AccessGrid.org

Access Grid Frequently Asked Questions

The Access Grid FAQ v0.3, June 16, 2009

Contents

1.0 Administration Issues
1.1 Where can I find an up-to-date copy of this FAQ?
1.2 Who wrote this FAQ?

2.0 About Access Grid
2.1 What is The Access Grid?
2.2 Where is it used and by how many people?

3.0 Setting Up Hardware and Software
3.1 What software is required?
3.2 What hardware is required?

4.0 Basic Operations
4.1 How do I manage the Venue Client?
4.2 How do I join A Venue?
4.3 How do I enable sound?
4.4 How do I enable video?
4.5 What is multicast/unicast? How do I change between multicast and unicast?

5.0 Intermediate Operations
5.1 How do I share or access data?
5.2 How do I run or access a shared application?
5.3 How do I add or open a service?
5.4 What is AG Global Quality Assurance Program?
5.5 How do I get my node QA-ed?

6.0 Advanced Operations
6.1 What are, and how do I manage, certificates?
6.2 What is a node and how do I manage it?

7.0 Further Information
7.1 Where can I get further information?

Further Sources of Information

1.0 Administration Issues

1.1 Where can I find an up-to-date copy of this FAQ?

This FAQ is kept up-to-date at the ARCS website:

URL: http://www.arcs.org.au/products-services/collaboration-services/video/accessgrid/access-grid-frequently-asked-questions

It is also mirrored at the Access Grid website:

URL: http://www.accessgrid.org/faq

1.2 Who wrote this FAQ?

It was written by Lev Lafayette on behalf of Australian Research Collaboration Services with assistance from Jason Bell.

2.0 About Access Grid

2.1 What is The Access Grid?

The Access Grid is an ensemble of resources and technology which provides a virtual collaboration tool. An Access Grid can be used as an advanced type of videoconferencing facility that allows participants from multiple locations on the Internet to interact in real time. The Access Grid is more than videoconferencing, as it provides mechanisms to share data, collaborate using a variety of shared applications (such as sharing presentation material), utilize large-format displays and can employ multiple video sources to allow room -to -room conferencing capabilities. The technology was invented at Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, United States of America.

The Access Grid software is free and open source. Core components include the Robust Audio Tool (RAT), an open-source audio conferencing and streaming application, developed by the University College London; ViC, the Video Conferencing tool developed by the Network Working Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley; and the Access Grid Venue Client which also includes a Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, specified in RFC 3920 and RFC 3921 are Draft Standard within the Internet Standards Process.

Access Grid is an implementation of the application-layer, Real-time Transport Protocol for defining standard packet format for delivering audio and video over the Internet. It was developed by the Audio-Video Transport Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force and first published in 1996 as RFC 1889, and superseded by RFC 3550 in 2003.

2.2 Where is it used and by how many people?

There are 287 registered Access Grid nodes listed, across 28 different countries across the globe with over 500 total nodes estimated in 2005. There is a high concentration of nodes in Australia, the United States, Canada, and Europe. A complete node listing is available at: http://www.accessgrid.org/nodes

3.0 Setting Up Hardware and Software

3.1 What software is required?

AG 3.1 is the latest stable release. It is available for MS-Windows, Apple OSX 10.4, various Linux distributions (Fedora, RHEL, Slackware, Debian/Ubuntu) and FreeBSD.

The software can be downloaded from the following URL: http://www.accessgrid.org/software

Documentation on how to install can be found in the AG Documentation under Install Guides: http://www.accessgrid.org/documentation

3.2 What hardware is required?

In addition to an appropriate computer system and network connectivity, hardware for the access grid consists of three core components; video, audio and display. This can be as simple as a laptop with a web camera and a headset using the screen as a display unit, or as sophisticated as a specially built room with multiple cameras, projectors and a separation of services on multiple machines for video producter, consumer and audio. A list of recommended hardware is available here: http://www.accessgrid.org/hardware

4.0 Basic Operations

4.1 How do I manage the Venue Client?

The Venue Client consists of six areas; from top to down, left to right these are (a) the Menu Bar, (b) the Controls, (c) the Navigation bar, (d) Exits to other Venues, (e) the Contents area and (f) the Chat area. The Controls are used for (i) viewing multicast activity, (ii) going to the previous Venue, (iii) go to the home Venue, (iv) Enable/disable audio, (v) Enable/disable dispay (vi) Enable/disable video, and (vii) configure node services.

4.2 How do I join a Venue?

When Access Grid is started, the media tools (RAT, ViC) and the Access Grid client are all started. To connect with other people you have to join a mutual venue. In Australia, this is typically the Asia Pacific Access Grid Lobby. In the navigation bar, enter the following URL and select 'Go': https://vv3-accessgrid.org:8000/Venues/default

A community-maintained list of Global Public Venue Servers is available at http://www.accessgrid.org/community.

You may also wish to add this as your home venue by going to 'Navigation' on the menu bar and selecting 'Set As Home Venue'.

Other venues can be selected from the 'Exits' menu. These include directories of venues; for example, by selecting the "Institutions Lobby" one also receives a menu for other institutional venues (e.g., AARNET, ACID, ACIN, AMSI etc). These themselves may also have venues (e.g., the ANU-Lobby venue has the venues ANU-Stromlo, ANU-Huxley, ANU-CSIT, ANU-Baume)

You may wish to add commonly visited venues to your list from the Navigation menu bar. Select 'Navigation' and then 'Add Venue'.

4.3 How do I enable sound?

Sound consists of two components in Access Grid; the ability for you to hear others ('listen'), and their ability to hear you ('talk'). By default, 'listen' is enabled in RAT when you start Access Grid. In order to enable 'talk' select the checkbox in RAT. If these are selected and you still cannot hear someone, or they cannot hear you, select 'Options' and 'Audio' and ensure that your audio device is chosen; if not select the audio device and apply. If you have multiple audio devices you will have to select the correct one in RAT; these are under 'Listen' and 'Talk' respectively, typical choices include 'Speaker' for 'Listen' and 'Microphone' for 'Talk'.

If the RAT is not visible you will need to enable it. Go to 'Tools' on the Menu Bar and select 'Enable Audio'. If this does not work go to 'Tools' in the Menu Bar, select

4.4 How do I enable video?

Like audio there are two components in Access Grid; the ability for you to see others and for them to see you. Fortunately, ViC streams recursively, so you can quickly figure out if one of cameras is not working. If ViC is not visible, you will need to enable it. Go to 'Tools' on the Menu Bar and select 'Enable Video Display' and 'Enable Video Capture'. To cancel a video transmission select 'Mute' on the ViC.

4.5 What is multicast/unicast? How do I enable multicast/unicast?

Multicast addressing delivers information to a group of destinations simultaneously, creating copies only when the links to the multiple destinations split. The implementation of the multicast concept occurs at the IP routing level, where routers create optimal distribution paths for datagrams sent to a multicast destination address spanning tree in real-time. In comparison Unicast addressing will deliver information to each destination in turn with a separation to each node. By this standard, multicast is a superior technology however, unicast is more stable can be used as a backup when multicast fails.

5.0 Intermediate Operations

5.1 How do I share or access data?

The Venue Client allows you to share data among users of the venue, which can either belong to the venue, which is found under the 'Data' heading in the Contents area. To add data, right-click on the 'Data' heading and choose 'Add' or, from the Menu select 'Venue', 'Add Data'. To open the data right-click and choose open; if the file type is associated with an application it will open automatically.

5.2 How do I start or access a shared application?

The simplist method to start a shared application is to go to 'Venue' and select 'start application session' and select 'shared browser' or 'shared application'. To access a shared application session, right click the correct name under the Application Sessions heading and select Open, in the Data screen.us

5.3 How do I add or open a service?

Before adding a service to the venue, you need to know the address where the service is located and what MIME type to associate with the service. The MIME type helps the Venue Client to identify what type of service is being added and how to handle it. When you have gathered this information, right click on the Service heading and click Add…, or from the main menu choose Venue-Add Service…. In the dialog, enter name, URL address, MIME type, and the description you want to associate with the service. Then click Ok. Figure 18 shows you an example of how to add a service that points to a Web Site.

5.4 What is AG Global Quality Assurance Program?

The success of an Access Grid session is often highly dependent on the quality of the nodes participating in the session. The Global Quality Assurance Program tests each node according to a number of metrics ensuring that the service level of an Access Grid node is at an high standard. These metrics cover the categories of audio, video, networking and the use of related applications. QA tests also provide a means to disseminate good practice to node operators. Quality Assured Access Grids are highlighted within the Global Node listing.

5.5 How do I get my node QAed?

QA testers are available in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and the United States. Contact one of these testers to arrange a time for a QA test:

http://www.accessgrid.org/qatesters

A tutorial is available to prepare your node for QA testing and the QA marking templates are likewise available:

http://www.accessgrid.org/qa-improve

http://www.accessgrid.org/qa-marking

6.0 Advanced Operations

6.1 What are, and how do I manage, certificates?

Certificates are a type of electronic identification and authentication aims that is superior to password methods. A certificate authority is responsible for giving you a certificate. The most common certificate is the Identity Certificate, used to verify that a person is who they say they are when connected to the Access Grid. If you are going to run a venue server, or any kind of service, you should use a Service Certificate.

For more information about security through certificates, read http://www.globus.org/toolkit/docs/latest-stable/security/.

If you want to know which certificates you have installed, select Tools from the Main Menu, then Manage Certificates. The Certificates tab gives the option to import, export, delete and view certificates. Other tabs provide similar information and commands for proxy certificates, trusted CA certificates and certificate requests.

6.2 What is a node and how do I manage it?

A node is defined as a node servies, one or more service managers and one or more services. Typically this means a system with video creation, video display and audio. The services are those which produce and receive audio files (e.g., ViC and RAT). To start a node or service manager, run AGNodeService.py or AGServiceManager.py respectively.

Set up and configuration of services and nodes can be managed through the Venue Client; go to 'Tools' on the menu and 'Configure Node Services', which will bring up an Access Grid Node Management window. A service manager can be added or removed from the 'Service Manager' menu item of this window. Services can be enabled, disabled, and configured from the 'Service' menu item. Different configurations can be loaded and saved in from the 'File' menu item.

7.0 Further Information

7.1 Where can I get further information?

The first source additional of information is the Access Grid Venue Client manual. This is available at:

http://www.accessgrid.org/node/724

Another source of information is the documentation at the Access Grid website:

ttp://www.accessgrid.org/documentation

Finally, there is the various Access Grid mailing lists which are listed on the community section of the AG website:

http://www.accessgrid.org/community