Tuesday, February 21, 2012

GNOME Migration Almost Complete, New Projects

It's been a busy, but productive few weeks. We have slowly been flashing more and more thin clients with the latest release of customized software and it's going very well. This morning the upgrades were performed on the Police department and they are the last major group to bring over to the new servers. Today we hit 210 concurrent GNOME users, and the "top" is below. It's very interesting to watch how memory is handled as the capacities grow and it's doing a great job. It tried to keep user processes and active disk IO in memory. When physical memory was getting low, it started to write disk IO out and then take cache memory away and use it for user processes. Very cool, and the server is running like a champ! Anyone that in years past ever had to tune SCO Unix on Intel hardware and recompile the kernel over and over again will appreciate how this all works. :)

I marked in red that we are seeing higher CPU usage on Citrix sessions, which are still running on the host. The canvas repaints of Citrix appear "expensive". So I have opened a new R&D project to begin the process of developing our next thin client upgrade; and this one will feature a local Citrix client. This will move all of this CPU activity to the local workstation and drop the server load. Running clients locally is always done with caution because once done, that means all updates (and exploits) have to be pushed to 500+ devices instead of being done once on the server. But in this case the benefit is just too great -- We have another 1-2 years of Citrix usage.

Our thin client build right now runs on the HP 5725, 5735 and 5745 thin clients and I spent some time last week getting it to understand and run in a VMware player. NX/Nomachine does a great job with compression, but for those few PCs that we have on our high speed fiber optic network there isn't really a reason to use this technology. The server needlessly has to run a whole X session, when it could be offloaded to the native (Windows, Mac) operating systems. So we are going to experimentally put a few test users on this new build and see how it works. Almost all of our users are on thin clients, but there are maybe about 25 PCs and Macs on the network for various functions and they'll benefit from this technology change. They also would get local RDP (and future Citrix) sessions which will run faster than the current host based design.

All in all, it's been a great few weeks. Next up for me: Working with Novell on some technical advances in Evolution and also moving ahead with converting from OpenOffice to LibreOffice.

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