Direq-ting Internet users

By   |  June 8, 2004

DireqCafe 3.0, an Internet cafe management suite designed to run on the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) system, was released last week. AJ Venter, the South Africa-based developer of the system, says this new version involved a rewrite of much of the original application, although compatibility with versions 1x and 2x has been maintained.

Venter says the code rewrite has significantly improved the end-user experience while also making it easier to install the application on most distributions. \”Version 3.0 also uses it\’s own GUI (graphical user interface), this firstly means the GUI is more powerful,\” says Venter. \”For example, the user monitor can now do real time updating.\” The user monitor can also export the transaction log to a range of formats, including SQL, HTML, tabbed text and CSV.

Also, having chosen a new GUI application over a web-based approach means DireqCafe is better integrated into the user\’s desktop.

Venter says one of the most significant changes he has made to the application is to redesign the database. \”The previous version used a single database file for all users, to which all users would read and write simultaneously. While Unix can do this, when you got to about 10 users, the hard drives couldn\’t keep up anymore. Version 3.0 uses a more scalable database directory in which each user only access his own database file. This is much more resource friendly and also significantly more secure.

\”DireqCafe 3.0 is much cleaner and better designed than in the previous versions. This means it\’s easier to maintain, and inherently more stable. I specifically switched from plain pascal to object pascal (aka Delphi) to achieve

this,\” says Venter.

Key features that have been included in version 3.0 of DireqCafe include real time user monitoring, with more complete status control; export transaction log to multiple formats; and an improved ticket generator and cleanup tools.

Venter says the system is also more secure than previous versions. \”Since it is now a GUI application, I no longer need to make the database files writable by the web-server, which removes a major administration and security hassle.\”

DireqCafe, which has been downloaded about 10 000 times since its first version (0.1) 18 months ago, is widely used by users in developing countries, says Venter. As a result there are a number of translations of the software including Spanish from Mexican developers and French from users in Ivory Coast. DireqCafe 3.0 has not yet been translated, he says.

DireqCafe 3.0 will run on any LTSP system and with any desktop. \”The only known problem is icewm. Ice has a bug with session management and when running under DireqCafe it cannot log out. This however affects many applications including all KDE apps as well,\” says Venter. The only specific requirements are GTK1 and SDL which are included in almost all distributions by default. Venter says a GTK2 version is being planned for the near future.

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