Userful Desktop™ 8 Beta: Hardware Setup

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Copyright © 2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2015.09.28)



To return to the Userful Desktop 8 main documentation page, Click Here.

Introduction

Thank you for choosing Userful Desktop™ 8, the world’s best and most complete public computing solution.

This is a part of the Userful Desktop™ 8 Administrator Manual. To view the complete manual, please click here.


Hardware Setup for Userful Desktop 8

Hardware Requirements

The following table shows the minimum, and recommended hardware requirements for Userful Desktop 8.

HARDWARE MINIMUM RECOMMENDED
Memory (RAM) 512 MB + 1GB per station 2 GB + 1GB per station
Processor Intel or AMD CPU with 64-bit extensions (multi-core CPUs recommended for multi-station) Intel or AMD CPU with 64-bit extensions (Dual-Core for single user; Quad-Core for multi-station)
Hard Disk 120 GB hard disk (Entire disk will be formatted) 120+ GB hard disk

(The entire disk will be formatted. A larger disk is not required,
but a new faster drive is recommended)

Optical Drive Bootable DVD 12x Bootable DVD

Hardware Safeguards

Before setting up your Userful Desktop 8, please read and understand the safety and operating instructions in this Administrator's manual. Retain these instructions for future reference.

Ventilation: Vents and fan openings on the computer box provide the necessary airflow for reliable operation of the product and protect it from overheating. These openings must not be blocked or covered. Similarly, this product should not be placed within an enclosed or confined area (such as a cabinet) unless proper ventilation is provided.

AC power cord: The power cord is used to connect the central computer box to a surge protected power bar or uninterrupted power supply. Ensure that the socket outlet is located or installed near the computer box and is easily accessible.

Lithium battery: The lithium battery provides power for the clock and the non-volatile CMOS memory. The battery has an estimated useful life expectancy of five to ten years. If your system no longer keeps accurate time and date settings, you may need to replace the battery. There is an explosion hazard if the battery is incorrectly replaced or replaced with the wrong type of battery. Replace only with the same or equivalent type of battery.

Power bar/Surge protector: Ensure the computer box is always plugged into a surge protected power source.

RISK OF ELECTRICAL SHOCK: Only a trained computer technician using appropriate safeguards should attempt to service the computer. Opening or removing covers may expose personnel and equipment to hazards. Incorrect reassembly can cause electric shock when this product is subsequently used.

Multiple Video Card Solution: Setting Up Stations

System Setup Diagram

Step 1: Plan out your public computing area. The host computer box should be conveniently located for easy access to the DVD drives. Place monitors far enough apart for comfortable working space and privacy for each station, but close enough for the cables to reach the computer. Where possible, all monitors and keyboards should reside on the same table as the computer box to which they are connected; otherwise place them as close to the computer box as practicable.


Step 2: Prepare the following items before proceeding:

  • A VGA monitor for each station (supporting a minimum resolution of 1024x768 pixels at 60 Hz)
  • One keyboard and one mouse for each station (connected to a USB hub if required)
  • An Ethernet connection via Category 5 cable and an Internet service provider (ISP)
  • (Optional) A supported printer
  • (Optional) Recordable CDs or DVDs for saving data
The LED(s) for the network connection illuminate when a network cable is connected and functional.


Step 3: Place a keyboard and mouse pair for each monitor (or “station”).


Step 4: Connect all cables (Ethernet, monitor(s), USB and power) to the back of the Userful Desktop 8 computer. The Ethernet cable is required to connect to a network and/or the Internet.

Note: If you are using multiple video card solution, VGA monitors connect via VGA-to-DVI converters. There should be one VGA port and at least one USB port for each station.
Caution: If cables must be run between tables, be sure they are out of the way, secured or covered and do not present a tripping hazard.
Half-hitch knotted USB plug and extension cable.

Step 5: Connect all power cords from the central computer box and monitors into surge-protected power bars or uninterruptable power supplies.

Tip: Use VGA and USB extension cables to deploy stations away from the Userful Desktop computer. When installing a USB extension, tie a half-hitch knot at the connection to prevent accidental disconnection. Use the shortest and highest quality cable possible. The maximum allowable cable length between a keyboard and a powered hub or computer is 15 feet.


USB Zero Client Solution: Setting Up Stations

USB zero client devices come in various configurations. How you set up your stations depends on the kind of zero client devices you use. The most common configuration used with Userful Desktop is:

  • USB docking stations with built-in USB zero client device (some are called "thin clients"). Some have USB ports, keyboard/mouse ports, audio plug-ins, etc. All will have a VGA port.


Step 1: Plan out your public computing area. The host computer box should be conveniently located for easy access to the DVD drives. Place monitors far enough apart for comfortable working space and privacy for each station, but close enough for the cables to reach the computer. Where possible, all monitors and keyboards should reside on the same table as the computer box to which they are connected; otherwise place them as close to the computer box as practicable.


Step 2: Prepare the following items before proceeding:

  • A VGA monitor for each station (supporting a minimum resolution of 1024x768 pixels at 60 Hz)
  • A USB zero client device for each station
  • One keyboard and one mouse for each station
  • An Ethernet connection via Category 5 cable and an Internet service provider (ISP)
  • (Optional) A supported printer
  • (Optional) Recordable CDs or DVDs for saving data
The LED(s) for the network connection illuminate when a network cable is connected and functional.


Step 3: Connect one monitor, one mouse and one keyboard to each USB docking station. DO NOT connect the docking station(s) to the host PC until after software installation is complete .


Step 4: Connect all cables (Ethernet, monitor(s), USB and power -- except for the USB zero client device cables) to the back of the Userful Desktop 8 computer. The Ethernet cable is required to connect to a network and/or the Internet.

Caution: If cables must be run between tables, be sure they are out of the way, secured or covered and do not present a tripping hazard.

Step 5: Connect all power cords from the central computer box and monitors into surge-protected power bars or uninterruptable power supplies.

Tip: Use VGA extension cables to deploy stations away from the Userful Desktop computer.


Adding or Removing USB Stations

To add a station, simply plug in a USB zero client device. No reboot is necessary, the station will be ready to use after a brief pause (assuming your license supports that number of stations).

Stations can be removed simply by unplugging the USB zero client device (even from a running system).

General USB Guidelines

  • USB zero client devices work with USB 2.0 ports.
  • It is necessary to configure the host PC so that USB ports are not disabled when the host computer enters sleep mode.
  • Success when using USB stations with notebook and netbook computers may vary since many notebooks have power management schemes that can interfere with or limit the amount of power allowed to USB ports.
  • We do not recommend daisy chaining USB hubs or USB zero client devices. But if you absolutely must, be sure to use powered USB hubs when daisy chaining USB stations.
  • The USB protocol specifies a maximum of 5 hubs ("hops") per USB port. If you need to use extension cables, ensure that the distance between the USB device and the computer/powered USB hub is not greater than 5 m (15 ft) to prevent voltage drops.
    • Userful testing has shown that greater distances can be achieved using hubs between cable connections. It worked well with a single added hub at 15 feet, and adequately with another hub at 30 feet. Performance degraded steeply at distances greater than 30 feet. We recommend to using no more than one intervening hub to ensure good user experience.
  • Cable quality is very important. Only use high-quality USB 2.0 compliant cables. (Note: 'compliant' is different than 'compatible'. Good quality cables often say "High-Speed Certified".) We recommend cable specifications of at least 24 AWG (power) and 28 AWG (signal). Low quality USB cables can cause excessive voltage drops that can create system instability issues or can cause a USB zero client device to be disabled by the Linux Kernel.
  • We recommend using powered hubs or Userful USB hubs with audio to connect each station.

For a more in-depth look at USB connectivity, please see USB: Troubleshooting and Guidelines.

Network Zero Client Solution

With release of Userful Desktop 8.2, Userful has added support for Network zero-client devices. Userful Desktop 8.2 is designed to support network zero client devices (using the Elite Silicon® (EST) USB to LAN chipset) with one of the USB graphics chipsets.

Getting Started

Some things to remember:

  • Even when using network zero client stations, it is important to keep one station connected to the onboard video card in order to see startup messages.
  • We recommend the use of homogeneous (all one type and model) network zero client devices with Userful.
  • Network zero client devices MUST be on the same subnet as the host PC to function.
  • If there is more than one host PC on a subnet, they must have unique hostnames. This is because network zero client devices are locked to PCs based on the system name (or "hostname"). Having duplicate host names on one subnet cause erratic behaviour of the network devices.


Setting up Stations

An example of a network station configuration.

Step 1: Prepare the following items before proceeding:

  • A VGA monitor for each station (supporting a minimum resolution of 1024x768 pixels at 60 Hz)
  • A Network zero client device for each station
  • One keyboard and one mouse for each station
  • An Ethernet connection via Category 5 cable and an Internet service provider (ISP)
  • A Network Switch
  • (Optional) Router
  • (Optional) A supported printer
  • (Optional) Recordable CDs or DVDs for saving data

Step 2: Position one monitor to be plugged into the system tower; this is the onboard station. Input devices (keyboard and mouse) can be plugged directly into the system tower as well (for either PS/2 or USB connections); however Userful recommends using a simple USB hub with audio input/output for connection of the onboard station input devices.

Step 3: Position one monitor and one network zero client device for each station required and group each with a keyboard and mouse.

Step 4: Connect one monitor, one mouse and one keyboard to each device.

Step 5: Using Cat-5e network cable, connect each device to a gigabit-capable switch (or router, depending on network setup). See example to the right.

Step 6: Connect the host PC to the switch (or router) using Cat-5e network cable.

Step 7: Ensure all devices, hubs and monitors are connected to a UPS or surge protected outlets, if necessary.

Step 8: Turn on the system when ready.


Note: Station setup should be done after installation of Userful Desktop 8 is complete. For more information on network zero client devices, please refer to Guidelines for Network Zero Client Deployments.


Adding or Removing Network Zero Client Stations

To add a station (assuming your license supports that number of stations), simply connect another device and use the Control Center to attach the device to the server. Please note: it may take up to 60 seconds for the newly added station to be recognized by the system. No reboot is necessary.

Stations can be removed simply by unplugging the device (even from a running system).


Please refer to Troubleshooting Network Zero Client Deployments for more detailed network zero client guidelines and troubleshooting information.