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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Zero Clients in Technical; ...
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    Axel's Avatar
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    Zero Clients

    A request was made to start a new post on Zero Clients, so as forum sponsor we’d thought we’d start it...!

    The first thing to point out is that if you ask 5 different thin client manufacturers for a definition of a Zero Client you will get 5 different answers. I will let the other manufacturers add their interpretations as they see fit.

    As it is a marketing buzzword there is no “definitive” definition

    Axel‘s description of a Zero Client is a terminal that:
    1) Has no operating system (stateless)
    2) Has no local intelligence
    3) Has no local browser
    4) All applications are run on the server, or virtual machine
    5) Does not need to pull an operating system over the network to boot

    As such they are very small, low cost, low power consuming devices, typically 5 watts max.

    Zero Clients are a natural response to conventional thin clients which have evolved in many cases to be very similar in complexity (and price) to entry level PCs – the very products thin clients were supposed to replace as much simpler devices.

    Our definition applies to the terminal connecting to a conventional Terminal Server/Citrix Server or to a virtual desktop. (ie VM Viewer or Citrix XenDesktop).

    As Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is allowing thin clients to operate in areas conventionally proscribed to PCs, this is an area of great interest to many parties. Some of the areas where PCs were traditionally deployed (ie multi-media) will start to be available to thin clients.

    Specifically for multimedia there are many competitive and incompatible products vying for this ‘new’ market, but there are two basic architectures.

    1) Connection at a VGA level (such as RDP & ICA)
    2) Connection at a GPU level (such as VMware’s PCoIP, Microsoft’s announced “Calista”, Citrix’s HDX(?) and various other proprietary offerings).

    Microsoft's plan to enter this market next year with their Calista technology will be very significant to all involved - love 'em or loathe 'em - what they do effects everyone. In brief it seems this product will directly support multi-media without the need to have embedded or downloaded codecs in the client . More information below for those interested.

    http://download.microsoft.com/downlo...T591_WH08.pptx

    As I am starting to wander off topic I’ll leave the multimedia/VDI discussion for another post.

    I look forward to a lively and hopefully constructive debate on the subject of Zero Clients...!
    Last edited by Axel; 5th December 2009 at 08:59 PM.

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    ajbritton's Avatar
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    It sounds to me like a 'zero client' is just a 'thin client' that boots over the network. What is the advantage of this?

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    Axel's Avatar
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    @ AJBritton

    As I said above, there is not one definition of "Zero Client". We would describe a Zero Thin Client as a device that does not require an operating system at all so not embedded or dragged over the network on boot.

    I have also seen the name Zero Client applied to devices based on Terradici hardware -(the company who created PCoIP), Sunray technology and the various products that attach multiple clients to XP PCs....

    These are all very different technologies but have the 'no local operating system' feature in common and do not drag an operating system over the network to boot.
    Last edited by Axel; 6th December 2009 at 08:09 PM.

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    a device that does not require an operating system neither embedded nor dragged over the network on boot.
    I'm struggling with apparent subtlety of definitions here: How does anything happen client-side if there isn't some embedded code being processed to get the graphics (presumably decompress them etc.) send keystrokes back, do whatever it takes for USB and so on, and if it's over IP implement a credible TCP/IP stack and so on?

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    Axel's Avatar
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    @ PiqueABoo

    ...our implementation is to have RDP and ICA written in machine language and embedded directly in the hardware. (RDP + ICA + TCP/IP + setup menus/diagnostics etc is less than 400Kb in size). No operating system, No BIOS, No network boot, 5 seconds from switch on to logon - this is about as thin as it gets - hence our claim to the term "zero client"....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajbritton View Post
    It sounds to me like a 'zero client' is just a 'thin client' that boots over the network. What is the advantage of this?

    A description that I read was that a zero client (In one vendors opinion) is somewhere between a thin and fat client but with out a disk (I think they mean zero install or management). The OS (or parts of) is streamed over the network into memory on demand and the processing is done locally. This means that it acts like a fat client for peripherals and running heavy apps but it is completely reset after each session. You then manage one copy of the OS and apps in a central location for all clients.
    This setup can make OS, app and patch management very easy and you don't need to manage you local stations, but you have all the benefits of a fat client setup. You would probably use this setup alongside a traditional thin client setup e.g CItrix.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    @Cookie_Monster - thats the description I'm interested in. I think I saw it mentioned in another thread - Wyse WSM. Haven't found any pricing info for it yet though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    I'm struggling with apparent subtlety of definitions here: How does anything happen client-side if there isn't some embedded code being processed to get the graphics (presumably decompress them etc.) send keystrokes back, do whatever it takes for USB and so on, and if it's over IP implement a credible TCP/IP stack and so on?

    Sun Ray has a bunch of firmware here to do this. The info is passed back to the control servers which then do the cool and funky bits.

    Zero clients have to have some kind of processing else they would be called a box

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    Zero clients are a great idea. Why use a cut down version of windows or linux installed on a flash card, when you can use some ultra efficient firmware integrated into the device itself.

    The first Zero client I tried was an Axel M70w and I knew then that this was a big step over normal, fat thin clients (?!!!) like HP/Wyse etc. Near instant set up, and near instant boot up and shut down made me go yay!!!

    The M80 I have here is even better as it can actually play video!

    I also have two Sun Ray clients ready to test out but I have not had a chance to set up Solaris and the server back end. Annoying as I cant wait to give them a go!

    Zero = Hero baby! The HP fat thin clients I have here are now totally outdated in my eyes, and use a gargantuan 15watts each. Yuk!

    Butuz

  10. Thanks to Butuz from:

    Axel (7th December 2009)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Zero clients are a great idea. Why use a cut down version of windows or linux installed on a flash card, when you can use some ultra efficient firmware integrated into the device itself.

    The first Zero client I tried was an Axel M70w and I knew then that this was a big step over normal, fat thin clients (?!!!) like HP/Wyse etc. Near instant set up, and near instant boot up and shut down made me go yay!!!

    The M80 I have here is even better as it can actually play video!

    I also have two Sun Ray clients ready to test out but I have not had a chance to set up Solaris and the server back end. Annoying as I cant wait to give them a go!

    Zero = Hero baby! The HP fat thin clients I have here are now totally outdated in my eyes, and use a gargantuan 15watts each. Yuk!

    Butuz

    And, give me a shout and we can help get them set up.

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    bio
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    @Cookie_Monster - thats the description I'm interested in. I think I saw it mentioned in another thread - Wyse WSM. Haven't found any pricing info for it yet though.
    We are investigating Wyse WSM as well. Allready had some demo's and some talks. Looks good for our environment.

    bio..

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    Thin Client

    Quote Originally Posted by bio View Post
    We are investigating Wyse WSM as well. Allready had some demo's and some talks. Looks good for our environment.

    bio..
    .....what advantages do you expect to gain with this ?

    This must be "pre-Virtual Desktop" technology, does it do anything VMware Viewer or XenDesktop can't do ?

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel View Post
    @ PiqueABoo

    ...our implementation is to have RDP and ICA written in machine language and embedded directly in the hardware. (RDP + ICA + TCP/IP + setup menus/diagnostics etc is less than 400Kb in size). No operating system, No BIOS, No network boot, 5 seconds from switch on to logon - this is about as thin as it gets - hence our claim to the term "zero client"....
    If you're writing a RDP/ICA client direct into machine language, then *that* is the OS. It drives the physical equipment (as you say TCP/IP, but it'll also drive the graphics adapter, screen, keyboard, mouse etc...).

    To state that it has no OS is simply misleading (your company is not the only one to make this claim though). It is just a very thin, thin client with no management.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    If you're writing a RDP/ICA client direct into machine language, then *that* is the OS. It drives the physical equipment (as you say TCP/IP, but it'll also drive the graphics adapter, screen, keyboard, mouse etc...).

    To state that it has no OS is simply misleading (your company is not the only one to make this claim though). It is just a very thin, thin client with no management.


    The claim is Ultra Thin client it does have a very limited local OS as you can manage them remotly but as you say they do use a custom ICA/RDP client that should do all of the rest of the work.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nut-ed View Post
    .....what advantages do you expect to gain with this ?

    This must be "pre-Virtual Desktop" technology, does it do anything VMware Viewer or XenDesktop can't do ?
    It's about where the physical hardware power lays. Virtual Desktop is very similar to traditional Terminal Services. The hardware grunt is on the server, the Thin Client has minimal hardware - essentially a KVM.

    With WSM the hardware power is on the individual client desktop. The advantage *should* be that hardware intensive apps like CAD, movie editing, etc can run fine but you get the bonus of a single centrally managed desktop image.

  17. 2 Thanks to tmcd35:

    bio (8th December 2009), cookie_monster (8th December 2009)

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