Interactive Sources

Since Interactive source types are essentially user sessions running applications from the underlying OS, they can be accessed a few different ways:

  1. Most commonly used is the Interactive Viewer.

  2. Connecting a USB keyboard and mouse to the Zero Client or Userful uClient Adapter will allow you to take direct control of the session associated with that adapter (either as an individual screen or as a Control Display in a Zone)

  3. Creating a Mirror Group with multiple displays or zones and connecting a set of peripherals to one also works

Web Browser

Userful comes bundled with updated versions of Firefox and Chrome, along with a lightweight WebKit browser to display HTML content, videos, Websites, intranet portals, or anything else that can be displayed with a web browser.

Creating a Web Browser Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Web Browser and give it a name.

  2. Choose which browser to use:

    1. Chrome - a standard instance of Google Chrome

    2. Chrome: App - a full-screen version of Chrome intended for use with certain 3rd-party CMS platforms

    3. Chrome: App ID - a full-screen version of Chrome intended for use with AppSpace

    4. Chrome: Kiosk - a full-screen (no tabs, no address bar or navigation buttons) version of Chrome. Recommended for full-screen Web apps

    5. Firefox - standard instance of Mozilla Firefox ESR

    6. Firefox: Fullscreen - standard instance of Mozilla Firefox ESR that goes full-screen after launch

    7. WebKit - a lightweight browser that consumes minimal system resources but is best suited for displaying extremely simple non-HTML5 content

  3. Specify the URL to launch on startup

  4. Enter a Refresh Interval, if desired. This will cause the browser to refresh the page at an interval, in seconds, that you set here. For no refresh, set this to 0

  5. Select whether or not to display a mouse pointer on startup of the session

  6. Set if the session will Retain or Discard changes after it is reset.

  7. Click "OK" to complete the process.

Configuration Persistence in Web Browser Sources

This option will determine if the browser session runs in a user account that is deleted or kept after the session ends.

  • If Retain is selected, the browser will retain cookies, history, saved passwords and extensions

  • If Discard is set, the browser will be completely “fresh” every time it starts, and the previous session data is deleted

The Retain option will create a semi-permanent user and corresponding /home directory for that particular display or zone. This means that the saved data for, as an example, Display #5 will not be the same as the directory created for Video Wall Zone #1 when both are mapped to the Source.

The Retain option does not keep an actively running instance of the browser that can be shared between multiple displays or zones at any time. See Persistent Session to achieve that.

Desktop Streamer (VNC)

Desktop Streamer (VNC) allows users to share the desktop of a remote system to the video wall, and also control it with your local mouse and keyboard, as if you were sitting in front of that computer.

Desktop Streamer (VNC) does not support audio, and should not be used to stream video content. It is intended for desktop and application sharing only.

Install and Configure VNC

Userful provides a built-in VNC client that functions as the Source. However in order to capture VNC, a VNC Server must first be configured.

Creating a Desktop Streamer (VNC) Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Desktop Streamer (VNC) and give it a name

  2. Enter the IP address or hostname of the VNC server

  3. Enter the port - default is 5900

  4. Enter the password of the VNC server

  5. Enable Fullscreen Mode to scale the feed to fit your screen and remove black bars caused by possible resolution or aspect ratio mismatch

  6. Disable Viewonly Mode to interact using keyboard and mouse via Interactive Viewer

  7. Click OK to complete the process

Remote Desktop (RDP)

The Remote Desktop source is a client for Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services. It can be used to create a direct login to a properly configured desktop or server. Unlike Desktop Streamer (VNC), RDP creates a unique user session, meaning you are directly creating and accessing a user session on the host machine, rather than sharing an existing desktop.

You are responsible for server side configuration.

Creating an RDP Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select RDP Client and give it a name

  2. Enter the IP Address and other user credentials of the server

  3. The Options presented represent a common set of variables, but will most likely need to be changed to work within your environment. Consult your local system administrator

  4. Click OK to complete the process

Cloud Desktop

The Cloud Desktop source is a limited, lightweight Linux desktop environment where access to applications and functionality is deliberately restricted. User data is never saved between sessions, and user accounts are created and erased on login and logout, respectively. Users save their work to USB flash drives that are connected to a Zero Client that serves as their station.

Creating a Cloud Desktop Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Cloud Desktop and give it a name

  2. Set a Home Page for any browsers that are launched in the session

  3. Click Add App to enable desktop applications you want to make available to users. Adding them to the list will cause their icons to be available in the OSX-style “Dock” launcher. Repeat to add multiple applications.

  4. Click Add URL to add web bookmarks to the OSX-style “Dock” launcher. Repeat to add multiple bookmarks.

  5. Select an application to launch at startup, if desired

  6. Select an image for the Desktop Background from the drop-down

  7. Click "OK" to complete the process

Before deploying Cloud Desktop sessions in a public computing environment, it is strongly recommended that Shared Files functionality be disabled.

Linux Desktop

Linux Desktop is a desktop environment like Cloud Desktop, but unlike its lightweight counterpart, Linux Desktop works exclusively with managed user accounts that exist in the underlying OS. Anything done or changed in a Linux Desktop session is permanent until that user account is deleted from the system.

By default, the user credentials entered for the local Administrator login will work with Linux Desktop. This is the only user that will be able to log into a Linux Desktop session by default. Further user accounts must be created and managed using standard Linux system administration tools. This is not supported by Userful.

Using a Linux Desktop session to help diagnose issues with Blackmagic Capture sources is common. If your system uses any Blackmagic Capture sources, it’s recommended to become at least passingly familiar with a Linux Desktop source.

As with all Interactive sources, Linux Desktop can be accessed via Interactive Viewer, or by assigning it to the onboard station or a client device with a keyboard and mouse attached.

Creating a Linux Desktop Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Linux Desktop and give it a name

  2. Click OK to complete the process

That was easy!

If the same user signs in to Linux Desktop on more than one station, the user session will be shared and will cause significant issues. If you are deploying Userful to serve as desktops in environments where there is no assigned seating, using Auto Login is recommended.

Auto Login

Very similar to a Linux Desktop, Autologin automatically creates and logs-in a native Linux user session based on variables in the Username field.

There are some differences between the two:

  • There is no need to pre-create users. Auto Login will automatically create users as required for each session.

  • For multiple sessions on multiple displays, the system will use the display variable (%DISPLAY_ID%) to include the display number in the username.

  • If a fixed username is used (without a display variable), do not map multiple displays to this source, or user settings may become corrupt. The system will attempt to detect and prevent a session for the same user from starting, but a number of factors may cause this error detection to not work. If a user account (e.g., display_1, display_2, etc.) becomes corrupted, you can login as root and delete the user (/usr/sbin/userdel display_num). The deleted user will automatically be re-created when the display restarts.

  • User settings are saved and retained from one session to the next.

  • Adjust the prefix to create usernames that differ more than just by display number or if you are creating multiple Autologin sources. You can use whichever prefix is best suited to your application (e.g., "student", "teacher" etc).

Creating an Auto Login Source

  1. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Autologin and give it a name.

  2. Enter a Username with variables

  3. Select the Session type, this will set the desktop environment - mate is recommended.

  4. Click OK to complete the process

Program Runner

Program Runner allows you to run custom commands to launch programs in an X window session. As an example, it allows you to run custom-installed software programs to accomplish objectives such as connecting to Citrix environments, using VLC to play more uncommon media types, or launching LibreOffice to display documents and presentations.

Program Runner is a very powerful tool, with potential to cause system damage and loss of data if an improper command is entered. It is strongly recommended to test command strings on a non-production system before implementing production sources. Userful cannot guarantee support for all possible uses and applications run with Program Runner. Linux administration experience is strongly recommended before using this source.

Creating a Program Runner Source

  1. Before creating your source, ensure that the software you want to run is installed and that the command you are running will work. It is a good idea to use a Linux Desktop source to confirm this ahead of time.

  2. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Program Runner and give a name

  3. Enter the command or application to start, such as vlc or firefox. This will vary according to the application you are running.

  4. Select a Window Management option to launch the application in a full screen or with a window

  5. Enable Hide Mouse Pointer if required

  6. Choose a Session Persistence option - see the section on Web Browsers for an explanation on what exactly this does, the same principles apply here

  7. Click OK to complete the process

DVD Player

DVD player source uses a built-in DVD drive to launch a full-screen interactive media player kiosk on a display or zone.

Points to consider before using this source:

  • DVD playback can consume significant CPU resources

  • DVD player GUI will be launched in the default system language

Creating a DVD Player Source

  1. Go to Settings -> Check for Available Packages and install the DVD Player Plugin package

  2. Click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down select DVD Player and give a name

  3. Select the Device from the drop-down

  4. Click "OK" to complete the process

CMS Client Sources

All CMS Client Sources in Userful share a number of commonalities, and all are quite similar to use. Common aspects include:

  • Display Name: Like all sources, each requires a unique name to identify itself in UCC.

  • Refresh Interval: Like the Web Browser source, some allow automated refresh commands to be sent.

  • Video Wall Framerate: Adjust this upwards to improve smoothness, or downwards to improve performance, if necessary.

  • Show Mouse Pointer: Show or hide the mouse cursor.

Here is a table of each CMS Source and the data it requires to run, listed alphabetically:

CMS Source

Unique Data Needed

Beabloo Player

Beabloo Server IP

Display5 Player

Display5 Server IP

Show the Display5 “Show Name” on the screen or not

PADS4 Player

PADS4 Server IP

Viewer Name (IDs the client)

Rise Vision Player

Claim ID

Presentation Width and Height (how large your presentation and canvas is)

Signagelive Player

None, shows activation code

TDM Signage

HTML5 Player License

UIEvolution Player

Device ID (copied from UI Manager)