[nSLUG] Thin Clients has anyone experence with them?

Dop Ganger nslug at fop.ns.ca
Fri Sep 9 11:36:17 ADT 2005

On Thu, 8 Sep 2005, J. Paul Bissonnette wrote:

> I was thinking of installing a couple computers to replace old stock. Does 
> anyone knows the pros and cons of the thin clients like Wyse or Neoware?

I tried the Wyse 5150SE (I think that was the model) about a year ago. The 
problem then was that the only model that supported X was this relatively 
high end, expensive model. It booted off an internal flash disk and used a 
really godawful stone-age wm (twm, I think, or something of that vintage). 
As a result, it looked pretty naff. I booted it with PXE off a central 
server and it ran great.

It looks like they've released some newer models since then that might be 
cheaper, though.

I also played with the Sunrays too; they're rather neat, you can plug in 
your authentication card, start an mp3 playing, pull out your card, 
authenticate to another Sunray and your mp3 continues playing on the other 

The downside of the thin clients is they're all bloody expensive for what 
they are, it's almost always cheaper to go with a diskless clone. The 
upsides are the management features (which really come into their own when 
you're deploying over around 25 or so, and are pretty much required for 
any deployments over 100 units), and the silence - no hard drive, no cpu 
fan, no graphics card fan means the only sound comes from the transformer,

> Basic tasks are word processing web design, browser.

Nothing too great, then. Web pages with Flash might be a problem - I've 
noticed they lag a bit when I run a browser remotely at home over 

> How fast should the TC be to be acceptable, same with the server, would a 
> 1200MHz Athlon be satisfactory.?

Er, yes. The Wyse model I tried had a 233MHz processor, I think a Via low 
power processor. I've done thin client work with machines as low as 386 
SX/16, although the screen update was a problem there. I'd say a 486 DX/2 
66 would be the lowest I'd want to go these days, although realistically I 
suppose all you'll find at the low end is processors in the 500MHz 

The server side is where you'll want to spend the money, dual processor 
wouldn't be a bad idea (or quad for a lot of users), plus throwing quite a 
bit of RAM at it wouldn't hurt. You'll be better off going for lower end 
processors in a dual processor configuration than one big honking 
processor. You probably won't need too much in the way of storage, 
although RAID of some flavour wouldn't be a bad idea. 100 meg ethernet 
should be fine for up to around 10-50 users, depending on usage, then 
you're looking at a gigabit switch feeding out to 100 meg switches, and 
possibly multiple nics with bonding (so you'll need a switch that supports 
bonding - 3Com and Cisco both support it, off the top of my head).

Of course, this is all speccing out assuming you're going to grow with 
thin client apps. If you just want to dip your toe in to experiment with a 
couple of machines, any desktop machine with 128-256 meg of ram will do as 
a server.

Cheers... Dop.


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