Thin Client Introductory Article

“Being one of the cases where environmental responsibility actually adds to business profitability, thin client computing is likely to be a prevailing trend for many years to come.” So concludes author Bruce Tyson in his article, “The History of Thin Clients” found on brighthub.com.  Since some readers are just learning about Thin Client technology I like to include the occasional introductory post.  You can read the rest the story by clicking on the link below.

The History of Thin Clients

Terminal Server Sizing

The typical industrial user is a special case, and therefore does not fit into the Terminal Server sizing requirements usually advertised by Microsoft. This article discusses some of the factors associated with most industrial applications that may make them unique.

So What is a Thin Client?

As best I can tell, Tim Negris is the man who coined the term Thin Client when he was with Oracle. It originally described scaled down applications that ran in conjunction with a full version of an application that was loaded on a server.

When Windows OS versions that allowed multiple users came on the scene, one of the first hardware companies to start selling client hardware was Wyse with the introduction of their WinTerm in 1995. This made sense – Wyse was already a huge seller of “dumb” terminals for mainframes and providing a Windows Terminal was logical. [...]

Building a Thin Client System

Question: We would like to put together a Thin Client system that will have a total of seven Thin Clients. While some of these clients will be standard Thin Client hardware, we would also like to use some of our PCs as clients as well. We also need to allow for some spare capacity for the future.

Can you please specify the hardware and software (ACP and Microsoft) requirements for a reliable system?

Answer: There are multiple ways to build this system. I will start by specifying the basic system (the minimum required) and then work up to a system with redundancy that will guarantee uninterrupted operation in almost every case. Each system will have the following four parts – the Thin Clients, the hosting Windows Terminal Server, the Microsoft software and the ACP software. [...]

Total Cost of Ownership

A Thin Client computer runs what looks like a full Windows NT 4.0 operating system on each Client installed in a factory. This is accomplished by having a powerful server running a version of Microsoft’s NT 4.0 designed for Thin Clients, NT Terminal Server 4.0. This version of Windows allows multiple users to log in and establish a full Windows session running on the server. Each user gets a dedicated share of memory, some slices of CPU time, and access to the server’s disks and applications. [...]

ThinManager Version History

Since its introduction in 1999 ThinManager has undergone a number of improvements. But the most significant changes have come with the latest releases.

Here is a look at the most important features added and enhanced since ThinManager 2.3.

Introduced in ThinManager 2.4

  • Configuration Wizards – Perform most of the configuration through computer directed wizards and walk through any number of complex configuration tasks without the fear of missing an important step.
  • New Tree view of Terminal Servers and connected clients – See exactly which Windows Terminal Server is hosting each Thin Client. As clients log off one server and on to another, or in the event of a primary server failure and the automatic switching of all its connected clients to a backup server, the new tree will enable identification of all the server to client relationships.
  • Multiple monitoring connections to redundant ThinManager Servers – Provided the ability to run the ThinManager software on multiple machines. Load and start ThinManager wherever you need to be able to keep up with the system status.
  • Support for new Hardware – Added a number of new industrial ThinManager Ready Thin Clients.
  • ThinManager Configuration Import and Export – Multiple ThinManager Servers can work together by allowing for the export and import of the configuration of all managed Thin Clients. Along with this comes the ability to backup and restore ThinManager configurations.
  • Assign names to Servers – Even users who are not using a network with DNS can assign names to the ThinManager Servers and Terminal Servers on the network.
  • Create lists of available ThinManager Servers and Terminal Servers – Easy and automatic creation of server lists to cut down on confusion during initial system configuration and updates.
  • [...]

    What Does ACP Do?

    Here is the Elevator Pitch – the 15 second version of our product that you could lay out during an elevator ride:

    ACP provides management tools and software for Thin Clients and Terminal Servers. Thin Clients allow you to run standard Windows applications like a mainframe, with multiple users running at the same time on a single server, dramatically reducing costs.

    If the person is interested, I normally hear a number of follow-up questions. Here are some of the most common ones with my answers: [...]

    Thin Client I/O

    There are two methods for getting data into a Thin Client system – through the Server, or through the Clients.

    Getting data through the Server

    For small installations, where input/output devices are not very far from the Server, and there are not many devices to read, this can be a very good solution. It is certainly the most traditional, with I/O devices being connected to serial ports or special hardware installed in the Server. As all Thin Client software runs on the Server anyway, there is no problem with each client identifying its input or output devices with physical addresses on the Server. This is also very efficient, as data doesn’t have to travel through the Client, to the Server, and back to the Client. However, it is very limited – a Server can only handle so much I/O, and if devices are far removed there will be difficulties in moving data (especially serial data) over the distance. [...]