Living Remote – Eating dogfood, Part 1

By Fredrik Brattstig @virtualbrat

Title picture borrowed from https://nypost.com/article/why-some-dry-dog-foods-can-be-bad-for-your-pet/ (Getty Images, Shutterstock)

Hey, let me start up a series of blogs, about how I live in my life as a technology evangelist @ IGEL.

I have decided to start to live as I teach. I believe this is the best way to give substance to the stories I tell. It is also a great way for me to understand challenges customers might face in the transition to a remote workplace.
I will give you an honest experience of living as a mobile user using IGEL OS as the only Edge operating system!
Since I started at IGEL 7 years+ ago, I have always had home office location. It has been a life on the road

Let me start with my fortress, the home office!

The main work desk

The above picture is of my main work desk. On the far left I have a vertical mounted Lenovo FullHD screen. The next 2 screens are also connected to my main endpoint and are two 27″ QHD. The screen on the right is my lab IGEL OS endpoint. Why this setup of choice? The vertical screen is ideal for browsers and app access. The next monitor is where I have my AVD session, which is my main IGEL corporate work environment. On the right monitor, this is my utility monitor where I connect to other resources, like my LAB, etc. On my far right, I have an IGEL OS endpoint connected to a regular 24″ FullHD monitor, allowing me to share experiences in remote meetings, more on that later.

Let’s have a look at my Laptop, shall we? This machine has been a windows 10 based laptop for years, but about a half year ago, I switched from using my IGEL OS UD7 device as my main endpoint to my laptop. And the reason is… Mobility and 32Gigs of RAM! What!?? Would you need 32GB RAM to run IGEL OS??!? CERTAINLY NOT, but, and there is always a but right? In my role, one of the key points is to be able to show how the IGEL ecosystem works and to be able to demo IGEL OS and the IGEL management suite, which is called the UMS. I can do this using cloud workspaces, though there might be times when I can’t connect to the cloud (or my lab at home), I still need to access a UMS and some IGEL OS virtual machines for demos, etc. I’ll tell you more how I do this in Part 2 of this blog series.
Looking at the Laptop, it is an old Lenovo T470p where I installed IGEL OS 11 using the regular IGEL OS Creator:

ComponentBrandCharacteristics
CPUIntel Core i7 7700HQ3.8 GHz
StorageSamsung NVME512 GB
RAM32 GB
GraphicsIntel 630 / Nvidia 940mx
BuiltIn Wi-FiIntel 8275
BuiltIn LANI219-V10/100/1000
4G LTE ModuleSierra Wireless EM74554G / 3G connectivity

The installation of IGEL OS went smooth, and running IGEL OS on this hardware gives a very good user experience. So, let’s start to build it out in a way that suites my requirements for work. Here is what I have done:

First, I’m using a special firmware currently that gives me the possibility to use an AVD session with both Zoom and MS Teams offloading capabilities. Zoom VDI has been in IGEL OS for quite some time, Microsoft Teams optimization for AVD/Windows 365 is in a closed beta stage currently for selected customers. The Unified Communications and Collaboration tools I need are generally those two. I’m using my AVD session as much as possible for any communications. Sometimes though, I need to screen share things outside of the AVD session – that leads me to, by using my LAB UMS, to add custom partitions to my IGEL OS endpoint. Luckily a colleague of mine, Ron Neher (LinkedIn profile of Ron), has created some awesome scripts to create custom partitions to enable installing additional software in IGEL OS. Open up the IGEL Community Custom Partition pages for an overview of what’s possible to package.
Basically, you need to download, what I call Custom Partition skeleton, and the .deb files for the software, and run the build script to create a Custom Partition of MS Teams ex. Add the custom partition for distribution to your UMS and assign it to your device and off you go. So, I have a Linux version of MS Teams and Zoom installed locally in IGEL OS too. Plus I also went for installing Spotify, as I love listening to music while working. And I also added the Linux version of Microsoft Edge Web browser. Cool right!
To summarize, here are the different sessions/applications I have added to my work device:
– AVD/Windows365 sessions (IGEL/virtualbrat.com/igelize.me)
– Citrix – access to Citrix demo cloud and my local LAB
– RDP sessions to manage my LAB
– NoMachine NX session (ubuntu VM to create custom partitions)
– Teradici PCoIP Ultra
– Zoom VDI
– MS Teams
– Firefox Browser
– Chromium Browser
– MS EDGE Browser
– Spotify

Now, moving on to why I chose my Lenovo laptop as my main tool instead of using the awesome IGEL UD7. Basically, it is very easy, I needed a road companion that allows me to be truly mobile. past (pre covid) years I was on the road a lot, spending some 70-100 hotel nights a year while visiting different events or meetings of all sorts around the globe. I need something that is reliable and mobile. What I quickly figured out was that I was only mobile in the sense that I needed to have network connectivity to be able to work. A few months ago I ordered a 4G LTE M2 adapter and added it to my laptop. Now I’m truly mobile. I added the M2, and a SIM card from my Swedish carrier Tre. Tre has every good deal, where you pay for flat rate mobile connectivity, it allows me to use unlimited cellular data in Sweden, and it also offers me to use 100GB data transfer per month anywhere outside of Sweden (with some exceptions). It will allow me to use my cellular connectivity built into my laptop anywhere in Europe, and in the United States, which includes my common theatre of work. I’m not tied to LAN or WiFi connectivity anymore, all I need to do is to hook up my LTE connection to access my cloud workspaces anywhere. Eventually, I will switch this for a 5G card in the future…

Part 1 is coming to an end, stay tuned for part 2, where we will have look at if running virtual machines on a thin client operating system is possible and make sense. I’ll also talk about my experiences presenting on stage at physical events and in virtual meetings, what you can do, and if there are any limitations of running a highly secure EDGE operating system designed for thin clients in the life of a technology evangelist…

Stay well!

/Fred

Read more about IGEL at www.igel.com