Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Various Updates

I haven't posted any new information for a while, but the City has been keeping me busy. Here are the things that I have been working in no particular order.

I upgraded the whole City to OpenOffice 3.2 this morning. As I have mentioned previously upgrades are very simple when they are deployed from a centralized server. All I do is point the launch scripts to the new version and it immediately goes live. So far, no major support issues.

Firefox 3.6
We went live with 3.6 and so far everything is working well. Performance is good over remote display on multi-user servers. I have already started beta testing 3.7.

Migration to the new Evolution has been slower going than I would have liked. We were running a developer build and have now synced to the official release. We found a few regressions and issues, and I sent a document which contains our show stoppers. Hopefully we can get this project finished soon.

Thin Client OS 2.0
I finished our internal "2.0" thin client operating system release and it's starting to be pushed out into widespread use. Another week or so, and I'll be comfortable deploying to our other 550 thin clients. HP released Debian Lenny, and I made all of the modifications required to better support our design goals. The major changelog items: + Increased USB stick supported files + Click sound when USB stick is inserted and removed + Upgraded NX client for remote sites + Graphical first boot which requests information about how thin client will be used and desired resolution and color depth + Merged Intel Xorg drivers + Support for 5745 thin client + Hard code 5735 thin clients to only work in our cyber cafes + Custom Largo splashy at boot + Support for SmartBoard white boards + Removed Xinerama and moved to xrandr. + Automatic shutdown in 3 hours of inactivity + Faster startups and shutdowns.

I'm very pleased with this release, all of our thin clients work with an identical Linux OS.

5745 Thin Client
Our loaner t5745 HP thin client is working *great*. I have started to move it around to regular users who are testing it with their own monitor hardware and their own techniques. Reports are that it's 10-15% faster than the 5725. Nice.

SmartBoard (Electronic White Board)
The new IT conference is finished, and we have deployed an electronic white board. The drivers and software works 100% on Linux, so I installed it in the 2.0 thin client release. That means anyone in the City that wants to use this technology just has to buy the right hardware. The picture below is the smart board mounted to a wall, running off a thin client. You can export these documents into PDF with just a few clicks.

4410t Thin Client Laptop
I have gotten some time to work on the back burner project of adding a thin client laptop into our infrastructure. I'll blog about this in more detail in the coming days. I downloaded some bleeding edge Intel drivers which are buggy, but making progress in the design and work flow. I basically want to make it so that you just turn on the device and within a few seconds you are able to log into our network. I'm experimenting with how best to drop from wired to wireless to EVDO automatically. I'm not reinventing the wheel, just trying to eliminate applets and prompts and just work for our needs and network. Lots to think about.

The picture below is my testing of an EVDO modem, testing ideas on how to handle the phone number and when exactly it should dial. Our number one support issue on fat laptops is networking.


James said...

Hi, while reading your blog on pgo, I noticed you do: "Automatic shutdown" after idle... I work on an open source project to do something similar for the labs where I work. I have a better plan than what I've currently coded but presently this is what my boss wanted. Please have a look and if you'd like to give me a chat about this then send an email my way. Cheers,


ps: the idle shutdown thing is called "evanescent"

orlando said...

Dave, a question regarding browsers:

have you tried Google Chrome?

Have you considered as a Firefox replace?

Dave Richards said...

@james: Will check it out. My shutdown code is *very* simple, and just checks to see if the users are sitting at the chooser screen where they select their host. This means that they aren't using the thin client at all and it's safe to power it off after 3 hours.

@orlando: Our browser server is running OpenSuse 11 and Chrome wouldn't install on there because the libraries are too old. Chrome is kind of a solution for a problem that doesn't exist for us. Firefox works well, is stable and supported by most of the sites that our users visit. When we upgrade that server, I will install Chrome just to test it out. But at this time it's on the back burner.