China Thinks Thin

“Greatly reduced electricity cost and IT management & maintenance cost are key factors favoring thin clients. With developments at the technological level, thin client solutions will show greater advantages for enterprise customers. Compared with traditional PC terminals, thin clients are often much smaller and can save space, while improving users’ office environment and experience. Most thin clients are based on the PC architecture, but with very low power consumption, heat generation and noise. Meanwhile, thin clients generally offer longer mean time between failures (MTBF) than traditional PCs, thus reducing hardware maintenance cost. In addition, thin clients enjoy a high level of system security and stability.”
 
See IDC: China Thin Client Market Shows Growth Prospects Driven By Financial and Government Sectors
I’ve long appreciated the advantages of thin clients in education. I used them in my first computer-lab. The Chinese are thinking the same way. If something costs less and performs better, why not use it? I recommend running Debian GNU/Linux on client and server to minimize cost and improve performance.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

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11 Responses to China Thinks Thin

  1. dougman wrote, “Chromebooks or a laptop of sorts would be ideal.”

    Chromebooks are essentially thin clients with some local apps and storage. A thin client like Odroid-C2 can do the same. A notebook is far from ideal. I’ve seen tiny women lugging around huge 15-17″ notebooks with extra battery. It tore my heart out. That’s far from optimal. They could have had all their usual functionality with a USB drive and a live CD of GNU/Linux. This is one huge advantage of the licensing of GNU/Linux which truly permits running everywhere unlike being anchored to a single machine/burden. Further, thin clients can easily have superior performance to most thick clients because of power, weight, cost, caching, boot time etc. Do the maths. The only reason to have thick clients is to drive up M$’s and Intel’s profits. That’s not a reason anyone should support except those two. Individuals win with thin clients running GNU/Linux.

  2. dougman wrote, “Thin clients need a server, why should anyone go out and buy a lump of hardware then a thin client, just to write a novel? NO one does this, no one.”

    Give your head a shake. Almost everyone has a server these days if only in the router or the cloud. It makes little difference if it is a minimal networking gadget or a powerful terminal server. Using thin clients has many advantages even for writers like smaller/lighter/quieter devices.

    dougman also wrote, “Thin clients are meant for businesses with three or more personnel.”

    There’s nothing in the the concept or implementation of thin clients that supports that. Businesses may well prefer thin clients for efficiency, performance, security and flexibility but others can too. In my home, it is very advantageous for me to be able to do what I do from my desk, the rec room or the living room without having to lug around a notebook ( a format that I hate because of the 2D keyboards and small screens). With Odroid-C2, I have a per-seat cost of 1/N of the server plus $66 CDN delivered. Why can’t I have that even for one or two people instead of 100? There’s another advantage of thin clients that a writer might like, one can run a session on the terminal server and connect to it from anywhere with the cursor left exactly at the point of last use. Few thick clients can do that without keeping them running or suspended and being a dead weight in one’s hands. With thin clients I can use TV wide screens which really suit my aged vision/eyesight.

  3. kurkosdr wrote, ” Why do you recommend Debian GNU/Linux”?.

    That’s a good question. There are several reasons:

    • It’s GNU/Linux, reason enough
    • It uses the APT packaging system which automatically supplies dependencies
    • It has a huge repository which supplies all the commonly needed functions and tools needed to make just about any application
    • The folks are guided by a social contract and rule-book unlike many other distros
    • It is very open: bug-tracking, vulnerabilities, and tons of documentation
    • It segregates Free from non-Free software so one can simplify the licensing regime
    • It works for me and has worked for me in diverse environments on a wide variety of hardware
  4. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr
    Why do you recommend Debian GNU/Linux instead of -say- Chrome OS, Android or PC-BSD?
    Debian happens to run on the broadest selection of hardware. Debian has a few developers decanted to arm based terminal support. Chrome OS, Android does not have that. PC-BSD lacks the volume of drivers off the get go.

    Thin clients need a server, why should anyone go out and buy a lump of hardware then a thin client, just to write a novel? NO one does this, no one.
    Not true.
    http://www.pcgamer.com/turning-the-raspberry-pi-2-into-a-35-streaming-pc/

    You see people doing this with gaming. Dougman the thing is thin-client are fairly much fan less, moter less and don’t have heat problems. Basically silent. So put server in noisy area of house.

    Some people attempting to write a novel want absolute piece and quite and the means to dig though huge volumes of research data that still does not fit well in a tablet computer so also want large screens.

    Thin clients are meant for businesses with three or more personnel.
    Average population of a home is 3 or more in lots of places.

  5. kurkosdr says:

    waiting for the next Pog white paper drops = waiting for the next Pog white paper to drop

  6. kurkosdr says:

    I recommend running Debian GNU/Linux on client and server to minimize cost and improve performance.

    Not that everyone in the business world is holding their breath waiting for the next Pog white paper drops, but I will ask: Why do you recommend Debian GNU/Linux instead of -say- Chrome OS, Android or PC-BSD?

    Are there some technical reasons, or are all reasons pure Gee-En-You and Gee-Pee-El related?

  7. dougman says:

    Thin clients need a server, why should anyone go out and buy a lump of hardware then a thin client, just to write a novel? NO one does this, no one.

    Thin clients are meant for businesses with three or more personnel.

    Any writing I ever did, was using either Mediawiki, Scrivener, LibreOffice, Quick Note or Writebox. The latter two being ChromeApps.

  8. dougman wrote, “Thin clients are not used for this.”

    Why not? They certainly are capable of running a typical desktop environment. TLW does everything on a thin client at the moment and I do some of my stuff over SSH similarly. She doesn’t write books but she writes advertising, spreadsheets, and lots of posts on FaceBook.

  9. dougman says:

    “writing a book or even a short story”

    Thin clients are not used for this.

    Chromebooks or a laptop of sorts would be ideal.

  10. dougman wrote, “its webapps and mobile devices”.

    Webapps work for everyone. A thin client with a good keyboard is useful in a different way than a mobile thingy. One can browse with a smartphone but try writing a book or even a short story… Perhaps typing has less emphasis these days but there are still enough typists extant to make use of many more millions of thin clients. In my home I want multiple stationary PCs but I only want to maintain one machine. Thin clients work for us. I will order a couple of Odroid-C2 soon. For our purposes they are just about perfect and cost including case, PSU and shipping comes to $66 USD not including the SD card. The major drawback is that it doesn’t accept our current ~20″ monitors but will need an HDMI device. Fortunately, we have a few of those… Perhaps I’ll turn those monitors into some kind of signage or ornamentation/slide-show device.

  11. dougman says:

    “Thin clients” are on the way out.

    Nowadays its webapps and mobile devices.

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