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:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pieces Of A Puzzle

The pieces of our next generation thin client solution are finally coming together. Today was the first time that I have had all of the required elements working in a manner that exactly simulates the user experience on the right operating systems and servers. I struggled with getting distributions to load and work with our hardware and software requirements.

Right now the fit seems to be Fedora Core 6 for the thin clients, which installed in about a 1.5GB footprint and provides an AIGLX enabled Xserver. OpenSuse 10.2 seems to be the right fit for the desktop server. It was able to compile cleanly the various items I need to be available to the users, including the main-menu (slad) application.

On the shot below (go to my link if the image doesn't appear), I am running what the users will see. Operating systems are completely hidden from them and integrate cleanly into one desktop. A click of an icon, and the right server responds and remote displays output back to the thin client. OpenOffice, Evolution, GNOME, Firefox, Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX applications are all running at once via various remote display protocols...all transparent to the users. Beryl is providing a 3D desktop over the network and modern eye candy.