Userful Desktop™ 8.1 Release Notes

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Copyright © 2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2015.01.14)


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

Welcome to the Userful Desktop 8.1 Operating System

Thank you for choosing Userful Desktop 8.1 for your managed and locked-down desktops. Userful Desktop 8.1 enables you to turn one PC into Ten and to manage your fleet of desktop computers from your web-browser.


License Agreement

This product includes commercial software that is licensed not sold and is governed by an End User License Agreement (EULA). By installing, copying or using this software you acknowledge that you have read, understand, and agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA. You can review the terms of this EULA either by visiting http://userful.com/download/eula/ or by consulting the Userful-EULA file included with your download.

Introduction

Userful Desktop 8.1 is complete Desktop operating system pre-integrated with a suite of end-user applications and a powerful centralized web-based control panel that gives you central access to customize, control and monitor all your PCs at once. On a single PC with Userful Desktop and sufficient video cards or USB multiseat devices, monitors, mice and keyboards, up to ten users can independently browse the Internet, send email and run a wide variety of productivity software all from one computer box. Built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Userful Desktop 8.1 is a robust, multi-user desktop computing platform that can be customized to address a wide variety of public computing applications.

Leveraging cost-effective PCs based on Intel or AMD processors, Userful Desktop 8.1 provides an elegant multi-user desktop computing platform that delivers a compelling 10-to-1 advantage over the entire life of the system.

Trial Version

Userful Desktop 8.1 will operate as a trial version until an appropriate license is purchased for your system. You may purchase a license from http://www.userful.com .

Limitations of Trial Version: The Userful Desktop 8.1 trial will show a brief registration reminder on all screens approximately every 30 minutes.

Requirements for Userful Desktop 8.1

Before installing Userful Desktop 8.1 from a DVD, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this document. It points out important hardware and software requirements as well as differences between Userful Desktop 8.1 and other operating systems.

  • Computers purchased through and shipped by Userful come pre-installed with Userful Desktop 8.1 and meet the hardware requirements. Please see the Userful Desktop Administrator Guide for detailed setup instructions and configuration options.

Compatible Hardware

Most x86-based computer hardware available today is compatible with Userful Desktop. However, it is advisable to have a printed list of your computer's hardware including brands and model numbers in case automatic hardware detection fails to identify your hardware. Please contact Userful support if you intend to use Userful Desktop 8.1 with non-standard hardware.

Minimum Requirements

The following table shows the minimum, and recommended hardware requirements for Userful Desktop 8.1.

HARDWARE MINIMUM RECOMMENDED
Memory (RAM) 512 MB (Single-Station) 2GB (Multi-Station) 2 GB (Single-Station) 4GB (Multi-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 20 GB hard disk (the entire disk will be formatted) 250+ GB hard disk

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

Optical Drive Bootable DVD 12x Bootable DVD

Optional Hardware (to support Multi-Station functionality)

  • Up to 3 dual head video cards
  • Up to 6 USB Multiseat devices
  • Up to 10 USB keyboards, mice and optional extension cables
  • Up to 10 monitors and optional extension cables and adapters

Graphics Cards

Userful Desktop 8.1 supports only one video card driver at a time. This means that if using multiple video cards to get multiple stations, it is important to ensure that all the video cards in the system use the same driver and driver version.

If using USB multiseat devices to run extra stations, a wider range of video chipsets are supported.

Single Graphics Card: USB Multiseat Devices for Multiple Stations

If using USB multiseat devices for extra stations, only a single graphics card is required in the system; this graphics card will provide the onboard station.

Any ATI, Intel or nVIDIA graphics card which works with the underlying linux distribution (RHEL 6.0) should work when used for the onboard station only.

Multiple Graphics Cards for Multiple Stations

Userful Desktop 8.1 can use multiple single- and dual-headed nVIDIA graphic cards. Any nVIDIA cards that can start X in multi-headed mode (i.e. multi-monitor, multi-display) should work with Userful Desktop 8.1. Xinerama extensions are not used.

Some care must be taken choosing host system motherboards (and integrated graphics processing units, or GPUs) when using extra video cards for stations. The on-board video may be able to support a workstation depending on the model and version of your motherboard.

Any nVIDIA cards supported by Userful Desktop can be used to create a multiseat system (up to a configuration of 4 dual-head cards for 8 additional stations) provided that:

  • All video cards used for multiseat are using the same nVIDIA driver version, AND
    • If the onboard/integrated GPU is nVIDIA, that it uses the same driver version as the extra nVIDIA cards; or,
    • If the integrated GPU is NOT nVIDIA (i.e., Intel or ATI), that the onboard video be disabled in the BIOS. Please check system BIOS documentation for information on how to disable onboard graphics.
Choosing Graphics Cards

To facilitate purchase of hardware compatible with Userful Desktop 8.1, specific video cards are listed below in three categories Recommended, Might Work and Known Incompatible.

Recommended

The following list of video cards represents cards that have been tested with Userful Desktop 8.1.

  • While it is impossible to guarantee that these cards will work in all combinations with all motherboards, we recommend purchasing one of the card models listed below that has been tested and is known to work.

Userful supports and recommends the following low cost single chip, dual head chipsets, which are available as AGP, PCI or PCI-E cards from a variety of manufacturers:

  • Nvidia:
    • GeForce 6200
    • GeForce 6600
    • GeForce 7200
    • GeForce 7300
    • GeForce 7600
    • GeForce 8400
    • GeForce 9400
    • GeForce 9500
    • GeForce GTX210
    • GeForce GTX220

Guidelines:

  • Installing a PCI-E card will disable on-board video output by default.
  • DVI Outputs: Userful Desktop 8.1 only supports automated configuration of VGA and DVI-convert-to-VGA outputs, cards with DVI ONLY (cards incompatible with DVI to VGA adapters) will most likely not have any output from the DVI slot after the automated configuration is complete.
Might Work

Any nVIDIA card supported by Linux (unless listed in the "Known Incompatible" Section below) will likely work just fine with Userful Desktop 8.1. Hence most nVIDIA cards will fit in this "might work" category.

Userful Desktop 8.1 is designed to support most single, dual, and quad-headed nVIDIA cards, supported by X.Org/XFree86. Any video nVIDIA cards where you can start X in multi-headed mode (i.e. multi-monitor, multi-display) should work with Userful Desktop 8.1.

If you have purchased an nVIDIA card (not listed in our "Known Incompatible" section below) with which you are encountering problems, please email us at support@userful.com and we will work with you to help resolve the problem.

Known Incompatible
  • Cards with a HDMI or DisplayPort standalone port (does not include DVI-to-HDMI adapter port)
  • ATI
    • Radeon 7000, 7500, 9250 (made before 2006)
    • Dual-Head Radeon Mobility series
    • Radeon HD 4000 series and above
    • AMD Hybrid
  • NVIDIA
    • NVIDIA Optimus series
  • Intel
    • Intel NM10 Express Graphics chipset (usually found together with Intel Atom processors), as on:
      • Intel D510MO/D410PT motherboards

Please do not purchase these for use with Userful Desktop 8.1, nor contact Userful Support regarding these video cards. Support for these video cards may be included in future releases. However, they are currently not supported.

Preparing For Installation

To prepare for installation:

  • Make sure that the computer meets the minimum requirements. See the "Compatible Hardware" section of this document for requirements, or contact us by email at support@userful.com
  • Backup data that you want to keep. Installing Userful Desktop 8.1 overwrites all data on the hard disk of the computer. DATA CANNOT BE RETRIEVED ONCE OVERWRITTEN.
  • Remove all media from drives and disconnect USB hard drives and memory keys.

Installing Userful Desktop 8.1

These instructions assume that you will install Userful Desktop 8.1 from a DVD provided by Userful or created locally. You can create the Userful Desktop 8.1 installation DVD yourself by downloading the .iso image for the disc from http://www.userful.com, and recording the image to a DVD-R using a DVD-writing program.

Before Installing

Please see the Userful Desktop Administrator's Guide for more information about setting up a system using multiple video cards or USB multiseat devices.

The key difference is that when using multiple video cards, all stations can be set up and connected to the PC before software installation; USB multiseat devices should not be plugged into the host PC until after installation is complete.

General guidelines:

  1. Assemble all necessary hardware and determine system layout before installation.
  2. Position one monitor, USB keyboard and mouse combination for each workstation.
  3. Connect all power cords from the central computer box, monitors and USB devices into surge-protected power bars or uninterruptable power supplies.
  4. Ensure that at least one monitor, keyboard and mouse are connected to the system box as for a single-user system.
    • In most cases, bootup messages will be output to the primary monitor, which is the monitor connected to the VGA port on the AGP video card. We recommend that this monitor be positioned near the computer for the duration of the installation process.
    • The built-in system PS/2 keyboard and mouse connections can be used to connect one station.
  5. If the computer is to be connected to the network (recommended), ensure the ethernet cable is plugged in and that the network is active. Plug in other peripherals (e.g./ printers) as well.
  6. If using multiple video cards, connect input devices and monitors to the host PC. If using USB multiseat devices, do not connect them to the system box until after installation of Userful Desktop.

Installation

  1. Ensure that your computer is configured to boot from a DVD drive.
  2. Insert the DVD into your computer's optical drive, restart the computer and let it boot the DVD. (If your computer was not shipped by Userful, check your computer's manual to determine the correct settings for booting from an optical drive, you may need to edit or change the BIOS settings)
  3. Choose "Install Userful Desktop" and press ENTER.
  4. Choose "Automatic Partitioning" (for the majority of use cases) and press ENTER.
  5. When installation is complete, a prompt to reboot will appear. Eject the install DVD and click on Reboot. This is an ideal time to connect USB multiseat devices to the host PC.

Once the system has started, each workstation's display will prompt you to press a function key (F-1 to F-10) on the keyboard in front of the monitor to correctly link the keyboard to the monitor. Both a keyboard and a mouse are required to create a station. If the mouse is plugged into the USB keyboard (via an integrated hub in the keyboard) the mouse will be automatically assigned along with the keyboard when you press the correct function key. If the mouse is plugged into a separate USB port, you will be prompted to press a button on the mouse to link it with the correct monitor and keyboard combination.

After setting up the mice and keyboards, you will be presented with the Userful Desktop 8.1 software.

You may reassign keyboards and mice at any point by simply re-connecting the device by unplugging and re-connecting it to the USB port while the system is running. The assignment screen will automatically appear on top of your current desktop. No work will be lost, simply press the correct function key and return to your desktop.

Setup

After assigning mice and keyboards, you will be prompted to configure Userful Desktop 8.1. The default settings provide basic functionality in most environments.

Please configure Userful Desktop 8.1 by clicking the icon for each setup wizard starting from the top with Network and Customize Settings. A check mark will appear next to wizards you have completed. When you have finished with all the wizards, press the green Enable System button to complete the setup process.

Settings can be changed subsequently in Admin Mode (press Ctrl+Alt+A) or Userful Manager (visit http://manage.userful.com).

Install External Packages: Userful Desktop 8.1

As a new feature with Userful Desktop version 8.1, a number of packages necessary for multimedia playback (audio and video codecs, for example) as well as proprietary applications such as Flash and Adobe Reader, can be installed quickly and easily by installing "External Packages".

To install External Packages:

UD-8.1-Install-Packages.png
  1. Enter Administrator Mode by pressing Ctrl+Alt+A.
  2. Double-click on the "Advanced Tools" folder on the Administrator Mode desktop.
  3. Double-click on "Install Packages" to open the package management tool, Yum Extender.
  4. Click on "Available" (below search input box) to show all available packages.
  5. Search for "external" in the search input box.


UD-8.1-Search-External-Packages.png
  1. Click to put a checkmark next to "external-packages".
  2. Click "Apply" to install all the External Packages. This process will take some time to complete. No reboot is necessary after the installation.

  3. Limitations, Cautions and Tips

    Boot Messages Only Display on the Primary Video Display

    BIOS and Linux boot messages will only display on the primary video adapter. On some dual head cards this is two monitors, but in most cases it will only display on a single monitor. It is important to connect a monitor to this primary head to display these messages. On motherboards with on-board video (video hardware built into the motherboard), typically the BIOS will be set to use the on-board video head by default.

    Multimedia Keys on Keyboards are Not Supported

    Standard keyboard are recommended for use with Userful Desktop. Keyboards with multimedia keys -- extra keys designed to provide "shortcuts" to common system functions such as volume control, audio/video playback and browser launch -- may cause problems with a Userful Desktop system; even if the keyboards themselves do not create system issues, multimedia keys are not supported.

    Both Keyboard and Mouse are Required for Station Assignment

    Currently it is not possible to link just a mouse to a screen. Hence, a keyboard is required even for touch-screen or mouse-only kiosks.

    USB 3.0 Devices and Ports May Not Work Properly

    The USB 3.0 standard is not fully supported by Linux-based systems. While some USB 3.0 devices may work with Userful Desktop, Userful cannot guarantee that a given device will function as desired.

    In addition, if host systems have USB 3.0 ports, those ports may not function with all devices. In particular, USB multiseat devices do not work when plugged into USB 3.0 ports.

    Recovery From Sudden Power Loss

    As with any computer system, it is strongly recommended to use an "uninterruptible power supply" (UPS) with Userful Desktop deployments. In the event of a power outage, the UPS can provide power to the system long enough to allow for a graceful shutdown.

    In the event of a sudden power loss to a Userful Desktop system, it is extremely important to wait at least one minute before attempting to restart the system. Failure to do so may result in a frozen system requiring an additional power off/power on cycle to recover.

    System Performance is Enhanced by Availability of DNS Services

    While it is possible to run a Userful Desktop system without DNS services (e.g., without a connection to the internet), testing has shown that several system processes are slower in the absence of DNS.

    Known Issues

    These are the known issues with Userful Desktop 8.1 at time of release.

    • The "Ctrl-Alt-u" keyboard shortcut (to update system configuration) may not work from the Welcome Screen. The workaround is to enter a session or Administration Mode, then try again,
    • When an optical disk is removed, the System Tray will still show the Open/Play options. This is a cosmetic issue and does not affect function.
    • Resetting Userful MultiSeat configuration may require a manual reboot.
    • Station numbering may be inconsistent between reboots or resetting of Userful MultiSeat.
    • The Userful Desktop 8.1 installation DVD must be manually ejected after installation is complete.
    • The Userful System Tray does not warn users if an improperly formatted (and therefore unusable) flash drive is inserted.
    • When "Block Flash Content" is set to "Yes" in Userful Manager flash content is blocked but users may not be presented with the "Click To View" icon.
    • With some Flash versions -- particularly on systems using NVIDIA graphics -- running Flash may cause display corruption on the desktop background. Should this occur, disabling Flash hardware acceleration fixes the issue.
    • There is no sound output through the Chrome web browser. The workaround is to use the Firefox browser.

    Getting Help/Technical Support

    Be sure to consult the Userful Desktop 8 online documentation at support.userful.com

    Contacting Technical Support

    If the above steps and procedures do not resolve your issue, please contact us. You can report your problem and create a support case by one of the following means:

    Website: http://support.userful.com (company home page: http://userful.com )
    Email: support@userful.com
    Phone: 403-289-2177 extension 2
    Toll-Free: 1-866-873-9119

    (Within North America only -- International Clients please use the direct line, 1-403-289-2177).


    (Note: Office hours for telephone support: Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 5:30pm MT (UTC-6 or UTC-7))

    To get help quickly, it is important to be as specific as possible about your problem.

    Be sure to include the following information:

    • Detailed description of your problem or question
    • The circumstances under which the problem is reproducible
    • The text of any error messages that appear on screen.


    Copyrights, Licenses and Trademarks

    Userful Multiplier is commercial software and contains proprietary, patent-pending intellectual property. See the Userful-EULA.txt file for full terms of the license agreement.

    Trademarks

    Userful®, Desktop Multiplier®, and DiscoverStation® are a registered trademarks of Userful Corporation in the US and other countries.

    Multiplatform™, Userful MultiSeat™, Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011™, Userful Multiplier™, Userful Manager™, Network Personalizer™, Usage Tracker™, DiscoverPrint™, DiscoverAssist™, Pre-Book™, Userful Desktop™, Desktop Server™, Turn 1 PC into Ten™, Manage & Multiply your Desktops™ 1-Box™, are trademarks of Userful Corporation.

    Linux® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. NVIDIA® is a trademark of NVIDIA Corporation. Intel® is a trademark of Intel Corporation. AMD® and ATI® are trademarks of AMD Inc. Matrox® is a trademark of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. X.Org is a trademark of X.Org Foundation. XFree86® is a trademark of The XFree86 Project, Inc. X Window System, and Xinerama are trademarks of the Open Group. Linspire® is a trademark of Linspire Inc. All other third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

    Software Copyright and Permissions Notice

    Copyright © 2002-2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
    (Updated 2015.01.14)

    This software includes X Window System source code licensed under the MIT X Window System License, http://www.x.org/Downloads_terms.html

    Disclaimer

    Userful trial software comes without warranty or guarantee. By using this software, you acknowledge that Userful Corporation is not responsible for any damage resulting from its use.

    This software is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement of third party rights. In no event shall the copyright holder or holders included in this notice be liable for any claim, or any special indirect or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this software. Information in this document is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty. The entire risk is assumed by you. We have no liability for damages. We are not responsible for claims by a third party. Our maximum liability shall not exceed the amount paid by you for the product.