Here is some preliminary information first. One way to save money on having a computer network (infrastructure) is to use the least powerful equipment possible. One way to do that is with a sub-computer what what is know as a thin client. Most thin clients will connect to a network. to connect to a more powerful main computer or server. The lowest end thin clients will not do much without the server.  A sort of computer without all the normal parts (usually there no hard disk drive where all you data and programs are stored locally). The advantages are that they use less power, take less to set up for use, less need to repair them, they are easier to secure (for units that have to be in a public place) and they cost a fraction of a regular computer. You do need a special server to connect to for the thin clients to work like computers.  In the picture at the top of the page, you see a couple of Compaq (now Hewlett Packard aka HP) thin clients.  I think I paid under three hundred dollars for five used thin clients, monitors and the thin client server.  Perfect price for the small business start up. You can see the thin clients are about the size of a gaming console. Most newer thin clients are even smaller in size.  Now on to the tool.

When dealing with old equpment for purchase or repair, you really at least need to do a minimal about of testing to see if the equipment is even working. When doing computer repair, you may even need to test a client’s monitor to see if it is working or decide that there is an issue with the client’s computer (sometimes known as the cpu unit). I bought a thin client off of ebay for five dollars. I later thought I that might have not been such a good investment. Then I thought about it.  I could always use it as an emergecy thin client.  I needed a good useful way to test monitors that I could throw in my tool box or even in a jacket pocket that did not take up a lot of space. The thin client was perfect. I could run the thin client off of battery (for where there is a shortage of power outlets), wall power or off the computer itself (with an adapter cable I made).  It may not test the computer monitor (tv like screen) completely, but for sure I can tell if at least it works at all. If the monitor shows the start up screen of the thin client, more than likely the monitor is ok but further testing never hurts if you can. I can then look elsewhere inside the computer to resolve why there is no picture on the screen on a computer system that is not working right. The little thin client is also good if I go to thrift stores and check if a monitor is even worth buying. I do not need any more dead ones and most of those were given to me.  This is Just another way of thinking outside the box to make lemonade out of lemons.

Next time, I will talk about the general setup of our thin client network. The http://www.ltsp.org and http://www.k12ltsp.org sites are good resources that I used for setting up our network.

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