Thin clients… No not your customers. They are a unit of computing equipment that more than usually has a smaller footprint than the average desktop computer and has less internal parts. Most users want the most powerful computer in the world on their desktop. In the personal environment, that can be a real goal. In the business environment, most users do not need or use such a system from my experience.

Of course using systems analysis will go to see what a company needs for the desktop. A full desktop requires more maintenance both for managing applications plus the operating system and keeping equipment in full working order. That requires additional labor and parts to do that. It will generally use more power than a thin client. Depending on how you use thin clients they is usually less money to maintain and use less electricity. But thin clients do require more powerful servers to support them but the added cost is far less than the aggregate of having full desktops in a business. So using thin clients can be a boon the bottom line of any business.

Most know generally about full desktops. I would suppose most people if they do not own a computer have gone window shopping and have an idea what usually comes on a system. Now thin clients can come in many forms.

Mini-pc: pretty much a full pc but has less storage capacity and is usually a smaller foot print than a pc (takes less desk space). They usally do save electricity but generally cost almost as much as a regular pc. You have to do as much maintenance as a pc.

Terminal client: usually has a minimal software that is permanent on the system and generally uses a web browser and or a terminal services client to access server resources. You usually have no storage on these units. You do have to update the minimal software on various occasions. More cost effective than the Mini-pc.

True thin client: has no software on it except enough to load in software from a server. If you have to restart it it does take a bit of time waiting for it to boot up. but then there is virtually no software maintenance required.

Skinny fat client: Works like a true thin client, but will use almost as much electricity as a full desktop, but the advantage you can use legacy (obsolete but in good working condition) equipment to build them (i.e. free) . So you have a cheap initial cost if you have a lot of spare older equipment. To set up, one you you usually strip the pc of all disk drives (generally the most expensive replacement parts costs), and if the unit does not support what is called pxeboot. you can add a card that does support it very inexpensively. There is usually value in older equipment as they ca be re-purposed.

Anyway. we set up what was known as an LTSP (linux terminal server project) server to push thin clients. A web server is also used to reduce the load on the server so that users connect to web pages to get most of their work done. We first started using the skinny fat clients at first till I found some used true thin clients to replace them. A lot of companies are now using the thin client idea for servers too and they set up what is known as an iscsi disk farm to optimize their disk storage. If they have a problem with a machine, they just replace it with another system. No operating systems or other to install, just plug it in and turn it on. You can see that would greatly reduce it labor costs and downtime to have such a setup.

Anyway just something to think about if you might want to save money in your business. What’s on your desktop?