The Fraunhofer institute has published a thorough article on thin clients in regard to environmental impact and consumption of energy. Unfortunately, they deal only in that other OS running on the terminal server and can max-out a server with 4 gB RAM with 35 users. The data is still remarkable, though.
Last week I had 24 students running in 2 gB happily. Here is an image of the system monitor with 21 Grade 1 students maxing out my 100 mbits/s network. With Gigabit/s I could run 40 easily. This image shows 1.7 gB RAM being used but does not show that hundreds of megabytes were used in cached files.
This means the report is ultra-conservative, because the energy savings reported are about half what is possible using GNU/Linux.
The report does have some other interesting bits:
“The market for thin clients is growing faster than that for desktop PCs but ata much lower level. In the comparable regions of »EU-15« and »Western Europe« in 2008 more than 27 million new desktop PCs will be sold, compared to just 1.2 million thin clients. This is just 4.3 % of the number of PCs (cf. Table
8-5 and Figure 8-5).
Table 8-5: Comparison of new desktop PCs and thin clients
Clearly, thin clients are catching on , growing much faster than PCs year over year. This trend is world-wide and is helpful to GNU/Linux because it is much less expensive to run GNU/Linux on a terminal server instead of that other OS with a hefty licence fee and a per-seat fee. It is all good. There is no technical reason that GNU/Linux should not continue such rapid growth for years and restore competition to the market.