Thursday, July 23, 2009

Largo Hack Fest Wiki Page

Stormy has been so kind as to drop me a few lines concerning having a Largo Hack Fest. There are issues related to enterprise and thin client use of GNOME and Linux that I think would be interesting to all of you developers. I'm envisioning that we set up a network, and let you connect your laptops and software and then test them over remote display to thin clients and see how they work. Lot's of cool things happening with gnome-shell, but unfortunately I haven't had a free second to try and build it and test it remotely. I was also thinking that we could converse with neighboring City and County governments and have them directly describe issues they are having in thinking about moving to open source software. Lastly, we have around 800 'regular users' that can be used for focus group testing and bouncing ideas. Things that make sense only to technical people assure us of a nice 1% desktop share. :) We have to take strides to go after regular users, and enterprise usage. That's where the numbers will increase.

I know the Boston Summit is coming up soon, so we have to think about a time to hold the event. I have created a very basic Wiki page with my current ideas. You are very welcome to begin adding your own notes and ideas and let's try and get some dates locked in. It would be my pleasure to meet more of you face to face!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Starting To Prep HP 5735 and 5725 Upgrade

Now that the Firefox upgrade process is nearly complete and going live tomorrow, I have begun working on another long term R&D project. A few years ago we ordered 600, 5725 thin clients from HP and they have worked very well for us. That model was discontinued in favor of the 5735. We need to be able to deploy 5735s into our mix as new workstations are added around the City. The 5725's still are barely into their 10 year duty cycle and will work fine for many years to come.

The 5735 has a few nice options not found on the 5725:

- Slightly faster CPU
- Analog and Digital on-board video ports vs Analog port
- 1Gb network interface vs 100Mb
- X1250 integrated video card vs SiS

As anyone knows that has supported an enterprise, uniqueness of client devices increases support levels. Thankfully HP has released a build of Debian Etch that runs on both devices! I will be able to make on upgrade and push it live on this mixture of hardware. Very very cool. I'm tuning Etch to run in the manner that we want, and being mindful of my goal of making it run on both devices. My current functionality wish list includes the following changes:

- QA all upgraded packages, including new X drivers and pulse audio
- Experimental cron job to init 0 devices not being used for a few hours. This goes beyond any normal power save modes and completely turns them off. We have users that leave them on for weeks and months at a time.
- Bug fixes for some issues discovered after the first deployment.
- Support for 2, 3 and 4 concurrent monitors in 2D, along with continued 3D support with one monitor.

In the case of multi-head monitors, X documentation is limited and you kind of have to figure out things on your own. At this point, I have gotten 3 monitors running from a single thin client. I should have the 4th working soon (picture below).

I'm also going to take a peek at the X1250 on-board video card and see how it works. On the older thin clients, we upgraded to 9250s because of their limited capabilities. It will be interesting to see how they work.