All-in-One Locked-Down Public Computing Solution

Managing desktops for public use can turn traditional PCs into an IT burden and put a strain on budgets. Userful is designed for public use as an all-in-one, simple, and secure desktop platform.

Userful is a locked down public computing solution that is turnkey and ready to go out of the box. It includes a full suite of public computing features such as print and time management as well as all the end user software needed for patrons. Managed through the cloud by Userful, it requires no local IT management.

Userful saves libraries money by powering multiple desktops through one server using energy conserving zero client devices. This saves up to 80% on hardware costs while reducing software and electricity costs. Userful includes everything needed for any public computer deployment and also allows organizations to provide a rich desktop environment with a variety of features and applications available to meet every patron's need.


Key Features

Completeness – 40 applications for your patrons in 30 languages, a solution for children and for the visually impaired.

Self Service for Users – Time and Print Management options save time for your staff.

Administrator Time Savings – No more patches, upgrades or updates. Userful centrally updates itself.

Simplicity – A complete solution from a single vendor simplifies implementation and eliminates finger pointing between suppliers. Controlling and customizing the user interface and policy settings is easy: visit, an easy to use web portal and control your settings from a browser.

Security – A solution that is locked down out of the box: tamper-proof, immune from viruses, spyware, hackers, and identity theft.

Cost effective - Our unique resource-sharing system allows multiple people to work from a single computer. Each station has just a monitor, keyboard, mouse and ethernet connected zero client device which greatly reduces the cost of deploying computers and does not reduce performance. (Optionally you can run it as Single User Userful Desktop on your existing PCs)

Userful Control Center and Userful Cloud

Using Userful’s control center, the entire look, feel and functionality of each desktop can be easily configured.

With Userful Cloud you can access the Userful control center remotely allowing you to easily change and manage settings across multiple sites from anywhere you’ve got internet access.

Among the many things you can control through the Userful Control Center:

  • Web filtering
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Desktop shortcuts
  • Opening hours
  • Automatic end of day log-off to facilitate closing the facility
  • Print control
  • Browser home page
  • Warning messages about end-of-session
  • Which sessions are available on which stations
  • Station numbering and naming
  • View or directly control any station from your web browser
  • Manage and control the system entirely through Userful Cloud

Userful also includes a full statistics feature. It collects usage stats on number of sessions, length of sessions, type of sessions, and much more. Libraries can pull statistics based on day, branch or even station with the Usage Report feature.

Time Management

Userful comes with a session timer that keeps track of time spent on a session, warns users when the session is about to end, and then logs the user out.

Pre-Book Cloud Reservation System.

Pre-book delivers advanced time management to customers allowing patrons to book a desktop in advance or can be used to create a queue giving the next desktop available to a waiting patron. It also allows customers to limit users total daily computer time. This features requires user authentication (ie to Library ILS) to implement.

Print Management

Basic Print Management:

Userful's has a configurable print cost control dialog box built in. When a user prints from any application, Userful calculates and displays print-job costs for the user's approval before paper and time are wasted. This pop-up can also display custom messages like instructions on how to retrieve and pay for their printout. To handle payment, Userful offers a print queue management system that can hold print jobs until a staff member releases them. This ensures no printouts are made until they are paid for

Advanced Print Management:

OCS is a Userful partner, and our go-to solution for automated print release. Patrons log into Userful with their barcode, that code is then sent with their print jobs. The user punches in their barcode at the station (or swipes their library card if you have mag-strips) and can then pay for and collect their print job.

Wireless web printing with the OCS advanced print module requires OCS Print Release Server software for the print release station, as well as OCS support & wireless web print.

Features >

Centralized computers and kiosks

Userful Desktop managed computing solution uses a standard, central computer with client hardware and software to create up to twenty desktop computer stations. The system delivers a locked and secure desktop, complete with a full suite of software that works online or offline.

High performance with rich multimedia

The Public desktop computer stations perform just like regular computers and can even support playing high definition videos, typing documents, building presentations, or using a variety of applications at each station.

Intuitive desktop with safe web browsing

Each desktop has an intuitive look and feel with a custom suite of apps to suit your patrons' needs.

Include familiar office suites

LibreOffice software, a full open source office suite, is included with the Linux operating system. LibreOffice is a multilingual office suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office, which can also be installed on the desktops.

Customize Desktops

Administrators can easily create a series of custom desktop profiles designed with applications to suit different types of users based on age, or usage need.

"Hands-free" solution

As a managed solution, Userful Desktop requires no technical support, updates, upgrades or maintenance from onsite staff. It is entirely self-updated and maintained through the cloud.

Software add-ons

Extend functionality with a range of software add-ons to meet the specific need of any organization. Add-ons include:

  • Time Management and Reservation – Customize default usage settings. The system can connect to an Integrated Library System to reference patron ages, types, reservations, and fees. Customize daily useage or number of logins per location. A count down time notifies the patron before allocated time is ending and automatically logs the patron out of the desktop or gives patrons the choice to extend the session if its a low-traffic time.
  • Pre-book Reservation System – Use Pre-Book to implement a full featured computer booking and reservation system. Patrons can pre-book a station from home, the office, or school up to two weeks in advance, or walk-up to view the real time availability charts to immediately reserve the next available station. The system automatically sends email reminders to patrons, provides a grace period for all reservations, and prevents double-booking. Time-based usage restrictions can be set by day and week and across all locations.
  • Print Management and Cost Recovery – Enable users to print files and pay for the cost of printing. Implement a variety of payment options including an online account, magnetic swipe card, credit card, pay at desk, or less formal systems like a coin and bill box. Users can see only the names of the print jobs that they have sent to the printer. Wireless web printing is also available.
  • Remote Monitoring and Control – Staff can efficiently and securely monitor and control all public computers, including sending individual or broadcast messages, adding or subtracting allocated time, and logging stations in and out, as needed. Staff can also view station status, time remaining and pull status or usage reports. Advanced settings enable staff to remotely perform technical support and troubleshooting tasks such as starting and stopping services, rebooting computers, and running diagnostic or administrative commands.
  • Patron Authentication – Integrate Userful Desktop with your library management system, allowing you to monitor and control access and usage. Patron authentication is compatible with major library systems including SirsiDynix, Innovative, GEAC, TLC, Polaris, and Endeavor. Userful supports standard protocols including SIP, SIP2, LDAP, and NCIP.

Safe web browsing

A password protected Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Compliant filter enables organizations to provide a content-safe internet browsing environment.

Immune to viruses

Userful Desktop public computing platform is based on a Linux distribution and viruses simply cannot execute or multiply, making Userful Desktop immune to viruses.

Flexible installation

Built on Userful's virtualization platform, Userful Desktop can run on a single server with 10 or more desktops connected either with USB or with LAN-based client devices. Userful desktop can also be run on stand alone PC's allowing organizations to get the benefit of a locked down, cloud managed desktop without buying new hardware.

Secure solution

Only administrators can install software or change the desktops. The desktop computer stations automatically reset when a public computer session ends without needing to restart the station.

Manage from the cloud

Userful's Cloud Management portal ( allows a single administrator to manage up to thousands of desktop computer stations located anywhere in the world all from a browser. Easily set usage permissions, control the look, feel and functionality of all desktops. Easily pull usage reports to gain better insight into how the desktops are used.

Choose preferred manufacturers

Userful software for public computer stations is compatible with zero client devices from many leading manufacturers like HP®, ViewSonic®, Acer and Atrust, so there is no proprietary hardware to lock in. Userful Desktop can be installed easily on most 64-bit computers and is compatible with a variety of market leading printers and scanners.

Reliable support

Our knowledgeable team of trainers and support experts are easy to reach through email or a toll free phone number. Training services are included with every new installation. The support team can request permission to remotely connect to any public computer stations to use a toolbox of diagnostic utilities and support scripts to quickly isolate and fix any technical issue. Userful automatically deploys updates with the latest features and improvements to keep the solution up-to-date.


When more desktops are required, it's easy to scale with Userful, simply add another server to add up to twenty desktops to that single server.

Cost effective

Userful Desktop saves time, money, and headaches, while costing a fraction of of any other managed desktop solution.

Minimize management costs

By controlling and managing all desktops through the clouds, management is suddenly easy, even for someone with limited IT training.

Save 80% of computer hardware costs

By migrating to a centralized, virtualized public desktop computer model powered by Userful Desktop public computing software, one computer with zero client devices powers up to twenty desktop computer stations to save up to 80 percent of hardware costs.

Extend the lifespan

An investment in a zero client desktop computer solution will last up to a decade, which is two to three times longer than the lifespan of a traditional computer or thin client. Replace the one server every 3-5 years to get a brand-new computing experience and take advantage of technology upgrades.

Reduce electricity by 60%

Each zero client computing device consumes as little as 3 watts of electricity, which is a fraction of the power consumed by a computer. Within three years, the amount of electricity savings will be enough to pay for the original zero client purchase.

Green computing

Zero client computing devices have no moving parts that produce heat or require cooling, have a small carbon footprint, and long lifespan to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from electricity consumption, manufacturing, transportation, and the electronic waste of old devices. It is an environmentally sustainable computing solution leading green computing.

Key Benefits >

Customizable desktops and applications

Patrons can take advantage of a variety of desktop workstations with applications to meet the unique needs of each user. Administrators can customize desktops for kids with fun and educational games, workstations with large print for users with visual impairment and job-seeking stations with office applications and links to job banks, among many others.

Secure, locked-down computing experience

With many patrons using one public computer in a day, it's important to provide the proper security to each user. Only administrators have access to change desktops and can create unique sessions for each patron that resets for the next user. Desktops can also be configured to have limited browser access and secure internet browsing for children.

Features to meet every patron's needs

Userful allows any organization to add on a range of software features to improve efficiency and productivity of desktops. Features include timed computing sessions, pre-booking stations, print management, and cost-recovery settings.

Simply manage from the cloud

Power up to twenty desktops, that are all centrally managed from the cloud. Administrators can make changes to the look and functionality of any or all desktops from any device through a browser-managed control center, or pull usage reports to see how desktops are being used.

Cost and Time Savings

Userful reduces the upfront cost of purchasing hardware for public computing deployments and it saves ongoing resources by reducing the effort required to manage and maintain public computers. Wondering just how cost effective Userful is? Request pricing here.

Case Studies >

  • Indiana | USA

    Warsaw Public Library
  • Revelstoke | Canada

    Hillcrest Hotel Coast Resort
  • Drumheller | Canada

    Canalta Hotels
  • Florida Keys | USA

    Monroe County Library System
  • Afghanistan

    Canadian Forces in Afghanistan