving User Experience

With advertisements all over modern websites the demand on the CPU while surfing is increasing massive. If you just browse to a normal newspaper website you will will notice a lot of JavaScript and HTML5 stuff. On your own workstation this will not be a big deal but when you imagine there are a lot of  users on a Terminalserver this will result in very bad performance for all users which are working on this machine.

Lets have a look what happens when you open a website. This test was excuted on a provionsed VM with 4 vCPUs and 32GB RAM. No other users have been working on the XenApp worker this time.

video
On the right side you can see an embedded advertisement video.
without
Average CPU usage ~ 20%. The CPU will never go to an idle state.

Disabling JavaScript? Good idea but most of your users will go crazy because most of the websites will not be usable anymore.

The most effective way would be to block the advertisment on the firewall before its reaching the session of the user. Many big firewall manufacturer support this already. With the “Tracking Protection” of Internet Explorer you also have the possibility to block this resource hungry advertisements.

Here you can see the same website with enabled tracking protection.

withadblock_IE

withadblock
Average CPU usage ~ 4%. The CPU will go to an idle state after loading the website.

How can you rollout the “Tracking Protection” for all of your users? To enable this feature you need to do the following steps.

1.) Specify which Tracking Protection Lists you want to use. Im using “EasyList Standard” and “EasyList German”.

2.) Create the following registry keys via Group Policy Management

HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE
Name: FilteringMode
Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 0

EasyList Standard

HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{4E50D7F4-AC8A-4844-86A0-66A36BB605CB}
Name: Enabled
Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1
     
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{4E50D7F4-AC8A-4844-86A0-66A36BB605CB}
Name: Name
Type: REG_SZ
Value: EasyList      
     
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{4E50D7F4-AC8A-4844-86A0-66A36BB605CB}
Name: Path
Type: REG_SZ
Value: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Tracking Protection\{3A612722-E054-4878-A8BD-51CCB5AFE8B8}.tpl
     
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{4E50D7F4-AC8A-4844-86A0-66A36BB605CB}
Name: URL
Type: REG_SZ
Value: http://easylist-msie.adblockplus.org/easylist.tpl             

Easy List - German
   
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{3910C06D-EBBB-4816-B9C8-9DB7DABA7A0F}
Name: Enabled
Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1    
     
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{3910C06D-EBBB-4816-B9C8-9DB7DABA7A0F}
Name: Name
Type: REG_SZ
Value: EasyList Germany EasyList
       
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{3910C06D-EBBB-4816-B9C8-9DB7DABA7A0F}
Name: Path
Type: REG_SZ
Value: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Tracking Protection\{4CDA80C1-FEAC-448D-8FCF-FC2742800C7B}.tpl
     
HKEY_CURRENT_USER
Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE\Lists\{3910C06D-EBBB-4816-B9C8-9DB7DABA7A0F}
Name: URL
Type: REG_SZ
Value: http://easylist-msie.adblockplus.org/easylistgermany+easylist.tpl

 

easy

3.) Modify your Citrix UPM Policy to synchronize the directory “AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Tracking Protection”.

upmsetting

If you dont synchronize this directory the EasyList files will get deleted at every logoff. It can take up to 45 seconds when the user is opening a new session until the easy list files get downloaded. Your users will start surfing without tracking protection 😉

You can modify the “TTL” DWORD to increase/reduce the update periode of the specific EasyList.

ttl

Its also possible to disable the tracking protection for specific websites. Here you need to generate a DWORD witht the websites url and change the value to 1.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\Tracking Protection Exceptions

exceptions

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