Thursday, January 18, 2007

What's Going On In Largo

We are moving ahead with our new thin client deployment and upgrade. I have started to make changes to OpenSuse to better interact with our user community. I stripped out the default applications from the main-menu and started to move in our own software. I'll be taking each application and finding a "Group" for it and eliminate the older cascading menus that were previously used. The testing that was done in the creation of main-menu was accurate by my observations; users will barely only go 1 menu deep into cascading menus. Once they find their applications they pull them to the gnome-panel and then never look in those menus again. It's important to keep software options in front of them so they find new things.

This is a shot of main-menu running with just the start of the custom packages. 100s more to go :)

I designed a quick python/glade dialog to help users flip between 2D and 3D. The dialogs on OpenSuse and Fedora are not strong enough for deployment. People need to know what exactly they are changing, and what will happen after it changes. My scripts will automatically detect Xservers that support 3D, and run in 2D when users roam around the City to different devices. (shot of my first dialog is below) [ I tried to put on a users hat when coming up with advantages/disadvantages and they will change.]

The wallpaper is of Clearwater Beach, about 15 minutes from Largo City Hall, here it is if you would like to use it:


Dylan said...

I've followed your thin client deployments for years. Nice to see that that the city of Largo is yet again on the cutting edge with 3D desktops! What kind of clients do you use to support this?
Also, have you looked into deploying other open source apps, like Asterisk PBX?

Dave Richards said...

PBX: IT does not support the phones, thankfully. :) So we haven't messed around with Asterisk. Phones are done by Public Works here.

The rest of my blogs are here:

and the evolution of the thin client testing is there. We are going to deploy the HP 5725 device with expansion PCI slot and added 3D video card.

Scott Dodson said...

I'm interested in why you've chosen to adopt 3D Desktop features. Is it eye candy or do you feel it will improve productivity?

Justin said...

Since you are using thin clients, wouldn't using compositing improve performance? I played around with xgl for a bit, and while some things were in fact slower, the one task that did have a noticeable performance increase was running remote applications. The off screen rendering really helped to run applications over the network.

Anonymous said...

Great work on the use of thin clients, but please rotate that wallpaper. The slanting sea really hurts my eyes! ;-)

Dave Richards said...


Why adopt 3D? I agree that much of it is eyecandy. Much of what is gained is not functionality as much as the perception that we are keeping the technology current. Vista and OSX both support shadows and transparent windows and these more advance features. Most of the users in the City do not use multiple workspaces and open and close applications as needed because they don't know how to manage a window stack. So we are hoping this will help them understand how to run more applications at once.

Performance? The 2D desktop does 'feel' faster than 3D even with compositing over remote display. Part of that is the way that 3D works, with windows that pop open graphically with one of the effects. Metacity is just crisper to me in moving windows than something like Beryl. I think that performance patches will make them almost identical in the future.

Glad that the work is being followed and I am hopeful that other Governmental agencies follow and do the same types of things. We are afterall spending taxpayer dollars.

Ken said...

What Metacity theme is that on the right-hand screenshot?

Doug said...

I am so glad to see that Largo is still with Linux/Open-Source apps. I am a developer in Tampa and the son of a Florida state representative. I have been speaking with him about a need to study the viability for open source in education and other governmental uses in Florida and he is very interested in exploring this issue. I have a number of state representatives and senators using a LAMP application I developed for political campaigns which may increase their attention to the subject knowing they have experienced using open-source.

I think it is great that an entity considered to be a pioneer of this technology movement is right next door to us, in the state of Florida.

I think it would be great if we were able to call on you for some testimonial on your history with a successful open-source environment and if you think it would be beneficial to our education system and state government.

I don't want to leave my email address, so could you please send an email through my dad's website at
and leave your contact information.

Doug Homan