Userful Desktop™ 8.6 Release Notes

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Copyright © 2015 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2015.08.07)


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

Welcome to the Userful Desktop Operating System

Thank you for choosing Userful Desktop for your managed and locked-down desktops. Userful Desktop enables you to turn one host 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 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 host PC with Userful Desktop and sufficient video cards or USB zero client 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 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 provides an elegant multi-user desktop computing platform that delivers a compelling 10-to-1 advantage over the entire life of the system.

Release Date: February 12, 2015

Component Package Versions

  • Userful MultiSeat: 7.2-9232.0.release.desktop_8.5.4caa204
  • Kernel: 2.6.32-504.1.3.el6.userful3.17.e6b7bfe.x86_64

Trial Version

Userful Desktop 8.6 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 8.6 trial will show a brief registration reminder on all screens approximately every 20 minutes.

Requirements for Userful Desktop 8.6

Before installing Userful Desktop 8.6 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 8.6 and other operating systems.

  • Computers purchased through and shipped by Userful come pre-installed with Userful Desktop 8.6 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 with non-standard hardware.

For more information, visit Hardware Requirementssection of Administrator Guide.

Graphics Cards

Userful Desktop™ 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 zero client devices to run extra stations, a wider range of video chipsets are supported.

Single Graphics Card: USB zero client devices for Multiple Stations

If using USB zero client 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 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. Xinerama extensions are not used.

Some care must be taken choosing host PC motherboards (and integrated graphics processing units, or GPUs) when using extra video cards for stations. The host PC 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 host PC/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 host PC video be disabled in the BIOS. Please check system BIOS documentation for information on how to disable onboard graphics.
For more info on Graphics Cards Please see Graphic Cards

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 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

These instructions assume that you will install Userful Desktop from a DVD provided by Userful or created locally. You can create the Userful Desktop 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 Zero Client Devices or Network Zero Client Devices.

The key difference is that when using multiple video cards, all stations can be set up and connected to the host PC before software installation; USB zero client devices or Network zero client 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 or Network zero client devices, do not connect them to the system box until after installation of Userful Desktop.

Installation

Please refer to the Installation section of Administrator Guide for detailed information.

  1. Ensure that your host PC is configured to boot from a DVD drive.
  2. Insert the DVD into your host PC'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 zero-client devices to the host PC.

Once the system has started, each workstation's display will be presented with Userful Desktop software.

Only the host PC (with dual-head cards) 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. 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 input device, you will be presented with the Userful Desktop software.

You may reassign keyboard and mouse 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. The default settings provide basic functionality in most environments.

Please configure Userful Desktop 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).

Please Note: Active Internet Connection is needed for configuring Userful Desktop.

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 PC has USB 3.0 ports, those ports may not function with all devices. In particular, USB zero client devices may/may 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.

Known Issues

These are the known issues with Userful Desktop 8.6 at time of release.

  • Commercial DVDs playback is not supported.
  • Some video format like wmv files may not play due to incompatible encoding.
  • If system has multiple video cards, all heads must be connected to displays.


Getting Help/Technical Support

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