Userful Desktop Readme

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Userful® Desktop®: Manage & Multiply your Desktops

Copyright © 2002-2010 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2010.01.22)

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 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 or by consulting the Userful-EULA file included with your download.


Userful Desktop includes the 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, 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's Fedora 8, 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.

Trial Version

Userful Desktop will operate as a trial version until an appropriate license is purchased for your system. You may purchase a license from .

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

Requirements for Userful Desktop

Before installing Userful Desktop 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 and other operating systems.

  • Computers purchased through and shipped by Userful come pre-installed with Userful Desktop 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.

Minimum Requirements

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

Memory (RAM) 256 MB (Single User) 512MB (Multi-Station) 512 MB (Single User) 1GB (Multi-Station)
Processor Pentium III-class CPU Pentium 4 CPU or better
Free hard disk space 12 GB 20 GB
Video card 1-2 MB 16-32 MB or better
CD or DVD drive Bootable CD Bootable DVD
Mouse 2-button 3-button (USB optical mouse)

Optional Hardware (to support Multi-Station functionality)

  • Up to five dual head video cards
  • Up to 10 USB keyboards, mice and optional extension cables
  • Up to 10 monitors and optional extension cables and adapters

For Multi-Station functionality, it is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you use powered USB hubs to ensure that enough power gets to all of the USB devices

Choosing a Graphics Card

Userful Desktop can use single and dual-headed graphic cards supported by X.Org/XFree86. Any video card combinations that can start X in multi-headed mode (i.e. multi-monitor, multi-display) should work with Userful Desktop. Xinerama extensions are not used.

We recommend disabling on-board video in the BIOS if your motherboard includes an on-board video chipset. If on-board video is not disabled, boot messages may be displayed on that video output. If no monitor is connected to the on-board video output, these boot messages will not be visible, depending on the motherboard model. The on-board video may be able to support a workstation depending on the model and version of your motherboard.

Note: Although heterogeneous (mixed) combinations of graphics cards often work, we recommend using a single model and version of graphics card and monitors for your Userful Desktop system. This will ensure a simple and manageable computing environment. We suggest searching the following third-party database for heterogeneous graphics card combinations that should work under Linux:

Recommended Graphic Chipsets

Userful supports and recommends the following low-cost single chip, dual-head chipsets, which are available in both AGP and PCI formats from a variety of manufacturers:

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


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

  • Video card/Multiplier version combinations indicated by "" (a green check mark) are known to work under most circumstances.
    • 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.
    • If the card works but requires a specific driver version, that note replaces the
  • Video card/Multiplier version combinations that do not work and are not supported are indicated with "" (a red X).
  • Video card/Multiplier combinations without a symbol have not been tested.

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:

Video Cards Userful Multiplier
ATI v. 320 v.325 v.3.7 v.3.8
Radeon™ 7000
Radeon™ 7500
Radeon™ 9000
Radeon™ 9200
Radeon™ 9250
Radeon™ X300
Radeon™ X550
Radeon™ X 1000 series
Radeon™ HD 2000 series
Radeon™ HD 3000 series
Video Cards Userful Multiplier
NVIDIA – proprietary drivers required v. 320 v.325 v.3.7 v.3.8
GeForce FX 4400 (not supported with Ubuntu 10.04) driver v.173 driver v.173 driver v.173
GeForce FX 5200 (not supported with Ubuntu 10.04) driver v.173 driver v.173 driver v.173
e-GeForce 6200TC driver v.195
e-GeForce N6201 driver v.195
e-GeForce 6600GT driver v.195
GeForce 6600GT
e-GeForce 7200GS driver v.195
GeForce 7200/7300GS
GeForce 7600GS driver v.195
GeForce 8000 series
GeForce 8400GS (not supported with Ubuntu 10.04) driver v.185 driver v.185 driver v.195
GeForce N8400GS driver v.195
GeForce EN8400GS driver v.195
GeForce NX8400GS driver v.195
Geforce 9000 series
e-Geforce 9400GT driver v.195
e-Geforce 9500GT driver v.195
Quadro FX 500
Quadro FX 600
Quadro NVS 280
Quadro NVS 285 driver v.195
Quadro NVS 400
Quadro NVS 440
GeForce4 MX 440
GeForce2 MX/MX400
Video Cards Userful Multiplier
Matrox – proprietary drivers required v. 320 v.325 v.3.7 v.3.8
G400 Series
G450 Series
G550 Series


  • Mixing multiple brands of video cards can produce unexpected problems.
  • When installing Ubuntu, please use NVIDIA driver version 173 for older cards such as GE5200. Version 180 will work with Series 7 and higher (unless otherwise indicated in the table above).
  • Installing PCI-E card will disable on-board video output by default.
  • Older NVIDIA Cards: NVIDIA has a Unified driver that supports the majority of their popular and modern GPUs. They also have two legacy drivers for their older legacy GPUs. Since only one driver can be used simultaneously per system, combining older NVIDIA GPU chipsets in the same system with recent ones can cause some of the cards to not function. If you are mixing older NVIDIA cards and are uncertain whether this will be a problem here is a list of which models use the Unified and Legacy (96.43.xx and 71.86.xx) Drivers for reference. (This is not a problem with ATI cards)
  • DVI Outputs: Userful Multiplier version 320 or less 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. This can be fixed by manually editing the configuration files
  • Userful Multiplier version 325 will support direct DVI (not DVI-D) input without the use of VGA-DVI converter.

Might Work

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

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

Below is a partial list of untested cards which may work.

  • Cards with DISPLAYPORT
  • ATI
    • Rage XL QUAD Display Card
    • e-GeForce 6200

If you have purchased a card (not listed in our "Known Incompatible" section below) with which you are encountering problems, please email us at 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
    • Dual-Head Radeon Mobility series
    • Radeon HD 4000 series
    • Radeon HD 5000 series
    • GeForce 100/200 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 Multiplier, 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 page 4 of this document for requirements or contact us by email at
  • Backup data that you want to keep. Installing Userful Desktop overwrites all data on the hard disk of the computer. THIS 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 CD yourself by downloading the .iso image for the disc from, and recording the image to a CD-R or DVD-R using a CD/DVD-writing program.

Before Installing

Position one USB keyboard and mouse combination for each workstation.

Note: The built-in system PS/2 keyboard and mouse connections can be used to connect one station.

  • Connect all cables to the back of the computer where you will be installing the Userful Desktop software, including network, monitors, USB keyboards, mice, printers, etc.
  • Power on all monitors and then turn on the Userful Desktop computer.

Note: 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.


  1. Ensure that your computer is configured to boot from a CD or DVD drive.
  2. Insert the CD or DVD into your computer's optical drive, restart the computer and let it boot the CD. (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. Type install when prompted to do so. Press ENTER. The installer will automatically reboot when installation is complete.

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 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.


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

Please configure the 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 when logged in as a user) or Userful Manager (visit ).

Known Limitations

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. We generally recommend that motherboard/main-board/on-board video be disabled in the BIOS for Userful Desktop systems.

Multimedia keys on keyboards 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. Keyboard-only stations are currently possible, as the mouse can be removed after a station has been assigned without unlinking the keyboard.

Getting Help/Technical Support

Be sure to consult the following resources:


Special How-To's

Remote Monitoring and Control (formerly DiscoverAssist)


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: (company home page: )
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.


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 © 2002-2010 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2010.01.22)

This software includes X Window System source code licensed under the MIT X Window System License,


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.