Userful™: Setup Guide

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Copyright © 2020 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2018.01.30)

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This page will walk you through setting up your Userful™ software appliance and network zero clients. 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 thin/zero clients 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.

Network Setup

An example of setup configuration

Userful zero clients are extremely bandwidth intensive devices and their deployment requires planning before implementation. For optimal system stability, please carefully note and plan for the following criteria.

  • The Userful host should connect to the existing LAN using its onboard network adapter and a static IP address.

  • The Userful zero clients should also be given static IPs and placed on their own subnet connected to a second network adapter in the Userful host. This is most easily accomplished using an unmanaged switch, though qualified personnel creating their own subnets using managed switches is also an option. Zero clients communicate only with the Userful host.

  • No more than 25 zero clients should share the same 1Gbps subnet.

  • 10Gbps uplinks are required for video walls with more than 25 displays.

Note: Userful zero clients should never share a subnet with Wifi devices or corporate networks.

An example of setup configuration with an isolated internal LAN

If existing network infrastructure or local policy does not allow for isolated LANs, the Userful host is capable of acting as a gateway for the zero clients themselves as illustrated in the image to the right.

An example of settings for an internal LAN controlled by Userful

To configure the second network interface to act as a gateway, it only needs to be configured with the relevant IP address settings 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 and then on again) any active zero clients after making changes to the network, such as enabling DHCP or changing the IP addressing scheme. This is necessary for the zero client 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.


Before you begin, ensure you have all the necessary components.

  • A certified or compatible computer to act as the Userful host, with at least a temporary accompanying monitor, keyboard and mouse for the installation phase
  • A copy of the latest version of Userful™
  • Your Userful 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 for each display. Note that Userful bundles a compatible zero client with each software license purchased
  • Necessary accessories for each zero client - keyboards, mice, displays
  • A network switch with sufficient ports to deliver 1Gbps connectivity to each zero client, and at least 1Gbps to the Userful host
    • A 10Gbps uplink (between Userful host and switch) is recommended if the Userful host will be serving more than 25 displays concurrently
Note: Ideally an unmanaged Gigabit switch should be used for network configuration. If you are using a managed switch, it should be configured to perform only the basic switching functionality
  • Category-5e (or Cat-6a) Ethernet cabling throughout is recommended. Category-6a is recommended for 10Gbps uplinks
  • Userful requires the installation of a second Network Interface Card into Userful host to isolate network traffic to the displays. For more details, please visit Network Setup section
  • 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.


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. While you are in the BIOS:
    • Ensure that Virtualization Technology and/or acceleration option is enabled, if you intend to use VDI desktops.
    • Ensure that UEFI Boot Order is disabled, if you intend to install the product from USB Flash drive.
    • Ensure that Secure Boot setting is disabled.
  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 name and password created during this process

Initial Configuration

After the Initial setup, before connecting any zero clients, 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 host.

Zero Clients

Set up and connect your zero clients 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 to the relevant peripherals to minimize the risk of issues with automatic screen resolution detection.

When you are ready, power on the zero clients 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 operational is as follows:

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

Install Complete

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

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