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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.
Public Library was one of our test installation sites. It is
a medium-sized library about 60 miles north of Seattle in northern Washington
State. We worked with library director, Maggie Buckholz, and Janet
Royer, the library system administrator and circulation supervisor. Burlington Library has around 600 patrons
who use library computers each day. The library also offers free WiFi, a laptop
checkout program, and 30 public access computers. Maggie Buckholz told us that
the library is probably more restrictive than many libraries, which had an
effect on the MultiPoint Server system
TechSoup and InterConnection teamed up to supply the Burlington
Library with everything they would need to set up a 7-station MultiPoint Server-based public access computers.
Installation Date: September 13,
Existing public access IT system
the new MultiPoint Server system augmented: 30 Core 2 desktops and P4 desktops.
Internet connectivity is via a T1 line. Public access PCs in this library have
dedicated uses: some devices are for viewing the catalog, some are general
Internet stations, and some are specifically for job searching and employment
Jeff Hawes, IT systems admin, and
Jesse McCarty, IT technical assistant, worked to together to set up the new
system and integrate it into the existing network. They rate themselves as
advanced in IT. It took them about a half hour to get the server up and running
and one station set up and running. They took an additional day to do final
configuration. The library needed a more complex configuration that has
different profiles for users (public, job database, and catalog). They actually
didn't use or need the instructions we provided at all and found the software easy to work
Jeff and Jesse initially had some
trouble with the server restarting on its own during installation. They also
had some trouble authenticating MultiPoint Server. In experimenting with
setting up users, they discovered that multiple people can use the same user
account at the same time. However,
it creates problems. For example,
Mozilla would not open multiple sessions at the same time. The solution was to
create user accounts for each station. They also had trouble getting Internet
Explorer to work. The solution was to disable the IE security settings. We
found this in other test installations.
After the system was up and
running, they found that the refresh rate when scrolling down a long web page was
sometimes a problem. The screen would be blurry and then clear up.
The biggest problem we
encountered among all of our test installations was at this location. Like many
larger libraries, Burlington Library uses specialized software that restricts
the amount of time people can be on computers and also directs printing to a
coin-operated printer. The software they use is Envisionware PC Reservation. They
simply could not get PC Reservation to work on the MultiPoint Server system.
The solution was to dedicate the MultiPoint Server system to catalog browsing
where there is no time limit or printing access.
Intended Use of the New
MultiPoint Server System
Burlington Library wanted to use
the MultiPoint Server system for all uses, including Internet public access
stations, dedicated employment stations, and library catalog kiosks. It turned
out that the system was only useful for library catalog kiosk.
Recommendations to Others:
Maggie Buckholz says that she would recommend MultiPoint Server for classroom settings in
places that don't need to use software that restricts time on each station and
that directs printing to a coin-operated printer.