Funding Unsuccessful This project’s funding goal was not reached on .

Update #9

KickStarter Closed

Comment

This USB thin client KickStarter didn't reach its goal, but we are very thankful to the 100+ backers who showed their interest in automatic USB multiseat.

We know that multiseat setups are mostly deployed at schools and organizations, so it may have been a mismatch for KickStarter (which is mostly a community of individuals).

Stay in Touch

We wanted to provide a way for this community of people interested in USB multiseat to stay in touch through a Google group. We'd love to have you join.  Just visit:

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/multiseat

While no money or product will be exchanged through KickStarter (and so we weren't able to achieve the price points we could have with a "bulk buy"), the hardware is available today directly from Amazon and Plugable, and all units have already been updated to work with Fedora 17 -- and the same hardware also works with Windows Multipoint Server 2011, Userful's commercial Linux, and future Linux distros which pick up the automatic USB multiseat support.

Where to Buy

Plugable UD-160-M (resolutions to 1920x1080; power adapter; extra USB ports)

Plugable DC-125 (resolutions to 1440x900 / 1280x1024; no power adapter needed)

If you have any questions at all, please just email support@plugable.com. We'll be happy to help.

Learn More

We often post updates about new features and fixes.  Just visit:

http://plugable.com/category/terminal/

and/or subscribe in your feed reader at http://plugable.com/category/terminal/feed

Thank you!

Thanks and best wishes to everyone who backed this project!  Please take the time now to join / subscribe to stay in touch!

Best wishes,
Bernie Thompson
Founder, Plugable Technologies


Update #8

Technical Notes and Backup Plans

Comment

We've been using Fedora 17 with a few different server boxes and lots of Plugable USB terminals here to shake out issues and figure out how things scale.

Technical Notes

  • USB terminals work well with Fedora 17 as released, including the LiveCD and Live USB drives (so it's super easy to try USB multiseat).  Note with the LiveCD, you'll just have a single user to log in with.
  • Do *not* install the Fedora 17 kernel 3.4.0 update.  It's been unstable on our systems, and we're still tracking down why.  Stick with the 3.3.7 kernel that Fedora 17 ships with for now.
  • Out of the box, Fedora 17 performs well with USB multiseat only on Core i3 class systems and up.  But there are changes you can make to move to GNOME 2 which greatly decrease CPU usage.  Our D525 dual-core atom server scales well to 4-5 USB clients with these changes.  To read more: http://plugable.com/2012/06/11/fedora-17s-secret-turbo-boost-button/
  • Fedora 17 doesn't yet handle the seat using the main GPU on the system well. While the USB seats work, the main one might not.  And when it does, when a USB terminal is unplugged, the main seat can get dropped into a text console and display console messages.  The net effect is only the USB attached seats work reliably after boot.
  • At boot, we occasionally see a USB seat not come up (it stays at the "green screen").  Unplug/replug brings it up.  Since this seems to be only at boot time, we think it's a race condition with udev/systemd when things are slowed down by what's happening at boot time.
  • Fedora 17 is currently limited to ~7 terminals, because of a limit of 32 evdev devices. See this bug for details: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=28682 With some xorg and perhaps kernel changes, this could be lifted, and we think the next limit would be just USB itself (127 USB devices per host controller; so ~20 USB terminals per host controller).

What happens if the Kickstarter isn't funded

The main benefit of this KickStarter being successful would be giving the market for automatic USB multiseat terminals for Linux a jump start.  The up-front "big buy" would enabling pricing that is $5-15 lower per terminal than today.  This kind of multiseat setup can already nearly halve the cost of existing alternatives, but every dollar matters.

But if the KickStarter is not funded, the hardware will still be available -- the largest market for these same USB devices is as a laptop docking station for Windows, and that market isn't going away.  And the open source community will continue improving the support and porting it to other distros.

We'll post a final update just before the KickStarter closes with all the options backers have, in the case that no backing or units exchange hands through KickStarter itself.

Thanks again for all our backers to date!


Update #7

First week of Fedora 17 - Plugable USB Multiseat

Comment

Lots of news!  Fedora 17 was released last week, so our early adopters have begun posting some interesting things showing their Plugable thin clients. We expect and hope for more in the coming weeks (And we need more early adopters! See below).

Videos

Plugable UD-160-M demo by a customer at the Omaha Linux Users' Group meeting this week.  See the video with demo and Q&A (10 mins).  

A video of the Fedora 17 install and use experience.  You can simply use and test Fedora 17 + Plugable USB thin clients by booting off a CD or USB drive - but this video lets you see what the install experience will look like if you install to hard disk.

News

Plugable UD-160-M and DC-125 can now be shipped worldwide for early adopters

While we continue to sell primarily on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, we've now launched a special site which is focused on products which we're able to ship to worldwide to addresses in over 190 countries.

Visit the Plugable Worldwide Shipping Webstore to check out the ordering options.

We know you have to "see it to believe it" when it comes to USB thin clients -- and because of that, we need early adopters who can post about their experiences and spread the word. So we're happy to ship out as many units as possible now through our existing channels.

That said, units ordered and shipped now can't reflect the lower "volume buy" price of the KickStarter units, and won't include some of the KickStarter extras (like the CD that will be included in all KickStarter packages $10 and up).  But the hardware itself, and all the hardware accessories included in the package, will *not* change from now to what would ship with the KickStarter.

Our kernel patches for improved USB graphics stability have made it to both kernel 3.4.0 and 3.3.8.
Manual updates no longer required. Just install F17 and go.

The Fedora update system has begun pushing out the 3.4.0 kernel update which has all of the udlfb (DisplayLink USB driver) fixes that we've implemented for the thin client scenario, including our main plug/unplug cleanup patch. We've been running with these updates for 2-3 weeks now, and we've been very happy that we've not been able to generate any problems, even with lots of stressing of unplug / replug of the USB thin clients.

Our work from here can focus on performance and porting.

The lowest cost, easiest to maintain 3270 terminal

In a way, USB multiseat is a modern throwback to mainframe or X terminals.  So it makes sense that community would immediately see the possibilities.

IBM and their customers still have huge deployments of clients which can make use of a 3270 terminal.   And the Plugable thin clients + Fedora 17 make for easy deployment and a crazy low price for additional terminals.  Just install the x3270-x11 package on the main box:

sudo yum install x3270-x11

And start plugging in Plugable thin clients to gain extra terminals.  

The same applies to any other network client that runs on Linux: X, VNC, Windows Remote Desktop, etc.

Other distros

One of the most common questions we get is "what about other distros" like Ubuntu.

The low-level drivers for the all the hardware in the Plugable DC-125 and UD-160-M are built into the Linux kernel for all distros.  But for automatic USB multiseat to work, there are a bunch of higher level components required that either vary or haven't been ported to other distros.  So while we expect support to migrate to other distros in the coming months, only Fedora 17 works today.

Key to making USB multiseat completely plug and play in Fedora 17 is the systemd component (developed by Lennart Poettering and others at Red Hat).  Like a lot of things in the open source world, actually getting it adopted by other distros is non-trivial.  

In short, this is all open source.  Those distros can either port systemd or add similar functionality to their systems (like Ubuntu's upstart).  That has not happened for any other distro yet. To get a little more background on porting systemd, here are some wiki entries:

Other technologies

The other most common question we get is why not a network or wifi thin client.  

One of our "tricks" here to achieve a fundamentally better experience and lower price point is to rely exclusively on USB 2.0 as the connection between the thin client and the server box.

This is what allows these thin clients to be fully plug-and-play, low latency, and low cost.

There are lots of network thin clients out there.  They're great, and have many advantages in terms of flexibility.  But compare them to our USB thin clients - you'll find we're a half to a third the price with better performance and less hassle for many circumstances (especially when all the thin clients can be in the room with their server).

Thank you!

Thanks again to all our backers!  Projects can grow quickly on kickstarter (even in the last days) with the right attention - thanks for helping to spread the word however you can!


Update #6

Fedora 17 with USB multiseat support releases May 29th

Comment

Fedora 17 will be released tomorrow (May 29th).  

This is great news -- with no extra packages to install at all, the Plugable KickStarter USB hardware will work out of the box with the standard Fedora (GDM desktop) downloads. Plug another DC-125 or UD-160 in, and up will pop another independent login screen -- automatically. All the support is in there, and all open source.

See http://fedoraproject.org/ for more details about Fedora 17 downloads and launch.

Known Issues at F17 launch

In the past few weeks, Red Hat has fixed several issues with USB multiseat at a high level, and we've fixed several low-level issues with USB graphics (some of which will come in a future 3.3 Fedora update).  Overall, stability is looking good.  At the Fedora 17 release, the main known issues are:

  • Limited to ~7 terminals, because of a limit of 32 evdev devices at the kernel and X levels.  We hope to workaround or lift this limit, as part of a successful KickStarter (would require a package install on top of F17).
  • When you plug a USB flash drive into a terminal, sometimes you don't get the correct behavior of having the USB drive only accessible to the user logged into that terminal.  Behavior is intermittent.

We'll be looking for ways to help these issues where we can, with upstream patches and potentially post-install packages.

Quotes

We're starting to get reports from a few of our early adopters.  Some quotes are below.  

"I hope anyone out there capable of the kernel rev can recognize how important this is for the future of Linux multiseat, and for education in general. As a teacher, the ability to drop folders of text or images into a single machine for all students to work from is incredibly useful: the same functions may be available with a roomful of machines connected to our school network, but it would be much slower, harder to manage, and not available without being online, which raises all sorts of other issues with distractions and diversions." Will (Teacher) Old Lyme, CT

"Wow – now _that’s_ what I call plug and play….I’ve just received an FC17 multi-seat compatible DC-125 from the US in the mail, plugged it into a FC17 Beta box (nothing special – Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM) with a 1280×1024 VGA screen on the displaylink and the fixes on this page applied and up pops the login screen. Running quite happily with two users logged in, seems to deal gracefully with plugging/unplugging etc. Colour me impressed " -- Des (UK).

We know that USB multiseat is something you have to "see to believe". We need more early adopters to get the word out and get momentum behind the kickstarter.  If you're interested in being an early adopter before the KickStarter closes, here's how

Thanks again to all our backers!  Even with a big ramp at the end, we're not yet on track to have this KickStarter succeed -- if you're interested in USB multiseat, please help spread the word!


Update #5

Plugable USB Multiseat LiveCD and More!

Comment

Some great news! Automatic USB multiseat is making good progress.

First up - LiveCD is working!  It's now possible to take any modern PC, simply boot off a CD, and plug in Plugable thin clients, and get a fresh login screen on each.  The PC's disk isn't touched - everything runs out of memory only.

This ability to easily try multiseat without actually having to install it is something that isn't possible yet on Windows Multipoint Server 2011.  It makes the technology much more approachable, and you don't need to install Linux on your PC.  It's just an easy way to get access to lots of web browsers for students, work, or family.

With this improvement, we've created a new $10 pledge level for which we'll deliver a LiveCD with all the latest software to any USA location.  All pledge levels above $10 also get the CD (including international).  So all our backers getting DC-125 or UD-160-M units will have all the software they need (and no additional license costs) to use all the hardware. And of course everything is also available for download, as the software evolves.

In the News

From Laptop to Legion: Turning One Computer into Many (PC World / Network World)

Technical News

  • Fedora 17 (which includes all this support) is up to the RC3 Release Candidate. The final release is expected within a week or two.
  • The .ISO image of the RC3 LiveCD is available for download now.
  • RC3 includes the SELinux policy fix, which is what enabled LiveCD to start working.  Disabling SELinux is not longer necessary.
  • USB flash drive support is improved.  There is support so that a flash drive plugged into a thin client, will show that filesystem only for the user of that thin client.
  • We've gotten the latest udlfb fixes which make stress testing plug/unplug fully stable into Linux kernel 3.4 (as of RC1), and have also submitted them to be picked up in 3.3, so later Fedora 17 updates will get them automatically.

Additional Rewards and Two More Pledge Levels

ADDITIONAL BENEFIT for existing 5 and 10 packs: we will include a refurbished Plugable powered USB hub for every 5 units (one of Plugable USB2-HUB10S, USB2-HUB4BC, or USB2-HUB-AG7 based on stock at hand). 

And we're happy to announce the creation of two additional pledge levels:

  • $1000 "Class Room Kit" For a full case of 20 of the Plugable DC-125, USA Shipping included.
  • A philanthropist level of $10,000 to "Seed the World".  200 Plugable DC-125 shipped in cases of 20 to anywhere in the world that the backer specifies.  We can send all to one location, or the backer can give us a list of schools / non-profits around the world to send to.  We'll include materials in every case communicating the backers' message.

We have less than 25 days left to go for the KickStarter, and a long way to go funding-wise.  But there's been some great technical progress, and will be lots more to come!

Thanks so much to all our backers, helping to spread the word on plug and play multiseat and its potential to make computing more accessible for all.  Thank you!

  • Video-114502-h264_high
    Play
    00:00
    00:00


103
Backers
$8,478
pledged of $125,000 goal
0
seconds to go
  • Pledge $1 or more
    You selected

    26 backers

    You'll receive our sincere gratitude and your name proudly displayed on the plugable.com/multiseat backers page. This reward also applies for all pledge levels below.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    You'll receive a bootable CD that lets you easily try multiseat thin clients on any PC without having to install anything or change the system at all. Just plug in thin clients to automatically get additional logins. USA shipping for CD only. Included in all for all higher pledge levels (USA and International)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    16 backers Limited (84 left of 100)

    Help a school or organization. For each pledge of this amount, we'll set aside one DC-125 to add to our lending library. Schools can request a kit of 5 DC-125s to try for 90 days, with software and instructions. See http://plugable.com/multiseat/dc-125-lending-library/ for details and a form to recommend a school or nonprofit for the program (US organizations only). As a backer, your name will be matched to a particular unit and you'll be able to track the schools your unit visits on its travels.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $60 or more
    You selected

    7 backers

    You'll receive one Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Client (model DC-125), enabling two people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $75 or more
    You selected

    26 backers

    You'll receive one AC powered Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Client (model UD-160-M), enabling two people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1920 x 1080, keyboard, mouse, headset, and 4 other USB devices). USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $80 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    INTERNATIONAL. You'll receive one Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Client (model DC-125), enabling two people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). Worldwide Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $95 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    INTERNATIONAL. You'll receive one AC powered Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Client (model UD-160-M), enabling two people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1920 x 1080, keyboard, mouse, headset, and 4 other USB devices). US style plug only, but supports 100-240V input. Worldwide shipping included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $275 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    You'll receive five Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (DC-125), enabling up to six people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $335 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    INTERNATIONAL. You'll receive five Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (DC-125), enabling up to six people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). Worldwide shipping included

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $350 or more
    You selected

    7 backers

    You'll receive five AC powered Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (UD-160-M), enabling up to six people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1920 x 1080, keyboard, mouse, headset, and 4 other USB devices). USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $410 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    INTERNATIONAL. You'll receive five AC powered Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (UD-160-M, US PLUG STYLE 100-240V 50-60Hz), enabling up to six people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1920 x 1080, keyboard, mouse, headset, and 4 other USB devices). Worldwide shipping included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    The $50 Additional Computer. You'll receive ten Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (DC-125), enabling up to 11 people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    "The Classroom Kit". You'll receive 20 Plugable USB Multiseat Thin Clients (DC-125), enabling up to 21 people to use your Fedora 17 Linux PC at the same time (each with their own monitor up to 1280x1024, keyboard, mouse, and headset). PLUS 5 Plugable powered USB hubs and 5 Plugable 10 meter cables to flesh out your entire USB setup to span a classroom. USA Only Shipping Included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Philanthropist Level. "Seed the World". 200 Plugable DC-125 thin clients shipped in cases of 20 to anywhere in the world that the backer specifies. We can send all to one location, or the backer can give us a list of schools / non-profits around the world to send to. We'll include materials in every case communicating the backers' message. If the backer has any other special requests, we'll do whatever we can to fill them.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (50 days)