Thursday, October 12, 2006

USB Access To Thin Clients Via Server

One of the things that has changed since our first thin clients were deployed 10 years ago is the desire to plug in USB memory devices and gain access to them from City applications. After considering various ideas, I have finished implementing this on my experimental SLES 10 device. The biggest issue that we face is different skillsets and the propensity of people to just turn off devices without dismounting them first. NFS mounting would have been a nightmare for that reason. The technical hurdle is that the USB ports are on the local thin clients, yet Nautilus and other City software runs on the server. I wanted to create something as stateless as possible. My solution was to set up a user called 'usb' on the thin clients, and start up vsftpd and jail that user into the /media directory. Ivman then picks up devices, mounts them automatically. Nautilus has the ability to add a 'Place' that is a ftp connection. The end result is a file manager that appears to the user to be working locally on their device. It also in theory would allow users to share files to USB memory sticks to users in different buildings. (On my wishlist: ftp connections from F-spot).

The images below show how it works; (follow my blog link if images do not appear).

[ The usb camera is plugged into thin client. Ivman sees the plugin and mounts /dev/media. Nautius is running on the server, and ftp's over to the thin client and sees the mounted memory sticks or cameras ]


[ ivman working well, mounts and dismounts automatically ]



[ The most important issue, transparent access to these files for the user. This looks no different than it would if they were on their own computer. ]



Still struggling with poor SiS video drivers in SLES. Next up, working networked ESD to get sound from the server.

HP has officially added this product to their website.

4 comments:

Simon Holm Th√łgersen said...

Wouldn't Pulseaudio be the way to go now or does it still miss some esd features?

Anonymous said...

Distros packaging LTSP (K12LTSP and Edubuntu) are doing this via ltspfs, a FUSE-based filesystem. It's a real mounted FS, so you're not relying on gnome-vfs support. Thus it works in all apps.

http://packages.ubuntulinux.org/dapper/source/ltspfs

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progment said...

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Veda Thin Client MMX is a higerend version thin client works with Pentium I with 64 MB RAM. It Automatically detects most most of the Display adapters and Sound Cards. V32 Supports, Sound, local devices, printers and 24 bit color support. MMX version ships with built in Media Player and MP3 player to play streaming Videos like VCD, DVD movies and higher end music with mp3 player.
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