Linked by Nik Tripp on Mon 2nd Mar 2009 21:40 UTC
SuSE, openSUSE IT solutions companies have been generating lots of buzz regarding thin clients basically since the early 1990s, but have yet to really penetrate into many suitable environments. These relatively cheap computer appliances carry broad promises like energy efficiency, space efficiency, and centralized maintenance and data storage. These claims could sound like the computer industry equivalent of snake oil. Kiwi-LTSP, a combination of KIWI imaging technology and Linux Terminal Server Project, is one open source solution for thin client servers.
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Ok, there are still some serious misunderstandings going on. Lets try to establish the definitions. As you start with in math.

""In a thin-client setup, 0 CPU, 0 RAM, 0 processing is done on the client. Everything is done on the server. The client is just an I/O hub: mouse and keyboard events are sent to the server, video is sent back to the client. That's it. The local CPU/RAM is only used to boot the client. Nothing else."

As I have understood it, a thin client processes all software on it's weak CPU with little RAM. A typical thin client has 1GHz CPU and 256 MB RAM, and boots from it's server and downloads all applications from the server and runs the all of the applications or parts of the applications, on it's 1GHz CPU.

That's a diskless client, not a thin-client.

Whereas an ultra-thin-clients doesn't process any software at all, it just handles I/O. That is SunRay. The server processes all software. On the SunRay no software is processed at all, it just shows the bitmaps that the server transmits.

That's a thin-client.

You are telling me that this is wrong? You are telling me that any thin client act the way as the SunRay does. Every thin client just shows the picture from the server, and no processing is done on its 1GHz CPU and 256MB RAM? Everything is processed on the server?

Correct. The very definition of a "thin-client" is "no local processing". All applications run on the server, and just the display is sent back to the client. The "thin-client" is just an I/O hub. It sends keyboard and mouse events to the server, and receives graphical output from the server. They have a bit of RAM/ROM to boot, and to find the server, and to establish the network connection, but that's it. After they boot, they run applications on the server, and just show the display.

Is this so? Can you show me a link to a thin client that behaves like this? (Other than SunRay). I have never found any ultra-thin-client other than SunRay.

See below for the link to Wikipedia.

Either you or my understanding of thin-clients is very wrong. Who is correct? You or me? If you can show links on thin clients working as you described, then you are correct and I am wrong. If you can not show links, then you are wrong and I am correct.

See below for link to Wikipedia.

""I don't know how many times I can say this: a dual-P3 system with 4 GB of RAM **DOES SUPPORT** 30 thin-clients, where Firefox, Java,, and Flash, are all running on the server, with just the display being shot back to the client. WE DO THIS EVERY FRIGGING DAY!! WE HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR 7 YEARS ALREADY!!! THIS WORKS!! Get it yet?"

And you also say that a dual P3 system with 4GB does support 30 thin clients. Where the thin clients does not process any software at all. All software processing is done on the dual P3 cpus. You claim.

It's not a claim. Organise a trip up to Kamloops, BC, Canada, and I can show you it in action in School District 73. We use this every single day, and have done so for 7 years now. Over that time, we have replaced a few servers (dual-AthlonMP with 4 GB RAM; dual-Opteron with 4 GB of RAM), and are in the process of migrating off the thin-client setup to a proper, diskless setup. But we still have 12 schools using the original dual-P3 server setup.

But, as I said before, we are using Linux and not Windows. So the user desktop is IceWM running a small handful of opensource applications like Firefox 2, 2, TenThumbs Typing Tutor, TuxPaint, TuxTyping, TuxMath, and the KDE 2 games. We have very few problems with this setup.

We're moving away from this setup, though, as we want to be able to put Linux computers into every classroom, into the library, into the office, into the LAT rooms, everywhere in the school (~100 per elem, up to 700 in the secondaries). And we want to centralise printing, give students more disk storage, and give them access to a full KDE 3 desktop, with more applications. We also want to support CAD, animation, video, 3D, audio, and so forth. Hence, we're moving off thin-client, and to a diskless setup.

I mean, for one user, at least a 1GHz P3 cpu and 512 MB RAM computer is necessary.

For a Windows desktop, probably. For a Linux desktop, a couple hundred MHz and a couple hundred MB of RAM is plenty.

We can settle this out, if you post some links to thin-clients. Then I can read about them myself. And study the datasheets. And then I can tell if I have misunderstood the thin client concept.

A very simple, easy read through the Wikipedia article on thin-client computing ( would suffice. ;) Here's an excerpt from the first paragraph:

A thin client (sometimes also called a lean or slim client) is a client computer or client software in client-server architecture networks which depends primarily on the central server for processing activities, and mainly focuses on conveying input and output between the user and the remote server. In contrast, a thick or fat client does as much processing as possible and passes only data for communications and storage to the server.

There's even a list of manufacturers and devices. That all act like the SunRay.

And here's the article on diskless computing:

Goes into detail on the differences between the two.

Edited 2009-03-05 16:55 UTC

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