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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Thin-clients have their uses. However, if you want to do anything beyond simple web browsing and office document work, you just can't use thin-client setups. All the processing is done on the server, and the output is pumped down through the network. Try doing anything with audio, 3D, full-motion/full-screen video, or even a lab full of students hitting youtube, and you can bring even a gigabit network to a grinding halt.

Diskless setups are where it's at. You get all the administrative benfits of a thin-client setup (all the software is installed on the server), but you get all the benfits of local PC (all software is run on the local CPU, using local RAM, local video/soundcards). You still have systems with no harddrive, no optical disk, no floppy, basically just a motherboard and case. But you can do so much more!

We've migrated our local school district off Windows and onto LTSP ... and then over to a diskless setup using standard Debian 4.0. With full nVidia 3D support, local sound, full USB support, basically everything you can do with a local install of Debian.

Thin-client has its uses ... but it's days are really numbered in Unix-land.

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trenchsol Member since:

Thin clients SHOULD be substantially cheaper than diskless workstations. Don't know if they really are...

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phoenix Member since:

Thin clients SHOULD be substantially cheaper than diskless workstations. Don't know if they really are...

Our current diskless stations are < $150 CDN (in bulk), with 2.8 GHz CPUs, 1 GB RAM, PSU, motherboard, onboard nVidia graphics with full 3-D support, onboard 7-channel sound, slimtop case.

We haven't looked at hardware thin-clients in a couple years, but they were ~$250 CDN when we were looking. Considering the *huge* gulf in performance between the two, there's really no comparison.

Reply Parent Score: 2