Interactive Sources
Interactive source types are user sessions running applications from the underlying OS. They can be accessed in the following ways:
  1. 1.
    Access through the Interactive Viewer.
  2. 2.
    Connect a USB keyboard and mouse to the Zero Client or Userful uClient adapter. This 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. 3.
    Creating a mirror group with multiple displays or zone and connecting a set of peripherals to it 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. 1.
    Click on the New Source option.
  2. 2.
    From the drop-down menu and select the Web Browser option and give it a name.
  3. 3.
    Choose the most suitable option from the list of web browsers:
    • Chrome - a standard instance of Google Chrome
    • Chrome: App- a full-screen version of Chrome intended for use with certain 3rd-party CMS platforms
    • Chrome: App ID- a full-screen version of Chrome intended for use with AppSpace
    • Chrome: Kiosk - a full-screen (no tabs, no address bar, or navigation buttons) version of Chrome. Recommended for full-screen Web apps
    • Firefox - a standard instance of Mozilla Firefox ESR
    • Firefox: Fullscreen - standard instance of Mozilla Firefox ESR that goes full-screen after launch
    • WebKit - a lightweight browser that consumes minimal system resources but is best suited for displaying extremely simple non-HTML5 content
  4. 4.
    Specify the URL to launch on the startup.
  5. 5.
    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.
  6. 6.
    Select whether or not to display a mouse pointer on the startup of the session
  7. 7.
    Set if the session will Retain or Discard changes after it is reset.
  8. 8.
    Click OK to complete the process.

Configuring Persistence in Web Browser Sources

This option determines if the browser session runs in a user account that is deleted or kept after the session ends.
  • If the Retain option is selected, the browser will retain cookies, history, saved passwords, and extensions.
  • If the Discard option is selected, the browser will refresh every time it starts, and the previous session data is deleted.
The Retain option creates a semi-permanent user and corresponding home directory for that particular display or zone. This means that the saved data for, 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.

uClient Local Browser

This source uses the web browser software on the uClient to deliver web content to the displays, rather than creating and running sources from the on-premise server.
For most use cases, the standard Web Browser source should be used. The uClient Local Browser is for situations where either low-latency user input or server resource offload is desired, and content is being shown on single displays only.
Unlike most on-premise sources, uClient Local Browser is not run from the server but rather sends control signals to the endpoint's own web browser. For this reason, it works quite differently than many other sources, and not all functionality works. See the Known Issues section before planning deployments with uClient Local Browser.
uClient Local Browser is not compatible with Interactive Viewer, Zero Clients, or Virtual Displays. Also, the content will not sync across displays if used in a Video Wall or Mirror Group. Sessions cannot be launched from a Welcome Screen.

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 a mouse and keyboard. It offers a seamless user experience.
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.

Configuring 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.

Steps to create a Desktop Streamer (VNC) Source

  1. 1.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select the Desktop Streamer (VNC) and give it a name.
  2. 2.
    Enter the IP address or hostname of the VNC server.
  3. 3.
    Enter the port number. The default port number is 5900.
  4. 4.
    Enter the password of the VNC server.
  5. 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. 6.
    Disable the Viewonly Mode to interact using keyboard and mouse via the Interactive Viewer.
  7. 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. This means you are directly creating and accessing a user session on the host machine, rather than sharing an existing desktop. Kindly, note that server-side configurations are done at your end. However, if you have any queries you can always contact your Userful manager or sales engineer.

Steps to Create an RDP Source

  1. 1.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select the RDP Client and provide it a name.
  2. 2.
    Enter the IP Address and other user credentials of the server.
  3. 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 for more details.
  4. 4.
    Click OK to complete the process.

Userful Emerald Signage CMS

New in Userful 10.6.1, the Emerald Signage CMS is Userful's native CMS.
After creating the Source and mapping a display or zone to it, you'll be prompted to pair the instance with the management portal.
Log in to the portal at emeraldsignage.userful.com to get started. Note that displays or Zones mapped to Emerald should remain mapped, all content management is done in the Emerald interface thereafter.
Now that you have set up some displays, refer to the topic Introduction to Emerald for more details.

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.

Steps to Create a Cloud Desktop Source

  1. 1.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select Cloud Desktop and provide it a name.
  2. 2.
    Set a Home Page for browsers that are launched in the session.
  3. 3.
    Click on the Add App option 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. 4.
    Click on the Add URL option to add web bookmarks to the OSX-style Dock launcher. Repeat to add multiple bookmarks.
  5. 5.
    Select an application to launch at startup, if desired.
  6. 6.
    Select an image for the Desktop Background from the drop-down
  7. 7.
    Click OK to complete the process
Disable the Shared Files option before deploying Cloud Desktop sessions in a public computing environment.

Linux Desktop

Linux Desktop is an environment similar to the 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 the Linux Desktop session is permanent until that user account is deleted from the system.
The user credentials entered for the local Administrator login work with the Linux Desktop by default. This is the only user that can log into a Linux Desktop session. 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 source, it is recommended to become familiar with a Linux Desktop source.
As with all interactive sources, a Linux desktop can be accessed from an Interactive Viewer, or by assigning it to an onboard station or a client device with an attached keyboard and mouse.

Steps to Create a Linux Desktop Source

  • Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select Linux Desktop and provide it a name.
  • Click OK to complete the process.
If the same user signs in to a 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 the Auto Login option is recommended.

Auto Login

Very similar to a Linux Desktop, Auto Login 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 that 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, for example, display_1, display_2becomes corrupted, you can log in as the root user 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 for example, student, teacher, etc.

Steps to Create an Auto Login Source

  1. 1.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select Autologin and provide it a name.
  2. 2.
    Enter a Username with variables.
  3. 3.
    Select the Session type, this will set the desktop environment. Note that mate is the recommended option.
  4. 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 the 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 that run with the Program Runner. Linux administration experience is strongly recommended before using this source.

Steps to create a Program Runner Source

  1. 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. 2.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select the Program Runner option and give it a name.
  3. 3.
    Enter the command or application to start, such as vlc or firefox. This will vary according to the application you are running.
  4. 4.
    Select a Window Management option to launch the application on a full screen or with a window.
  5. 5.
    Enable the Hide Mouse Pointer option if required.
  6. 6.
    Choose the Session Persistence option. It is similar to the functionality displayed by the functionality of the Web Browsers.
  7. 7.
    Click OK to complete the process.

DVD Player

This source is removed in Userful 11
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.

Steps to Create a DVD Player Source

  1. 1.
    Navigate to Settings > Check for Available Packages and install the DVD Player Plugin package.
  2. 2.
    Click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select the DVD Player option and provide it a name.
  3. 3.
    Select the Device from the drop-down menu.
  4. 4.
    Click OK to complete the process.

Other CMS Client Sources

All CMS Client Sources in Userful share similar attributes. Some of them are as follows:
  • Display Name: Like all sources, each requires a unique name to identify itself in the Userful Control Center.
  • 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 the performance.
  • Show Mouse Pointer: It is used to 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
It is used to show the Display5 Show Name on the screen.
PADS4 Player
PADS4 Server IP
Viewer Name (IDs the client)
Rise Vision Player*
Claim ID
It denotes the presentation width and height.
Signagelive Player*
None It shows the activation code.
TDM Signage*
HTML5 Player License
UIEvolution Player*
Device ID (copied from UI Manager)
Sources marked with * are removed from Userful 11.