Edge Hill University’s open access Sunray implementation – Part 1

Student open access Sunray terminal project

We have recently completed our initial roll out of some 150 Sunray terminals for support and academic staff within our new £14m Faculty of Health building on the Edge Hill University Ormskirk campus.

Facalty Of Health learning Pod

The specification for the FOH also included initially around 25 Sunrays terminal for student open access use located in a number of learning pods located around the building.

As the requirements for staff and students are different, including different software and printing facilities this requires the Sunray terminals to provide different working environments based on the location of the terminal.

So how do Sunrays work then?

A Sunray is a “thin client” terminal, this means there is no hard disk, memory or operating system within the unit itself so both noise and power consumption are significantly reduced compared to a desktop PC. Another feature of the Sunray terminal is that because files are not stored on the device it is highly secure, if your Sunray breaks or is stolen your data is safe.

When you connect a Sunray to your network it will make a DHCP request to try to acquire an IP address and the IP address of a DNS server.

Sunray Terminal

It will then use DNS to resolve the IP address of a Sunray server by looking for two default DNS names, “sunray-servers” and “sunray-config-servers”. If it is able to resolve this it will open a session based on the configuration of that Sunray server.

In most cases if no smart card is present the default action would be to enter “kiosk mode” possibly to provide restricted web browsing or as in the case of our staff implementation, a menu allowing the user to select their screen resolution or open a Windows Terminal Server connection.

It was decided based on the popularity of our PC based cyber café style “Touchdown” stations around campus that it would be desirable to provide further functionality and choice, giving the user the option of light weight web browser for quick authenticated access to the internet, or a full network login including word processing and printing facilities. It was also identified that it would be desirable that if the terminal is not in use it could deliver information to the students.

So what will the students see?

On start up the student Sunray terminal presents a dynamically updated and centrally managed information screen that could display news, exam timetables or any other information that can be delivered via the internet. Users can then press a button which will launch a menu giving the user authentication options including a full Edge Hill University student desktop, an Internet Explorer only session or the option to change the screen resolution. Once the user closes the Internet Explorer window or logs off there university desktop session the terminal will revert to the information display.

Sunray Menu screen

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