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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Thinclient servers in Technical; What sort of spec should i look for on a server(s) for Thin Client use? Early days on the project ...
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    KarlGoddard's Avatar
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    Thinclient servers

    What sort of spec should i look for on a server(s) for Thin Client use?

    Early days on the project yet but I'm looking into using TC's in our library (7 PC's) and our 6th form study area (15 PC's)

    the current PC's are used for email / internet / MS Office type duties, the heaviest app they'd ever get used for would be MS Publisher so I think they're a prime candidate for replacement with TC's

    A friend in another school has just, or will be getting, a trial Axel box so i'll be going to have a look at that when he gets it but at the moment I'm thinking about the server end.

    With only 22, possibly going up to 25 / 26, clients I reckon 2 servers should do the job. So what sort of spec should I be looking at. Never used TC's in work so i'm pretty much clueless as to what spec I need.

    Cost, as ever, is also a big factor!

    Any input would be welcomed

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    For around 30 clients I would recommend minimum 4GB Ram, Modern Duel or Quad core.
    There is a guide here: A Quick Guide to Thin Client Computing - as promised!

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    KarlGoddard (28th June 2008)

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    kestrel1's Avatar
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    We are just getting two more application servers for our TC's.
    They are IBM X3550. Xeon Quad core 2.0ghz processor x 2 with 4gb Ram & 73.4gb HDD.
    Our current servers are twin Xeon's with 3gb Ram. Also IBM.
    We use TCX boxes, look here for info:
    Precedence Technologies - ThinIT TCX and TCM - Revolutionary media-intensive thin clients
    Also have some ThinTune machines, but these are a few years old now.
    Talk to Precedence about your needs, they will be able help.
    TC's are the way to go. They sit there doing exactly what they should & cause little trouble, unlike Fat clients (PC's)

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    KarlGoddard (28th June 2008)

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    KarlGoddard's Avatar
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    to digress slightly....

    what tangible benefits have you achieved by using TC's

    I'm primarily looking at power usage and physical environment benefits - more space, less heat etc.

    Reducing support issues are less of an issue for us as the kit we currently have - Optiplex 170L's - have been (touch wood) 100% reliable, in fact I've not had 1 support call this year that required a visit to the 6th form (apart from replacing toner carts that is )

    thanks!

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgcs View Post
    to digress slightly....

    what tangible benefits have you achieved by using TC's

    I'm primarily looking at power usage and physical environment benefits - more space, less heat etc.

    Reducing support issues are less of an issue for us as the kit we currently have - Optiplex 170L's - have been (touch wood) 100% reliable, in fact I've not had 1 support call this year that required a visit to the 6th form (apart from replacing toner carts that is )

    thanks!
    Longevity of machines - a thin client will last 10 years, with only servers needing replacing every 3ish. So, as an example, a room of 36 thin clients could cost you about £60,000 less over 10 years if you normally follow a 3 year replacement cycle. Not including electricity savings.

    Maintenance - you only install software on 1 or 2 servers, including updates, rather than managing it on X number of computers.

    Set up time for new machines - you just deploy and voila you have a fully working install. No need to mess with software, as it is all on the server already.

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    KarlGoddard (28th June 2008)

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    kestrel1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgcs View Post
    to digress slightly....

    what tangible benefits have you achieved by using TC's

    I'm primarily looking at power usage and physical environment benefits - more space, less heat etc.

    Reducing support issues are less of an issue for us as the kit we currently have - Optiplex 170L's - have been (touch wood) 100% reliable, in fact I've not had 1 support call this year that required a visit to the 6th form (apart from replacing toner carts that is )

    thanks!
    You are lucky that you haven't been called to the sixth form.
    They do reduce heat slightly & the power usage is definitely lower, another thing is, we have a power switch in each room, hit the button the whole room goes off. No need to check that machines are turned off.
    They have reduced the amount of support that is required here, which is a real benefit, as I am the only one looking after the whole school & sixth form.
    The footprint of the TCX machines is very small. We are just about to get another batch of 35 that will be fixed to the back of the TFT screens, so the footprint gets even smaller.
    We have only just stopped using some Acorn TC's. Can you honestly say that you have used 10 year old machines to run the latest software on Windows 2003 server?
    Precedence also produce some Unix based software that will turn your old desktops in to thin clients, therefore extending their life even further.
    As pointed out before all software is central to the servers, so if an upgrade is required you only have to do this on a few machines (in my case four at present, soon to be five)
    Can be expensive to start off with, depending on what you use. We are using Citrix Presentation server 4 here & the licences are pricey, but well worth it IMHO.
    Last edited by kestrel1; 28th June 2008 at 09:08 PM.

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    eean's Avatar
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    Are these actually revolutionary? The classic complaint about TC is they are rubbish for anything multimedia. Do these solve the problem, and how?

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    We haven't noticed any problems using these machines. As long as the servers & your network infrastructure are sound you shouldn't have a problem. Obviously for heavy graphics use a desktop is preferable & are purchased accordingly. Streaming video over the Internet is absolutely fine. Precedence Technologies can explain all the benefits of TC's if you give them a call or email if you are serious they can help.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The difference with those machines and most thin clients is the inclusion of a dedicated graphics card. If you have a suitable system on the server end, you can make use of this. For example, Citrix can make good use of it.

    The HP T5735 can do similar if I'm not mistaken.

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    We've got 2 HP BL460c's (quad core, 4gb RAM, all other blade stuff as standard) which are running 60 clients across them.

    Our biggest benefit has been the speed and manageability of the system. It really does make things so easy just to install software twice (once for each blade) and it is available for everyone. It has taken both the kids and staff a little while to realise that switching off the TC device doesnt stop a running session, but a few tweaks and they've gotten used to it.

    As far as clients go, its great being able to have a new unit up and running in less than 2 minutes (HP TC's) Its now a chore ghosting the standard workstations

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgcs View Post
    What sort of spec should i look for on a server(s) for Thin Client use?
    Considering 4GB of RAM can probably be had for under £100 these days, you might as well go for more - 8GB+. Might also be worth looking at more than one network port so you can aggregate them together and get more bandwidth between your server and the switch. You can get 4-port PCI Express gigabit ethernet cards these days (couple of hundred pounds upwards, I think), or just get several single network cards.

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    The TCX clients boot around the minute mark, never actually timed it, but it is very quick. Our older Thin Tunes take a whole lot longer. The TCX's can be managed easily via VNC, all password protected centrally. Upgrades to the firmware are initiated automatically from the unix server when required.
    Not had any problems with these machines since the latest upgrade & the previous things where just little niggles.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Considering 4GB of RAM can probably be had for under £100 these days, you might as well go for more - 8GB+. Might also be worth looking at more than one network port so you can aggregate them together and get more bandwidth between your server and the switch. You can get 4-port PCI Express gigabit ethernet cards these days (couple of hundred pounds upwards, I think), or just get several single network cards.

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    8GB will be of no use in a 32bit environment. And network traffic on a 32bit TS is never going to max out a 1gb network port. If you're usin 64bit TS then your suggestion makes sense though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    8GB will be of no use in a 32bit environment.
    Sorry, I keep forgetting that, good point - although I'd say it's almost worth having the spare RAM standing by for if you did move to a 64-bit OS, save the messing around later.

    > And network traffic on a 32bit TS is never going to max out a 1gb
    > network port.

    Why not? Wouldn't it simply depend on how many clients you had connected? Or is the speed at which screen updates for clients can be produced limited by some other factor?

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Why not? Wouldn't it simply depend on how many clients you had connected? Or is the speed at which screen updates for clients can be produced limited by some other factor?
    The average 32 bit terminal server is going to run out of memory before it runs out of network bandwidth. Even if they use 1mbps they would still support 1000 clients! No server could support that, and no thin client uses that amount of bandwidth.

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