[THIN] Re: Recommendations for Thin client devices

  • From: "TSguy92 Lan" <tsguy92@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 08:34:06 -0700

From all the great responses on this one, it seems to me that the general
message is:

On 4/2/07, Michael Boggan <mboggan@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I would have to disagree.  We have implemented Wyse OS terminals for all
of our cust care offices.  We publish a desktop via a small number of
"desktop servers" then from there, using pnagent on the desktop session,
they are given every application they need from across the farm.  it works
great.  we have had no problems implementing printing, which is mostly
network printers imported into the farm.  it has worked great. and the wyse
terminals are cheap and easy to maintenance.  instead of having to have each
office keep a staffed IT person to troubleshoot and work on PCs, they just
get a new terminal, and send the defective one back to us to have replaced.
takes less time, less money, and less knowledge on their end.  management
has loved it because of less staffing in the small offices and quicker turn
around on the systems that go out.

also, they like the fact that a user can sit anywhere and do the same work
on the same system they always work on.

Thanks, Michael Boggan

Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 08:16:55 -0500
From: msemon@xxxxxxx
Subject: [THIN] Re: Recommendations for Thin client devices
To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx


Excellent post. I think this covers many of the issues we are seeing with
these thin client devices. We tested

some of the embedded XP devices in and have not been totally satisfied.
The local printing problem and inability

to install programs locally has led us to recommend installing PC's for
their needs.



*From:* thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] *On
Behalf Of *Carl Stalhood
*Sent:* Saturday, March 31, 2007 7:43 AM
*To:* thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
*Subject:* [THIN] Re: Recommendations for Thin client devices

Here is my rant against thin clients. I produced this list based on the
perspective of somebody that has to manage and support the Presentation
Server infrastructure.

*Thin Clients vs. PCs*

The ideal end-user device, where full Citrix functionality is possible
with maximum flexibility and minimum administrative burden, is a Windows
based PC (Windows XP or above preferred). The following is key functionality
of a Windows based PC client device when used with a Citrix Presentation
Server architecture:

·         *Full ICA Functionality including SpeedScreen Multimedia
Acceleration*. New ICA functionality is achieved by simply upgrading the
ICA client to the latest version.

·         *Full support of client printing with the Universal Print Driver
* on the Citrix Presentation Servers. This eliminates needing to install
print drivers on the Citrix Presentation Servers and eliminates needing to
configure Citrix Policies or complicated scripting to map printers at logon.
Essentially, all printing functionality is offloaded to the client.

·         *Flexibility to run local applications* if it is not cost
advantageous to publish an application from Citrix Presentation Server. When
a client device runs both local apps and Citrix published apps, Choice
Solutions refers to the device as a hybrid client. The Citrix PNAgent ICA
Client provides seamless integration of Citrix published applications into
the PC's Start Menu and Desktop meaning that users use one method to launch
both local applications and Citrix published applications.

Thin Clients are advantageous for shop floors, where moving parts are more
susceptible to failure, and kiosks, where a minimal device improves
security. For other cases, thin clients might seem attractive for their
lower initial cost but there are several reasons to reconsider using them:

·         *The ICA client running on a thin client is not fully featured*.

The only thin client OS that supports full ICA client functionality is
Embedded XP. Some features missing from other thin clients are Universal
Print Driver v3 (the new one in Citrix Presentation Server 4) and
SpeedScreen Multimedia Acceleration (using client resources to play media
files and streaming media resulting in user experience identical to playing
the media on the PC).

·         *Most thin clients lack client printing requiring network
printers to be configured on the Citrix Presentation Servers.*

Client printing is ideal because the new Universal Print Driver (UPD) does
not require print drivers to be loaded on the Citrix Presentation Servers.
Without client printing, network printers are required to be mapped within
an ICA session. This consists of mapping the printer (using a script or
Citrix Policies) and loading print drivers on the Presentation Servers.
Network printers complicate the printing architecture of a Citrix
Presentation Server architecture.

If you must implement network printers for thin client printing support,
ensure that the drivers installed on the Citrix Presentation Servers are all
included with Windows. Do NOT install drivers downloaded from the printer
vendor's website. Also, if installing Windows 2003 x64 on the Presentation
Servers, ensure that all print drivers are 64-bit.

Thin clients with the Embedded XP OS do support client printers. However,
most print drivers are not included with the Embedded XP OS requiring the
administrator to install the drivers on the thin client. Also, not all
drivers will successfully install on the Embedded XP thin client due to
functionality removed from the Embedded XP OS to allow it to fit on the
flash drive.

·         *Most thin clients do not support locally installed

It is rare to see a Citrix Presentation Server implementation where 
*all*applications are published from Citrix Presentation Servers. The primary
reason to not install an application on Presentation Server is lack of
tangible benefits as compared to the cost of integrating the application.
Remember, every application installed on a Citrix Presentation Server farm
must go through an extensive testing, configuration, stress loading, and
documentation process and it is not cost effective to send an application
used by a small number of users through this process.

Embedded XP thin clients do support locally installed applications with
several caveats. The flash drive in these thin clients is typically 512 MB
or 1 GB in size resulting in an inability to install large applications.
Larger flash drives also increase the price of the thin client putting it in
the realm of PC pricing.

While the Embedded XP OS is based on Windows XP, it is a subset of that
OS. Some applications might require more of Windows XP than is typically
available on an Embedded XP thin client.

·         *Thin clients possess sub-par graphics capability as compared to
today's low end PCs.*

One method for reducing costs in thin clients is to skimp on the graphics.
This results in smaller screen resolutions, lower color depth, and
noticeably slower screen updates. Before buying a particular thin client,
let some users try it to determine if the graphics performance is

·         *PNAgent will only run on Embedded XP thin clients.*

PNAgent is the preferred method of accessing published applications from a
client device because it is centrally administered and provides seamless
integration with the local desktop (shortcuts are placed on the Start Menu,
Desktop, and in the system tray). PNAgent can be installed and used from
Embedded XP thin clients only.

For other types of thin clients, consider publishing a desktop with the
common Start Menu program groups hidden (use Group Policy to do this) and
run PNAgent within that published desktop. PNAgent will display or not
display application shortcuts within the published desktop based on a user's
group membership. While this is easy to setup, it does provide an additional
access method that must be maintained.

·         *Centralized management of thin clients is proprietary to the
thin client vendor.*

Every thin client vendor offers a software solution for management of
their thin clients. This management software typically only works with a
specific vendor's thin clients. Also, the management software does not
integrate with other PC management software, like Microsoft SMS, so you must
maintain an additional client device management infrastructure.

·         *Embedded XP thin clients need to be managed just like a PC.*

Since most PC functionality is built into Embedded XP thin clients,
including the ability to catch a virus, these thin clients should be managed
just like a PC, resulting in increased management costs for this particular
class of thin clients. Some Embedded XP thin client vendors offer antivirus
and firewall protection for their Embedded XP thin clients.

A common method of managing Embedded XP thin clients is to join it to a
Windows domain so the thin client can receive group policies, login scripts,
mapped printers, etc. Another advantage of joining the domain is that the
credentials a user uses to log in to the thin client can be passed through
the PNAgent client eliminating the second logon.

However, the Write Filter, which prevents changes to the flash disk,
included with these thin clients prevents the thin clients from storing
changed domain workstation passwords. Either the Write Filter must be
disabled or the password changing must be disabled. If the Write Filter is
disabled, there is potential for the user to break the system requiring a
thin client image to be reloaded. Preventing the workstation password from
changing results in reduced network security. The 
*DisablePasswordChange*registry key will prevent the thin client from changing 
its domain password.

·         *All upgrades and support are offered only by the thin client

Citrix Support cannot provide thin client specific assistance. If an issue
is discovered on a thin client that cannot be reproduced on a PC, the thin
client vendor must be contacted for support.

As Citrix releases new versions of the ICA Clients, you must wait for the
thin client vendor to release an image that includes the newer versions.
This could result in a discrepancy in features and bug fixes between the PCs
and the thin clients.

-----Original Message-----
From: thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:thin-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Matt Kosht
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 8:32 AM
To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [THIN] Re: Recommendations for Thin client devices

I read this recently. A very good discussion of the relevance of these

devices vs. cheap PC's.


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