Linux-based Citrix Competitor?

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Tom Keating
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Linux-based Citrix Competitor?

This Userful, Inc. press release pasted below is very interesting.Basically it allows you to turn one Linux computer into ten Linux computers.Sounds like a Citrix competitor - only on the Linux platform.Although, one major difference is that Citrix is pretty much all software (except the server) and then uses a softclient to connect to the Citrix server which transmits all the keystrokes, mouse movements, pixels, etc. over an IP network.

Conversely, if I am reading this release correctly, this solution requires that you put 1 video card per remote PC.So if you want 10 clients, you need 10 video cards? Aren't VGA cables typically only 5 feet long? I'm not sure this would work as a desktop replacement unless you have 10 people all huddled into one cubicle - or you buy very expensive long VGA cables. I looked into a 50 foot VGA cable for my house and if I recall it was like $130.

Anyway, you could probably recoup the investment in the VGA cables due to the ease of management, only 1 server serving 10 clients, including software. Perhaps Useful bundles long VGA cables with their solution and is able to get long VGA cables at a discounted rate? I believe they use USB keyboards and USB mice as well, which also have distance limits. Their website claims they supply all the hardware and cabling, making it a true "plug and play" solution - so I would assume they are providing long VGA cables.

On their website, their marketing materials appear to be focused on libraries, but their solution seems well suited for the SMB market as well.In any event, it has some good multi-tasking capabalities, i.e.

"Userful's software allocates resources among the stations based on demand. Typically, an ordinary desktop computer sits idle over 90% of the workday. People use computing power in spikes when launching an application or rendering a web-page, the rest of the time is spent typing a document or reading the page. Essentially, this means that 1-Box users typically have access to 100% of the machine's computing power. On the occasion that multiple users request a task at once, the computer divides its processing time between them.Users often find the system more responsive than individual computers for common tasks like loading a web-page or launching an application. This is because another user often has the application open, or has recently viewed the web-page, therefore, 1-Box can load it from memory rather than the hard-disk or the Internet."

Here's their press release:

Linux-Based Software Turns One Computer into Ten

CALGARY, AB (February 8, 2005) - Userful, an innovative desktop Linux company, introduces, 1-Box Desktop Multiplier, a Linux-based software, that turns one computer into ten. Userful's 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software creates a ten-to-one advantage over traditional desktop deployments by using extra video cards to quickly turn a single ordinary PC into a network of up to ten workstations. After three years of selling the 1-Box software as a turnkey solution, Userful is releasing 1-Box Desktop Multiplier as a stand-alone product for global distribution, and is looking to expand their network of partners and resellers internationally.

"The portability and speed of deploying 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software is outstanding. We've literally been able to unpack, set-up, and test an eight-user network in less than twenty-five minutes," said David Cooper, President of ITSportsNet. "The 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software gives us a dramatic edge over our competitors who are still struggling using traditional PCs or thin clients."

With 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software, up to ten users can work off of a single computer box. Each user requires only a standard monitor, USB keyboard, and mouse. Users can simultaneously browse the Internet, send email, and independently run any installed software they desire. By reducing hardware, software, and maintenance costs, Userful's 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software reduces the total cost of ownership by as much as seventy per cent.

Tim Griffin, President of Userful, states, "Our 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software leverages Linux's significant advantages of security, reliability, virus-immunity, affordability and extensibility. Our software combines the best of both PCs and Thin-Clients, allowing for both high performance and low maintenance. 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software easily integrates with all major Linux distributions, creating a powerful and compelling enhancement for anyone deploying Linux on the desktop."

In addition to making desktop computing drastically more affordable, 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software has substantial environmental benefits. The ninety per cent reduction in hardware greatly reduces an organization's power, air conditioning and computer disposal costs.

1-Box Desktop Multiplier offers support for most Linux distributions, including Novell, Mandrake, Fedora Core and Red Hat.

About Userful

For the past three years, Userful has been transforming the world of desktop computing with their unique 1-Box Desktop Multiplier software. Userful's innovation of turning one computer into ten has earned them the status of technology leaders in desktop computing, and has recently been named one of Alberta's fastest growing companies. With this ten-to-one advantage, Userful has gained a strong presence in the public computing market; with the mission to become the dominant platform for affordable desktop computing worldwide.

For more information about Userful and 1-Box Desktop Multiplier, visit Userful's online newsroom at

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