Friday, September 21, 2007

Pulse Audio, mplayer and gnome-mplayer Moved To Beta Group

After doing some R&D on a laptop, I got pulse audio working as desired and sent it to HP. Their engineer built from source and compiled it for their thin clients and returned it to us a working build. This build has been moved out to about 20 people and up to this point the only sound they have gotten is standard GNOME login and logout clips.

After testing a few ideas, I have settled on using the mplayer engine, and the gnome-mplayer UI for our deployment. Many of the players have the controls running in a UI separate from the display canvas, which is just not deployable for 'regular users'. Users lose windows in their stack, and often don't know how to find them again. gnome-mplayer is wrapped around the display canvas. It's got only the most basic of controls and should be an excellent fit.

In the beginning of testing, I was concerned that remote display and Compiz would make playback too slow for deployment. However, it turns out that the business use content (quicktime, windows media, real) works just fine. Below I am attaching two shots. The second is the IronMan quicktime (way cool btw!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Evolution Update And OpenOffice 2.3

I finished moving over the 750 users to Evolution on SLED and last week was spent tuning the server. We have been using the GroupWise backend for about 18 months, and many users had built up massive calendars which were being pushed down each morning and slowing down the server. We have decided against retaining calendar cache from session to session because it's proven impossible to explain to people that they are seeing calendar events that might not be accurate during the period that the post office syncs all of the new events. It's better to just delete cache and push down a fresh set of data; once they see events it's 100% known to be current. Using the environmental variable GETQM_TIME_INTERVAL I tuned their calendars to only reload every 15 minutes to reduce open SOAP connections. We also activated auto-purging of old calendar events in the post office. Things are running much better this week as we continue to tune, here is a 'top' with 210 concurrent users running Evolution; I think we could get another 100-200 concurrent on this machine if required.

OpenOffice 2.3 came out yesterday and I put it live for the whole City. So far we haven't had any support calls related to the new release. The biggest features I have noticed so far are the new icon artwork, centered composer window and brand new chart module. Thank you to all of the QA people that make these upgrades so painless for me. As I have mentioned before all I have to do is install the RPM and change 2 lines in the OpenOffice launch script to point to the new release in /opt. I keep the old versions and a rollback is just as easy should major problems be discovered.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Humble Book Announcement

A year ago I was approached to write a book about Thin Clients, and it's finally been released. I received my physical books yesterday and it's very rewarding to see a project like this come to completion.

I spent many hours thinking about ways to present this material. The problem is that every single reader will have completely different requirements, user counts, staff, software and money. It would have been easy to write 400 pages describing in great detail our exact thin clients, our exact distributions and software packages. But that wouldn't have been useful for most readers. There is also the issue of technology churn; thin client models change all the time, and operating systems are in a state of constant change. So I decided the book should be designed to offer *ideas*. So often we get phone calls from people that are thinking of moving to Linux and/or Thin Clients and they don't even know how to get started or what options are available. It also covers what is often the biggest challenge: the user community and those in charge of the company or organization.

I'm hopeful that I have found the right balance to help be the middle person to allow many more people to deploy the wonderful things that all of you have written.

The link for the book is here.