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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Thin Client - Experiences... in Technical; Does anyone have any experiences in running thin clients as the main 'PCs' in a school. Plus/Minus/Interesting? Any feedback, advice ...
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    Thin Client - Experiences...

    Does anyone have any experiences in running thin clients as the main 'PCs' in a school.

    Plus/Minus/Interesting?

    Any feedback, advice and 'things' to consider would be very welcome.

    Stuart.

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    We have 240 Thin Client Laptops we use in Laptop Trolleys. We had a small driver issue with them but since that has been sorted they work really well. The reason we went with thin clients in the trolleys is so we didn't have to get all the laptops out to push out updates and software. When the software would be pushed to them they would be turned off you see. We can just push the apps out to the back end servers. Means some software can be on 250 devices in no time at all. Our IT Rooms, offices classrooms etc all have fat client desktops. We didn't have the issue of these being offline when pushing apps so didn't go thin client.

    They are used for streaming videos, flash games and general office stuff. They don't cut it with something like video editing though.

    The good thing if you get something like XenApp is you can use it as remote access for your students and staff from personal devices from home.
    Last edited by FN-GM; 22nd April 2014 at 03:40 PM.

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    @FN-GM are you using XenApp yourself for the back end?

    Ben

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    We are indeed. On 6 Dell Blades. 24 cores each, 96GB Ram + SSD's.

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    We are migrating over to thin clients here - slowly.... LTSP on Fedora 20 & CentOS.

    Main reason is we cannot afford the extra licensing from MS just yet. So Linux Thin Clients for us is a viable option. Most of what we do is web based anyway with online portals etc so all that is needed to the client is a Web Client (Chrome or Firefox).

    All we do is change the VLAN on the network port. boots from PXE into Fedora, login with Windows Credentials and viola. You're at the desktop, which has shortcuts to shares.

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    I've gone from a nearly 30 down to about 7 now.

    When it was rolled out it did work initially and worked, for the most part, quite well reusing old machines. We then hit several issues with our RDS server that I have never really resolved. Internet Proxy settings failed to deploy, although that became less of an issue towards the end but still exists. Our server initially fell over a few times and then was hit with long boot up times due to WMI issues. A couple of GPO changes to disable RSOP on the server fixed the WMI problem. To try and reduce the likelyhood of the Proxy GPO failing the server does a scheduled nightly reboot which also corrects the issue if no one reports it occuring during the day.

    The few that I have got scattered out still work perfectly well and people are happy with them so I may in the future try to roll it back out, but would probably be more inclined to try and look at VDI rather then RDS.

    I've never worked out why we hit the two big issues above, but it's a shame because I thought it was a great idea at saving us a bit of cash in the long run. They persisted even after reinstalling the server from scratch and rebuilding all the GPO's being applied to it.

    Edit: On the other hand, the other terminal server which I use for staff remote access works brilliantly and has been running for over a year without any issues... (touch wood)
    Last edited by Cache; 22nd April 2014 at 04:16 PM.

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    We are rolling them out in computer labs and using VMware View to provide the desktop. We have had our growing pains, learned things. Running a pilot lab of 32 vs 5 labs of 32 is very different.

    If you are looking at just using Thin clients without VDI or RDS, I assume what you need to do is web based? Because the hardware inside a thin client is nothing compared to a desktop. You won't be installing Office directly onto a thin client and getting acceptable performance.

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    We have around 250 of them here (all HP units) coupled to five HP blades running Citrix XenApp.
    It worked well when it went in seven years ago, however expectation stretched a bit too far (wanting to do video editing/large animation, which just isn't suitable) plus the XenApp license is prety pricey and you do need to keep investing in the servers running it (which for various reasons, we did/could not) so the school would rather reduce the number of them currently in use.
    It is great for keeping things consistant, easier to deploy software and updates plus as the thin clinets are usually low powered, we managed to stack more into rooms that would have needed electrical work for a standard machine.

    I'm planning on converting the whole lot over to RDS at some point, even if we shrink the number of devices using it. We do use Citrix for Remote Access too which staff seem to love, so that help me keep them here!

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    I find them good in a few places where we just need basic machines for internet and office and nothing more. Generally though I don't see much value in them beyond that, we build PCs for 185 each, you're looking at 100-150 per terminal, then the pretty big server costs to run it all...cheaper to just go for PCs from our perspective, and you can do more with them. Granted my figures don't apply to many as most of you no doubt buy pre-builts which you pay extra for which probably makes the terminals look a little more appealing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    I find them good in a few places where we just need basic machines for internet and office and nothing more. Generally though I don't see much value in them beyond that, we build PCs for 185 each, you're looking at 100-150 per terminal, then the pretty big server costs to run it all...cheaper to just go for PCs from our perspective, and you can do more with them. Granted my figures don't apply to many as most of you no doubt buy pre-builts which you pay extra for which probably makes the terminals look a little more appealing.
    hows you deal with ms licencing if you build your own?

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    Quote Originally Posted by victory2012 View Post
    hows you deal with ms licencing if you build your own?
    Funny you should ask that because it's an interesting one, when we buy components suppliers don't bundle in a MS license, if we buy a pre-built they add in a license. If i understand it right, even if you replace a PC with a new one, regardless of whether the old one is being removed from service with a valid MS license on it, you still have to pay for a MS license on the new one, correct? (at least that's what suppliers have me believing)

    There's nothing as far as i can see that describes the replacement of components......if you license "a pc" does that mean as soon as you replace the ram you should buy another? As soon as you buy a new CPU you should buy another? It's a stupid licensing system really that doesn't cover our way of doing things. In theory if the license sticker is on the case (and the version of windows on that sticker covers the OS you're using on the PC within the terms of your MSVL) that PC is licensed regardless of whether you change the components inside, so that's the process we stick to. If that's wrong, I'd like to hear it, but if it is wrong, how is anyone meant to prove which PCs are unlicensed and which are? and to what degree do the components need to change to deem a PC unlicensed if that is the case? (We've changed a lot of HDDs for SSDs for example, upgraded a lot of ram, changed dead PSUs....)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    Funny you should ask that because it's an interesting one, when we buy components suppliers don't bundle in a MS license, if we buy a pre-built they add in a license. If i understand it right, even if you replace a PC with a new one, regardless of whether the old one is being removed from service with a valid MS license on it, you still have to pay for a MS license on the new one, correct? (at least that's what suppliers have me believing)

    There's nothing as far as i can see that describes the replacement of components......if you license "a pc" does that mean as soon as you replace the ram you should buy another? As soon as you buy a new CPU you should buy another? It's a stupid licensing system really that doesn't cover our way of doing things. In theory if the license sticker is on the case (and the version of windows on that sticker covers the OS you're using on the PC within the terms of your MSVL) that PC is licensed regardless of whether you change the components inside, so that's the process we stick to. If that's wrong, I'd like to hear it, but if it is wrong, how is anyone meant to prove which PCs are unlicensed and which are? and to what degree do the components need to change to deem a PC unlicensed if that is the case? (We've changed a lot of HDDs for SSDs for example, upgraded a lot of ram, changed dead PSUs....)
    Microsoft have stated that the "motherboard" is the item you're licensing as the PC. So, if you replace it for any cause except the original being faulty, then you need a new license.

    From their site:

    Q. Can a PC with an OEM Windows operating system have its motherboard upgraded and keep the same licence? What if it was replaced because it was defective?
    A. Generally, an end user can upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on a computer—except the motherboard—and still retain the licence for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created. Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred to the new computer, and the licence of new operating system software is required. If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do not need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC as long as the replacement motherboard is the same make/model or the same manufacturer's replacement/equivalent, as defined by the manufacturer's warranty.
    The reason for this licensing rule primarily relates to the End User Software Licence Terms and the support of the software covered by those terms. The End User Software Licence Terms are a set of usage rights granted to the end user by the computer manufacturer, and relate only to rights for that software as installed on that particular computer. The system builder is required to support the software on the original PC. Understanding that end users, over time, upgrade their PCs with different components, Microsoft needed to have one base component "left standing" that would still define the original PC. Since the motherboard contains the CPU and is the "heart and soul" of the PC, when the motherboard is replaced (for reasons other than defect) a new PC is essentially created. The original system builder did not manufacture this new PC, and therefore cannot be expected to support it.


    Licensing FAQ

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    Funny you should ask that because it's an interesting one, when we buy components suppliers don't bundle in a MS license, if we buy a pre-built they add in a license. If i understand it right, even if you replace a PC with a new one, regardless of whether the old one is being removed from service with a valid MS license on it, you still have to pay for a MS license on the new one, correct? (at least that's what suppliers have me believing)

    There's nothing as far as i can see that describes the replacement of components......if you license "a pc" does that mean as soon as you replace the ram you should buy another? As soon as you buy a new CPU you should buy another? It's a stupid licensing system really that doesn't cover our way of doing things. In theory if the license sticker is on the case (and the version of windows on that sticker covers the OS you're using on the PC within the terms of your MSVL) that PC is licensed regardless of whether you change the components inside, so that's the process we stick to. If that's wrong, I'd like to hear it, but if it is wrong, how is anyone meant to prove which PCs are unlicensed and which are? and to what degree do the components need to change to deem a PC unlicensed if that is the case? (We've changed a lot of HDDs for SSDs for example, upgraded a lot of ram, changed dead PSUs....)
    The OEM licenses are attached to the motherboard (not physically ha ha). If you upgrade the Motherboard you have to buy a new OEM License. However if you have a faulty board and replace it like for like you don't need to purchase another. Retail licenses can be moved between machines and you don't have to purchase another if you upgrade the board. Retail licenses don't have stickers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cache View Post
    I've gone from a nearly 30 down to about 7 now.

    When it was rolled out it did work initially and worked, for the most part, quite well reusing old machines. We then hit several issues with our RDS server that I have never really resolved. Internet Proxy settings failed to deploy, although that became less of an issue towards the end but still exists. Our server initially fell over a few times and then was hit with long boot up times due to WMI issues. A couple of GPO changes to disable RSOP on the server fixed the WMI problem. To try and reduce the likelyhood of the Proxy GPO failing the server does a scheduled nightly reboot which also corrects the issue if no one reports it occuring during the day.

    The few that I have got scattered out still work perfectly well and people are happy with them so I may in the future try to roll it back out, but would probably be more inclined to try and look at VDI rather then RDS.

    I've never worked out why we hit the two big issues above, but it's a shame because I thought it was a great idea at saving us a bit of cash in the long run. They persisted even after reinstalling the server from scratch and rebuilding all the GPO's being applied to it.

    Edit: On the other hand, the other terminal server which I use for staff remote access works brilliantly and has been running for over a year without any issues... (touch wood)
    @Cache what GP was that please?

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    Cache's Avatar
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    Just been and double checked, it's this one:

    Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Group Policy -> Turn off Resultant Set of Policy Logging - set to enabled

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