Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thin Clients, Groupwise 2012, Alfresco & LibreOffice

Lots of projects, and progress on them.

Our next thin client release was pushed out a wider group of users and they have been testing the new features. The new interaction with USB memory sticks and cameras is making it much easier for those users that just want to shoot a few pictures and insert them into email downsized from their raw size.  One click and a paste and it's done and they can go back to fixing cars and do their jobs and not having to learn how to use GIMP for this basic function.  We also got a few users on the local ICA client which offloads this canvas and transport from the GNOME desktop to their workstation.  They are reporting that it's faster for sure, and those CPU cycles are now off the server.

I mentioned that HP released a new Ubuntu build for their thin clients.  I downloaded it and installed it on the 5745, which is their current model.  The release notes indicate much faster boot time and that was the case for sure.  Within a few seconds of power, X was up running.  In the coming months, I'll move our customizations over to this new OS version and then backport it to the older 5725 model, all of which is easy.  The code is all sitting in one directory and I just need to install the right pieces of software and drivers.  We should see better performance with newer X drivers and it also will make it easier to add more local software if we so desire.  I spent a few minutes and installed the new Skype client on the thin client and it worked.  Lots of ideas to kick around and it should be a nice upgrade for users.

We are once again looking at the web interface for Groupwise 2012, so I spent some time again reviewing the feature set and testing.  Outside connectivity to devices is exploding, and we're exploring options.

Document management is a hot spot on our radar and I was assigned the project of installing and reviewing Alfresco to see what it does.  It's very Linux friendly on the back and front ends and was a great place to start.  I downloaded and installed the community version on a retired server and found it extremely easy to get up and running -- nice work guys.  A few clicks of a wizard and everything loaded.  I then spent some time looking over the design and flow and was impressed.  It certainly would save us untold hours of staff time.  The biggest problem with these types of solutions is mind share and skills.  Hopefully we'll start to see some moving in this direction and we'll be looking at other products too.

The ever helpful Cedric Bosdonnat helped me understand how his experimental CMIS code connects to Alfresco from LibreOffice and I was able to make an initial connection and view documents.  Possibly this connector could be ready by the time we need it and are ready to deploy, so I will be spending bits of my time checking the progress and helping do QA.

The shot below shows LibreOffice making the connection to Alfresco right from the file manager along with Alfresco displaying inside of Firefox; all 100% Linux front and back.  No software licenses anywhere in this shot!

I installed the Alfresco client software on an iPad and tested it there as well.  I had easy access to the documents stored in the various Sites.  Things appear to work quickly and easily right out of the box.  Here is a shot:

Coming up for me:  Final push of the new thin client software patches to our users; testing LibreOffice 3.6 and looking for regressions and prepping to go live; Additional testing of Alfresco, reviewing other products for features and suitability with our goals; Looking at issues related to moving Groupwise 8 to Groupwise 2012 on 64bit Linux; Disk and server requirements for Groupwise 2012.  It all keeps one busy.

2 comments: said...

Very insightful and interesting article. I would love to know more about this so
posting more would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Do you have a link to the Ubuntu firmware for the HP Thinclients?