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.
Thread beginning with comment 351790
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Kebabbert
Member since:
2007-07-27

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.

Whereas an ultra-thin-clients doesnt 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.


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? 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.

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.





"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, OpenOffice.org, 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.

I find this very very hard to believe. If it is really is true, then I should look into this solution instead.

I mean, for one user, at least a 1GHz P3 cpu and 512 MB RAM computer is necessary. For 30 users, you would logically need a server with 30 x 1 = 30 GHz P3 and 30 x 512 MB = 6GB RAM. But now you are telling me that it is not necessary. Something is very wrong here. How in earth could it be possible to run 30 users on a dual P3 and 4GB RAM? I dont get it. That config is needed for one single user. How can it support 30 users???

There are some grave misunderstandings going on right now. Even the nick "broken_symlink" is confused. He also believes the same thing as me. He states that a thin-client solution should need a ton of RAM.

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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

broken_symlink Member since:
2005-07-06


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.


This is what a diskless system is, NOT a thin client, but please read my post on http://osnews.com/thread?351709


Whereas an ultra-thin-clients doesnt 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.


This is correct.


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? 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.


Phoenix already explained this. He said there are hybrid thin-clients which do have a better cpu, and ram when compared to "ultra thin-clients" like the sunray. But, these are not true diskless systems. Which is what phoenix and I have been talking about.


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.


I think your understanding is correct your labels for the different solutions are just wrong, and you also don't seem to understand the third solution completely. A truly diskless system.


There are some grave misunderstandings going on right now. Even the nick "broken_symlink" is confused. He also believes the same thing as me. He states that a thin-client solution should need a ton of RAM.


I never stated anything of the sort. What I said is that as the number of clients in a thin client solution increases you need better hardware for the server. I have no idea what the exact specifications are as I have never used a thin client setup, only diskless pcs.


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.


If you don't get it now, I think the only way you will is by actually seeing a setup in action. I'm sure there are guides online how to setup a diskless system. Then you should probably setup ltsp. Finally, compare those two to your sunray, and hopefully then you will understand the difference. Think of ltsp as the "hybrid" thin-client.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

Broken_Symlink, you wrote:

"Because your not running all the client apps on the server in a diskless setup, the server doesn't need a ton of ram and everything else. So what he said is true. In a thin-client setup which is what you are talking about this probably is not true, and you need a much beefier server as the number of clients increase and depending on what the clients do."

To me, it seems that you stated a thin-client setup needs a "ton of ram and a beefier server". But maybe you didnt mean that.

Anyway, I have a hard time to understand this. But I am not stupid. I have a Master's in Comp Sci, with a specilazation in algorithm theory and discrete math. And now I am finishing my second degree in pure math. The problem I have, is that it doesnt sound reasonable, If you think logically.

One user needs at least 1GHz and 512MB RAM with todays Operating Systems and software. This is true. You can not go under that hardware requirement. And now, suddenly a dual P3 at say, 1GHz and 4GB ram suffices for 30 thin-clients?

Because you have a dual P3 cpu server, we count them as one 2GHz P3. And now, 30 users share that 2GHz P3. This gives 66MHz to each user. And 30 users share 4GB RAM. Say that 1GB disappears to the Operating System. Left is 3GB to 30 users. This gives 100MB ram to each user.

So one user uses 66MHz and 100MB RAM. And this works fine, you claim? Why do we have todays 3GHz quad core and 4-8GB RAM for one single user? According to you it suffices with 66MHz Pentium and 128MB RAM for the newest Office and all other RAM and CPU sucking new software packages.

What am I? A fool? Can you not see that something is very wrong here? Is it only me that see the problem? Ive tried to tell you that there is a problem in several posts here. Still Phoenix iterates "HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT IT WORKS FINE??? ARE YOU DUMB OR WHAT???"

But if you just link to some of the data sheets then I can read myself. (Ive looked into thin clients, and didnt find any ultra thin client solutions, except SunRay. I guess you are better at google than me, then).

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

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, OpenOffice.org, 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, OpenOffice.org 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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin_client) 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diskless_client

Goes into detail on the differences between the two.

Edited 2009-03-05 16:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

Ok, Ive read your article and it seems interesting. Something is strange in my understanding though. I will check my other source up. It messes with me.

A question, you suggest diskless PCs. Is a user session tied to a specifik PC, or can you login to another PC and continue. Or do you have to restart your work?

Another question. All PCs, they can be different models and brands? You just create a Linux account that any PC can access. Some PCs might be faster or slower, so you will have different performance depending on which PC you login to?

The administration, is it easy or complicated?

This solution sounds interesting. But as we need to run Windows, I dont think Linux would suit. But it seems that you have found a near optimal solution.

So your solution consists of diskless PCs, and not thin clients. And everything works fine? Have you written more information on your solution, somewhere on the web? I would like to learn more. (Too bad we need windows)

Reply Parent Score: 2