Huge Migration to Thin Clients

Remember those 50% of PCs sitting out there with few alternatives but the scrap heap? “In the UK, IGEL also saw a 457% unit increase in its Universal Desktop Converter software licenses, which allow businesses to convert old PCs and thin clients into IGEL thin clients. The major growth sectors were in healthcare, local government and retail.” see Press Release from IGEL

This is not just a thing in the UK. The top ten cities in Google Trends for “thin client” are:

  • 1. Mumbai, India
  • 2. Delhi, India
  • 3. Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 5. Taipei, Taiwan
  • 6. Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 7. Sydney, Australia
  • 8. San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 9. Washington, DC, USA
  • 10. Melbourne, Australia

IGEL supplies thin clients running Lose CE, and GNU/Linux and they are agnostic about what’s on the terminal server.
“According to IDC, the standard PC is increasingly losing ground to laptops and thin clients. In fact, in 2007 both laptops and thin clients made up more than one half of all corporate end-unit procurements, and one in nine desktop units purchased in Western Europe was a thin client instead of a PC.” This reflects the increased longevity of thin clients. It likely means soon a third of all PCs will be thin clients.

IGEL has a desktop strategy for its customers. See Table 2. It’s a big “Thumbs Up” for thin clients.

My experience in education supports the information from IGEL. The puzzling thing is that it took others so long to figure IT out. Thin clients cost less to buy, own, and manage and in many cases give increased performance over the hair-drying, noisy and expensive PC. “On average, SBC is suitable for 80% to 90% of IT workstations. The remaining 10% to 20% of user scenarios are better served by virtual desktops.” (SBC = Server Based Computing) Of course they are pushing the use of thin clients in conjunction with that familiar other OS but they are quite willing to provide access through GNU/Linux at lower cost and greater reliability. With the huge proportion of XP machines out there, IGEL and others with kits to convert them to thin clients gives them a target-rich environment. Once most PCs in an organization run thin clients, it is much easier to migrate to GNU/Linux. If the protocol is RDP, they can just switch the server to run GNU/Linux and XRDP and they are on their way. Searches for “xrdp” are hot in Russia, Taiwan and Europe. Coincidence? I think not.

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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3 Responses to Huge Migration to Thin Clients

  1. oldman says:

    “Yes. It is easier to redeploy to GNU/Linux once folks are using thin clients and RDP because they only have to swap servers and perhaps set up authentication and the roll-out is done. ”

    You are technically correct, however the physical conversion is only the tiniest portion of the actual conversion costs.

    Retraining, re-architecting of workflows and applications, not to mention dealing with the 20% of that requires the 80% of work.

    “It’s all good.”

    Yes it is, just not in the way that you imagine.

  2. Yes. It is easier to redeploy to GNU/Linux once folks are using thin clients and RDP because they only have to swap servers and perhaps set up authentication and the roll-out is done. Same client, same protocol, and roll-out is complete for just the trouble it takes to swap servers/services.

    The question of whether folks do that or not is irrelevant to this issue. There is information that a lot of XP machines are converting to thin clients using RDP and some of them will go to GNU/Linux terminal servers eventually. It’s a valid migration path that can be done in stages. I would skip the “create a terminal server running that other OS” part but others won’t. It’s all good.

  3. oldman says:

    “Once most PCs in an organization run thin clients, it is much easier to migrate to GNU/Linux. If the protocol is RDP, they can just switch the server to run GNU/Linux and XRDP and they are on their way. ”

    Nope:

    People run applications, and the applications are what make an OS. The reality of thin client market is that the demand is for running windows based applications. The Linux desktop is a non starter in this space.

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