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Microsoft's Windows MultiPoint Server
is a thin-client or shared-resource-computing
software solution in which one host computer is shared by multiple users
simultaneously. Basically, it allows one computer to serve several people in a
lab or library at very low cost and with minimum maintenance.
TechSoup and InterConnection, one of our
Refurbished Computer Initiative partners, teamed up to supply a group of
nonprofits and libraries with everything they would need to set up a MultiPoint
Server lab in their environment. In most cases, we sent them the instructions,
hardware, and software they'd need and then stood back and watched how the
installation went. We then did check-ins on how the MultiPoint Server system
held up under use.
Regional Library was one of our test sites. It is a small, rural library
that serves 5,000 people in the Skagit Valley in northern Washington State.
Joy Neal (right) is the library director and Lane Fernando (below) is their tech support
person. Joy was previously the
librarian in a large, five-county district library system and when she took the
La Conner position, she found that she had no IT support on site and a limited budget.
She became the library tech person by default.
She is a favorite on TechSoup for Libraries because
she is always open to new technology. For instance La Conner has been using
thin clients since 2008, and recently installed an open-source integrated
libraries, La Conner Library provides public access computers to patrons to use however
they wish. They also have a homework help program for school children and offer
a variety of digital literacy computer classes. Patrons can also bring their
own laptops and tablets and use the library's free WiFi.
TechSoup and InterConnection teamed up to supply La
Conner Library with everything they would need to set up a bank of MultiPoint
Server-based public access computers. Joy and Lane Fernando worked to together
to set up the new 5-station donation:
Installation Date: August 24,
Existing public access IT system
the new MultiPoint Server system replaces: 6 HP thin clients connected to a
Windows server. Internet connectivity was via a T1 line.
Joy Neal and Lane Fernando who
worked to together to set up the new system, regard themselves as medium to
advanced in IT. It took them 25 minutes to plug everything in get the software
configured. They liked the tiny size of the USB hubs. Like most of our test
sites, they didn't read
instructions until half way through the process. They plugged in peripherals
first and then read instructions mainly for software configuration. Having had
previous experience with thin-client computing, they liked the idea of
attaching the USB hubs to the monitors.
This was our first test
installation, so we had more problems than with the others. Over time we
refined our instructions. At La Conner Library, it took some experimentation to
get the stations to appear in admin console. The solution was to properly
register the MultiPoint Server software with Microsoft.
Also the admin station had full
Internet access, but the four user stations had limited Internet access. They
could get to sites like Bing, the library website, and some other sites, but most others were blocked. Rebooting
the system did not work. The solution turned out to be to disable the security
settings in Internet Explorer. Firefox didn't have this problem.
Intended Use of the New
MultiPoint Server System:
The New MultiPoint Server System
will mainly be used for open access to the Internet for patrons, computer
classes, and a place to do after-school homework for school children,
Fernando maintains and administers the new Multipoint Server system day to day. He installed Faronics Deep Freeze, which is
system restore and recovery software, mainly to clear out the browsing
histories for each user. He reports that very little maintenance is needed
beyond insuring Microsoft updates, and clearing browsing histories.
Recommendations to Others From La Connor Library:
and Lane recommend MultiPoint Server to other libraries. They hope to expand their system to 10 stations. They
also find that their lab is easy enough to move when needed. Space is an issue
in their library.
Lane is planning to do a
game design class and is excited about using the MultiPoint Server
system as a teaching tool. He values the ability to
see exactly what is going on at each station from the server terminal.
image: by Charles Brennick of Joy Neal and Lane Fernando
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.