Userful MultiSeat Linux™ User Guide

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Copyright © 2012 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2012.05.11)


  This page is also available in:   English, Español, Français, Português, Deutsch  



DisplayLink® is a registered trademark of DisplayLink Corporation.

MCT™ is a trademark of Magic Control Technology Corporation.

SMSC® is a registered trademark of Standard Microsystems Corporation.

EST® is a registered trademark of Elite Silicon Technology.

Contents


Introduction

The following versions of Userful MultiSeat are available:

  1. Userful MultiSeat™ v4.0-1702; released July, 2011
  2. Userful MultiSeat™ v4.1-4008; released December, 2011
  3. Userful MultiSeat™ v5.0; released April, 2012


Please Note: Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 contains Userful MultiSeat 4.0, which has been designed to take full advantage of USB multiseat devices, and differs from previous Multiplier software versions in that it does not work with multiple video cards.

Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 V4.1contains Userful MultiSeat 4.1, which re-introduces support for multiple video cards while retaining and improving upon support for USB multiseat devices.

Userful MultiSeat 5.0 BETA introduces support for USB-over-LAN (network) multiseat devices, and includes many usability improvements.

To learn more about previous versions of Userful Multiplier that use multiple video cards to support multistation computing, please see the documentation for Userful Multiplier.


Userful MultiSeat™ is software that extends Linux to support several fully independent and concurrent workstations using a single computer box. This is accomplished by adding video devices (either video cards, USB multiseat devices or USB-over-LAN multiseat devices), keyboards and mice to a single PC system and installing Userful's software.

This software is available as:

  1. Userful MultiSeat: A stand-alone software package compatible with Ubuntu/Edubuntu.
  2. Userful MultiSeat Linux : Bundled with Edubuntu and other open-source software, with a focus on software for the educational sector.



Features

Userful MultiSeat Linux is a software bundle available as a DVD ISO that features:


Available Versions of Userful MultiSeat Feature:


Userful MultiSeat™ v4.0 provides:

  • A standard Linux software package that extends the Linux operating system to support several independent and concurrent workstations (depending on hardware) using a single PC.
  • MultiSeat with USB: Works with USB multiseat devices using either DisplayLink or MCT USB multiseat chipsets.
    • Although thorough testing for this release has been limited to a few specific devices, other devices are known to work. We are also constantly testing more devices for compatibility.


Userful MultiSeat™ v4.1 expands on the Userful MultiSeat experience, providing all the features of version 4.0 plus:

  • MultiSeat with Video Cards: Add extra stations with tested and supported video cards.
  • An improved user experience and better handling of storage devices.
  • Enhanced system stability.


Userful MultiSeat™ v5.0 provides:

  • MultiSeat with USB-over-LAN Devices: Support for USB-over-LAN stations, USB or video card multiseat configurations.
  • Automatic device assignment to make system setup quicker and easier.
  • User-interface improvements to support new functionality.



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 and understand this Agreement, and agree to be bound by this EULA's terms and conditions. You can review the terms of this EULA either by visiting the online copy of the EULA or by consulting the Userful-EULA.txt file included with your download

Trial Version

Userful MultiSeat will operate as a trial version until you purchase an appropriate license for your Userful system. You may purchase a multi-station license from your Userful representative or from Userful.com – see the Licensing section of the User Guide for details.

Limitations of Trial Version: The Userful MultiSeat trial software supports is fully functional, but will display a brief license reminder on all attached screens every 10 minutes or so.


Internationalization

Userful MultiSeat is fully translated into:

  • English (en)
  • French (fr)
  • Italian (it)
  • German (de)
  • Spanish (es)
  • Brazilian Portuguese (pt_BR)
  • Russian (ru)
  • Turkish (tr)
  • Japanese (ja)
  • Traditional Chinese (zh_TW)
  • Simplified Chinese (zh_CN)
  • Korean (ko)



The language selected must be specifically "Brazilian Portuguese"; if simply "Portuguese" is selected as a system or session language, then all Userful MultiSeat user interface strings will be in English.


In Userful MultiSeat v4.0, these fonts may not display correctly (that is, boxes may appear instead of characters). For a workaround please see the Userful MultiSeat known issues.


Minimum PC Specifications

As with any multiseat computer configuration, higher performance systems can support more seats with better performance. The following are the minimum system requirements for Userful MultiSeat.

For up to 6 stations:

  • Dual Core Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 1 high-speed USB controller interface

For up to 11 stations

  • Quad Core Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2 high-speed USB controller interfaces

For 11-20 stations:

  • Quad Core Processor
  • 8 GB RAM minimum
  • 2 high-speed USB controller interfaces

For 20+ stations (USB-over-LAN only):

  • Quad Core Processor -- Xeon or i7 class
  • 8 GB RAM minimum
  • 2 high-speed USB controller interfaces


For Ethernet zero-client/USB-over-LAN stations, PCs must have a non-wireless network card.

Please Note: PCI-E (PCI Express) USB expansion cards are not supported with Userful MultiSeat.

Network Specifications for USB-over-LAN

Please refer to the USB-over-LAN (Network) MultiSeat Guidelines for more details regarding ethernet zero-client/network station setup.

Userful recommends the following network hardware (exact details will depend on the number of stations to be set up and the desired physical configuration).

  1. Good quality network cable for all connections is important. Cable should be at least Cat-5e.
  2. Ethernet zero-client devices should not be connected to the computer directly. The host computer should connect to a switch through a gigabit-capable port. USB-over-LAN devices should connect to this switch, or to other switches networked with the switch that is connected to the host.
  3. More than one switch can be used - and in fact may be desired, depending on the physical configuration of the room or rooms.
  4. A good quality router is needed to act as a DHCP server to give IP addresses to the ethernet zero-client devices, unless using a static IP address for each device. PLEASE NOTE: Don't place a router between the host PC and any Ethernet devices. The router may introduce small delays that can cause system instability.
    • Depending on the size and complexity of the installation, you may want to isolate the network station LAN from the existing network infrastructure using a router or a VLAN.

Please Note: Even if using static IP settings for network devices, a router is still recommended for two reasons:

  1. A DHCP server (which is provided by a router) is needed to initially connect to network stations, in order to configure settings (including static IP addresses, and
  2. A router serves to isolate the rest of the network from the (potentially) large volume of traffic between host and stations.

Please Note: If connecting to the internet through an ASDL modem with a static IP address, it is still necessary to use a router to act as a DHCP server. For more information, please see the ethernet zero-client How-To.

Connection Speed/Capacity Requirements

LAN-connection-speed.png

Different parts of an Ethernet Zero-Client MultiSeat LAN have different connection speed minimum requirements. When planning your deployment, please ensure that routers and switches have the required number of gigabit ports, as described below:

  • The required speed of the connection from the router (which is required to provide a DHCP server, and provides a connection to the outside network or internet) to the main switch depends on the speed of the uplink to the internet/outside network.
    • If the uplink speed is limited to 10 Mbps, then a 10/100 Mbps connection is sufficient between the router and main switch.
    • If the uplink speed is faster than 10 Mbps, then a gigabit connection is required.
  • The connection between the host PC and the main switch MUST be gigabit capacity.
  • The connection between two switches must be gigabit capacity.
  • The connection to a single network device can be 10/100 Mbps.



Number of Users/Stations Supported

Even with single-user computer systems (i.e./ a stand-alone desktop computer or personal laptop), user experience depends on several factors:

  1. The speed and power of the CPU
  2. The available system memory (RAM)
  3. The demands made upon the system by the operating system and applications
  4. The speed and capacity of network connections and hardware

With multi-station computing, these factors influence the maximum user capacity of a given system configuration. The section above outlines the minimum system specifications that can be expected to give a satisfactory user experience under most normal use cases.


Some limitations are imposed by the hardware used to multiply the system:

  • With multiple video cards, deployments are typically limited to 8 additional stations + 1 onboard station (8 + 1) because of a limit on the number of PCI expansion slots available on standard (i.e. not custom or very high-end) motherboards.
  • With USB multiseat devices, each system USB bus can only support 4-5 stations with good performance; thus the practical limit of these systems is 15 additional stations + 1 onboard station. (15 + 1).
  • With USB-over-LAN (also called "network") devices, the system capacity is highly dependent on both usage scenarios and system configuration (including network configuration). Refer to the table below for system capacity guidelines , based upon the minimum PC specifications for more than 20+ stations.


Number of Users Supported
(with Minimum PC Specifications)

Low Usage Scenario

  • Single application per users
  • Low-bandwidth web usage
    • (no flash video)
30+

Medium Usage Scenario

  • 2-3 applications per user
  • Low-bandwidth web usage
    • (no flash video)
20+

High Usage Scenario

  • Several applications per user
  • Medium-bandwidth web usage
    • (a few users with flash video)
  • A few users watching native video (not web-based)
20

480p Video on All Stations

  • Using Totem or MPlayer
  • Fullscreen
20

720p Video on All Stations

  • Using Totem or MPlayer
  • Fullscreen
15

Please Note: The table above is provided as a guideline only. Individual system capacity will vary depending on a number of factors, including network factors.

Userful STRONGLY recommends thoroughly testing a given system and network configuration with anticipated usage scenarios before deployment.


Supported Video Cards

If Using a Single Video Card

When using USB multiseat devices (all Userful MultiSeat versions) or USB-over-LAN multiseat devices (v5.0 and later), only one video card is used per system. This is called the "onboard" video card and may be integrated into the motherboard or added via PCI expansion slot.

For onboard video only, Userful MultiSeat is compatible with any video card supported by the underlying Linux distribution.

Information on video cards supported by Ubuntu/Edubuntu can be found in the Ubuntu documentation.

Please Note: Only one video output head of motherboards with dual-head radeon graphics is supported. Please see Known Issues for details and a workaround.

If Using Multiple Video Cards

Userful MultiSeat v4.1 and later can use multiple video cards to create extra stations. Below are guidelines for choosing multiple video cards.

Userful MultiSeat requires that only one video card driver be in use in the system. Therefore, some care must be taken choosing host system motherboards (and integrated graphics processing units, or GPUs) and extra video cards for stations.

Any nVIDIA cards supported by Ubuntu/Edubuntu can be used to create a multiseat system (up to a configuration of 4 dual-head cards for 8 additional stations) with Userful MultiSeat 4.1 and later 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.
    • If the system is 32-bit, please see this Known Issue regarding a potential problem with kernel virtual address space.

Please Note: The open-source nVIDIA driver, nouveau, is incompatible with Userful MultiSeat. Unfortunately, the Ubuntu operating system tries to force the use of nouveau driver, which can lead to problems starting stations based on multiple nVIDIA graphics cards.

This issue does not occur with Userful MultiSeat Linux (the install DVD), which has been modified. However, if using stand-alone Userful MultiSeat plus nVIDIA cards as a multiseat solution, it is important to blacklist the nouveau driver so that it is not loaded at startup. For instructions, please see How to Change Boot Options with the GRUB Bootloader.


Please Note: If using NVIDIA with the stand-alone Userful MultiSeat package, the appropriate proprietary driver must be installed. To find the correct driver for the video cards, go to the NVIDIA download center.

If using Userful MultiSeat Linux, the NVIDIA driver version 290.10 is included. A list of video cards supported by that driver version is available from NVIDIA. If your hardware is not supported by the 290.10 driver, the appropriate proprietary driver must be installed.

Using DisplayPort® Video Connections

Some motherboards and/or video cards have DisplayPort connections instead of, or in addition to, VGA or DVI connections.

These devices can work with Userful MultiSeat, but require manual configuration to add the device to the database. For more information and instructions, please see the DisplayPort How-To.


Supported USB Multiseat Devices

Compatible USB-over-LAN Multiseat Devices - for Userful MultiSeat v.5.0

Userful MultiSeat v5.0 (and later) is designed to support USB-over-LAN multiseat devices (using the Elite Silicon® (EST) USB to LAN chipset) with one of the following USB graphics chipsets: DisplayLink®, SMSC®chipsets.

Userful has tested and confirmed that the following devices are supported for the versions of Userful MultiSeat indicated.

Compatible USB Multiseat Devices

To facilitate purchase of hardware compatible with Userful MultiSeat™, specific USB multiseat devices are listed below in colored categories Recommended, Might Work and Known Incompatible.

Recommended USB Multiseat Devices

Userful MultiSeat is designed to support USB multiseat devices using DisplayLink® and SMSC®chipsets, as well as MCT™ devices with the Trigger 1+ chipset.

Userful has tested and confirmed that the following DisplayLink®, SMSC® and MCT™ devices are supported for the versions of Userful MultiSeat indicated.

Please note that the HP t150, Atrust M200/202, GWC DU2600 and ViewSonic VMA10 are supported with Userful Multiseat 4.0-1702 (and later) only, and the HPt200 (using USB connections -- ethernet connection not officially supported in this release) is supported with Userful MultiSeat 4.1-4008 (and later) only.

To verify the version number of your copy of Userful MultiSeat, open the Control Center and go to "Help & Support > About Userful MultiSeat".

If you wish to use these devices and do not have at least Userful Multiseat 4.0-1702, please upgrade your version of Userful MultiSeat by uninstalling the software, downloading the latest Userful MultiSeat from the Userful website, and installing the latest version.

Getting and Installing the SMSC Driver (v.4.1 Only)

The SMSC graphics chipset requires a driver that must be downloaded and installed separately from Userful MultiSeat v4.1. Note: this driver is included with the Userful MultiSeat v5.0 package and does not need to be separately installed.

The driver is provided as a .deb package which can be installed by simply double-clicking on the downloaded file (sudo or superuser privileges are required for installation).

To get the SMSC driver for 32-bit Ubuntu/Edubuntu, click here and save the file to the Userful MultiSeat system:

To get the SMSC driver for 64-bit Ubuntu/Edubuntu, click here and save the file to the Userful MultiSeat system:

USB Multiseat Devices That Might Work

Here are the USB multiseat devices that might work with Userful MultiSeat™. These have been seen to work in some cases with certain configurations, but results have been inconsistent or testing has been limited.

Number of Stations Supported

(USB Stations + 1 Onboard)

Recommended Devices Chipset External Power Supply Required
11 stations
(10 + 1)
Wyse E01 Thin Client MCT
Trigger UV-185CB-128
YES
5 stations
(4 + 1)
Thinnet MiniPoint MCT
(Unknown)
YES
3 stations
(2 + 1)
NComputing U170 MCT
(Proprietary)
(undetermined) IOGear USB 2.0 External VGA Video Card (GUC2020DW6) DisplayLink
DL-160
(undetermined) MCT USB-DVI Display Adapter MCT
Trigger UV-185CC-176
(undetermined) MCT USB-VGA Display Adapter MCT
Trigger UV-185CC-176
(undetermined) Aluratek USB 2.0 to Dual MONITOR/VGA Adapter MCT
Trigger UV-185CC-176

USB Multiseat Devices That Are Known to be Incompatible

These are devices that are known to have significant issues when used with Userful MultiSeat:

Unsupported Devices Chipset
Tritton SEE2 UV150 USB 2.0 To VGA Ext. Video Card MCT
Trigger UV-105CB-128
Targus Universal Notebook Docking Station with Video ACP50CA MCT
Trigger UV-185CC-176
StarTech USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI Display Adapter Volari V2 PAA0045



Getting Userful MultiSeat Linux

Final release versions of Userful MultiSeat Linux are available as a 32- or 64-bit DVD ISO. Userful MultiSeat Linux 5.0 is only available in 64-bit.

To obtain an install disk:

  1. Download the appropriate disk image (ISO file) and save it to your hard drive.
  2. Confirm that the file downloaded without errors by using a checksum program.
  3. Burn a DVD using the ISO image that you downloaded.


If you are installing 32-bit Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 v4.0, a custom Userful-patched version of GDM (the Gnome Display Manager) is included. Should you ever need to re-install this package, it can be downloaded from Userful's website (the checksum is here. The Userful-patched GDM file should be saved to the Desktop, and can be installed with the package manager simply by double-clicking the package icon.

Without the custom GDM package, the log-in screen experiences frequent long delays and freezing. The custom-patched GDM is not needed with Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 v4.1 and later versions.

Installation

Note: We recommend installing Userful MultiSeat Linux onto a host PC with no extra connected stations (with other stations connected, the correct mouse may not be recognized). In addition, ensure that at least one monitor is connected to the onboard video card through a VGA cable so that boot screens will be visible.

To start installation from the Userful MultiSeat Linux DVD, simply

  1. Ensure that the BIOS is set to boot from the optical drive (see How To Change Boot Device Priority).
  2. Insert the ISO image DVD into the optical drive.
  3. Restart the computer.
    • There may be a long delay before the initial install screen appears; during this delay users may see boot-like text screens or even error messages. This is not something to be concerned about, and typically the first install screen will appear after fewer than 3 minutes. If after 5 minutes the installation prompt screen has not appeared, there may be an issue with your installation media. Please refer to this How To for troubleshooting tips.
  4. When the first install screen appears, choose "Install Userful MultiSeat Linux".
    • If you already have an operating system installed, you will be asked to choose whether to erase and overwrite the existing OS, or to repartition the hard disk to install Userful MultiSeat Linux alongside your existing OS (creating a dual-boot hard disk).
    • The remainder of the installation process proceeds as with a standard Ubuntu install (please refer to Ubuntu documentation for further information, or see below).
  5. Choose the default language you wish to use for the system.
  6. Select the time zone.
  7. Choose a keyboard layout.
  8. The "Prepare disk space" dialog will appear. If a dual-boot system is desired, choose to "Install them side-by-side, choosing between them each startup."
  9. Enter personal information and choose a password. The user name and password entered at this step will be the administrator user name and password needed to configure the system later. Please take note of it.
  10. As the last step in installation set-up, a "Ready to install" summary screen appears. Review the installation parameters chosen, and click "Install" to proceed.
  11. The Userful MultiSeat packages will automatically be installed during the final steps of Ubuntu installation.
  12. Completion of installation is guided by the Userful MultiSeat install wizard (see the next section for details).
  13. When setup wizard is complete, you will be asked to reboot.
    • The install DVD should automatically eject the disk, and depending on the system configuration, there may be a prompt on the screen to "Remove the disk, close the tray, and click Enter"; remove the disk and press "Enter" to complete the reboot.
    • Important: Occasionally, the system freezes during this reboot process. If this should occur, use the PC power button or reset button to manually reboot the computer.

Please see below for important guidelines for getting started with Userful MultiSeat.

Upgrading Userful MultiSeat

Please Note: To upgrade just the Userful MultiSeat component of Userful MultiSeat Linux, simply download and install the stand-alone Userful MultiSeat package, not the Userful MultiSeat Linux .iso file.

If you determine that you must do a fresh install of all components of Userful MultiSeat Linux -- including the operating system -- be sure to back up all user data and save that backup to another location (that is, do not save the backup onto the Userful MultiSeat Linux system itself).

Existing users of Userful MultiSeat Linux can upgrade or reinstall Userful MultiSeat quickly and easily. Simply:

  1. First, verify the version number of your copy of Userful MultiSeat by opening the Control Center and going to "Help & Support > About Userful MultiSeat".
  2. If you choose to upgrade to a newer release of Userful MultiSeat, download the appropriate package for your Linux distro.
  3. Save the Userful MultiSeat package file to the desktop of a user account with administrative privileges.
  4. Go to the Userful Control Center and turn off Userful MultiSeat.
  5. Double-click on the package that has been saved on the desktop. This will launch the package manager of the Linux distribution, which will first remove the older package, then install the upgraded package. It may be necessary to change permissions on the installation package; please refer to the previous section for instructions.
  6. From the Control Center, turn on Userful MultiSeat.
  7. Reboot the computer.


The Install Wizard

Simply follow the prompts to quickly and easily install Userful MultiSeat.

End-User License Agreement (EULA)

UMsEULA.png

In order to install and use Userful MultiSeat, it is necessary to accept the terms of Userful's EULA. To proceed with installation, click on the radio button beside "I accept the terms in the license agreement", then click the "Next" button.

If the Install Wizard is cancelled without accepting the EULA, installation can be resumed by going to System > Administration > Userful Control Center. This will restart the Install Wizard.

Sanity Check

UMsSanityCheck.png

Once the EULA has been accepted, the Userful MultiSeat Install Wizard performs a number of checks on the computer system to ensure that the system will support the software. The Wizard checks:

  1. Operating System Compatibility
  2. Package Dependencies
  3. Kernel Version

If there are any issues with the computer system, a brief description of the problem will point toward a solution.

Click "Next" to proceed with installation of Userful MultiSeat. When installation is complete, a final screen will notify of that fact. Click "Finish" to close the Install Wizard.

The system must be rebooted to launch Userful MultiSeat ... but before rebooting, please refer to the next section for some important operating system set-up tasks.



Post-Install Configuration

The Boot Menu

Once Userful MultiSeat Linux is installed, users will see a boot menu during system startup or restart. The boot menu is a list of available Linux kernels and/or, if Userful MultiSeat Linux was installed alongside an existing operating system, a list of available operating systems. Userful MultiSeat Linux will typically be the top option on the list of OS choices. The boot menu entry will say "Ubuntu, with Linux X.X.X.X generic". If ever in doubt about which Linux kernel to choose, Userful MultiSeat Linux will be the one with the latest kernel version number.

Userful MultiSeat Linux creates a rule for the boot menu so that the computer will automatically boot into the last operating system or kernel used by default. This means user intervention (by making a choice at the boot menu) is not required unless changing to a different operating system or kernel. (Note that if another OS is installed after Userful MultiSeat Linux, that operating system will appear at the top of the boot menu, and the special "boot into last-used OS" rule will have been overwritten).

Extra User Accounts

The Userful MultiSeat Linux installation process will automatically create a number of accounts to simplify use in a classroom setting with iTALC.

Note: With Userful MultiSeat Linux 5.0, iTALC is not installed by default; however it can be installed quickly and easily. Please see instructions in How To Use iTALC with Userful MultiSeat.

Specifically, the following user accounts are created:

  • between 15 and 40 student accounts (depending on the version of Userful MultiSeat Linux), with usernames "studentn", and
  • 1 teacher account, with username "teacher01"

Each user will be prompted to enter a password the first time they log in. The exception is the administrative user (the username and password specified during installation).

Please Note: Depending on your particular installlation, the automatically created user account may not be working properly. If you experience any problems with these user accounts, simply delete them and create new user accounts.

If you later wish to change passwords, or need to create other accounts, please refer to this How To about the Users and Groups administration tool (located in System > Administration > Users and Groups).

Please Note: By default, the Ubuntu operating system allows all users to read files and folders in any users "Home" directory. User accounts created during Userful MultiSeat Linux installation have been specially modified to restrict read permissions for other users. Any accounts created after installation will not have these special modified permissions.

To learn how to change permissions for "Home" directories, please refer to these instructions.

Set a Root Password

Ubuntu/Edubuntu does not set a root password by default. Instead, Ubuntu relies on the sudo functionality (see the sudo home page for more information. However, Userful recommends setting a root password in case it is necessary to work in non-graphical mode (for troubleshooting, for example), and to access the Userful Control Center in some circumstances.

To set a root password, on the host computer:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Enter the following command:
 sudo passwd root
  1. Enter the sudo password.
  2. Next, enter the new root password. You will be asked to repeat the password.

Update the Operating System

After installing the Userful MultiSeat Linux DVD, the operating system's Update Manager will probably launch so that the installation can be brought up to date with the latest fixes and added features. Please see below, how to update the operating system with Userful MultiSeat installed, for instructions.

The system may be restarted now, or stations may be set up before a reboot. Please see the next section for information on station set-up.


Setting Up USB MultiSeat Stations

Userful MultiSeat supports DisplayLink®, SMSC® and MCT™ USB multiseat devices. This means that extra video cards are not necessary to turn a single PC into a multistation computer. Some things to remember:

  • Even when using USB-connected 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) USB multiseat devices with Userful MultiSeat.

USB multiseat devices come in various configurations. How you set up your stations depends on the kind of multiseat devices you use. Here are the most common configurations:

  • USB-to-VGA adapters used in conjunction with USB hubs.
  • USB docking stations with built-in USB multiseat device (some are called "thin clients"). Some have USB ports, keyboard/mouse ports, audio plug-ins, etc. All will have a VGA port.
  • Monitors with a built-in USB multiseat device.

Setting Up Stations

  1. Position one monitor for each station required and group each with a keyboard and mouse. Remember to keep one monitor plugged into the on-board video.
    • If you are using USB docking stations with a built-in USB multiseat device, connect one monitor, one mouse and one keyboard to each USB docking station. Connect the docking station to the host PC.
    • If using USB hubs and USB multiseat devices:
      1. Connect the multiseat devices to the USB ports on the host PC.
      2. Connect the USB hubs to the USB ports on the host PC.
      3. Connect keyboard and mice to the USB hubs, one set per hub.
    • If you are using monitors with built-in USB multiseat devices, we recommend using an extra USB hub for each station. Connect one monitor, keyboard and mouse to each USB hub. (Some of these monitors can also be connected via VGA cable. Be careful not to use the VGA cable if you want to use it as a USB multiseat device.)
  2. Connect an ethernet cable to the back of the host PC.
  3. Ensure all devices, hubs and monitors are connected to a UPS or surge protected outlets, if necessary.
  4. Turn on the system when ready.


Adding or Removing USB Stations

To add a station, simply plug in a USB multiseat 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 multiseat device (even from a running system).

General USB Guidelines

  • USB multiseat devices only work with USB 2.0 ports.
  • It is necessary to configure the host computer 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 multiseat 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 multiseat 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.


Setting Up Video Card Stations

Using Video Cards to Create a MultiSeat System: Hardware

Prior to installing Userful MultiSeat, you will need to add enough video cards to provide a video head for each station. Please refer to these guidelines for choosing graphic hardware that will work with Userful MultiSeat.

In addition to adding video cards and monitors, it is important to have enough available USB ports for connecting USB input devices and peripherals. Userful recommends using a dedicated USB hub with audio output/input capability for each station.

Setting up Video Card-connected Stations

  • Position one monitor and USB hub (with attached keyboard and mouse) for each workstation.
    • (Note: the system PS/2 keyboard and mouse connections can be used to connect one station, ideally the "onboard" station)
  • Connect all cables to the back of the computer, including Ethernet, monitors, USB keyboards and mice, printers, etc.
  • Power on all monitors and then turn on the computer.



Setting Up USB-over-LAN MultiSeat Stations

Userful MultiSeat supports DisplayLink® and SMSC® ethernet zero-client multiseat devices which use the Elite Silicon USB-over-LAN driver.

Station setup should be done after installation of Userful MultiSeat or Userful MultiSeat Linux is complete.

Some things to remember:

  • Even when using USB-over-LAN-connected 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) USB-over-LAN multiseat devices with Userful MultiSeat.
  • Ethernet 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 ethernet zero-client devices are locked to PCs based on the system name (or "hostname"). Having duplicate host names on one subnet causes erratic behaviour of the network devices.
  • Userful recommends deploying no more than 30 stations on a given subnet.

Please see the USB-over-LAN network hardware recommendations for a guide to required network hardware.

Setting Up Stations

An example of a network station configuration.
  1. 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.
  2. Position one monitor and one USB-over-LAN device for each station required and group each with a keyboard and mouse.
  3. Connect one monitor, one mouse and one keyboard to each USB-over-LAN multiseat device.
  4. Using Cat-5e network cable, connect each USB-over-LAN multiseat device to a gigabit-capable switch (or router, depending on network setup). See example to the right.
  5. Connect the host PC to the switch (or router) using Cat-5e network cable.
  6. Ensure all devices, hubs and monitors are connected to a UPS or surge protected outlets, if necessary.
  7. Turn on the system when ready.


Adding or Removing USB-over-LAN Stations

To add a station (assuming your license supports that number of stations), simply connect another USB-over-LAN multiseat device and use the Userful 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 USB-over-LAN multiseat device (even from a running system).

Troubleshooting USB-over-LAN: Guidelines

For more detailed USB-over-LAN guidelines and troubleshooting information, please see the Network Station How-To.

If any problems with network multiseat devices arise, check the following:

  1. Ensure that each device is using the correct firmware and update if necessary. Firmware can be checked for an individual station through the Userful Control Center by looking at Network station details. Alternatively, firmware for all detected stations can be checked through the terminal by running the following command (with sudo or root): userful device check firmware . Instructions for updating device firmware can be found in How to Manage Network Device Firmware.
  2. Make sure that all network devices (the NIC in the host machine, any switches or routers used) are working at the necessary capacity. Networks running at less than optimal capacity can result in intermittent dropping of USB-over-LAN stations and/or performance issues.
  3. Ethernet Zero-Client devices must be within 1 millisecond of the host. You can ping the network device from the host to find out what the delay is. Please note that routers can introduce significant (greater than 0.5 ms) delays and should NOT be positioned in the network between the host and any network device.
  4. Network devices are sensitive to packet loss. Ping a network device from the host for 60 seconds to determine the percentage of packets lost. If packets are being lost, it can cause ethernet zero-client instability.
  5. If an individual station is not operating properly (station not starting, or station won't assign to host), and there is no problem with firmware or network infrastructure, try the following, in order, to rectify the issue:
    1. Reset/reboot the device through the Userful Control Center or by issuing this command in the terminal (device must be unassigned first): userful device reset <MAC.address>.
    2. Power off/power on the device.
    3. Physically reset the device, if a physical reset button is available (HP t200 only)
    4. Reboot the computer.
    5. Reset Userful MultiSeat Configuration and reboot.



Device Assignment

Each station in a multiseat configuration must have dedicated input devices (keyboard and mouse, or equivalent).

Input devices can be assigned manually or automatically, depending on which version of Userful MultiSeat is in use and how multiseat is achieved (i.e. with video cards, USB multiseat devices, or USB-over-LAN multiseat devices).

Manual Device Assignment

Input devices are assigned manually when:

  1. Multiple video cards are used to create multiple stations, and/or
  2. Userful MultiSeat version 4.0 or 4.1 are used.

If this is the case, when first starting up a station, Userful's "Press F-key" utility is launched; this allows the user to link keyboards and mice to a specific monitor with a single key press and/or mouse click.

For each workstation that requires input device assignment, the display will prompt you to press a function key (F-1 through F-10) on the keyboard in front of the monitor in order to link the correct keyboard to the specific monitor.

Both a keyboard and a mouse are required in order to create a station. If you have the mouse plugged into the same USB hub (through a PS/2 or USB connection) as the keyboard (or, rarely, to a USB port integrated in the keyboard itself), 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 or PS/2 connection, you will be prompted to press a button on the mouse in order to link it with the correct monitor and keyboard combination.

Activating USB Multiseat Device Auto-assignment with v4.x

If using USB video multiseat devices with Userful MultiSeat v4.x, auto-assignment of input, storage and audio devices can be enabled if desired. In other words, any device plugged into the same USB multiseat device as a given display will automatically be assigned to the display's station.

To enable auto-assignment, it is necessary to edit the globals.py.

  1. Open the /var/db/userful/globals.py file in a text editor.
  2. Find the AUTO ASSIGNMENT parameter and change the value to TRUE.
  3. Save the edited file.

Automatic Device Assignment

Input devices are assigned automatically with Userful MultiSeat v5.0 and later when using:

  • USB multiseat devices or
  • USB-over-LAN multiseat devices

Any device plugged into the same USB multiseat device as a given display will automatically be assigned to the display's station. Any input devices plugged into the system tower (or any device without a clear assignment path) will be assigned manually through the press F-key utility.

Resetting Assignment

Note: this feature does not apply to USB-over-LAN stations.

You may reassign keyboards and mice at any point by simply pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Break key combination or re-connecting the input device by unplugging for at least 1.5 seconds 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 F-key and return to your desktop.



The System Tray

The Userful System Tray is an exciting feature of Userful MultiSeat versions 4.1 and later. It provides a simple, intuitive way to manage USB-connected peripheral storage devices, including flash drives. Optical drives, such as the host system CD/DVD drive, are also managed through the System Tray.

UMsSysTrayIcon.png

The Userful System Tray icon is located in the upper task bar of the desktop. Clicking on this icon will drop down a list of all storage devices and/or optical drives available to the user, including any other partitions on the hard disk drive.

Shared Versus Private Access

Userful MultiSeat offers options for both shared and private storage peripherals.

What is Shared Storage?

Shared storage is storage that can be accessed by any logged in user, and can be accessed by more than one user at a time. Shared devices will appear in the System Tray of all logged-on users.

Examples of shared storage in a Userful MultiSeat System:

  • the host PC hard disk drive
  • a flash drive plugged directly into the host PC
  • the CD/DVD drive in the host PC
  • any optical (CD/DVD) drive plugged into any station

What is Private Storage?

Private storage can be accessed only by one user. Typically this would be a device plugged into a USB multiseat device (which forms a station) or into a USB hub that is associated with a particular station. Private storage devices will appear only in the System Tray of the user who plugged in the device. Examples of private storage in a Userful MultiSeat system:

  • a flash drive plugged into a USB multiseat device or USB hub belonging to a particular station
  • a USB-connected portable hard drive connected to a USB multiseat device or USB hub belonging to a particular station
Please Note: Optical (CD/DVD) drives are always shared, regardless of where they are plugged in.

Accessing Storage Devices

Please Note: U3 Smart Drives are not supported by Userful MultiSeat.

When a USB storage device is plugged in, the Userful System Tray icon will briefly change to a "USB" symbol; once the icon returns to normal, the device will be accessible through the System Tray.

UMsSysTrayOpen.png

To open a window and view or access the contents of a storage device such as a flash drive, click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Open".

A message will appear with a friendly reminder to remember to close the device from the System Tray before unplugging the device, to avoid data loss.

UMsSysTrayClose.png

Before unplugging a device, click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Closed". Wait one or two seconds -- or until indicator lights on the device stop flashing -- and remove the device.

Note: Flash drives can have different types of filesystems, just like hard disks. Ext3/ext4-based filesystems, which are commonly used in Linux systems, retain permissions that restrict read/write access to the owner.

This means that a flash drive with an ext3/ext4 filesystem created on one system may not be usable when plugged into another system. To avoid this issue, users can use FAT32 formatted flash media, which works well cross-platform, and doesn't have permission issues like ext3/ext4. (Users should be aware that FAT32 storage volumes allow a maximum file size of 4 GB.)

To format or re-format a flash drive, use the Gnome Disk Utility. This application is typically found under System > Administration.


Saving Files to Storage Devices

Steps to Save Files to a Removable Storage Device
Insert removable storage and Open through the system Tray
UMsSysTrayUSBOpen.png
From within the application, with the file to be saved open, go to File > Save As...
UMsSysTrayUSBSaveAs.png
Open the /home/ folder by clicking on the folder icon in the left-side navigation panel that is labelled with the user name.
UMsSysTrayUSBSaveHome.png
Right-click on the empty space below the folder list to Show Hidden Files.
UMsSysTrayUSBSaveHidden.png
Open the .userful folder by double-clicking on it.
UMsSysTrayUSBSaveUserful.png

Open the media folder by double-clicking on it.


NOTE: if the media folder is not present, ensure that the removable storage device has been opened via the System Tray.

UMsSysTrayUSBSaveMedia.png

Open the removable storage device by clicking on the folder. In the example to the right, the folder is KATIE_sdd1.


NOTE: the folder name seen in the /home/username/.userful/media folder will not be the same as the volume label seen in the drop down System Tray menu.

UMsSysTrayUSBSaveKey.png
Click on the Save button to save the file.
UMsSysTrayUSBSave.png

Playing DVDs

To use the Userful System Tray to play video from DVD, it is necessary to install the open-source media player "VLC" and some additional media codecs.

With Ubuntu-based Linux, the easiest way to access these extra packages is to add the Medibuntu (Multimedia, Entertainment and Distractions in Ubuntu) repository to your software source list. Medibuntu is "a repository of packages that cannot be included into the Ubuntu distribution for legal reasons (copyright, license, patent, etc)". Once Medibuntu is added to the Software Centre's list of repositories, proprietary software can be added simply and easily through Applications > Ubuntu Software Centre.

For detailed instructions, please refer to this How To.

Note: If you are using Userful MultiSeat Linux, the Medibuntu repository is already enabled, and VLC may already be installed; if VLC is not installed, use the Ubuntu Software Centre to insall it.

Once the Medibuntu repository is enabled, use the Ubuntu Software Centre to install the following packages:

  • vlc
  • libdvdcss
  • libdvdnav

The first time a DVD is played, VLC will indicate that some required plug-ins are needed and give an opportunity to search for those plug-ins. A user with administrative privileges can search for and install those plug-ins easily.

UMsSysTrayPlay.png

To play a DVD, simply insert the DVD into the optical drive. The Userful System Tray icon will briefly change to a "DVD movie" symbol; when it returns to normal the DVD will be available in the System Tray drop-down list. Simply click on the System Tray icon, highlight the device, and select "Play".

It is also possible to open an optical disk in a file window; to do so choose "Open" from the System Tray options. It is not necesary to "Close" an optical drive from the System Tray prior to removing it from the system, although it is good practice to wait for the disk to spin down before ejecting it.

Please Note: Only one user at a time can access the optical drive with stand-alone Userful MultiSeat.

With Userful MultiSeat Linux, it is possible to play a DVD in the host computer's optical drive and have all stations view it simultaneously. Please see the Userful MultiSeat Linux User Guide for details.



The Control Center

Userful MultiSeat features the Userful Control Center™.

The Control Center features:

  • A system/station status dashboard
  • Individual or system-wide display configuration
  • Individual or system-wide control over station access
  • Software updates, license management and access to help and support

Please Note: Some Control Center options have been modified between v4.1 and v5.0. The screenshots below may not exactly match your installation, depending on your version of Userful MultiSeat.


Accessing the Control Center

The Userful Control Center is a web browser-based application, so it is necessary to have a web browser installed. (A live network connection is not needed to open the Control Center, but some functions that require access to the internet will not work without a connection.) The Userful Control Center has been designed to work with most popular browsers, but for the best experience Userful recommends using Firefox.

Please Note: Internet Explorer® cannot be used to open the Userful Control Center.

Note: We recommend that the Control Center be viewed at a resolution of 1024x768 or greater to ensure that all navigation menu entries are visible. If menu entries are missing at a lower resolution, try pressing CTRL+- to zoom out until all menu entries are visible.


The Userful Control Center is located under System > Administration > Userful Control Center. A dialog window will appear asking for a password; only users with system administrator or root privileges can access the Control Center.

Some functions, such as licensing and updates, require access to the internet.

How to Remotely Access the Userful Control Center Console

Remote Access Via Browser

UCC-remote-login-screenshot.png

It is possible to open the Control Center for a given Userful MultiSeat installation from a different system that is on the same LAN. You can access the Userful Control Center console from a Firefox or Chrome browser (within the Local Area Network). Note that while some other browsers may work, currently only the latest versions of Firefox or Chrome are officially supported.

To do so, enter the IP address of the target system, followed by the port number, 22716, into the address bar of the browser. For example, to access the local machine, enter http://localhost:22716. To access a remote machine with IP of 192.165.123.456 (as long as it is on the same LAN), enter http://192.165.123.456:22716. To find out the IP address of your host PC/server simply type ifconfig at the command line.
Note: Your browser will need to be on the same LAN subnet as the host PC, or from a different subnet LAN provided the two subnets are connected via proper port forwarding. You will need the root password and the IP address.

If your local network has been setup to route hostnames, you can use the system hostname which may be easier to remember than IP addresses. For networks configured this way, simply open a web browser (Firefox or Chrome are recommended, Internet Explorer is not supported) and enter [hostname]:22716 in the address bar.

  • The hostname should be the assigned hostname of the system running Userful; to find the hostname of a system, open a terminal on the host PC/server and type hostname.

Remote Access Via SSH

The Userful Control Center is also accessible through SSH should there be any problems accessing via a browser. This will only work on a linux system, such as the host station with no VM running on it.

From another Linux host PC (or any other computer on the same subnet within the LAN) at the command line, type ssh -X administrator@[ip address]<code> The root password will be required.

Once logged in, enter <code>userful-control-center to open a windows that contains the Userful Control Center.

Status

UMsCCStatus.png

The Userful Control Center opens on the Status or Dashboard page. This page gives a snapshot of the current system status, and access to all of the functions of the Control Center.

Two features of the Status page appear on every page in the Userful Control Center. These are:

  1. The Navigation Panel is at the left of the page. The major sections of the control panel are listed here: Status; Network Station; Station Control; System Operations; Display Management; and Help and Support. (Each of these will be discussed in detail below). Holding the mouse cursor over one of the section titles causes a list of features or functions to appear. Simply click on the desired feature or function to open that section of the Control Panel.
  2. The Status Panel is at the top of each page. A gray box next to the CPU graphic lists basic system information: the number of stations; how many stations are available (enabled, but not in use); and how many stations are in use.


Below the Status Panel, and to the right of the Navigation Panel on every page of the Userful Control Center is the Page Content. On the Status page, the page content includes:

  • An information bar for every licensed station on the system, indicated by the Station number on the left.
  • Icons and text showing the state of every station, as described below.


UMsInUseIcon.png Enabled, In Use
  • If the station is enabled and in use (that is, a user is logged in), the station icon is black and includes a user icon
    • The "Status" column of the dashboard panel will display "In Use"
    • the "User" column will display the user name of the person logged on to the station
    • the "Time" column will display the time elapsed since the user logged on. (Note: the Time elapsed does not update 'live'; rather it is updated when the status page loads.
UMsEnabledOnboard.png Accessing Control Center
  • Information about the station being used to access the control panel is displayed with an icon with an orange dot to the icon's left.
  • Note: The station being used to access the control panel cannot be disabled.
UMsEnabledIcon.png Enabled, not In Use
  • If the station is enabled, but not in use, the station icon is black.
    • The "Enabled" state is also indicated in the "Status" column of the dashboard panel, while the "User" and "Time" columns are blank.
UMsDisabledIcon.png Disabled
  • If the station icon is greyed out, it indicates the station is disabled. This is also indicated in the "Status" column of the Dashboard panel.
    • The monitor at the disabled station will display a screen indicating that the station is disabled. The keyboard and mouse at the disabled station are also disabled.


Network Stations: v5.0 and Later

UMsCCNetStatus.png

Userful MultiSeat 5.0 introduces a new method of multiseat connectivity: the network station. These devices, also called "USB-over-LAN" or "USB-IP" devices, use network cabling (e.g. Cat-5e) to connect multiseat access devices to host systems. TCP/IP signals are used communicate between station and host; each USB-over-LAN multiseat device has a unique hardware identifier, based on the MAC address, that has the same format as a standard IP address (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX).

This address can be assigned dynamically or statically through the Userful Control Center, from the "Network Station" section of the Userful Control Center. In addition, administrators can view station details and restart stations. The Control Center Network Station page also makes it easy to give network stations user-friendly names and location tags to make managing large numbers of stations easier.


View All Network Stations

On the Network Station page is a list of all network stations, with a summary of information about each station. The icons show network station status at-a-glance:


UMsCCNetUnassigned.png Network Station, Unassigned.
  • Stations that have not been assigned to the host have a red X (×)to the left of the station icon.
  • Unassigned stations will not appear on the status page as available multiseat stations.
UMsCCNetAssigned.png Network Station, Assigned.
  • Assigned network stations have a green check mark () to the right of the station icon.
  • Assigned stations will appear on the status page.
UMsCCNetError.png Network Station Error.
  • Stations that are in an error condition will be on a red background, with a red "X" (×) to the right of the station icon.
    • Typically network station errors can be resolved by releasing the station assignment (un-check the check box and click apply).


Please Note: Network stations that have been assigned to another host system (that is, those which have been locked to another PC) will not appear in the Control Center.

To check this, and unassign them if this is the case, open a terminal with sudo or root access:

  • Enter the command virtualusbc -S. This will give a list of all network devices found on the network. Any devices assigned to a server will have a hostname in the third column. In the example below, the hostname is mycon.
200|testnet1|mycon|1|1|192.168.126.117|255.255.255.0|F8:0F:41:2A:B3:63|4|3|00|022.203
200|testnet1|mycon|1|1|192.168.126.106|255.255.255.0|F8:0F:41:2A:B3:84|4|3|00|022.203
200|testnet1|mycon|1|1|192.168.126.103|255.255.255.0|F8:0F:41:2A:B3:99|4|3|00|022.203 
  • If any of the devices are assigned to a different host system than the one you are trying to use, unassign them with the command virtualusbc -U <IP>, where <IP> is the device IP address, found in the 6th column in the example above.
View Network Station Details
UMsCCNetDetails.png

Clicking a station on the list will bring up the "Details" panel on the right side of the page, which provides a complete device profile including:

  • Name and Location- can be edited in the Control Panel
  • MAC address - a permanent, unique identifier
  • IP address, Subnet and Configuration Protocol - can be configured in the Control Panel
  • Status
  • Model and Firmware
  • "Reset This Device" - click on the link to power off, then power on device from the Control Center.


Assigning and Releasing Network Stations
UMsCCNetAssignToHost.png

USB-over-LAN multiseat devices must be assigned to a host server to function. This can easily be done with the Userful Control Center. To the right of the station icons is the "Assign to Host" column; stations can be assigned to or released from the host server with the check boxes in that column.

  • To assign a station to the host, click an empty check box (a check mark will appear), then click the "Apply" button.
  • To release a station from the host, click a checked box (the check mark will disappear), the click the "Apply" button.

Several stations can be assigned and/or released simultaneously by clicking multiple check boxes.


Setting Station Name and/or Location
UMsCCNetEditLocation.png

When a device is unassigned, it is possible to edit the name and location of the station by clicking the "pencil" icon. A text input box will appear in place of the existing entry; simply type in a new name or location and click the "Apply" button. To cancel editing, click the "X" beside the text input box. Changes will not be saved until the "Apply" button is clicked.

To edit the name and location of a device that is already assigned to the host, it is necessary to release the assignment, edit the name/location, and then re-assign the device.

Configure Network Settings for Station
UMsCCNetConfig.png

Clicking on the pencil icon located to the right of the network station's IP address opens the network settings configuration box for that station.

By default, Ethernet connected zero client devices automatically retrieve their network settings and IP addresses from your router or DHCP server. It is possible to manually override this setting and statically and manually assign and IP address to a specific (or all) zero client devices.

To use DHCP to get an IP address automatically for the network station, ensure there is a check mark in the "Use DHCP" check box.

To assign a static IP address to a network station, clear the check mark from the box; the IP Address and Subnet text input boxes will become editable. Enter a valid IP and Subnet mask, then click "OK".

Please Note: Even if using static IP settings for network devices, a router is still recommended for two reasons:

  1. A DHCP server (which is provided by a router) is needed to initially connect to network stations, in order to configure settings (including static IP addresses, and
  2. A router serves to isolate the rest of the network from the (potentially) large volume of traffic between host and stations.


Station Control

Functions that affect individual stations, but do not relate to video display settings, are under this section.

Enable/Disable Stations

UMsCCStationEnable.png

With the Userful MultiSeat Control Center, it is possible to disable (deactivate) or enable (activate) individual stations temporarily. A disabled station cannot be used; the monitor at the disabled station will display a graphic indicating that it is disabled, and the keyboard and mouse do not work. It is also possible to enable or disable all the stations (except for the station being used to access the Control Center) of a system quickly and easily.

To open the "Enable/Disable Stations" page, go to the Navigation Panel (at the left side of the screen) and select Station Control > Enable/Disable Stations.

The "Enable/Disable Stations" page (see illustration at right) has the same general format as the Status page. Note that the Navigation and Status panels are unchanged, but the Page Content now includes checkboxes to Enable every station individually (except the station being used to access the Control Center, which is shown with a green background).

Below the list of individual stations are radio buttons to "Enable All" or "Disable All" stations; again, the station being used to access the Control Center will not be affected. Once a change is made, "Apply" and "Undo" buttons at the bottom of the screen activate. Note: changes will not take effect until the "Apply" button is clicked. There is also an information box at the right hand side of the page with in-line help.

To Enable/Disable individual stations:

  1. Click in the checkbox next to the station to be enabled or disabled.
    • A checkmark in the box means that station is enabled.
    • No checkmark means that the station is disabled.
  2. Click on "Apply" to complete the action, or "Undo" to reset the page.

To Enable/Disable all stations (except the one used to access the Control Center):

  1. Click in the radio button next to "Enable All" or "Disable All"
  2. Click on "Apply" to complete the action, or "Undo" to reset the page.


Please Note: Unused video output heads on PCI/PCIe graphics cards or integrated graphics cards should be disabled in the Userful Control Center to avoid going over the limit of licensed stations.

If a graphics card on the host computer has an unused video output head (except for Radeon graphics -- please see Known Issues), that output head will still show up in the Control Center as an available station. An error message will appear stating that "The Xorg server has failed on the specified display"; this error message can safely be ignored. However, these "phantom stations" will count towards the number of seats allowed on a license -- resulting in an unusable station showing the "Too Many Stations" screen -- unless disabled in the Userful Control Center.

If "Disable All" and then "Enable All" is used, the "Too Many Stations" screen may appear on the wrong station. To remedy this situation, Disable the station formed from the unused video output head and reboot the computer.


Display Management

The Display Management section of the Userful Control Center is the place to change monitor settings such as resolution and color depth.

In addition, 'mousing over' a given station will display information about the attached hardware (see illustration below, where hardware information for station 3 is being displayed on the right side of the screen).

Display Settings

UMsCCDisplaySettings.png

With the Userful MultiSeat Control Center, it is possible to change monitor resolution and color-depth on individual stations or system wide. Userful MultiSeat detects appropriate resolutions for each connected monitor, and offers those choices in an easy-to-use drop-down menu.

To open the "Display Settings" page, go to the Navigation Panel (at the left side of the screen) and select Display Management > Display Settings.

The "Display Settings" page (see illustration at right) has the same general format as the Status page. Note that the Navigation and Status panels are unchanged, but the Page Content now includes drop down menus to change monitor resolution on individual stations (including the station being used to access the Control Center, which is shown with a green background).

Below the list of individual stations are drop-down menus to select a screen resolution or color depth for all stations. Once a change is made, "Apply" and "Undo" buttons at the bottom of the screen activate. Note: changes will not take effect until the "Apply" button is clicked. There is also an information box at the right hand side of the page with in-line help.


To Select a Screen Resolution or Color Depth for Individual Stations:

  1. Use the drop-down menu to choose from a selection of appropriate resolutions for the desired station.
  2. Click on "Apply" to complete the action, or "Undo" to reset the page.

To Select a Screen Resolution or Color Depth for All Stations:

  1. Use the drop-down menu to choose from a selection of appropriate resolutions for all stations, or to choose a color depth for the system.
  2. Click on "Apply" to complete the action, or "Undo" to reset the page.

Please Note: Users should not attempt to change monitor resolution or color depth on their station using Ubuntu's System > Preferences > Monitors. Changes made with this tool may not persist after log out, and may cause system instability.

Help and Support

Userful offers an extensive and ever-growing collection of documentation that can answer most questions and resolve most issues that may be encountered with Userful MultiSeat. If Userful's documentation cannot resolve your questions, consider reporting a problem to Userful Customer Support.

About Userful MultiSeat

UMsCCAbout.png

For detailed information about the Userful MultiSeat installation, go to Help and Support > About Userful MultiSeat.

Documentation

To easily access Userful's Support Wiki and all the documentation on Userful MultiSeat and Userful MultiSeat Linux, go to Help and Support > Documentation in the Control Panel.

Troubleshoot a Problem

Selecting Help and Support > Troubleshoot a Problem from the Control Center navigation tree opens a page with links to relevant documentation that will be most helpful in solving a problem, including:

Report a Problem
UMsCCReport.png

If a problem cannot be solved using Userful's documentation, the fastest and best way to receive technical assistance from Userful's support team is to submit a problem report directly to Userful Customer Support through the Userful Control Center.

To report a problem, click the "Report a Problem" link near the bottom of the "Troubleshoot a Problem" page. A new page will open with a simple form to be filled out. When completed and submitted, the information provided will be e-mailed -- along with a selection of debugging information pulled from the computer system logs and files -- to Userful Customer Support.

  1. Be sure to include a contact name and e-mail so Userful Customer Support can respond to your problem report.
  2. Briefly describe what action you were performing when the problem occured.
  3. From the pull-down menu, select a category that the problem seems to fall under. Use the "Other" option if there is no clear choice.
  4. Give as complete a description of the problem as possible. To get help quickly, it is important to be as specific as possible when describing your problem.
  5. When finished, click on the "Submit" button.


System Operations

Functions that affect the entire system (that is, the host CPU and all the connected stations) are found in the System Operations section of the Userful Control Center. These include:

Turn Userful MultiSeat On and Off

UMsCCOn.png

To access this function, go to System Operations > Turn On/Off Userful MultiSeat.

Because this feature affects the entire system, individual stations are not listed on this page. Instead, a status message indicates whether Userful MultiSeat is operational ("Userful MultiSeat is currently ON") or disabled ("Userful MultiSeat is currently OFF").

When Userful MultiSeat is first installed, the Setup Wizard enables MultiSeat by default. If the "Turn on Userful MultiSeat" box is unchecked before the post-installation reboot, it will be necessary to turn on MultiSeat from the Control Center.

To turn on Userful MultiSeat:

  1. Click on the button marked "Turn ON Userful MultiSeat".
  2. A pop up window appears, indicating that a reboot is necessary to complete the action. Click "OK" to proceed. Userful MultiSeat will not begin to work until the system is rebooted.
  3. When the system is rebooted, it will be running in MultiSeat mode.

As a troubleshooting step, it may be necessary at some point to turn off Userful MultiSeat and return the system to a single-user configuration. When MultiSeat is turned off, all services are stopped and disabled, and all stations except the onboard video station are lost -- even if the Control Panel is being accessed from one of those stations.

If an application or feature is not working, turning off MultiSeat can help determine:

  • Whether the problem lies with the operating system or another application.
    • If the problem occurs when MultiSeat is turned off, then MultiSeat is probably not causing the issue
  • Whether the problem results from multiplying the system.
    • If everything works in single-user mode, and the problem occurs only when MultiSeat is turned on, it could indicate an issue with Userful MultiSeat -- see below for more information about Help and Support.

To turn off Userful MultiSeat:

  1. Click on the button marked "Turn OFF Userful MultiSeat".
  2. A pop up window appears, asking for confirmation of the action. Click "OK" to proceed. Userful MultiSeat will shut down immediately, and all stations except the onboard station will be shut down. No reboot is necessary.

Please Note: Userful recommends disconnecting or powering off any USB or USB-over-LAN multiseat devices that are connected to the system before turning off Userful MultiSeat. If a large number of stations (with their associated input devices) are connected to the system when it reboots in single-user mode, the system may freeze during reboot due to a "no more event devices error".


Reset Configuration

To access this function, go to System Operations > Reset Configuration.

Because this feature affects the entire system, individual stations are not listed on this page. Instead, a checkbox allows the administrator to reset any changes that have been made to configuration files.

To Reset Configuration:

  1. Click the checkbox marked "Reset Configuration" and click the "Apply" button.
  2. Click "OK" in the dialog box asking if you wish to continue (or "Cancel" if you wish to cancel the action).
  3. Reboot the system.

Proxy Settings

UMsCCProxySet.png

The Userful MultiSeat Control Center uses the internet to contact the Userful licensing server. If the computer system is behind a proxy server, administrators must set a proxy address within the Userful Control Center to allow the Userful MultiSeat system to communicate with the licensing server in order to retrieve licenses.

To configure proxy settings, go to System Operations > Proxy Settings in the Userful Control Center. Enter the host proxy address and the port, and click "OK".

Licensing

To enable the full version of Userful MultiSeat, you need to purchase a valid license for each multi-station computer system. The unlicensed version of Userful MultiSeat is fully functional, supporting up to 11 concurrent stations (depending on your specific hardware), but will display a brief registration reminder on all attached screens every 20 minutes or so.

To get a license key, after installing Userful MultiSeat software, simply:

  1. Purchase an activation code from Userful (or a Userful Partner) for up to 11 stations, or
  2. Register for the Free 2-User license (for two stations only),

Activating and/or installing license keys is done through the Userful Control Center.

To open the Licensing section of the Control Center, go to the Navigation Panel and select System Operations > Licensing. From this page one can get an activation code and license key through the internet or install a license key file.

If the system is already licensed, System Operations > Licensing will open the License Details page.

Please Note: If a valid license is installed, but the license reminder screen is still appearing, please check your network connection. Once a working network connection is in place, the Control Center will be able to confirm that a valid license exists, and the license reminder screen should stop appearing after 10 minutes.


Getting License Key Online
UMsCCLicenseInternet.png

To get a license key online, click on the button that says "Get a license key through the internet". A page where an activation code can be entered will open (see illustration to the right).

  • If Userful has already provided an activation code, simply enter it in the first box. In the second box, enter the maximum number of stations to be used.
    • Note: the activation code is tied to a certain number of stations. The number of stations entered on this page CANNOT exceed the number specified when purchasing or obtaining an activation code. For example, if a Free 2-User activation code is being used, the number of stations cannot be greater than 2.
  • To obtain an activation code for a Free 2-User license, simply click on the button labeled "Get Activation Code". This opens a new browser window for the Userful Licensing Server (see the illustration at right). Follow the directions to register for and/or retrieve the activation code for a Free 2-User license.
    • Once an activation code has been obtained, return to the Userful Control Center to enter the code and install a license key.

As part of the activation process, your web browser submits basic system information to Userful -- including your system's MAC address, Linux distribution and version, and video card. The license key file(s) are installed automatically, and take effect without rebooting the system.


Installing a License Key from a File

A working internet connection is required to use the activation code to install your license. In the event that you need to license a system with no internet connection, email the MAC address or System ID of the PC you need to license along with your activation code to Userful (or Userful partner/reseller). They will generate a license key and send it as an attachment.

To install a license key from a file that Userful or a Userful partner has provided:

  1. Copy the file to the desktop of the system to be licensed, or mount a USB flash drive containing the license key file.
  2. From the starting screen of the Licensing section, click on the button marked "Install a license key from a file". The page seen to the right will open.
  3. Click on the "Browse" button and navigate through the file system to the directory where the license key is saved. Select the license key file and choose "Open".
  4. Click on the "Install License" button. The license key file is installed automatically, and takes effect without rebooting the system.
Viewing License Details
UMsCCLicenseDetails.png

On a licensed system, selecting System Operations > Licensing will open the License Details page, which lists important information about the system license:

  1. Product Name
  2. Reseller
  3. Maximum Number of Stations
  4. System ID
  5. Issue Date (when license was issued)
  6. Expiry Date (when license will expire)
  7. Support Expiry Date (when a support contract, if applicable, will expire)
  8. Trial Message Interval (time, in minutes, between appearances of the Registration Reminder screen on unlicensed systems)
  9. Trial Message Duration (time, in seconds, that the Registration Reminder screen on unlicensed systems stays on the screen)

Also on this page are options to Increase the maximum number of stations, and to Backup or Replace an existing licence.

Increasing the Maximum Number of Stations on a License

This feature available in Userful MultiSeat v.5.0 and later ONLY. Please see this How To for how to upgrade a license in v.4.x.

UMsCCIncreaseLicense.png

If your contract allows, it is possible to increase the maximum number of stations connected to a given host computer without replacing the license.

To do this, click on the Increase link next to the current "Maximum Number of Stations". In the example to the right, the current maximum number of stations is 15.

UMsCCIncreaseLicenseBackup.png

If desired, backup the existing license by clicking the "Okay" button in the dialogue that appears.

UMsCCIncreaseLicenseNumber.png

Enter the new "Maximum Number of Stations". In the example to the right, 20 was entered. Click on the "Increase Stations" button to complete the operation.

Please Note: the new maximum number of stations entered must be greater than the current maximum.

UMsCCIncreaseLicenseNewMaxpng.png

The "License Details" will now reflect the increased Maximum Number of Stations.

Backing up a License File

This feature available in Userful MultiSeat v.5.0 and later ONLY. Please see this How To for how to upgrade a license in v.4.x.

UMsCCBackupLicense.png

To back up a license file, go to System Operations > Licensing and click the "Backup" button on the bottom of the page.

This will open a dialogue box asking to confirm the file-saving operation. Click "Save" to save a copy of the license file with a ".bak" file extension in the /etc/userful/license/ directory.


Replacing an Existing License

This feature available in Userful MultiSeat v.5.0 and later ONLY. Please see this How To for how to upgrade a license in v.4.x.

UMsCCReplaceLicense.png

Sometimes it may be necessary to replace a license on a working system; for example, to add more stations to the license. Contact Userful if you have any questions about obtaining a replacement license.

To replace a license, go to System Operations > Licensing and click the "Replace" button.

Follow the instructions to either get a license through the internet (if you have an activation code) or install a replacement license file manually.


Update Software

The Userful team is continually working to improve our products performance and feature set for upcoming version releases. Occasionally, Userful may release important updates between official software version releases.

To check for such updates, select System Operations > Check for Updates from the Navigation Panel.

  • By default, the system checks for updates automatically; if any are available, they will be listed on this page.
    • Remove the checkmark from the "Automatically Check for Updates" checkbox to check for updates manually.

To install available updates:

  1. Select the one(s) to be installed and click on "Install Updates".
  2. Click "Apply" to confirm your selection and begin download and installation of the chosen updates. (Click "Undo" to reset the page).

Reinstall or Uninstall Userful MultiSeat

If it ever becomes necessary to uninstall Userful MultiSeat, it can be easily done through the Control Center.

To uninstall Userful MultiSeat, go to System Operations > Uninstall Userful MultiSeat™ and click the button called "Uninstall Userful MultiSeat™".


Licensing

Note: Licenses persist when Userful MultiSeat software is upgraded to a newer version. That is, if you already have a license for any version of Userful MultiSeat, you can update your system to the newest available version without obtaining a new license.

With Userful MultiSeat, licensing is quickly and easily managed through the Userful Control Center.

Commercial License

To obtain a commercial license, please contact Userful.

Please Note: Unused video output heads on PCI/PCIe graphics cards or integrated graphics cards should be disabled in the Userful Control Center to avoid going over the limit of licensed stations.

If a graphics card on the host computer has an unused video output head (except for Radeon graphics -- please see Known Issues), that output head will still show up in the Control Center as an available station. An error message will appear stating that "The Xorg server has failed on the specified display"; this error message can safely be ignored. However, these "phantom stations" will count towards the number of seats allowed on a license -- resulting in an unusable station showing the "Too Many Stations" screen -- unless disabled in the Userful Control Center.

If "Disable All" and then "Enable All" is used, the "Too Many Stations" screen may appear on the wrong station. To remedy this situation, Disable the station formed from the unused video output head and reboot the computer.


Updates to the Linux Operating System

IMPORTANT: If you are using the Userful-patched kernel (with v.4.x), do not get system updates using the graphical Update Manager. It is important not to over-write the custom kernel. Please see Appendix C for more information.


Operating systems such as Ubuntu/Edubuntu are works in progress, and updates are released frequently. Most Linux operating systems will notify users automatically if updates are available; alternatively the OS should have an "update manager".

  • In Ubuntu/Edubuntu, got to System > Administration > Update Manager

For smooth functioning of Userful MultiSeat, it is very important to TURN OFF Userful MultiSeat before updating OS software.

Userful MultiSeat can be turned off and on in the Control Center. Please refer to the System Operations documentation for more information.

After OS updates are complete, return to the Control Center to turn Userful MultiSeat back on. Reboot to complete updates and re-initialize Userful MultiSeat.


If Userful MultiSeat is not turned off before updates are installed, some packages may not update properly. When a conflict is encountered, a popup will come up warning that Userful MultiSeat must be turned off and the update process will stop. To set things right again, do the following:

  1. Turn off Userful MultiSeat, using the Control Center or by entering the following at the command line:
    $ sudo userful system --off
  2. Correct any issues caused by the interrupted update by entering the following:
    $ sudo dpkg --configure -a
  3. Check for and install updates using the operating system Update Manager.
  4. Turn on Userful MultiSeat, using the Control center or by entering the following at the command line:
    $ sudo userful system on


Userful MultiSeat Linux: Extra Features

Because Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 is a bundle of software, Userful has been able to include some special features and additional software to enhance user experience.

Special Folders Make File Sharing Easy

Userful MultiSeat Linux installs two special folders on the root of the filesystem:

/teacher
/student

A shortcut to each of these folders is also installed on each user's desktop. The shortcut to the /teacher folder is labeled "Extras". The shortcut to the /student folder is labelled "Shared".

The "Extras" Folder

UMLExtrasFolder.png

This folder is intended for files that students should have access to but should not be able to edit or delete.

  • The "Extras" folder is a shortcut to the /teacher directory in the root filesystem.
  • Only the "teacher1" user has the permissions to edit, save to or delete from this folder.
  • All users, including students, can view and execute files in this folder.
  • Teachers can save files or media in this folder for the students to view.


The "Shared" Folder

UMLSharedFolder.png

This folder is accessible to all users.

  • The "Shared" folder is a shortcut to the /student directory in the root filesystem.
  • All users have permissions to edit, save, execute or delete from this folder.
  • Students can share files freely with other students and the teacher via this folder.


MultiMedia

Video Playback from a File

Userful MultiSeat Linux installs a few sample video files. Shortcuts to these files can be found on every user's desktop in the "Extras" folder. To play these sample videos, simply double-click on the file icons.

Installing Propietary Codecs for DVD, MP3 and More

UMLTeacherDesktop.png

Codecs used to play DVD video, MP3 music, and certain other file formats, must be installed separately. To do this:

  1. Log in as "teacher1".
  2. Go into the Extras folder on your desktop.
  3. Double-click on the Install-Extra-Codecs icon (see illustration at right, second from the bottom).
  4. When prompted, do not use the Run option. You should use the Run in Terminal option so that you are able to observe the progress of the installation.
  5. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation. The installation may take several minutes.
  6. When installation has finished, a webpage with further information about proprietary codecs will open. Please read this page if you want more information about these licensed codecs.
  7. Reboot the machine when finished.


Video Playback from a DVD

With Userful MultiSeat Linux, it is possible to play a DVD in the host computer's optical drive and have all stations view it simultaneously. To do this:

  1. Insert DVD.
  2. The "teacher1" account runs the start-dvd program by double-clicking on the file, which is located in the Extras folder. Click on the Run button when prompted.
  3. Each student who wishes to view the video must run the watch-dvd program by double-clicking on the file, which is located on their desktop. Click on the Run button when prompted.
  4. Any user can press Esc to stop playback.

Using Third-Party Software Included with Userful MultiSeat Linux

Userful MultiSeat Linux is a software bundle that includes a Linux OS as well as a number of other open-source programs chosen for their utility in a classroom setting. This section includes more details about these programs.

For a complete list of software installed when Userful MultiSeat Linux is installed, please see "Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011: Applications".

Java and Flash

Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 comes with Java and Adobe Flash Player already installed, to improve online experience.

iTALC

iTALC is open-source software developed as a teacher's classroom control tool. ITALC and Userful's iTALC integration package are installed during the Userful MultiSeat Linux installation if using the 2011 version; with Userful MultiSeat Linux 5.0 it must be installed separately -- please see instructions in How To Use iTALC with Userful MultiSeat. For quick start-up, 1 teacher and several student accounts are set up automatically.

For more information, please see Using iTALC Classroom Control Tool.

Please Note: iTALC can be used with all versions of Userful Multiseat for the maximum supported number of stations if using USB multiseat devices or multiple video cards.

Using iTALC with USB-over-LAN (network) multiseat devices, with system configurations of more than 1 onboard + 10 network multiseat devices, is not recommended.

  • When network stations are used with iTALC, race conditions tend to arise in the kernel leading to system instability. This effect is seen most often when multiple stations are logged in or out in rapid succession. Problems are more likely to occur with higher numbers of network stations.

Userful recommends thoroughly testing iTALC with Userful MultiSeat with the intended deployment configuration and use cases to determine the optimal configuration.

Dansguardian

Teachers can manage which websites students can access in a Userful Multiseat Linux lab using the free, open-source program Dansguardian. With Dansguardian installed (on the Ubuntu/Edubuntu 10.04 system), teachers and administrators can create whitelists (allowed sites) & blacklists (banned sites). For more informationm please refer to How to Filter Web Content with Dansguardian.

PlayOnLinux

Use Windows applications on your Userful MultiSeat system with PlayOnLinux, which is installed automatically with Userful MultiSeat Linux.

Install Likewise Open

Likewise Open integrates Linux systems with Active Directory. Userful Multiseat Linux comes with a script to easily install Likewise Open. To install:

  1. Log in as a Teacher
  2. Go to the "Extras" folder on the Desktop
  3. Double-click on the "Likewise Open" .deb package.


Tip & Tricks for Getting the Most Out of MultiSeat

Understanding USB

In simple terms, USB (Universal Serial Bus) describes a way to connect a hardware device (or peripheral) to a controlling device (usually a computer). The term USB also includes the way that the device(s) and controller communicate. USB connectivity is the standard for a wide range of devices and periperals.

For a checklist for troubleshooting problems with USB devices, hubs or connections, and an overview of best-practices when using USB connections between a PC and peripheral devices (such as keyboards, mice, flash drives, cameras, etc.) and between a PC and multiseat devices (devices that have built-in video card and USB hub capability), please refer to Userful's USB Guidelines

Device Driver Performance

USB and USB-over-LAN multiseat devices require device drivers for their graphics processing chipsets (Userful MultiSeat supports devices that use DisplayLink®, MCT™ and SMSC® chipsets). Performance of these drivers in a multiplied system appears to depend on processing power. More powerful host computers will yield higher performance, especially with processor-intensive tasks like full-screen video.

The MCT driver handles video differently from the DisplayLink and SMSC drivers, and so the appearance of movies, video or flash animations may be less smooth when using the MCT driver.

Maximizing USB Display Performance

When using 5 or more USB multiseat devices, it is best (where possible) to divide these devices over two USB buses. Many mid-range or better motherboards have two built-in internal USB 2.0 buses. (You can also add an additional USB 2.0 bus by purchasing and installing an appropriate PCI expansion card.

You can see how many "2.0 root hubs" you have and which USB devices are attached on which buses by opening a terminal window and typing at the command prompt:

$ lsusb

Hotplugging

With Userful MultiSeat, USB- and USB-over-LAN-connected stations are hotpluggable, meaning that USB connections can plugged and unplugged on a running system without requiring a system reboot.

  • Note: In rare cases, repeated hot-plugging of the USB Station may cause problems. If the USB station does not re-initialize correctly, simply reboot the system.

Hotplugging Input Devices

If using a USB multiseat device, a USB keyboard or mouse (Note: PS/2 input devices are not hotpluggable) must be unplugged from the multiseat device for more than 1.5 seconds to reset device assignment. With Userful MultiSeat v5.0 and later, input devices will be automatically reassigned; otherwise, the Press-F key utility will start for device reassignment.

Hotplugging input devices works the same way with network (USB-over-LAN) stations. However, hotplugging input devices with network stations in Userful MultiSeat v5.0 should avoided on systems under heavy load, as it may cause system instability and freezing; if this should occur a reboot is necessary to fix the issue.

Hotplugging USB Stations

If a USB multiseat device is disconnected from the computer and reconnected within 10 seconds, the session on that station will be resumed after input devices are reassigned. If the disconnection is more than 10 seconds, the session will be killed, and the login screen will be shown once the device is reconnected.

Hotplugging USB-over-LAN (Network) Stations

The term "hotplugging" is not technically accurate for these stations, as the term refers to USB connections, not network connections. However, it is possible to disconnect the network cable from a device, then reconnect the station successfully without requiring a reboot. Please note that all session data will be lost. and the station will come up on the log-in screen.

Hotplugging input devices works the same way with network (USB-over-LAN) stations. However, hotplugging input devices with network stations in Userful MultiSeat v5.0 should avoided on systems under heavy load, as it may cause system instability and freezing; if this should occur a reboot is necessary to fix the issue.

Running 3D Applications

Userful MultiSeat offers 3D software rendering and therefore can run applications that do not require hardware acceleration, such as Google Earth, K3DSurf and KSudoko. Please note that 3D graphics performance improves with more powerful CPUs. For optimal performance, avoid simultaneously running more 3D applications than the number of CPU cores in the host machine (i.e. a quad core CPU is best suited to run a maximum of 4 simultaneous 3D applications).

MultiSeat Audio

With Userful MultiSeat, each user can enjoy independent audio -- including volume and source control. Most USB multiseat device have integrated audio jacks that are assigned to each station automatically; if using video cards for multiseat, Userful recommends using USB hubs with integrated audio to connect input devices for each station.

Per Station Settings

UMs-Sound-Volume-Applet.png

For the most part, listening to audio on a Userful MultiSeat system is no different from using sound on a Windows® or Mac® OS. Typically, all users will need to worry about is adjusting volume using the volume applet that is typically found in the upper-right hand corner of the screen (see image at right). This applet is a graphical front end to one of the higher-level Linux sound applications called PulseAudio.

To open the volume applet, simply left click on the "horn" icon in the panel.

UMs-Sound-Prefs.png

Users can also click on "Sound Preferences" (see images at right) to control input/output sources and volume individually. With a Userful MultiSeat system, both input and output sound devices are usually identified as a "USB Sound Device".


System-wide Settings

UMsALSAMixerDevice.png

Some lower-level sound processes are controlled by a kernel module/device driver called ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture); if having a problem with audio that cannot be resolved with the desktop panel Volume applet, it may be necessary to adjust ALSA settings.

The simplest way to manage ALSA is through a semi-graphical interface that can be started by typing sudo alsamixer in the command line. (Normal users may not be able to start alsamixer; sudo or admin privileges may be required, depending on system configuration.) To adjust input and output levels for a specific sound device (i.e./ the onboard sound card, a USB multiseat device, or a USB audio hub):

  1. Open a terminal and type sudo alsamixer
  2. Press F6 key to open a list of available sound devices -- see image at right.
    • Note that it may be impossible to tell which particular USB multiseat or audio device in the list corresponds with a given physical device. Thus changes to ALSAMixer settings should be made with caution.
  3. Use the up and down arrow keys to select a device, and press Enter to select the device.
  4. Use the left and right arrow keys to select ouput (speaker) or input (mic) levels, and then use the up and down arrows to adjust those levels.
  5. Press Esc to exit ALSAMixer.

Userful maintains documentation on How to Set Audio Input Levels with ALSAMixer, but for more detailed information please see the ALSAMixer documentation.

Audio Limitations

Userful MultiSeat can provide each user with an enjoyable audio experience, but there are some limitations that should be taken in consideration.

  1. If an application is playing audio when a USB multiseat-device station is unplugged and replugged ("hotplugged"), the audio stream will stop -- even though, if watching a movie, video may resume playing. To get audio playback to restart, the application must be closed and restarted.
  2. For a given user session, only one application can play sound at a time. This means that if already listening to .mp3's using Rhythymbox, a user cannot simultaneously listen to the audio stream from a movie playing in Totem.
  3. Default volume levels can be affected by sound cards, playback devices (including those on USB hubs or USB multiseat devices), speaker/headphone quality, application settings and user settings. Audio levels from the onboard (host) PC may be different from those experienced by users on stations. Individual users are responsible for setting audio output and input volumes to their preferred levels. Once a user has adjusted these settings, the audio settings should be retained after logout.

Playing Video Files

Video files can be played simply by double-clicking on the file icon. In Ubuntu/Edubuntu, the default media player is Totem. Userful MultiSeat Linux includes the more flexible and feature-rich open source player VLC. The VLC player is required to play DVDs using the Userful System Tray.

Using the CD/DVD Drive

With Userful MultiSeat v4.0

The CD/DVD drive on the host PC is considered to be semi-shared storage. This means that when media is first inserted into the optical drive, it will be accessible to all users; however, only the station that mounts the drive will have access to it after it is mounted.

With Userful MultiSeat v4.1 and Later

Optical drives (either in the system tower or USB-connected) are managed through the new Userful System Tray. Please see the System Tray section of this guide for more details.

Using Flash Drives

NOTE: Avoid using USB keys in the host computer (system box) that have the same volume label as keys in use on the USB-connected stations. Please refer to Known Issues for details.

For instructions on how to change storage volume labels for external USB-connected drives such as USB keys, please refer to this How To.

With Userful MultiSeat v4.0

USB storage devices (flash drives) will be assigned to individual stations, and accessible to that station, only if the drive is plugged into a USB multiseat device being used by that station.

A flash drive plugged into a USB port on the host computer, or any other port where assignment is unclear, will be treated as a shared device. This means that when the flash drive is initially plugged in, an icon (labelled "Mount (New_Volume)") will appear on every logged-in station, and all logged-in users will be able to mount the device. Once the flash drive is mounted (a new icon appears, "New_Volume"), only the user mounting it will have access. Flash drives must be unmounted (by clicking on the "Unmount (New_Volume)" icon).

With Userful MultiSeat v4.1 and Later

Flash drives and other USB-connected storage devices are managed through the new Userful System Tray. Please see the System Tray section of this guide for more details.

Using Digital Cameras

Today's digital cameras use either a mass storage protocol (like USB flash drives) or the newer Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP); many cameras can use both. Check your camera's documentation to learn which protocol it uses.

To access pictures using a mass storage protocol, simply treat the camera as a flash drive (refer to System Tray for more information).

To access pictures using the PTP protocol, it is easiest to use picture management software.

UMsF-Spot.png

With Userful MultiSeat and/or F-Spot: F-Spot is the photo management application that is installed by default in Ubuntu. Depending on system configuration, regular (non-superuser) users may not be able to open F-Spot due to permissions issue. If this problem is encountered, the simplest solution is to install Shotwell from software repositories.

  1. Connect the camera to the computer.
  2. Turn on the camera.
  3. Open the F-Spot Photo Manager application via Applications > Graphics > F-Spot Photo Manager
  4. If the Import window is not open, click "Import".
  5. Select the camera from the "Import source" drop-down list (see illustration at right).


UMsShotwell.png

With Userful MultiSeat Linux and/or Shotwell:

  1. Connect the camera to the computer.
  2. Turn on the camera.
  3. Open the Shotwell Photo Manager application via Applications > Graphics > Shotwell Photo Manager
  4. Select the camera from the list of sources on the left, as in the illustration to the right.


Using Webcams

Userful MultiSeat v.5.0.1 introduces support for webcams -- accessed through applications like | Cheese or Skype-- as described below.

  1. A single usb-connected webcam can be used on the onboard (host PC) station.
    • Any user logged into the onboard station will be able to access the webcam.
    • The webcam should be plugged directly into ports on the host computer.
  2. A single usb-webcam can be used plugged into any USB-multiseat-device-connected station.
    • For best results, a webcam should be used on only one station attached to a host system.
      • With some hardware, it may be possible to use more than one webcam per host (i.e., to have a webcam on more than one USB-multiseat-device-connected station), but each webcam must be plugged into a different system USB bus. Please review the documentation for your system hardware for details about how many system USB buses exist and where the ports are located on the computer box.
    • Any user logged into the onboard station will be able to access the webcam.
    • The webcam should be plugged directly into ports on the USB multiseat device.
    • The USB multiseat device must have an independent power supply (power-over-USB may not be enough to power the webcam).
  3. Webcams CANNOT be connected directly to USB-over-LAN multiseat devices.
  4. The LAME Mp3 codecs must be installed for webcams to work.
    • The Ubuntu Multiverse ("software restricted by copyright or legal issues") repository must be enabled.
      • Use System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager to install the package.

Please Note: Due to the sheer number and variety of webcams and webcam applications available, Userful cannot guarantee that any particular webcam will work "out of the box" with any particular application.

Userful recommends testing your webcam with the "Cheese" application; if the webcam is supported by Ubuntu linux, it should "just work" with Cheese.

A list of webcams that should work with Ubuntu linux can be found at the linux webcam driver developers site.



Known Issues

Known Issues Common to Multiseat Computer Systems

The following is a list of limitations shared by many multi-station or multi-seat systems, including but not limited to Userful MultiSeat.

ACPI sometimes causes X to crash at bootup

To avoid this problem, disable ACPI by changing options in the GRUB bootloader. (The method for changing bootloader options varies depending on linux distribution and GRUB version; please see our instructions on How to Change Boot Options with the GRUB Bootloader.)

System instability with NVIDIA driver (using kernel 2.6.11-rc3 or lower)

There is a known issue regarding system instability using NVIDIA video drivers with kernel 2.6.11-rc3 or lower. If you experience random reboots or kernel panics using an NVIDIA driver, please ensure that your kernel version is 2.6.11-rc3 or higher.

Multimedia keys on keyboards are not supported

Utilities that enable multimedia keys in Linux may not work when multiple keyboards are connected to the system.



Userful MultiSeat Known Issues

Userful Control Center "Check for Updates" Page Does Not Work in v.5.0.1
Applies to: v.5.0.1

In Userful MultiSeat version 5.0.1, the "Check for Updates" page of the Userful Control Center gives an error and does not open. This issue will be fixed in an upcoming release.

Desktop Session (GNOME) Fails if Network Cable is Not Connected During System Boot
Applies to: v.5.0

If there is no network cable connected when the system is booting up, the GNOME desktop session will not start on the onboard station or on USB-connected stations. The workaround is to ensure that a network cable is plugged in during bootup. This issue will be addressed in an upcoming release.

The Manual Input Device Assignment Utility Does Not Count Unassigned Keyboards Correctly with v5.0
Applies to: v.5.0

When input device assignment is ambiguous, the Press-F-Key utility launches to allow manual assignment. With this Beta release, the available and assigned keyboards are not correctly enumerated. This is a cosmetic issue only and does not affect function.

Network Stations Not Found After Upgrading from Previous Version of Userful MultiSeat
Applies to: v.5.0

When upgrading from a previous version of Userful Multiseat (e.g. Version 4.0 or 4.1), it is necessary to fully uninstall previous versions of Userful MultiSeat before installing Userfil MultiSeat v5.0. Failure to follow this procedure will cause some network stations to be unrecognized by the Userful Control Center. In order to avoid this, uninstall the previous version of Userful MultiSeat using the Control Center before installing Userful MultiSeat 5.0.

Display Resolution Settings Will Revert to the Default Value After Rebooting
Applies to: v.5.0

In rare cases, when you set the resolution of a station (or all stations) through the Userful Control Center it will change as expected, but after a reboot the stations will revert back to the default 1024x768. The Userful Control Center will still show the user specified resolution. This is resolved by setting the resolution again.

Network Stations Status Page Freezes Due to Firefox Upgrade Issue
Applies to: v.5.0

When Firefox updates require a restart of the browser, the Userful Control Center may freeze during loading due to a Firefox message window (which opens behind the Control Center window) that requests a browser restart. This does not affect the user experience since stations are are started and users can be logged in. Shutting down and restarting the Userful Control Center will resolve this issue.

Userful Control Center Fails to Update Station User Status Correctly When a Network Station is Restarted While User is Logged In
Applies to: v.5.0

When a network station is unplugged and plugged back in, or disabled and re-enabled while a user is logged in to that station, the station will return to the log in screen. However, the Userful Control Center will still report that the user is logged into that station. This does not affect user-facing functionality, as the affected user can still log in to any station. This issue will be fixed in an upcoming release.

Keyboard and/or Mouse May be Unresponsive After Hotplugging DisplayLink-based USB MultiSeat Devices While the System is Under Heavy Load
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

Frequently, when the system is experiencing a high load (for example, many users playing video simultaneously), unplugging the station USB cable then replugging it results in a log-in session with and unresponsive keyboard and mouse, making the station unusable. The system as a whole and other stations are not affected. Sometimes,turning off the device (or unplugging the USB cable) for 20-30 seconds, then turning on/replugging the station will fix the issue. More commonly, the only way to fix the unusable stations is a system reboot, Userful cautions against hot-plugging a station when the system as a whole is under load.

Some Display Resolutions Not Currently Supported with Certain Devices
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

Currently, with some devices, a small number resolutions that appear in the Userful Control Center Display Management menus may not be supported. For example, with SMSC-based devices, 1366x768 or 1360x768 are not supported. This is due to graphic-chip level limitations on supported resolutions and timings. Attempting to set stations to an unsupported resolution will result in an error message and the stations will return to the default resolution (1024x768).

Kernel virtual address space exhaustion on the X86 platform with multiple NVIDIA cards
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0
  • For a detailed explanation of this problem and possible work-arounds, please see NVIDIA's online documentation here or here (NOTE: you must scroll down on both these pages to find the heading "Kernel virtual address space...").

On X86 systems and AMD64/EM64T systems using X86 kernels, kernel virtual address space is typically limited to 1GB or less -- and is used for direct RAM mapping, by drivers to map I/O resources and for some memory allocations.

The NVIDIA kernel module uses part of the kernel's virtual address space for each Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), which can lead to an overload of the kernel's virtual address space, particularily if more than 2 or 3 GPUs are being used. In this case, some GPUs may fail to initialize or fail memory allocations, resulting in the following error message:

allocation failed: out of vmalloc space - use vmalloc=<size> to increase size.

Possible solutions (please refer to the NVIDIA documentation above or to your system documentation for explicit instructions on using these tools):

  1. Increase the size of the kernel virtual address space (by default, the Linux kernel reserves 128MB). This is done by passing a command to the kernel via the GRUB boot menu. (The method for changing bootloader options varies depending on linux distribution and GRUB version; please see our instructions on How to Change Boot Options with the GRUB Bootloader).
    • If the above does not work, try:
  2. Disable frame buffer drivers such as vesafb.
  3. If possible, configure alternate address space layouts for your Linux kernel.
  4. If your system is equipped with an X86-64 (AMD64/EM64T) processor, it is recommended that you switch to a 64-bit Linux kernel/distribution. X86-64 kernels provide significantly larger address space than 32-bit.
Unused Video Output Heads on PCI/PCIe Graphics Cards or Integrated Graphics Cards Should be Disabled in the Userful Control Center to Avoid Going Over the Limit of Licensed Stations.
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

If a graphics card on the host computer has an unused video output head (except for Radeon graphics -- please see Known Issues), that output head will still show up in the Control Center as an available station. An error message will appear stating that "The Xorg server has failed on the specified display"; this error message can safely be ignored. However, these "phantom stations" will count towards the number of seats allowed on a license -- resulting in an unusable station showing the "Too Many Stations" screen -- unless disabled in the Userful Control Center.

If "Disable All" and then "Enable All" is used, the "Too Many Stations" screen may appear on the wrong station. To remedy this situation, Disable the station formed from the unused video output head and reboot the computer.

Onboard Station Freezes When Changing Onboard Station Resolution if Using Radeon/ATI Graphics in Host Computer
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

When using the Control Center to change the monitor resolution of the onboard station, a conflict with the Radeon graphics driver causes the onboard station to become unusable. If this happens, function can be restored by Resetting the System Configuration.

To avoid this problem, please do not attempt to change the resolution of the onboard station monitor if the host system has ATI/Radeon Graphics.

Unused Video Output Heads Register as X Server Failures and Count Towards Licensed Seats
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

Userful MultiSeat 4.1 attempts to start a station on all available working video outputs. If no monitor is connected, the X server will fail and this will manifest as a Userful MultiSeat error message: "The Xorg server has failed on the specified display." This error message can safely be dismissed and ignored; it is a cosmetic issue that should be fixed in an upcoming release.

Only One Video Output Head of Motherboards with Dual-head Radeon Graphics Is Supported
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

If the host PC system has a motherboard with integrated Radeon graphics, and also has two video output heads, only one output head will be usable with Userful MultiSeat enabled. The system will crash after reboot until a system administrator manually edits the /etc/userful/extra_devices.db to select either the VGA (D-sub) or DVI output head. To do so:

  1. Find the graphic card model used in the PC.
  2. Start the computer in single-user mode (with Userful MultiSeat disabled). Alternatively, if MultiSeat is enabled and the system has been started, wait three minutes and MultiSeat will automatically turn off, returning the system to single-user mode.
  3. Open a terminal and either log in as root or use sudo throughout this procedure.
  4. Open the /etc/userful/extra_devices.db file in a text editor.
  5. Find the # VGA devices list within that file and update it so that only one port is listed, either 'DVI' or 'D-sub' (VGA), after MainPorts.
Example: The original entry...
('video', 0x1002, 0x5b63, any, any): dict(
       Model = 'Radeon X550 (0xPCIE)',  MainPorts =  ['DVI', 'D-sub']),
Should be changed to (for DVI output):
('video', 0x1002, 0x5b63, any, any): dict(
       Model = 'Radeon X550 (0xPCIE)',  MainPorts =  ['DVI']),
Should be changed to (for VGA output):
('video', 0x1002, 0x5b63, any, any): dict(
       Model = 'Radeon X550 (0xPCIE)',  MainPorts =  ['D-sub']),
Up-Arrow Key At Session Log-in Screen Does not Work in 64-bit Ubuntu/Edubuntu
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

With Userful MultiSeat v4.1 and 5.0, due to a key-mapping error, users on system using USB multiseat devices are unable to use the up-arrow key to navigate to different users at the log-in screen in 64-bit Ubuntu/Edubuntu. To workaround this issue, please use the mouse to scroll through the user list and select a user to be logged in.

Alsamixer Configuration May Be Required to get Audio Input With GWC DU2600 Multiseat Devices
Applies to: v.4.1 v.5.0

Due to an upstream Ubuntu bug, audio input through GWC DU2600 devices may not work without using Alsamixer to choose the correct sound input. For detailed instructions on how to do this, please refer to How to Set Audio Input Levels with ALSA. Further information can be found in the Alsamixer documentation.

Input Devices (Keyboards, Mice) Randomly Stop Working When Running More Than 8 USB Stations Plus Onboard Station
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1

This is due to a limitation on event devices in the kernel. If these problems are experienced when using an 8+1 (or larger) system, the a custom Userful-patched kernel is required. Please see Appendix C of the User Guide for more details, including download and installation instructions for the Userful-patched kernel. This does not apply to v.5.0.

Input Devices Fail to Assign with Press-F-Key Utility With 32-bit Ubuntu 10.04.03
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1

Rarely, when input device assignment is broken (by hotplugging the input device or USB multiseat device, by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Break, or by Resetting Configuration from the Control Center), the affected input devices will not be assignable using the Press-F-Key utility. Should this occur, the issue can usually be resolved by either unplugging the USB multiseat device (to which the affected input devices are attached) for 60 seconds, or by rebooting the system.

"Show Details" Does Not Work When Setup Wizard Stops on Unsupported Install
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1

During installation of Userful MultiSeat, a variety of system checks are performed; if the system checks do not pass, installation is stopped and an error dialogue appears. There should also be an opportunity for the user to get more information about the cause of the failure by clicking the "Show Details" button in the error dialogue box, however this function is not working at this time. This is a cosmetic issue and does not affect functionality.

To avoid this issue, please ensure that the operating system and system hardware meet the recommended minimums.

Devices Using MCT Chipset Must not be Plugged into an Active Userful MultiSeat System
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1

Due to device driver issues, please avoid plugging any multiseat device using an MCT chipset into a powered-up system that has Userful MultiSeat enabled; such devices that are hotplugged into active systems will fail to initialize properly and may cause system-wide segmentation faults.

To add one or several multiseat devices with MCT chipsets to a Userful MultiSeat system, please ensure the computer is turned off and/or has Userful MultiSeat disabled.

Onboard Audio Jack Sometimes Muted by Either AlsaMixer or PulseAudio
Applies to: v.4.0

Occasionally it seems the audio on the onboard audio is not working, when in fact it has been muted by either AlsaMixer or PulseAudio. This issue is unpredictable and difficult to reproduce. To adjust PulseAudio settings, click on the "Volume" icon in panel on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. For instructions on changing AlsaMixer settings, please see How to Set Audio Input Levels with ALSA. For further information, we recommend that if you are experiencing this problem you refer to AlsaMixer and PulseAudio documentation for how to adjust settings with those applications.

By Default, the Userful Control Center Cannot be Opened Without a Network Connection
Applies to: v.4.0

If there is no network connection, the Userful Control Center will not open unless the browser is set to "Offline Mode". There is no workaround for the Chrome browser. For Firefox, the workaround is:

  1. Use Firefox as the default web browser.
  2. If the computer is only occasionally without a network connection:
    • Attempting to open the Control Center will cause Firefox to display a page asking the user to switch to "Offline Mode". Follow the instructions on the page and the Control Center will work as usual.
  3. If the computer is regularly without a network connection, or if a more permanent fix is required:
    • Enter about:config: in the address bar of Firefox. Scroll down the page to find "toolkit.networkmanager.disable". Double-click the entry to change the value to "TRUE".
Log-in Screen Freezes and Experiences Long Delays with 32-bit Version of Userful MultiSeat4.0
Applies to: v.4.0

For 32-bit Userful MultiSeat 4.0 a custom Userful-patched version of GDM (the Gnome Display Manager) is required (This package is included in the Userful MultiSeat Linux installation DVD). This package can be downloaded from Userful's website (the checksum is here. The Userful-patched GDM file should be saved to the Desktop, and can be installed with the package manager simply by double-clicking the package icon.

Without the custom GDM package, the log-in screen experiences frequent long delays and freezing.

Chinese, Japanese and Korean Text Displayed Incorrectly
Applies to: v.4.0

CJK Characters/Fonts may display incorrectly, with black boxes instead of font characters, due to a problem with fontconfig settings. The workaround is:

  1. Open a terminal, and change to the font configuration directory:
    $ cd /etc/fonts/conf.d
  2. Enter the following:
    • For Traditional Chinese (zh_TW)
    $ sudo mv 69-language-selector-zh-tw.conf 48-language-selector-zh-tw.conf
    • For Simplified Chinese (zh_CN)
    $ sudo mv 69-language-selector-zh-cn.conf 48-language-selector-zh-cn.conf
    • For Japanese (ja_JP)
    $ sudo mv 69-language-selector-ja-jp.conf 48-language-selector-ja-jp.conf
    • For Korean (South Korea) (ko_KR)
    $ sudo mv 69-language-selector-ko-kr.conf 48-language-selector-ko-kr.conf
Note: If variant Chinese language packs such as zh_HK are installed and selected, some text strings will be displayed in Simplified Chinese only, regardless of language settings. To always display in Traditional Chinese, please remove zh_HK, and use language pack zh_TW instead.
Flash Drives Mounted in the Host Computer Cause Errors if the Volume Label Matches Any Station-Connected Drive
Applies to: v.4.0

USB flash drives have an intrinsic name called a "label". The volume labels of flash drives of the same brand name are typically identical out-of-the box (that is, Kingston-manufactured drives will be labeled "KINGSTON",. etc..) With Userful MultiSeat, any flash drives plugged directly into the host computer (system box) will result in errors accessing flash drives connected to any/all stations if the volume labels of the flash drives are the same. Please avoid using USB keys in the host computer that have the same label as keys in use on the USB-connected stations.

For instructions on how to change a USB flash drive volume label, please refer to this How To.

Atrust M200/202 & ViewSonic VMA10 USB Multiseat Devices Lose Input Assignments After Reboot
Applies to: v.4.0

With Userful MultiSeat v4.0, after every shutdown/restart, keyboard and mouse assignments are lost on all stations connected with ATrust M200/M202 or ViewSonic VMA10 multiseat. Input devices are quickly and easily reassigned with the Press-F-Key utility.

GWC DU2600 Devices Must be Re-plugged after Reboot, and Hotplugging During User Sessions Should be Avoided
Applies to: v.4.0

With Userful MultiSeat v4.0, after every shutdown/restart, stations will fail to start (resulting in a blank screen) on all GWC DU2600-connected stations. To restart the stations, the devices must be unplugged and then reconnected.

In addition, more than 50% of the time hotplugging a station with an active user session results in the user being logged off, with the potential to lose unsaved work. Userful recommends avoiding hotplugging with GWC DU2600 devices in these circumstances.

GNOME Applet Errors May Appear When Logging Into a User Session
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

Occasionally, when a user logs into a session, an error message will appear: "Panel encountered a problem with loading OAFIID:GNOME_<applet>" and asking the user to delete or keep the affected applet. This is a known issues with the GNOME desktop environment, please see Ubuntu's bug tracking system for more information.

Userful recommends choosing to keep the affected applet as this is a cosmetic issue and does not impact functionality.

USB Video Devices Do Not Initialize on Systems with a Floppy Drive Controller
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

If a USB video device does not initialize, USB-connected stations will not function, and the screens will either be frozen at startup or black. USB video devices may not intialize properly if:

  • the computer system has a floppy disk drive
  • the computer system BIOS has an enabled floppy drive controller (even when no floppy drive is physically present in the system)

The workaround is to disable the floppy drive controller in the BIOS. (Please refer to the documentation for your system for information on how to work with the BIOS).

Full-screen Flash Video Requires Disabling Hardware Acceleration
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

Full-screen web-based Flash video (for example, while viewing YouTube videos) can cause Firefox to crash or freeze. Flash video can be viewed in full-screen mode, at a reduced frame rate, by disabling hardware acceleration in Flash.

Changes must be made for each user due to the way Flash settings are handled. For each user:

  1. Right-click on the Flash application.
  2. Select "Settings".
  3. Go to the "Display" tab.
  4. Un-check "Enable Hardware Acceleration".
  5. Click on the "Close" button.

These settings will be kept until changed by the user, even after rebooting the system.

Multimedia Keyboards and USB-video Devices with Network Cards Limit the Number of Stations Possible
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

Multimedia keyboards (which have special keys to access the internet, music and other computer functions) register with computer systems as a number of separate "event devices", thus limiting the number of event devices available for multiseat stations. To achieve the maximum number of connected stations, avoid using multimedia keyboards.

Session Lock Feature Disabled to Avoid Blocking Input Device Manual Assignment Screen
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

Session Lock is a security feature available on some Linux distributions; when the system is idle long enough for the screensaver to appear, the user's password will be required to re-open the session.

However, with Userful MultiSeat 4.0, on the rare occasion that a station loses keyboard/mouse device assignment and then the screensaver turns on, the authentication dialog box will block access to the Press-F-Key screen. Therefore, for Userful MultiSeat 4.0 the Session Lock feature has been disabled as a workaround.

Note: Users created after Userful MultiSeat is installed will not benefit from the workaround until they have logged in, logged out and logged back in once; until then the Session Lock feature will be available to those users.

Rarely, USB-connected Monitors Lose the Signal and Go Blank
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

Certain USB multiseat devices occasionally lose their signal and go blank. This seems to be caused when fluctuations in the USB signal prompt the system to switch the device to the USB 1.1 protocol (which does not support USB-video devices due to insufficient bandwidth). It may also occur when USB multiseat devices are hotplugged rapidly. The workaround:

  1. Unplug the USB multiseat device from the computer.
  2. Wait for 45-60 seconds to allow your session to reset (please note you will lose any unsaved work)
  3. Replug the USB multiseat device into the computer and re-login.
Hewlett Packard MS6000 freezes during the boot process when some USB multiseat devices are connected to it
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

With some HP systems (MS6000 series) using the 786G2 BIOS version 1.09 or earlier, the boot process will freeze during the Power-On Self-Test (POST) if USB multiseat devices are already connected to the system. To fix this issue, the BIOS must be upgraded to version 1.14. Please refer to Hewlett Packard's MS600 BIOS upgrade page for further details and how to upgrade the BIOS.


X Window System Fails to Start If No Monitor is Connected to Primary Station
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

During boot-up, if no video output device is connected to the primary station, the X Window display system will not initialize properly. This is an issue with the Ubuntu/Edubuntu operating system.

To avoid this issue, always ensure that there is a monitor connected to the onboard or primary system station.

Black Box Around Cursor on Onboard/Video Card Station During Video Playback Using Xv Video Output
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

This issue occurs on the onboard station and any PCI or PCI-e stations only. When video is being played, and the video player is using the Xv video output mode, a black square can be seen around the cursor when the cursor is moving. This is a cosmetic issue only, and seems to be restricted to systems where the onboard graphics is nVIDIA. To workaround this issue, either avoid moving the mouse cursor over a video playback window, or switch to X11 video output.

Session Log-in Screen Loses Focus When Station Enabled Through the Userful Control Center: EduBOSS OS ONLY
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

The EduBOSS 2.0 operating system uses a deprecated version of the gnome display manager (gdm) that does not regain cursor focus properly at the log-in screen when a station is enabled through the Userful Control Center, preventing users from selected a profile to log in with.

There is a workaround for this issue; simply click on any one of the menu buttons at the bottom of the log-in screen, and then back out of the menu that pops up to return focus to the log-in prompt.

Userful MultiSeat Cannot be Installed by Double-clicking the Package in the EduBOSS Operating System
Applies to: v.4.0 v.4.1 v.5.0

EduBOSS is based on the Debian operating system which does not support double-clicking .deb packages to install them as a default behaviour. To install the Userful MultiSeat (and other) .deb package in EduBOSS, right click on the package and choose "Open with GDebi Package Installer".




Known Issues for Userful MultiSeat Linux

Spurious Error Message Appears About Install/Upgrade of "nhci-dkms" Package"
Applies to: v.5.0

During installation of certain packages (including nhci-dkms) essential for the function of USB-over-LAN stations, the system attempts to compile those packages for all available versions of the Ubuntu kernel. Due to incompatibility issues, this process fails for some older Ubuntu kernels. However, the packages do compile correctly for more recent kernel versions, including the default kernel for Userful MultiSeat Linux 5.0 (3.0.0-16). Functionality is not affected. If this error message appears, click "Close" on the dialogue box and ignore the message.

Hotplugging Too Soon After Initial User Log-in Can Prevent Subsequent Logins (For Users Created During Userful MultiSeat Linux Install)
Applies to: 2011 v.4.1 v.5.0

During the installation of Userful MultiSeat Linux, several users accounts are created. The first time one of these accounts is used to log into a session, the user is prompted to enter a new password, and the process of setting up the users home directory is completed. Hotplugging (unplugging and replugging) a station before user home directory is completed can result in a corrupted session and home directory, so that once the user logs out, that username will not be able to log into a session again.

To avoid this situation, be sure to log in and then log out each user account created during installation before hotplugging a session using those accounts.

If a user account gets corrupted in this way, it can easily be fixed by removing the /home/(username)/.userful/station folder. From either the teacher01 or the administrative account, enter the following in a terminal: sudo rm /home/student01/.userful/station/ -rf
This fix will also remove audio configuration files, so the affected user may need to reset volume levels (once, then audio levels will persist for subsequent sessions).

Disabling or Uninstalling Userful MultiSeat (from Userful MultiSeat Linux) from the Control Center May Require an Additional System Reboot
Applies to: 2011 v.4.1 v.5.0

When the Userful MultiSeat component of Userful MultiSeat Linux is disabled or uninstalled, the intended behavior is to return the system to single-user mode after a single reboot. Occasionally, disabling or uninstalling Userful MultiSeat from Userful MultiSeat Linux, from the Control Center will result in either:

  • a return to single seat mode with corrupted graphics, or
  • a failure to return to single seat mode (indicated by a black screen on the onboard station).

Should either problem occur, a manual reboot (using the power on/off or restart buttons on the host system) is required to return normal function. It may be necessary to disconnect all USB-connected stations to successfully return to single-seat mode.

X Crashes and Restarts on MCT-device Connected Stations When Streaming DVD with "watch-dvd"
Applies to: 2011 v.4.1 v.5.0

Driver segmentation faults seem to be causing X to die on stations when viewing streaming DVD on MCT devices using the Userful MultiSeat Linux "watch-dvd" function. There is no workaround at this time.

User Cannot Fully Change Session Language From Log-in When Userful MultiSeat Linux is Installed in a Language Other Than English
Applies to: 2011 v.4.0

From the Ubuntu/Edubuntu login screen, users are supposed to be able to choose a session language; however when Userful MultiSeat Linux is installed in a language other than English, and a user chooses a session language other than the system language, user interface translations are not working. Only the date will appear in the user's chosen session language. All else will be in the system language.

This bug is related to a bug in Ubuntu; see Ubuntu's bug tracking system for more details.

The workaround is for an administrator to change the system language using the Language Selector, accessed through Administration > Language Support. Please see How to Change System Language for more information.



Contact Userful

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))

Appendix A: Available How To's and FAQs

How To's

Userful maintains a collection of documents to help users do more with Userful MultiSeat.

Currently, the following How To's are available:



Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit Userful MultiSeat's FAQ page for a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Appendix B: Using the Terminal

The Userful MultiSeat Command Line tool combines all terminal or shell commands for the Userful MultiSeat Control Center into a single interface.

  • Root-level privileges are needed to run these commands; either log in as root or use sudo.
  • The command should have the format:
$ sudo userful [command] [operation] [options] [arguments]
  • For example:
$ sudo userful display colordepth 1 16
  • Command Line tool options will be updated and extended as needed
  • Please see below for brief documentation of the commands available
    • Note: The man page for this tool is not yet available.
    • enter userful --help in the terminal for help with this command.

CLI commands are listed below in functional groups.

Device Management (v.5.0 and later)

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
device
Show devices (not LAN-connected) recognized by Userful MultiSeat

known

  • Specify which devices to show:
mouse
keyboard
generic
video
storage
audio
all
userful device known video

userful device known all

Show devices (not LAN-connected) recognized by system

list

  • Specify which devices to show:
mouse
keyboard
generic
video
storage
audio
all
userful device list video

userful device list audio

Show available LAN-connected multiseat access devices

scan

access
  • Note: "access" is a device type; in this case a multiseat device using USB-over-LAN connectivity
userful device scan access
Attach available LAN-connected multiseat access devices

attach

  • access devices, either all or individually by MAC address
userful device attach all

userful device attach F8:0F:41:35:EB:0D

Detach LAN-connected multiseat access devices

detach

  • access devices, either all or individually by MAC address
userful device detach all

userful device detach F8:0F:41:35:EB:0D

Set IP address for LAN-connected multiseat access device

configure

  • target device MAC address. plus one of the following:
    • ip=123.123.123.21 mask=255.255.255.0
    • ip=dhcp
    • ip=dynamic
userful device configure F8:0F:41:2A:B3:D8 ip=192.132.123.4 mask=255.255.255.0

userful device configure F8:0F:41:2A:B3:D8 ip=dhcp

userful device configure F8:0F:41:2A:B3:D8 ip=dynamic

Download firmware from LAN-connected multiseat access device to computer filesystem

firmware <MAC_address>

download </path/to/file.bin>

userful device firmware F8:0F:41:2A:B3:D8 download /tmp/firmware.bin

Upload firmware to LAN-connected multiseat access device from computer filesystem

firmware <MAC_address>

upload </path/to/file.bin>

userful device firmware F8:0F:41:2A:B3:D8 upload /tmp/firmware.bin

Station Management

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
station
Enable station

enable

  • aliases:
    -e
    --enable
  • stations - station number to enable, all for all stations
userful station enable 3

userful station -e all

Disable station

disable

  • aliases:
    -d
    --disable
  • stations - station number to disable, all for all stations
userful station -d 4

userful station disable all

Display Management

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
display
Set color depth for all displays

colordepth

  • aliases:
    -c
    --colordepth
  • station - station number to change resolution, a comma separated list of station numbers, or all for all stations
  • colordepth - number of bits of color depth
userful display colordepth all 16

userful display -c 1,2,5 16

Set display resolution for

resolution

  • aliases:
    -r
    --resolution
  • station - station number to change resolution, a comma separated list of station numbers, or all for all stations
  • resolution - dispay resolution, e.g 1024x768
  • refresh_rate - numeric vertical refresh rate e.g 60
userful display resolution 6,8,10 1024x768 60

userful display -r all 1280x720 70

List available resolutions for a given display

listresolutions

  • aliases:
    -l --listresolutions
  • station - station number to list resolutions for
userful display listresolutions all

userful display -l 2,4,6

License Management

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
license
Get a license key

get

  • aliases:
    -g
    --get
userful license get

userful license -g

Modify the current license key

modify

  • aliases:
    -m
    --modify
userful license modify

userful license -m

List the details of the current license

details

  • aliases:
    -d
    --details
userful license details

userful license -d

Install a license key

install

  • aliases:
    -i
    --install
  • path_to_license - path to license key file to be installed
userful license install [path]

userful license -i [path]

Backup the license key

backup

  • aliases:
    -b
    --backup
userful license backup

userful license -b

Delete the license key

delete

  • aliases:
    -x
    --delete
userful license delete

userful license -x

System Management

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
system
Reset Userful MultiSeat configuration to factory defaults

reset

  • aliases:
    --reset
userful system reset

userful system --reset

Enable MultiSeat mode on the computer

on

  • aliases:
    --on
userful system on

userful system --on

Disable MultiSeat mode on the computer

off

  • aliases:
    --off
userful system off

userful system --off

Check if MultiSeat mode of the computer is enabled

isenabled

userful system isenabled
Return version information

version

  • aliases:
    --version
userful system version

userful system --version

Show status information

status

  • aliases:
    --status
userful system status

userful system --status

Turn on or off system debugging

debug on or debug off

userful system debug on

userful system debug off

Uninstall Userful MultiSeat

uninstall

  • aliases:
    --uninstall
userful system uninstall

userful system --uninstall


Other

Function Command Operations Arguments Examples
Help and Support support
Report a problem

report

  • aliases:
    -r
    --report
userful support report

userful support -r

Update update
Check for updates to Userful MultiSeat

check

  • aliases:
    -c
    --check
userful update check

userful update -c



Appendix C: The Custom Userful-patched Kernel

Due to a limitation on the maximum allowed event devices in the Ubuntu kernel, Userful MultiSeat systems with 8 or more USB-multiseat device-connected stations (plus the onboard station) may have problems with unpredictable "dropping" of mice and keyboards. The input devices simply stop working and sometimes cannot be reset by unplugging and replugging.

To solve this problem, Userful created a patch for the Ubuntu kernel version 2.6.32 with a higher limit on the number of event devices.

Please Note: The custom-patched kernel module is not required with Userful MultiSeat v5.0 and later.

Getting the Userful-patched Kernel

The custom kernel package must be downloaded and installed separately from the stand-alone version of Userful MultiSeat. It may be necessary to downgrade the currently installed kernel; see below for instructions.

The Userful-patched kernel is already included in the installation DVD for Userful MultiSeat Linux. If a high number of stations are going to be used immediately, an extra reboot after the DVD install is be required to complete the installation of the custom kernel.

To keep the Userful-patched kernel from being overwritten, is it important to NOT use the GUI Update Manager to do system updates. See below for alternate instructions.

For Userful MultiSeat v4.0

The Userful-patched kernel can be downloaded from Userful's website (see links below) and should be saved to the Desktop. Choose the appropriate link below and click to download the package. A checksum is also available for each file.

Installing the Userful-patched Kernel for MultiSeat v4.0

To install the custom kernel, simply double-click on the package icon to launch the package installer.

For Userful MultiSeat v4.1

The Userful-patched kernel can be downloaded from Userful's website (see links below) and should be saved to the Desktop. Choose the appropriate link below and click to download the package.

Installing the Userful-patched Kernel for MultiSeat v4.1

To install the custom kernel:

  1. Double-click on the .tar file to extract it into the preferred folder
  2. Open a terminal.
  3. In the terminal, navigate to that folder.
  4. Type in either:
    sudo install-ubuntu10.04-ums64evt-customkernel-32.sh (for 32-bit)
    or
    sudo install-ubuntu10.04-ums64evt-customkernel-64.sh (for 64-bit)
  5. Reboot.

Updating the Operating System with the Userful-patched Kernel

Although it is convenient to use the graphical Update Manager tool, doing so offers no control over what gets updated; a different kernel version may be installed and overwrite the Userful-patched kernel.

To update all packages and applications except the kernel, perform updates manually from the terminal:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Enter the following:
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Downgrading to the Userful-patched Kernel

If the existing kernel in the operating system is more recent than the Userful-patched kernel, it is necessary to force the re-installation of the custom kernel. To do this:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Enter the following:
$ sudo dpkg -i --force-downgrade  <package name>

For Advanced Users: Defaulting to the Userful-patched Kernel

For users comfortable with editing configuration files, there is a method to ensure that the Userful custom kernel is always the one booted by the system. To do so:

  1. Install the Userful-patched kernel (this is unnecessary if you are using Userful MultiSeat Linux as the custom kernel will already be installed).
  2. To show all the kernels on the system, type the following into a terminal, using sudo or when logged in as root.
     $ dpkg-query -W --showformat='${Version} <> ${Package}\n' "linux-image*"
    The output should look something like this:
     <> linux-image
      <> linux-image
     <> linux-image-2.6
    2.6.32-21.32 <> linux-image-2.6.32-21-generic
     <> linux-image-2.6.32-25-generic
    2.6.32-25.45 <> linux-image-2.6.32-25-userful
    2.6.32-26.48userful1 <> linux-image-2.6.32-26-generic
    2.6.32.26.28 <> linux-image-generic
  3. In the first column, find the "userful" kernel (e.g. 2.6.32-26.48userful1 and get the Package name from the second column (e.g. linux-image-2.6.32-26-generic) from the second column.
  4. Edit /etc/default/grub and put the package name -- replacing ""linux-image-" with "Ubuntu, with Linux" -- into GRUB_DEFAULT (instead of the value 0 , for example:
    GRUB_DEFAULT="Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.32-26-generic"
    GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0
    GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT_QUIET=true
    GRUB_TIMEOUT=10
    GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""
    
  5. Update grub with this command:
     $ update-grub
  6. The next time the computer is restarted, the Userful-patched kernel will load, even if system updates have downloaded a newer kernel version. To restore default behaviour, edit /etc/default/grub and set GRUB_DEFAULT=0.

For more information on editing grub boot options, please see How to Change Boot Options with the GRUB Bootloader.