US Department of the Navy Switching to Thin Client Technology

There it is. I have long promoted GNU/Linux + thin clients as an ideal platform for IT. Naysayers keep telling us on this blog that no one in their right mind would choose thin clients. “Dumb terminals” they call them, omitting all the positives with a single chant. “Single point of failure” they pronounce when networks and servers are much more reliable than the typical PC.

Well the DON gets it. Thin clients are more secure (Wikileaks…) and use less bandwidth (football games…) and cost much less. No mention of the OS but a thin client can generally run any OS and GNU/Linux will have a shot. That’s all GNU/Linux needs to grow.
“focus on shifting computing processes away from traditional desktop hardware and making greater use of platform as a service, infrastructure as a service and software as a service capabilities.”

see Navy moving to thin client computing, says Halvorsen.

It’s about time. People who need to find, create, modify and distribute information can use GNU/Linux and thin clients.

I like to build systems with a primary design parameter of lowest per seat cost. Putting money into a good server to run all the applications and sessions for 30 students in a lab is far more cost-effective than giving each student a super-computer. You save on heat, noise, hardware, software, maintenance and you can do anything but video editing better than with thick clients. There is a lot you cat teach students without video editing and I can do that with a few thick clients if necessary. The cost of the server per-seat can be as little as $30 including RAID, tons of RAM and a powerful CPU. The cost of the thin client boxes can be as little as $50 each. With GNU/Linux on the server and clients there are no licensing fees.

One of the recent trends in thin client technology is called “VDI”. M$ hates it, according to Brian Madden. Of course, anything that eliminates or reduces the need for that other OS is a dark cloud on M$’s horizon. It’s all good.

Others love thin clients as well.
“Key features that stood out included the thin client/web-based collaboration, the estimating and budget integration, the operations and change management workflow, the strong financials module and reporting, the document management and the business process mapping.”

see CMiC

Point of sale systems are one strong point for GNU/Linux thin clients. It is interesting to see that GNU/Linux actually declined in POS shipments in Canada/USA for 2010 while having 20% shares and growth in other parts of the world.

see Growth

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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10 Responses to US Department of the Navy Switching to Thin Client Technology

  1. oldman says:

    “I’ll let you know. In the mean time, keep waiting.”

    I won’t hold my breath waiting, Mr. Chapman.

  2. Richard Chapman says:

    I’ll let you know. In the mean time, keep waiting.

  3. oldman says:

    “Okay, I’ll fire off an inquiry to the Pentagon asking them to detail computer failures on the USS Yorktown, specifically ones involving BSOD. I’ll let you know when I get a reply.”

    Then in the absence of proof you are just speculating, eh Mr. Chapman?

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    “Show me definitive proof that a defect in Windows NT design is what caused the problems aboard the USS Yorktown…” Okay, I’ll fire off an inquiry to the Pentagon asking them to detail computer failures on the USS Yorktown, specifically ones involving BSOD. I’ll let you know when I get a reply.

  5. Yonah says:

    Many of you fail to check the details of these stories about the USS Yorktown, none of which specifically mention a blue screen except in the headline to grab attention. The two sources I found mention a ‘divide by zero’ problem. Attempting such a calculation in any application will cause it to crash. I love what Navy civil engineer Anthony DiGiorgio says about this:

    “Your $2.95 calculator, for example, gives you a zero when you try to divide a number by zero, and does not stop executing the next set of instructions.”

    This fool, who went out of his way to blame Windows, doesn’t seem to comprehend that a computer program runs millions of calculations in series and that any illegal operation in that chain of instructions leaves the computer with no way to finish the rest of the program. You can’t simply start back at zero as with a pocket calculator.

    Show me definitive proof that a defect in Windows NT design is what caused the problems aboard the USS Yorktown and not the client applications and 3rd party drivers used on those systems. Otherwise it’s just mindless fanboy bashing, which as Mr. DiGiorgio shows, can happen anywhere.

  6. Not steep enough for my liking. Fortunately ARM + Linux is making a detour around Wintel.

  7. Dann says:

    I hate to see anyone who puts their trust in M$, given their track record and current software (or lack thereof, declining market share/status). It’s a steep slope down.

  8. Richard Chapman says:

    Microsoft’s OS is simply not up to the rigors of the Internet let alone to be part of a weapons system. Try telling the Navy it’s okay for some of their computers to be part of a Botnet because, hey, that’s normal for PCs. And then tell them it’s normal to spend more money and resources to keep more of their PCs from joining the Botnets, money that would have gone into a more robust air defense system. “I’m sorry Sir, we can’t track that incoming Exocet missile. We’re updating Zone Alarm on the Radar Tracking Computer.”

  9. oldman says:

    I hate to burst anyones balloon here, but the thin client technology is most likely commercial software from a company like citrix(XenDesktop), that will be used to front end a farm of virtual windows desktops running on one of the x86 hypervisors (VMWare, XenServer or Hyper-V)

    Linux thin client technology will probably go nowhere near this.

  10. oe says:

    Maybe after the disaster of the Navy’s “Smartship” program in the late 90’s (where if I recall the UNIX based on did fine, but the WinNT demo had to be towed back to port after blue screening…

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1998/07/13987

    they remembered their lesson and so are going towards thin clients based on a UNIX derivative.
    I know I certainly miss, as an end user, the snappiness and uniformity of the CentOS thin-clients I had enjoyed (and some of the great apps too). Couldn’t begin to relate the things that are daily annoyances now than I have to use Vista and/or 7. A short list: email setup and re-setup, files portability, environment/application customizations, auto-scripting of routine file housekeeping tasks, forced reboots). On the good side we have packrats who have saved a lot of IT stuff network gear, CPU’s, etc. maybe it’s time to setup an air-gapped darknet…

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