Userful™: Setup Guide

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Copyright © 2018 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2018.04.25)

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Introduction

This page will walk you through setting up your Userful appliance and network zero client receivers. Please read it entirely before beginning, and ensure you have all the prerequisite components. This guide is for IT administrators and other users who are already familiar with basic networking and operating system deployment. Prior experience with Linux or zero client receivers is not necessary to deploy Userful.


Please watch this video to know about basic requirements and steps for installing Userful™ software appliance and for quick tour of Userful Control Center.

Setup Basics

Zero Client Receivers are highly sensitive to network conditions. For proper performance and system stability, the following conditions must be met regarding the connection between the Userful Server and all Zero Client Receivers:

  • Minimum Bandwidth of 1000Mbps (1Gbps)
  • Maximum Latency of 0.500ms - one half of one millisecond
  • Maximum packetloss of 0.001%
  • Maximum number of clients on a 1Gbps subnet is 25 (10Gbps needed for more)
  • Must reside on the same subnet (virtual or physical) as the adapter in the Userful Server

The above conditions are easily met with most business- or enterprise-grade gigabit network switches, even inexpensive unmanaged devices work well.


Zero Client Receivers connect to their Userful Server via a network interface. All management and control of Userful is also network-based, as are many types of streaming content.

  • For video wall systems with up to 12 displays, a single 1Gbps network adapter in the Userful Server is adequate to serve all purposes.
  • For systems with heavy streaming content (Web video, VNC, RTSP, etc.), or more than 12 displays, or systems that rely on API commands, separating network traffic is strongly recommended. Zero Client Receivers can be managed independently and entirely by Userful using a second 1Gbps network interface and available network equipment to create an isolated network.
  • For systems serving more than 25 displays, a dedicated 10Gbps uplink from the Userful Server to the network is required.

Configure Userful to connect to your LAN

The primary network adapter in a Userful Server (usually the onboard, though there is no hard rule regarding this) can be configured to connect to your LAN or be protected behind a network gateway. By default, Userful interfaces are set to use DHCP. Static IPs can be set in the Control Center.


  • Connecting to your LAN directly is recommended for setups involving network streaming (RTSP, VNC) and for direct system management (local UCC, REST API), especially if there is no Internet connectivity for Userful Cloud management.


  • Connecting to a gateway is recommended if local security is a concern. An Internet connection, either through said gateway or via an independent source, is recommended for control of the system via Userful Cloud.


Configure Userful to address Zero Client Receivers

An example of setup configuration with an isolated internal LAN
  • The Userful server's second network adapter should be configured with a static IP address and connected to an independent network.


  • The Userful zero client receivers are placed on this independent network. This is most easily accomplished using an unmanaged switch, though qualified personnel creating their own subnets using managed switches is also an option.


  • Userful then directly interfaces with the Zero Client Receivers using this second network interface exclusively.

Note: Userful Zero Client Receivers should never share a subnet with Wifi devices or corporate networks. A single Zero Client Receiver can generate over 1Gbps in network traffic when in use in a video wall.


Managing Zero Client Receivers with Userful

Example settings for an internal LAN controlled by Userful

To configure the second interface to act as a gateway, it only needs to be configured a static IP address and have the DHCP server enabled. The attached image provides sample settings which can be used by anyone when creating a completely isolated network.

  • Note be sure to power cycle (turn off then on again) any active zero client receivers after making changes to the network, such as enabling DHCP or changing the IP addressing scheme. This is necessary for the zero client receivers to be able to detect and work with the new settings.

Note: Failure to meet these criteria will result in subpar system reliability and performance. Userful Support may request that you meet the above criteria before further technical assistance is provided if we determine the local network does not meet the criteria outlined above.



Checklist

Before beginning, ensure you have all the necessary components.

  • A certified or compatible computer to act as the Userful Server, with temporary monitor, keyboard and mouse for installation and initial configuration.
  • A copy of the latest version of Userful software.
  • Your Userful software license key.
  • A compatible Nvidia offload card is recommended.
  • If applicable, a compatible capture card for video walls. For more details about Blackmagic capture cards, please visit How to configure Blackmagic capture cards.
  • One compatible Zero Client Receiver for each display. Note that Userful bundles a compatible Zero Client Receiver with each software license purchased.
  • Necessary accessories for each Zero Client Receiver - keyboard, mouse, display.
  • Networking equipment sufficient to meet requirements outlined above.
  • A router or gateway if necessary.
  • A network switch with sufficient ports to deliver 1Gbps connectivity to each Zero Client Receiver, and at least 1Gbps to the Userful server.
    • A 10Gbps uplink (between Userful server and switch) is recommended if the Userful server will be serving more than 25 displays concurrently.
  • Category-5e or better Ethernet cabling throughout is recommended. Category-6a or SFP is recommended for 10Gbps uplinks.
  • Userful strongly recommends an internet connection for easier access to Userful Support, sharing files, or streaming content from CMS.


Once the components are ready, refer to network setup section for the network guidelines.

Install

Before installing Userful™ software appliance please make sure to remove WiFi card from the system or disable any wireless device while configuring system's BIOS as it may prevent the installation of Userful™.

Installation Process
  1. If you are installing a capture card, open the computer and install it into any available PCIe slot
  2. Insert the Userful install media into the computer and configure your BIOS to boot from it.
  3. Proceed through the installation process. Note that the default installation process will erase the contents of the hard drive and replace it entirely with Userful
  4. Upon completion of the install, remove the install media from the host and allow it to restart
  5. After first boot, complete the "Initial Setup" process to launch the "Welcome Screen"
  6. Make a note of the user names and passwords created during this process


Initial Configuration

After the Initial setup, before connecting any zero client receivers, the following steps are recommended.

  1. Ensure you are able to log into the Linux Desktop session from the default Welcome Screen, then log out again
  2. From the Welcome Screen, enter the Control Center by clicking the "gear" icon in the lower-right corner. Use your account password set during install to access the Control Center
  3. From the Control Center, note and address any pop-up warnings that appear
  4. Check for and install any available updates by going to Settings > Check for System Updates
  5. Configure a static IP for the Userful host by going to Settings > Network Settings
  6. If you are using a Blackmagic capture card, see the FAQs for information on how to check for and apply firmware updates

At this point you should ensure you are able to access the Control Center via a browser on the network by entering the IP address of the Userful host into the browser's address bar. This is the preferred method of managing Userful. Once you have confirmed this, you may disconnect the peripherals attached to the Userful Server.


Zero Client Receivers

Set up and connect your zero client receivers in any way you see fit. It is highly recommended that they be fastened to the backs of the displays and powered using VESA mount screws and brackets, for any type of deployment to avoid unintentional damage to the client.


Please Note: Use native connections where possible from the zero client receivers to the relevant peripherals to minimize the risk of issues with automatic screen resolution detection.


When you are ready, power on the zero client receivers and connect them to the network.

Once all the clients are online, go to the "Displays" section of the Control Center. The most efficient process to make a zero client receiver operational is as follows:

  1. Assign static IPs to each zero client receiver.
  2. Apply any firmware updates necessary.
  3. Name each zero client receiver as you see fit. ("display_##", "top left", "3rd from right")
  4. Finally assign the zero client receiver(s) to the Userful Server


Install Complete

Proceed to Control Center to begin managing your new Userful system.

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