PowerTerm helps Auto-Rain Make the Transition to SuSE Desktop Linux

PowerTerm® InterConnect (Linux Edition) Helps Auto–Rain Make the Transition to SuSE Desktop Linux and LTSP More Productive for Users





Host Connectivity Solution

   PowerTerm® InterConnect (Linux Edition)


   SuSE Desktop Linux


   ~30 sales representatives

The Challenge

   To provide terminal emulation to a legacy accounting application running on Basis PRO5 running on SuSE Linux.

The Solution

   PowerTerm InterConnect (Linux Edition) made the transition from Wyse60 dumb terminals to SuSE Linux workstations and laptops quickly and easily.


  • Ideal for organizations migrating from Windows® environment to Linux Desktops
  • Helps give an accounting application a graphics application feel, while maintaining the simplicity of dumb terminal computing
  • Increases user productivity
  • Transparent to users
  • Enables access to a growing number of low cost, valuable Linux Desktop software
  • PowerTerm InterConnect provides a long-term solution by working in graphic and character-based environments

" I cannot over emphasize the benefit of PowerTerm and how long we looked for that solution that would enable us to take advantage of Linux. It solves our desktop and server needs. "
Mark Robinson, CFO and CTO, Auto-Rain


Established in 1952, Auto-Rain is a leading Irrigation, Landscape, Pond and Hearth supply and installation company. In addition, Auto-Rain also provides consultation and installation of data systems for their core group of customers. The company has 38 employees and five store locations throughout the Inland Northwest.

Since the mid-1980's, Auto-Rain has been running the AddonSoftware Accounting package on Unix for its accounting needs. The opening of a new store in Spokane, WA, prompted Auto-Rain to move away from dumb terminals and move to a more graphic environment. Linux Servers running either LTSP (Linux Terminal Services) or VNC (virtual network computing) were to be deployed, with Dual Processor IBM and Intel Servers running SCO OpenServer, SCO UnixWare and SuSE Linux.

From Dumb Terminal to SuSE Desktop Linux

Auto-Rain required a terminal emulator that would allow thin clients contact to the primary accounting application so employees and sales reps could connect from workstations or laptops to the character-based legacy accounting application running on Basis Pro5 (business basic) for sales, purchasing shipping, receiving warehousing, inventory control and demonstrations.

Auto-Rain wanted a product that could work with Wyse 60 personality, run in a graphic session under KDE 3, support SSH, and have an automated run configuration so the process was single click or auto-run upon login with only login requirements.

According to Mark Robinson, CFO and CTO of Auto-Rain, finding a solution was a daunting task. They tested several terminal emulation solutions and eliminated them due to lack of functionality. Graphical elements didn't look professional, and the program didn't stay in the window correctly. Function keys or basic keys on the keyboard didn't do what was expected.

Mark originally learned about PowerTerm InterConnect (Linux Edition) at the first Desktop Linux summit in February 2003. Ten months later, after trying other products, and still no closer to a solution, he came across PowerTerm again. "I stumbled across Ericom's website which displayed screenshots of a terminal emulator. I said 'That's it. That's the look that I'm trying to get.'"

Mark downloaded PowerTerm InterConnect's (Linux Edition) demo version, and after talking to Ericom's support department to solve saving setup information issues, he moved ahead. The testing phase until actual implementation took about six weeks. "Ericom Support was extremely knowledgeable, helpful and very quick to solve a problem. The first time I talked to them, they solved 70% of my problems on the spot. The second time 100% was resolved," Mark explained.

Reaping the Benefits of PowerTerm InterConnect (Linux Edition)

PowerTerm has helped Auto-Rain give a graphics application feel to its accounting application while maintaining the simplicity of dumb terminal computing. "It's opened up this other world that we were pre-empted from with our dumb terminals," stated Mark. "Word processors available for dumb terminals were bad at best. Now users can put graphics on a page and can view their email graphically as well. Our sales people are empowered to help their customer by going into the Internet, looking up information, finding a product or brochure from a manufacturer's website and printing it for them. None of this was possible with a dumb terminal. Users can now generate reports through the PowerTerm interface."
Mark credits PowerTerm InterConnect with significantly increasing user productivity. "With PowerTerm, our employees get all these additional tools and programs to use and learn, but they still have their prime application in the middle of the screen. They can keep working and learn more as they go. That's what the switchover to LTSP has done for us. PowerTerm is the core of that."

Mark says that Auto-Rain sees PowerTerm as a long-term solution. "We believe character-based versions of products are not going away. " There will always be those inclined to use a more simplistic character-based version of a software product, or those who will never be comfortable with the complexities of a graphic environment. They will continue to work as they do now: receive purchase orders, and type in the numbers. PowerTerm helps us cater to those people while enabling us to progress into the future. With PowerTerm we have a long-term solution that will stay progressive in a changing world," said Mark.

Another benefit of PowerTerm (Linux Edition) is the rapid adoption of Linux with lowered cost over the Microsoft alternatives. "We now have access to a growing number of low cost and valuable Linux software that we can use on our workstations while preserving our ability to maintain a simple interface for the majority of our users," explained Mark.

"It's not easy to find a graceful terminal emulator that works the same between Microsoft® Windows and SuSE Desktop Linux - that's the key for us. The difficult part was the Linux side. There has been a lack of resources on that side. Ericom has filled that gap for us with an extremely good product," explained Mark. "We still have customers who use our data system services who are reluctant to change from Microsoft to Linux. We can continue to support these customers with the help of Ericom's PowerTerm for Windows products."

Mark says the changeover to LTSP together with PowerTerm InterConnect has enabled Auto-Rain to double the number of terminals available to users. "During our peak periods we have been able to turn out customers at a much more rapid rate by moving staff closer to the front counter so more people can attend to customers." Mark says that actual numbers in that sales division are up 35% year over year. "A large amount is due to the capacity of the system to turn it out and the only thing that increases that kind of productivity on the system is PowerTerm and our ability to have that many users using our systems."

PowerTerm is transparent to the user. It opens by setting up a short cut in the .kde/Autostart directory and is used all day for sales, inventory lookups and financial review. "Running on Linux, it runs so fast that it's hard to imagine that these people were ever using dumb terminals. They don't even think about it, and they are so glad because it moves so much faster," Mark said.

"I cannot over emphasize the benefit of PowerTerm and how long we looked for that solution that would enable us to take advantage of Linux. It solves our desktop and server needs."

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