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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.
Deciding which Thin Client is good for you?
 
So you are considering a Desktop Refresh in your organization? Are you aware of the impending "Tipping Point" where the difference between PC's and Thin Clients is about to become blurred?
 
Traditional Thinking:
Traditional thinking around Thin Clients focus's on the matrix between a choice of Hardware at a good, better and best level and the choice of O/S that is used which is typically  WinXPe, WinCE or Linux - this then prompts the decision maker to ask and/or answer the following questions:
Do you want to use these devices with a VPN Client?
Do you want to use these devices with an SSLVPN?
Do you want to use these devices with Web Based Applications running from a Local Browser?
Do you want to use these devices with a limited set of USB Devices?
Do you want to use these devices with an unlimited set of USB Devices?
Do you want a highly secure Device?
Do you want a device with as small an image as possible?
Do you want a very dumb device that is essentially "set and forget"?
Do you want a Device that is capable of running an AV Client?
Do you want a Device that is capable of running additional Win32 Applications as part of the default image?
 
The last one sounds crazy but - apparently we have a client that has a 2Gb image with a locally installed version of Oracle Client - but this will clearly mean that the Customer needs a heavy weight Hardware and WinXPe.
 
Any requirement that relies heavily on a local browser accessing Web based applications really needs heavy hardware to handle the XML and Java processing loads, as these can be significant.
 
As far as VPN's go this will almost invariably start enforcing the decision towards WinXPe - certainly from the case of Citrix's Access Gateway when you have Security looking to make use of the End Point Analysis - although if you are considering using the Enterprise Edition then you can consider using Linux based Thin Clients.
 
If you are looking for broad USB support, then again you need to consider looking very hard at WinXPe as this offers the broadest support for a myriad of USB devices with very little effort by the local admin.
 
I guess it's not surprising in light of this that WinXPe is the most predominant choice of O/S for Thin Clients, although there are some significant benefits to using a Linux core if you are not hampered by the above constraints
 
Blurring of the Lines?
So what do I mean by the "coming tipping point between the PC and the Thin Client"?
 
Well ask yourself if you want a PC that is locked down? or do you want a "Pre Locked Down" Device in the same manner as the Traditional Thin Client? Surely the TCO and ROI figures stack up, and if the device is already effectively locked down nicely then surely that is less effort that the IT Dept. has to put in to get it to where they want it to be?
 
The main stumbling block is that under the licensing arrangement with MS - any device using XP embedded is barred from being able to have a local installation of Office - so that pretty much precludes going much further with that right?
 
Well when you look around the market place today there are plenty of examples of 4, 8 and 16Gb flash or storage devices - so clearly it is possible to have a Thin Client/PC that has enough storage to run XP Pro? Surely that does away with the limitation preventing the installation of Office?
 
So when I thought about this further it's quite clear with the advent of BartPE and Microsoft's own WinPE that both the XP Pro and the Server 2003 O/S's are capable of booting and running from a "read-only" image? So that just leaves the concept of applying an "Enhanced Write Filter" to XP Pro and we are nearly there?  ;-)
 
If we fast forward to say....  2010, it's not unreasonable to think that you might have a choice of storage in a new Laptop - do you want 100Gb plus with a regular hard drive, or do you want longer battery life with a faster boot time with a 16/32Gb Flash storage unit? Now you join this with a low power Intel Core 4 Duo 2.7Ghz manufactured at 32nm that only takes 14 watts and ................   so now tell me again why we aren't going to see a blurring of the lines between Thin Clients and PC's?  ;-))
 
I think that sooner rather than later we are going to see a niche market of PC's being designed and built with lower CPU's, smaller RAM, less Power and less storage than Thin Clients - and at the same time we will start to see Thin Clients with more storage, RAM, higher CPU's than the same PC's
 
Conclusion:
So when we reach this point, the main decision to make is no longer based on Hardware at all but on whether you want to have your local IT Admin do the locking down, or buy a unit pre-locked down that you add a few Mission Critical apps to and then image away?
 
Please let me know if you have any feedback? 
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2007 1:06 PM Citrix , IT Management , VMware and other Virtualization tools | Back to top


Comments on this post: Deciding which Thin Client is the best for your organization? Is there a new paradigm starting to play out?

# re: Deciding which Thin Client is the best for your organization? Is there a new paradigm starting to play out?
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"I guess it's not surprising in light of this that WinXPe is the most predominant choice of O/S for Thin Clients, although there are some significant benefits to using a Linux core if you are not hampered by the above constraints"

I recently wrote a blog post to address operating system selection using ROI as an Effective Communications Tool for Engineers:
http://www.embeddedcomponents.com/blogs/2007/09/roi-as-an-effective-communications-tool-for-engineers/

In this post I discuss using a financial comparison as one reasonable way to figure out which OS's are suitable for any given embedded project. And then to use this financial comparison to communicate with other stake holders in making project decisions.

Nice blog,

Ron
Left by Ron Fredericks on Sep 27, 2007 10:21 AM

# re: Deciding which Thin Client is the best for your organization? Is there a new paradigm starting to play out?
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Not all thin clients need an OS.

Sun have the "thinnest" of the thin clients, The Sun Ray. It eschews embedded Windows XP and other software and local storage. There is no OS stored on the Sun Ray

Apple's Boot Camp software lets Mac users install and run Microsoft Windows on their systems.

But with Boot Camp, you can only run one operating system at a time; if you start with the Mac OS you have to shut down, restart the computer and select Windows to run.

Sun's software lets users switch between Linux, Windows and Solaris much as you might switch between channels on a TV.

Left by Goran on Dec 19, 2008 8:25 AM

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