[nSLUG] Re:Thin Clients has anyone experence with them?

Tim Chipman timchipman at myrealbox.com
Sun Sep 11 14:09:20 ADT 2005


I've worked with a few different flavours of thin clients (Sunray, classic standalone "wyse style" windows thin-client stuff and LTSP setups). They all have the same great primary benefit of central management, which is great from an admin perspective [reduced systems management work with software, patching, user management, fewer security risks and so forth] - all this is great IMHO.

Bigger issues in constraining deployment will be "specialized user issues" - such as more-intensive CPU or graphics requirements, or possibly specialized software / licensing issues. (ie, MS term server environments, not ALL software works on a multi-user box.  Likewise, many software (such as MS-office and other MS goodies) force you to license a package for all users on the term server, regardless of actual usage patterns. So if one user of 30 needs visio, you don't want to pay for 30 seats of the software...  it can be a small detail..)

Average thin-client deployments work well if the stations are basic workstations, seems what your needs are will most likely be in this vein.  In the old days, a Windows term server could be readily deployed on server hardware that is now considered entry-level. (ie, I ran a 15-concurrent user win2000 term server for MS office users, no performance issues on a 1x933mhz P3 with 1gig ram).  ie, For a test term server your question about a 1200mhz CPU .. should be just fine .. although you do need to be generous with ram, and IF there is any possibility of "CPU Hog" apps entering the picture, a dual-cpu (or more - dual -2core even nicer) rig will help isolate the Hog until the sysadmin can thwack the offending user as required.  SInce such gear is "not so pricey" these days .. rolling out a term server is not a big deal typically.  As always, software licensing costs will far exceed hardware costs on a MS-term server environment, this is part of why LTSP and other linux-based options are quite appealing if a super-cheapo deployment is needed.

(for example, an LTSP environment could provide open office, Firefox .. at no software license cost, running on fairly basic hardware.. net costs then become more an issue of admin / management costs)

If you just wanted to do a test deployment (probably a good idea if you are learning as you go) then a small-scale rollout might make sense.  Ebay is a great source for inexpensive windows-only thin clients, IFF you must have win.environment and the "semi-older" thin clients are ok (typically they will have 256colour, 1024x768 max screen size/depth as their "Defining characteristic").  You could also roll an LTSP test environment easily with "test gear" (aka cheap / spare / leftover parts) if that is your thing, just to evaluate if it meets your needs.   Sunray is (more-or-less) assuming a solaris-sparc host, ie, you probably don't want to manage a sunray server unless you already have some experience/expertise with sun.sparc type gear. 

HTH slightly.  Feel free to zip a note if you need more clarification on anything here.

---TIm Chipman


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