Linux firm Userful to supply 357,000 Brazilian school desktops

Userful has won a deal to supply Linux-based PC-sharing software to 357,000 desktops in schools throughout Brazil.

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Userful has won a deal to supply Linux-based PC-sharing software to 357,000 desktops in schools throughout Brazil.

Userful's Multiplier software runs on top of any version of the open-source Linux OS and enables a single desktop PC to be shared by as many as 10 users, all connected by individual monitors, keyboards and mice.

The massive deal, won in partnership with ThinNetworks and a number of local Brazilian PC manufacturers, is Userful's largest deployment by far.

Including this deal, the Calgary, Alberta firm will now have contracts to supply more than 400,000 seats.

Userful, which announced the Brazilian deal earlier this week, has just 40 employees.

Founded in 1999, it was self-funded until receiving $1 million in venture capital money last summer, according to marketing manager Sean Rousseau.

Userful and its partners beat out the apparent market leader in the PC-sharing space, NComputing, which offers a similar solution for Windows that had sold a million seats as of last fall.

Userful won, in part, because of its low cost. The Multiplier software starts at $69 per seat, though that figure can go as low as $50 per seat for deployments as large as the one in Brazil, according to Rousseau.

There are no costs associated with licensing the operating system, another difference with NComputing's Windows-based solution.

Userful networks, especially those running the optional Userful Desktop graphical administration software, are simple enough for teachers and other non-technical employees to manage, said Rousseau.

Other support is typically provided by the PC reseller, he said. Besides lower hardware and support costs, customers can save on energy costs by running 90 per cent fewer computers.

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