"Multiplied" Linux Desktop Migration Strategy for SLED 10 and openSUSE 10.1


Modern PCs spend most of the day idle. The Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy allows you to leverage this unused computing power and connect up to 10 full-featured workstations to a SINGLE, shared SLED 10 or openSUSE 10.1 computer. Ideal for Linux computer labs, Linux thin clients, Linux Internet cafés and Linux point-of-sale terminals.

Novell SLED 10 – Platform for the Open Enterprise

With the excitement surrounding the launch of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and openSUSE 10.1, it is clear that Novell has a winner with its new desktop strategy. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is the only enterprise-quality Linux desktop that is ready for routine business use. Customers are choosing to migrate to SLED 10 because of its market-leading usability, global support, improved desktop security, seamless interoperability with existing systems and cost savings when compared to Windows desktops and other environments.

While the software costs related to single-user SLED 10 (or openSUSE 10.1) deployments are significantly less than standard Windows environments, the hardware, management, electricity and infrastructure costs remain high when compared to deploying a “Multiplied SLED 10” strategy.

The “Multiplied” Linux Desktop migration strategy allows up to 10 users (10 monitors, USB keyboards and mice) to share a SINGLE Linux desktop computer. That means only ONE computer to install, configure, secure, backup and administer instead of TEN.

“Multiplied” Linux Desktop Migration Strategy

The Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy is quite straightforward. By using extra video cards, a powered USB hub and the Linux Desktop Multiplier, a software add-on developed by Userful for SLED 10 and openSUSE, you can run up to 10 full-featured user sessions at the same time on a SINGLE computer.

Since modern desktop PCs spend most of the day idle, the performance of a Multiplied Linux Desktop is indistinguishable from single-user desktops running basic applications (e.g., GroupWise, Firefox, OpenOffice, Adobe Acrobat, Messenger, Clam Antivirus). The Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy is ideal for migrating or deploying new Linux-based computer labs, thin client deployments, Internet caf?s, clinical workstations, call centers and point-of-sale terminals * wherever two or more users are in close physical proximity.

Why Multi-station Linux Desktops Deliver Compelling Value

The Multiplied Linux Desktop migration strategy helps organisations drive more value out of their fixed IT budgets, dramatically reducing hardware and maintenance costs and delivering low-cost, high-performance desktops:

  • Significant hardware savings (up to 80%)
  • Significant software savings (up to 80%)
  • Decreased maintenance costs (up to 80%)
  • Decreased “evergreen” costs (up to 80%)
  • Decreased electrical consumption (up to 70%)
  • Decreased recycling costs (up to 70%)
  • Increased simplicity, management and control

Linux Desktop TCO Calculator

Omni’s Linux Desktop TCO Calculator can be used to compare the costs of deploying Multiplied Linux Desktops with single-user deployments of Windows or SLED 10. For example, the total cost savings of deploying 100 multiplied desktops (ten 10-user desktops) versus 100 Windows desktops is $132,500. You can customise the cost breakdown to reflect costs for your environment in the second tab of the worksheet.

Multiplied SLED 10 and openSUSE Deployment Examples

University of New Mexico

Rather than deploying single-user SLED 10 desktops, UNM’s Office of Contract Archeology is championing the use of “Multiplied” SLED 10 desktops. The Linux Desktop Multiplier for SLED 10 enables UNM to deploy six fully independent user desktops on each repurposed Intel-based PC.

North West Province, South Africa

South Africa’s North West Province is taking a leadership role in helping their students cross the digital divide. They were looking for the best way to deploy 2,205 desktop computers in 105 of their schools’ computer labs. The solution – Novell’s SUSE Linux Desktop operating system with the Linux Desktop Multiplier.

LoveLife, HIV/AIDS Awareness

LoveLife, an HIV/AIDS Awareness Foundation in South Africa, used the Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy to drive more value out of their IT budget for desktops in schools that are designated for AIDS orphans.

UPAEP, Campus Tehuacán, Mexico

With a very limited budget, a student team at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Campus Tehuacán, was able to deploy a 7-user Moodle Course Management system using a re-purposed single Pentium 4 3Ghz desktop computer. The web-based, e-learning system is based on Moodle CMS and runs on a “Multiplied” SLED 10 machine.

Birchwood Art Gallery

Birchwood Art Gallery was always running into virus and spyware infections when they were using Windows 98 and Windows XP. Birchwood Art Gallery now runs Novell’s secure SUSE Linux Desktop with the Linux Desktop Multiplier. Win4Lin Pro Desktop allows them to run Simply Accounting on Linux.

GWAVACon Internet Café

How do you quickly and cost effectively install and configure a Linux Internet café at a major technology trade show? GWAVA solved this challenge with the Linux Desktop Multiplier for SLED 10 at GWAVACon Dallas and GWAVACon Europe in Munich.

How Does the Linux Desktop Multiplier Work?

Back to the Future – Multiple Terminals on a Single Computer

So, how is the Multiplied desktop solution different from traditional terminal emulation on Linux? The Linux Desktop Multiplier provides a “full client” for each user. The Multiplier virtualises a single instance of X, the Linux user interface layer, enabling a single desktop computer to deliver the full client user interface for up to 10 simultaneous users.

You can think of the Linux Desktop Multiplier as a thin layer of software that sits on top of the Linux kernel and listens for: (1) keyboard input; (2) mouse input; and, (3) monitor output. The Linux Desktop Multiplier then assigns these three items to a unique user session and can track up to ten SLED 10 or openSUSE user sessions at the same time. USB audio headset and memory key support are also included.

A wizard screen allows administrators to assign USB keyboards and monitors to their respective monitor during setup (one-time process). If a keyboard or mouse needs to be reassigned, the administrator would simply press Ctrl+Alt+Break and the wizard screen would reappear. Dual-view support allows two monitors to be assigned to a single session where required. The Linux Desktop Multiplier includes support for 3M MicroTouch and Elotouch touchscreen monitors for public access and point-of-sale stations.

System Requirements

For a 10-user system, Omni recommends the following hardware configuration for optimal performance:

  • High-end Intel or AMD processor
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 or openSUSE 10.1
  • Linux Desktop Multiplier
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 10,000-RPM SATA or IDE hard drive
  • 5 dual-head graphics cards (PCI-E, PCI, AGP)
  • 10 VGA monitors (flat panel or CRT screens)
  • 10 USB keyboards with integrated USB hub to attach mice (reduces cabling)
  • Powered USB hubs as required
  • DVI-VGA adaptors as required to connect monitors

Optional Software:

  • Novell Client for Linux (to connect to Novell file servers)
  • Novell ZENworks for Linux (to remotely manage and lock down desktops)
  • User Profile Editor (mini “ZENworks-like” tool that comes bundled with SLED 10)
  • Win4Lin Pro Desktop (to run Windows applications on Linux)
  • Clam Anti-Virus

TIP: Where Internet bandwidth is in limited (e.g., in rural areas or over GPRS networks), we recommend using the open-source Squid Web Proxy Cache software. Because all stations are directly connected to the same hard drive, we recommend you configure Firefox to not cache the user accessed pages. These pages will be automatically cached by the Squid proxy for all users. This creates a shared cache and dramatically improves web browsing performance and decreases web traffic.

Multiplied Linux Desktop Scenarios

The Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy is perfect for migrating or deploying Linux computer labs, Linux thin client deployments, Linux Internet caf?s and Linux point-of-sale terminals * wherever two or more computers are within a 5-meter radius of the host machine.

Linux Desktop Multiplier versus Thin Clients

Excellent Performance, Rich User Experience

Multiplied Linux Desktops are thick or full clients with dedicated monitors, keyboards and mice. Rather than transmitting data from a thin client server to individual thin clients (additional hardware and software required) over an Ethernet cable, users on a Multiplied Linux Desktop (or “ZERO-client” desktop) have direct access to the system and a much richer user experience:

  • Full-client with dedicated video, keyboard and mouse access (transparent to kernel)
  • Outperforms thin clients at a fraction of the cost
  • Richer user experience
  • Easier to set up and deploy
  • No thin client server hardware, software or access licences required
  • Individual USB headset audio support
  • Individual USB memory key support
  • Dual-monitor support
  • Support for 3M MicroTouch and Elotouch touchscreen monitors

In fact, if you have chosen to pursue a thin-client solution, the Linux Desktop Multiplier provides the best way to drive additional value to your thin client deployment. With the Multiplier, you can run multiple separate thin-client sessions from each physical computer. Remember that with traditional thin-client implementations, you still require a dedicated computer per user versus one computer for up to 10 users with the Linux Desktop Multiplier.


Are you considering SLED 10 or openSUSE 10.1 for your desktops? If so, the Multiplied Linux Desktop strategy is the best way to drive more value out of your fixed IT budget.

Additional Resources

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