I've mentioned this software in passing before but I feel it deserves its own post.
While playing with thin clients and being wholly dissatisfied with the management software provided with a recent delivery of thin client devices, I started looking at alternatives. My first point of call was Thinstation. It works quite well, boots from PXE easily enough and performs well on relatively low end hardware. However I found administration of the thing a real burden. To get custom settings for a device, you have to edit a multitude of text files and while the process is well documented, its a pain in the backside, quite time consuming and not especially intuitive.
I noticed on the Thinstation website there was a link to http://www.2x.com . I followed it and found a wonderful piece of software called ThinClientServer. It has three parts:
A linux based thin client client. It supports RDP, Citrix and NX. It can be booted using PXE or can be installed to a hard drive or burnt to a CD.
A TFTP server
A LAMP/WAMP server with a thin client managment console preinstalled. Within this console you can set everything to do with the thin client, the client name, the drivers it uses, the window manager it uses, any printers attached to the client. You also get a view of all the managed thin clients that are turned on and any which have a user using them. You can boot people off terminals using this console, turn off terminals and turn them on if they support WOL.
One nice touch of the client is the logon process. Instead of sitting on a screen that says "Session disconnected, reconnect?", it has a logon screen similar to a standard Windows logon screen. You enter your username and password into that and passes them on to rdesktop which logs you into the TS. Then once whoever is working has finished, they log off and it returns the PC back to this login prompt. It looks nicer than a reconnect button and helps avoid support calls from kids or teachers who have never used thin clients before.
On the downside, it isn't as flexible as Thinstation. You can't compile your own version to include or exclude drivers or to change features. I don't think that 2X software is open source either but to be honest that doesn't bother me at all. It's well worth a look.
There are two versions: The Enterprise version which is a commercial piece of software and costs money and the "PXES" version which is free, comes with no support (apart from a reasonably active forum) and has Citrix support disabled. It supports any x86 compatible machine which can boot from PXE so if you have a mixture of thin clients from different vendors you can manage all of them from a single console as well as easily convert existing PCs into thin clients. Download it from here: http://www.2x.com/pxes/
I'm about to embark on rolling this out to a few machines in our school as we have a 10 user licence, it will be very handy for places like the staff room & library which only require internet & intranet access.
I'll keep the forum posted on how it goes, when I've removed the brush from my behind & got the rest of the endless list of jobs done first! Fitting a 37 hour job into a 18.5 hours a week is very difficult....
you can also connect it to citrix if any of you use it. Also, if you live near Reading Town Centre, go to the central library and have deployed thin clients that connect to Citrix allowing restricted easy access using ic@m software.