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Userful Corporation
Founded 1999
Headquarters Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Key people
Timothy Griffin (Founder & Chief Technology Officer)
Daniel Griffin (VP Multiplied Computing)
Jamey Miles (VP Business Development)
Eli Aviv (VP Finance)
Emmanuel Boutboul (VP OEM & Channel Sales)
Number of employees
Approximately 40

Userful is a desktop virtualization company that focuses on simple, cross platform and low cost VDI solutions for education, public computing, SMBs and digital signage. The company develops software to install on even a standard Core i7 PC to create multiple virtual desktops including a choice of Microsoft Windows, cloud-client, Linux and remote desktop protocols like VMWare and Citrix. The company’s approach is similar to thin clients but uses ultra-thin or zero clients to deliver visibly better streaming video and audio performance at lower costs.[1] Userful, based in Calgary, Alberta is a privately held for-profit company with resellers.[2]

In February 2014, Userful launched Userful Multiplatform 7.0 that provides high performance and low cost to bring desktop virtualization beyond desktops to any endpoint.[3]

In February 2013, Userful launched Userful Multiplatform that enables running Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux and browser desktops in a multiseat environment.[4]

In February 2009, Userful announced what is claimed to be the world's largest desktop virtualization deployment, 356,800 virtual desktops in Brazil.[5]

In April 2012, Userful announced its partnership with ViewSonic to produce a Linux-based zero-client product.[6]

In May 2012, Userful launched version 5 of its MultiSeat software, which adds Ethernet support.[7]


Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Timothy Griffin founded Userful Corporation in 1999. The company commenced work on a kernel-based approach to a multi-station platform computer, but later abandoned the idea due to a problem with multiple video card support. Initially a software development company, issues with the duplication and time consumption involved in setting up users on multiple computers, along with installing multiple programs for each computer, led to development of the one-step, multiseat computing technology that is at the core of Userful software.[8]

Since the release of Desktop Multiplier(now Userful MultiSeat/Multiplatform) in 2002, Userful Corporation has focused primarily on schools, public libraries, military, and oilfields for deployment. Userful is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with a second office located in Victoria, BC, Canada.[9]

Linux Adoption and Education[edit]

Key factors for Linux OS adoption in schools are that Linux is free, there is increased security with its usage, and that it is free open source software. Some examples of governments who have started to switch from using proprietary operating systems to Linux include USA, Germany, Spain, France, Mexico amongst others.[10] A Linux-based multiseat solution, Userful MultiSeat is compatible with a wide array of open source and free software [11] By supporting multiple student stations from one host computer, Userful MultiSeat reduces hardware costs, and electricity use, in addition to the software cost savings of Linux and open source software.[12]

Software Products and Zero Client Software Products[edit]

Userful Multiplatform[edit]

Userful Multiplatform is a software that enables the creation of multiple Windows, Linux and browser virtual desktops off one standard PC or server. Administrators can allocate the appropriate desktops to specific users and avoid paying for VDI licensing when a full Windows desktop is not necessary. Userful Multiplatform is based on Userful MultiSeat and offers the same level of high performance on the zero client devices. Userful Multiplatform eliminates the risk of single point of failure with automated fail-over. If the host PC/Server crashes, all stations are automatically transferred to another Userful PC in the LAN.

Userful MultiSeat Linux (Legacy)[edit]

Userful Multiplatform replaces Userful MultiSeat Linux. Userful MultiSeat Linux is software that turns 1 Linux computer into up to 20 or more independent computer stations and it's bundled with educational OS and applications. It leverages USB multiseat devices and Ethernet Zero Clients to turn a monitor, keyboard and mouse into a complete computer station. It enables schools to deploy large numbers of stations for a low cost, whether in the classroom, computer lab, or school library. Userful MultiSeat Linux 5 supports the following USB MultiSeat devices: HP t100, HP t150, HP t200, Atrust M200, Atrust M202, ViewSonic VMA10, ViewSonic VMA15, Goodway DU2600. Userful MultiSeat Linux 5 supports the following Zero Clients: HP t200, Atrust M220, Atrust M320, ViewSonic VMA20, ViewSonic VMA25.

Userful MultiSeat (formerly Userful Multiplier)[edit]

Userful MultiSeat is a commercial Linux-based multiseat configuration software package developed by Userful. It allows multiple independent users to connect to a single host PC at the same time, each with their own monitor, keyboard, mouse, and applications. Depending on the hardware used, up to 20 or more fully operable, independent computer stations can run from a single computer. Userful MultiSeat leverages off basic dual-head GPU technology and USB inputs to turn a monitor, keyboard and mouse into a complete computer station.[13] It works with most graphics cards supported by X.Org/XFree86 and has been tested on most major distributions, including Debian, Fedora, Mandriva Linux, SLED, SuSE and Ubuntu. Userful MultiSeat is available in 64-bit and 32-bit packages in both RPM and DEB formats.[14]

Userful Desktop[edit]

Userful Desktop is a Linux-based multiseat operating system that combines a mixture of proprietary administrative tools, and a modified Red Hat distribution, with a GNOME desktop.[15] The product is specifically designed as a full public computing solution for kiosks and public access computers. Desktop settings are managed by session profiles which are created and stored through a central Web-portal. Some key features are time management, Internet filtering, privacy protection, automated clean-up, and print-job costing, as well as remote monitoring and an administration website. The software includes over 40 applications supporting over 30 languages. Userful Desktop is locked-down and tamper-proof. When a user logs off, the station is cleared of browser histories and downloaded files.[16]

Userful Desktop is delivered as a complete set including software, web portal access, standard hardware, monitors, keyboards, mice, dual-head video cards and USB hubs with various options for further customization, such as including an external USB diskette drive.[17]

Userful Desktop can be described as a multi-station system, consisting of a system unit, with one or more stations attached, plus Userful Desktop system software. The result is a thin client application that creates as many as 15 or more station terminals from a single PC.[16]

Userful's software can be customized through a Web portal called Userful Manager that allows administrators to adjust hundreds of settings, from putting a time limit on the computer's use, to privacy protectors that clean the computer when a person logs out. Settings and updates are automatically rolled out to every computer linked to the system. Usage reports allow administrators to see how the system is running as a whole or drill down to one individual station to see how it is being used.[18]

The system's foundation is strong user permissions, multiple-user login and Security Enhanced Linux (SE Linux). To ensure precautionary safety measures, only the default kernel is in the boot menu, enabling the computer to boot only from the hard drive. A command line is not supplied on the desktop. Although disk and flash drives are automatically mounted on the desktop, this general security risk is secured by limiting the time of login for each user and deleting the users’ home directories once log out occurs. The system is claimed to be virus-free.[15]

Userful Pre-Book[edit]

Pre-Book is an open source PC reservation system consisting of both a Linux based server and Windows and Linux client management software.

The software enables enforcement of equitable time usage on publicly accessible computers. Key features include the ability to set up user grace periods, no-show penalties, holiday hours, and PAM authentication. Users are able to book time from remote locations as well as on the computers themselves. The client software is available for Windows as well as a multiseat locked-down Linux distro (Userful Desktop).[19]

Product Competitors[edit]

Userful MultiSeat Linux software is the Linux-based equivalent of Windows MultiPoint Server for multiseat solutions in the education sector.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eric Lai (2009-02-19). "Linux firm to supply 357,000 Brazilian schools desktops". Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  2. ^ DQChannels (2008-09-01). "Userful plans Indian entry". Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Userful and ThinNetworks today announce that they have been selected to supply 356,800 virtualized desktops to schools in all of Brazil's 5,560 municipalities.". Retrieved Feb 17, 2008. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Success Stories - Userful - Managed Desktops Done Right". Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  9. ^ "Userful GNU/Linux multi-station software suits general desktop users". Retrieved April 23, 2008. 
  10. ^ "50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect". Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  11. ^ Mark Cox (2010-02-18). "Userful Upgrades Multi-Seat Linux Desktop Virtualization Solution". Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  12. ^ Stephen Withers (2010-07-26). "Userful prepackages Linux and applications for multiseat educational use". Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  13. ^ "Userful Multiplier - Multiseat Linux Desktop Virtualization Software Turns 1 Computer Into 10". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  14. ^ "Userful Multiplier Evaluation Version 3.8: Release Notes". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  15. ^ a b Bruce Byfield (2005-10-12). "Userful GNU/Linux multi-station software suits general desktop users". Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  16. ^ a b "Userful Desktop: Secure Managed Desktops with One Installation". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  17. ^ "Userful Libraries – Easy for Staff: Automate Your Library's Public Computers". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  18. ^ "Userful Libraries – Online Administration: Userful Manager". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  19. ^ "Free Open Source PC Booking and Reservation Computer Software: Pre-Book Linux Server and Windows Client". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  20. ^ Tom Warren (2010-02-24). "Microsoft Launches Windows MultiPoint Server". Retrieved 2010-11-07. 

External links[edit]