Workplace for office employee, accountant, secretary
ASTER allows you to create several workplaces for working with MS Office, internet surfing, email, accounting, etc. It is necessary to only setup up hardware and workplaces, and then install internet browsers. Isolating disks and USB driver between the users can be attained using built-in Windows tools, and ASTER.
Information systems, registers, cash departments, banks
ASTER is very effective when you need multiple workplaces for similar jobs are performance. Information systems, call centers, cash registers, registers. In this case, it is possible to connect up to 12 workplaces to one PC. Workplaces can be connected via USB Display cards or wireless connection over Ethernet/WiFi. For long distance use different extenders.
Important: Workstations should be pre-tested before hand, using 30 Days trial. You should also read the recommended hardware selection for large number of workplaces.
With ASTER, mobile devices like tablets, smartphones can be used as terminal devices. To do this, you need to install an application like Splashtop or Spacedesk. or you can also use standard remote access programs – once connected, you will be able to use Windows programs on mobile devices and will always be connected to host computer, even while on the road or far away from the main office.
Remote access to PC
When you need to remote your computer, but Windows blocks the desktop during remote sessions, this causes you to allocate a separate computer for these tasks. Solve remote access issue in ASTER This problem: You can select the second workplaces created by ASTER for remote session, which first workplace continues to do their own work, both output of the video card must be connected to the monitor inputs (you can switch between them via the monitor controls – “video source” option)
Backing up your PC
For critical task (control room, control systems, etc.), there should always be uninterrupted operation of the system – ASTER allows you to reduce the number of PC in the system and thus you can use the other PCs for online or offline backup.
Sometimes corporations need fast temporary workplaces for outstuffers, interns or newcomers. Corporations need some time to purchase and to prepare workplaces.
ASTER allows fixing this issue by organizing temporary workplaces using PCs of other corporation employees. This approach saves much time for all. New workers can immediately to start working.
Advanced workplace for traders
The most important thing is that with the help of ASTER, it is even more convenient for one person to use a computer than just an extended desktop. Because the places are exactly “independent”, you do not need to collapse the game, which is running in full-screen mode, to do something on the second monitor, at least switch the video, track, go to the browser, text editor, and so on. You can also separate the audio output for your own use cases.
Reducing spread of COVID-19
During COVID-19 pandemic some businesses want to keep their employees at their homes. In this case it is possible to organize a remote Service Desk for clients.
ASTER allows organizing the remote Service Desk for clients in the office. The Service Desk contains just 1 desktop and several workplaces for clients or kiosks.
Real user experience:
Every time I signed an invoice for the purchase of a computer for a new employee, I asked our admins the same question: “Is there no way to save on this?» No, they said. If we want comfortable work for our employees, we need to buy normal modern computers. This is the opinion of employees, system administrators, technical director… in general, everyone except me )
But the directors or business owners will understand me. If in the pre-crisis times office hardware still cost acceptable money, now paying $500 only for a system unit, at least-is expensive. There must be a way out.
Taking new people on a remote site is not an option for us. We have a lot of people, projects, tasks, and communications. There should be interchangeability + a minimum of communication losses. We need to learn how to use the existing pile of iron (quite modern) not only for current employees, but also for new employees (we are growing by about 1-2 employees per month).
A couple of years ago, I read an article on how to split an Ubuntu-based computer. In fact, this is a solution that parallelizes the resources of the computer (it is also called multiseat). Two keyboards, mice, two monitors are connected, and two users can work simultaneously, each under their own account.
After a short search for solutions for Windows, we found the Aster software product from the company Ibik, which can make two computers from one computer. We started a performance experiment, which, of course, no one believed would be successful. Especially the CTO 🙂 But not everything is perfect.
What did we encounter during the implementation? I give my word to the system administrator.
I will briefly describe the configuration of the machine for this mode of operation and the problems encountered.
The first thing we encountered was the disk. The performance rested on it. The problem was solved quickly by replacing the HDD with an SSD. Everything got knocked up. And (as the employees noted) it became even faster to work than it was before. The i3 processor and 4 Gb RAM is enough for two people to work comfortably.
The capacity of the purchased SSD drives is small — 60Gb. The system itself with the necessary driver package eats up a decent portion of this space. In view of this, at the stage of system installation, we transfer the user folders to the HDD available in the system explorer. To do this, when installing Windows (we use Windows 8 and 8.1), just wait until it asks you to enter the name of the PC, call the console (Shift+F10) and enter a number of commands. For convenience, I combined them in a bat file that I run from a flash drive. Here it is:
robocopy C:\Users D:\Users /E /COPYALL /XJ
rmdir C:\Users /S /Q
mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users
REG ADD “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList” /f /v “ProfilesDirectory” /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /d “D:\Users”
Shutdown -r -f -t 00
There may be some difficulties here. When installing the system, the boot loader does not always correctly format the hard disk. Until the creation of users, you will not be able to start the Explorer, so open notepad, click “open file”, go to “My computer” and see how things are with the HDD partitions (at the same time, we look at what letter the system has assigned to the flash drive). If there are none at all, run DiskManager by typing diskmgmt.msc on the command line. We use it to create a section / sections. If the sections are visible but not formatted, format them with the “format “command (for example, ” format :d /Q”). After that, go to the flash drive and run the executable bat file. After executing the script, the computer will restart and the files will be transferred.
I strongly advise against transferring user folders on an already installed system with at least one registered user. In addition to being a more time-consuming process, experience has shown that after this procedure, a lot of bugs come out — from incorrect operation of applications (especially those supplied with the OS) to failures in the peripherals (a missing network printer and freezes in the mouse).
We are faced with the problem of parallelizing the sound. All programmers sit in headphones and sound is sacred to them. This problem was solved by installing the original drivers. Here we should expect some problems, since sometimes manufacturers do not pay much attention to the quality of the implementation of audio drivers and audio control interfaces. We mainly use standard motherboards with an integrated Realtek sound system. It is enough to enable the possibility of simultaneous independent use of the main and front audio outputs in the settings.
Another surprise was waiting for us at the level of the system itself. The programmer goes to Windows under him and sees the social network of a work colleague 🙂 This was also handled. Authorization in the browser solves this problem quite easily.
We also encountered the fact that in the process of working, our programmers actively use the keyboard shortcut Shift+F12, which in Aster leads to the reassignment of the owners of mice and keyboards for users. The conflict was resolved by editing the registry (the guys from the Ibic support quickly sent a “patch”).
Otherwise, there were no problems. All the software that we use (including PhpStorm) works quite normally with this scheme.
We used a single PC solution for two employees. Aster has a solution for organizing up to six jobs on one machine, but such a scheme was not even considered due to the high risk of large losses of working time in the event of hardware failure, significantly higher requirements for components (especially for video cards and motherboards), as well as possible problems with the implementation of independent audio streams for each user.
Where did we save money?
A full-time workplace for a new employee costs approximately $800. This is a desktop $500 + monitor, keyboard, mouse $200 + windows $100. In order for us to parallelize the workplace, you need to buy an SSD disk with a capacity of at least 60Gb, a network card (if necessary, assigning a separate static IP address to each user), a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and a software license. As a result, for the organization of an additional workplace instead of $800, we spend about $500. This is already acceptable. Plus, we do not forget about saving on the electricity of a computer that works 8-10 hours a day.
In addition, it is worth noting that reducing the number of working machines reduces the cost of their maintenance and, accordingly, increases the reaction speed of administrators. Along with this, we started moving to windows live accounts and storing personal work files in the cloud on One Drive. All this allows employees to work from any location and quickly get involved in work on a substitute, pre-configured PC.
We have not seen any failures for three months. We will be happy if our experiment is useful to you, and the software manufacturer will continue to develop it. And of course, we are ready to take part in the discussion of this hot topic.
Vasily Churanov and the WebCanape team