VeryPC GreenHive review

Price when reviewed

After winning the PC Pro Environmental Innovator of the Year award in 2007, VeryPC isn’t resting on its laurels. We’ve already taken a look at its GreenServer Janus, which delivers a high processing density but at a modest power cost, and we now bring you an exclusive review of its GreenHive multi-user PC solution.

VeryPC GreenHive review

The GreenHive package comprises a single central host system. This provides local access for one user but up to six other users can connect and share its resources as well. The concept is built around GreenHive’s KVM PCI cards, its management software and KVM access terminals. The software provides terminal services by splitting up the host’s resources and presenting them as independent sessions. The PCI cards combine three video adapters plus associated PS/2 mouse and keyboard controllers. These are presented as three ethernet ports where each are linked via a standard network cable to the KVM access terminal. This little box of tricks is powered from the host system and provides a monitor port, PS/2 ports for mouse and keyboard plus a speaker port. The GreenHive supports up to two of these KVM PCI cards so can scale from four to seven users.

The management software facilitates multiple user sessions and can be managed via a Remote Administration Console installed as an MMC snap-in. From here you create standard Windows users and groups that are to access the system, and configure local policies for the host computer and users. A tree menu to the side allows you to view all stations connected to the system. A drop-down menu for each one provides options to remotely start and stop it or send the user a message. Three tabs are provided: the first lists all applications loaded for each station, the next provides a station status along with names of the default and logged in users (plus details on their input devices), and the third tab allows you to determine how each station behaves.

You can decide whether the station automatically powers up with the host system, allow the station to be shutdown from the login screen or not, add a user name that will be automatically entered in the login screen and choose a program to run at the login phase as well. Should the central system be powered off or rebooted locally this will affect all associated stations but you can include a delay period in seconds, allowing each user time to log off cleanly.

From a user’s perspective there’s very little difference to what they would experience in front of a normal PC. They get a standard Windows GUI and all applications are loaded as though they were installed locally. To share applications they’re simply installed on the central system, where they immediately become available to each user. Any hardware installed on the central system is also available for use so devices such as USB storage sticks or external drives will be up for grabs once loaded. The same applies to the central system’s hard disk, so you may want to set up user accounts and access controls. Using group policies you can also block user access to the management console.

Software licensing is an interesting issue for the GreenHive as VeryPC advised us that as the Windows OS is licensed on a per platform basis you only need one licence for four or seven users. Applications are a different matter. With Microsoft Office, for example, you’ll need to purchase a licence for each user.

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