Thursday, January 06, 2011

Project Updates

The New Year is here and lots of technology was waiting in the wings for our staff levels to be back to normal levels now that the Holidays are complete.

I finished the software module that allows our support group to support remote users. We also can obtain information about their Xserver (depth, dimensions) from this UI too. It's been live for a few days now and they are reporting that's been very helpful and saving us valuable time. The software it replaced took far more steps.

Support staff types in part of the users name into the Filter area and then a search is performed. Once they find the right user, they click on the user and it displays technical information about their session.

If Support clicks on the [ Request Remote Control ] button, the other users receives the dialog below. This allows them to grant permission before the session is viewed. Instead of running VNC on the end device, I'm using x11vnc which is just an excellent approach. We have users logging in with thin clients, NX/Windows and NX/Mac and x11vnc works no matter what end device is used. It's also 100% host based and can be upgraded and altered once instead of having to touch individual devices. If we attempted to put VNC on Linux, Windows and Mac there would be operating system nuances to deal with as well. The other positive thing that I discovered is that x11vnc is much faster on the new 64bit server. Support gets quicker UI responses and repaints; very nice indeed.

Here is what the remote user sees when we send them a remote control request:

The new MIME bars that we have been testing for many months are stable and working well, so I have backported them to some of our production servers and will be integrating them into our technology. In the shot below, opening a PDF from Evolution opens the new UI. Our Firefox upgrade is nearly ready to go live too, and this UI is used there as well. They also will see them when the new GNOME desktop server goes live later this year.

LibreOffice installed cleanly on our production server without disrupting OpenOffice, so I added an icon to the desktop for some beta tester users to "kick the tires". No decision has been made to transition at this time, but it's prudent to monitor this issue with an eye to the future.


Anonymous said...

Great update, as usual.

One (trivial) thing that continues to bother me about all your screenshots is that you Capitalise Every Word In Every Sentence Or Fragment In User Interfaces.

Why oh why?

Anonymous said...

Can you do a post on your remote support system. I was wondering how you handle the approval system on the client. Or even how it works, I assume you're not using the same password for each client. How are the clients aware that a remote user wishes to connect in?

Dave Richards said...

@anonymous: I have always struggled with the look of UI with upper and lower case. The buttons are not really a "sentence" and it always looked wrong with me. I'll go into Glade again and review the screens and see if I can come up with a better standard.

@anonymous: It's actually super easy to send them a dialog in our environment. As the script runs, questions for the remote user are just run with their $DISPLAY from within the script. Then it starts x11vnc with their -display and gets their port number and then auto-connects the vncviewer to that port. In in pseudo-code its like this:
run user search GUI and pick the user
send dialog and await response
if yes, start x11vnc on their ip, get port number (5900 and higher)
vncviewer to their display and port, no password needed.