DaDesktop Manual

Table of Contents

Introduction

 

DaDesktop is a cloud platform and virtual desktop designed to administer interactive remote online training courses. It’s accessible from physical locations, distributed around the world. To use it, all you need is the Chrome or Firefox browser. DaDesktop is by far the easiest to use virtual desktop.

Architecture

 

DaDesktop allows you to create and use virtual desktop machines (also called desktops or virtual machines), which are utilized by the trainer and participants for the duration of the course to perform interactive workshops. In addition to the virtual machines, the trainer and participants connect via a predetermined audio/video communicator such as Zoom (the recommended communication tool).

DaDesktop

Adding a new training

To create a new course, use the “Create new course” button.

create new course

Set the training parameters, more specifically the time zone, start and end times and dates.

If the training is divided into parts (for example two consecutive weekends), you can specify the exact duration of each session using the following button:

Adding a trainer

To add a trainer, use the “First Step: Add Trainer” button.

A trainer can be selected from within the ❶ organization or from outside the organization by sending him a generated invite link ❷.

A correctly added trainer will appear on the list

Adding the Fresh-Start Desktop

The Fresh-Start desktop is the primary and core version of the virtual machine, on the basis of which the desktops of the trainer and the participants will be set up. It should contain all software installations, exercise files and other materials necessary for the training.

With the Fresh-Start virtual desktop machine as your core template, it’s possible to recreate the desktops of the trainer and of the participants if any obstacles or abnormalities arise during the training.

You can create the Fresh-Start desktop from scratch or use a previously prepared image.

Adding the Fresh-Start Desktop from Scratch

In the “Desktops” tab select the “Create From OS Template” option.

After selecting the appropriate server (preferably located as close to the physical location of the participants and trainer as possible as well as the least utilized – with the most resources available), next select the operating system template you want to use from the available dropdown list.

If no additional software is installed during the training and access to the tools from the browser access level is sufficient, it is NOT advised to create an image based on a Windows template. The recommended template in this case is Ubuntu

By default, only the latest versions of operating systems are displayed in the dropdown list of templates. If you need to use an older template, select the appropriate check box “Include Old Versions.”

   
   

You also need to define the parameters of the desktop machine, and consequently that of the trainer’s and participants’ machines, which will be created on the basis of the Fresh-Start desktop as your template.

Adding the Fresh-Start desktop from a saved image

In the “Desktops” tab select the “Create From My Standalone Orgniazation” option.

Previously saved desktop images will be available on the dropdown list.

Modifying the Fresh-Start desktop

The Fresh-Start desktop is used to make the required software installations and prepare the files that will be needed for the training. To do this, the first step is to unlock the desktop.

You can then connect to the Fresh-Start desktop and install the necessary software.

Once the Fresh-Start is ready, just close its tab in your browser window and go back to DaDesktop. Before you can create the trainer and participant machines, you will need to lock the Fresh-Start desktop.

Create a trainer dashboard

The trainer dashboard can be created from the Fresh-Start image.

Training participants will have access to the trainer dashboard and the trainer will be able to use it as a resource during the workshop.
Participants will not be connecting directly to the Fresh-Start desktop. This is a template machine, which can be used when one of the attendees or the trainer have a need to restore the initial desktop image, which was prepared for the training.

Adding participants to the training

Participants can join the training by following the link visible in the yellow color coded field.

After clicking on the link, the participant should complete a brief registration form. This needs to be done within 5 minutes time from when the link was accessed. If the participant already has an account setup on the DaDesktop platform, he or she can skip this step and use their prior login details instead.

After correctly completing the form or logging in, the participant will be added as a participant to the course.

The data that you provide on this account setup form will later be used to log into the DaDesktop platform. Make sure that you enter a valid e-mail address here and remember your password

From the DaDesktop environment level, the participant will have access to the trainer’s desktop ❶ and his or her own desktop (once it has been properly set up for the course).

Create a participant dashboard

There are several ways to create a participant dashboard:

by the participant

Each participant can create their own desktop based on the Fresh-Start image.

by the trainer

The trainer can create the virtual desktop for a specific participant

or create desktops for all participants with one click.

Every single time, the attendee’s desktop is created from the Fresh-Start template image.

Connecting to the trainer dashboard

Each training participant can connect to the trainer’s desktop by selecting the “Quick connect” option visible on the trainer desktop panel.

The trainer’s desktop will be launched in a new tab in the participant’s browser window.

By default, all participants gain read-only access to the trainer’s desktop. They can observe the trainer’s workshops, but cannot interact with the machine.

WARNING! Your browser may block pop-up windows and prevent the desktop from starting up. You can change this in your browser settings using the “Options” button and allowing pop-up windows to be open (below is an example from Firefox).

Connect to a participant’s desktop

Training participants who have had their desktops created on the basis of the Fresh-Start image template, can connect to their environment simply by clicking on the “Quick connect” button.

The icon with the participant’s desktop will turn green, notifying that a connection has been established and the participant’s desktop will be launched in a new tab in their browser window.

Additional connection options are available from the dropdown menu of the “Connect” button.

The first time you connect to your participant desktop (especially if you are using the Windows operating system), the machine may restart. In this case, you just need to wait a few seconds and, if necessary, refresh your tab in the browser window.

How to stop / restore / delete a participant desktop

If any problems arise with the participant’s machines (a freeze, stop, corruption or any other errors), actions can be taken to quickly restore the full functionality of the desktop.

Desktop stop

A running participant’s desktop (the green icon) can be stopped, for example in the event of problems with interacting with the machine, by selecting “Stop”

If you can’t stop the participant’s desktop, you can try the “Force-Stop” option

Restoring the desktop

If the participant’s desktop has been corrupted or damaged, it can be restored to its initial configuration from the Fresh-Start image. The option to restore the desktop is made available with the “Restore from Fresh-Start” button

The option to restore the desktop is irreversible. All data and modifications that have been made before the desktop was restored will be lost.

The participant’s desktop can also be restored by the trainer from the Fresh-Start image OR from the current trainer’s desktop image.
When restoring the participant’s environment from the trainer unit, you first need to stop the trainer machine.

When connecting to the participant desktop for the first time, after restoring it from the trainer’s desktop (especially when using the Windows operating system), the machine may restart.

If this happens, it is enough to wait a few seconds and, if necessary, refresh your tab in the browser window.

Removing the desktop

The participant’s desktop can be removed by selecting the “Delete” button.

The option to delete the participant’s desktop is irreversible. All data on the desktop will be lost.

After deleting the machine, you can restore the initial template version from the Fresh-Start image.

Configuring attendee desktops

Changing the desktop resolution and setting full screen mode

By default, the desktop is scaled to fit the browser window size. This can cause problems with the legibility of some texts (for example with a small font size or blurred letters).

Scaled desktop with limited readability

Solving problems with the image being out of focus or the size of the letters being too small to read involves two steps: setting the appropriate desktop resolution and disabling image scaling, as well as switching to full screen mode.

The participant’s desktops should have their displays adjusted to the same resolution as their physical monitors, from which each participant is connecting to DaDesktop (for example 1920 × 1080).
Additionally, the environment should be in full screen mode.

Desktop display and scaling settings are accessible on the left side of the screen panel from the green dropdown menu.

With the menu options available, you can adjust the scaling ❶ and switch to full screen mode ❷

In order to apply the best quality settings for each participants’ desktop, ensuring the comfort of their work, the following steps need to be followed:

  • Adjusting to a compatible resolution that matches that of the participant’s physical computer and their virtual machine desktop, to ensure that they are both one and the same.

  • Disabling scaling (by selecting Scaling mode: None) ❶

  • Switching to full screen mode ❷

If you wish to go back to the DaDesktop main screen or to display the trainer’s desktop, you will need to exit full screen mode first (by deselecting an option in the menu or pressing the Esc key).

Content Sharing

Text Sharing

Sharing text or text excerpts can come in very useful during training, especially if you want to use a previously shared website link or a code fragment. Previously copied text cannot be pasted directly to and from the desktop environment (with Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V).

One way to share text from sources outside of DaDesktop and DaDesktop machines is to use the “clipboard” window located in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop screen.

Sharing text from an external source to the desktop

To make text available from outside of the desktop environment, follow the steps below:

  • copy the text (for example link)

  • click on the text box labeled “clipboard” in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop screen

  • paste the copied text (for example using Ctrl-v)

    • the text field can be enlarged by clicking on the “>” button located on the green background

  • use the copied text freely inside the desktop environment

Sharing text from the desktop to an external source

When you copy text from inside of your virtual desktop screen, it is automatically copied to the clipboard (the text field with the word “clipboard” in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop screen).

All you need to do now is paste the copied text to your desired destination, outside of the DaDesktop environment.

File Sharing

The easiest way to share files (like documents, graphic files, etc.) to and from the desktop platform is via the use of any provider that supports cloud storage (for example DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.).

Just open a browser window inside of your virtual desktop, log in to your cloud storage account and download it or upload the files you want.

Saving a standalone desktop

Your desktop configuration can be saved and made available for future use (for example when Adding the Fresh-Start desktop from a saved image).

Saving the desktop to a standalone image can be done several ways – like choosing the “Clone to Standalone Desktop” option (desktops stored on DaDesktop servers are independent of the duration of the training and can act as a backup or an image of the initial desktop before modifications).

❶ from the Fresh-Start image

❷ from the trainer’s desktop

In either case, an additional window will appear where you can select the organization and name of the desktop:

The standalone desktop will be visible by clicking on “Standalone Desktops” in the top menu.

Snapshot

The current configuration of each participants’ or the trainer’s desktop can be saved in the form of a so-called “Snapshot.” Snapshots allow you to keep the current state of the desktop setup and restore it at a later stage. This can be useful if you want to save a specific checkpoint in your work (for example at the end of the day) or before performing an exercise in order to revert to a previous state prior to making changes.

Creating a snapshot image

You must stop the desktop machine before saving the image.

Snapshots can be accessed from the settings menu..

After entering the image name, select the “Take snapshot” option

The name of the snapshot image can only contain English letters, numbers or dashes, and CANNOT exceed 20 characters

Restoring the desktop from a snapshot image

You have to stop the desktop machine before attempting to restore the desktop configuration from a saved snapshot image.

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Snapshots can be accessed from the settings menu.

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You need to select the appropriate saved image from the list and click “restore.”


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