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in this issue:
study on thin client: Cyber-Lab adopts thin clients
to deliver mobility & availability while cutting admin cost
The Cyber-Lab staff consists of 10
people: 3 are IT people, 6 are regular office-typed end users, 1 is
a user who seldom uses a computer. The office-typed end users
typically use word processing (OpenOffice), email, web browser and a
couple of line of business applications (course & student
management). The problem we faced was that we had less desks than
people. This is OK as they work in shift. However, by inertia, each of
the older staff members always had her own
"personal" desk, while the newly hired had to move around. In
addition, those "personal" desks were always more "comfortable", e.g.,
far away from the public counter.
I always wanted to move them around.
However, a technical problem is that if a user moves to another
computer, her desktop and applications have to be configured again
(Roaming profile doesn't work with all applications, e.g., FireFox and
Thunderbird). That is, we wanted a solution so that no matter which
computer a user uses, she will always see the same desktop. The
solution we adopted is the Windows terminal service. No matter which
computer the user, she will see her desktop on that terminal server.
For the clients, to save license and stay
secure, we run Linux. In fact, we don't install Linux on the clients.
When a client boots, it will download the Linux kernel from the
network, boot and run the terminal service client (called rdesktop) and
the user will see the Windows desktop on the terminal server. The
client doesn't need a hard disk or any local software at all. That
is, it is a bare bone computer. This has a huge benefit: If a client
computer is broken, we just find a random computer,
configure the server so that it provides a Linux kernel to it
(taking less than 3 minutes) and turn it on. That's all and the user is
now back into business! This is the kind of high availability that we
want (if any one of your users' computers is broken, how quickly he
will get a fully functioning replacement?). We have done that and
it's really that simple. That computer doesn't have to a powerful
computer. Any old computer will do because the applications the user
sees are running on the terminal server.
Now we're running this solution happily.
Even though the client is running Linux, the user sees a Windows
desktop and there has been no difference at all. There are some
other additional benefits too: First, it is a lot faster to boot Linux:
just 31 seconds from power on to the login screen. In comparison,
Windows 2000 takes 73 seconds. Second, when we need to update software,
all we need to do is to update it on the terminal server. No need to go
to each client to update. A huge time saver for our admin staff!
Here is a summary of the benefits:
Mobility (users can move around), high availability (so easy to replace
a client), low admin cost (update software on the server
only), productivity (fast boot time), longer client hardware upgrade
cycle (old computers can be used).
Is it difficult to configure the clients
to boot this way? Not at all. We use a turn-key solution called LTSP which took us one day to setup.
If it can, the client can simply boot from network, otherwise it can
boot from a floppy.
energy bill by 20%
Traditional computer power supplies are
only 65%-70% efficient. That is, only 65%-70% of the input electricity
is fed to your computer, while the rest is turned into heat. The good
news is, now there are greener power supplies. They are labeled as "80 plus certified". It
means they are at least 80% efficient. This translates into an energy
saving of 20%. Not just that. As less heat is generated, you'll need
less air-conditioning thus a further reduction in energy. Less
heat also means better stability and a longer equipment life.
Those 80 plus certified power supplies are a bit more expensive than
the traditional ones, but generally the energy saving will pay it back
in a year.
This 80 plus certified label may be hard
to find. The good news is, it is now part of the energy
star 4.0 standard. This standard will go into effect on July 20,
2007. It means if you buy an energy star 4.0 labelled computer
manufactured after this date, you'll enjoy the energy saving. Big
computer vendors have been providing energy star 4.0 compliant
products (e.g., HP
EAL4 security rating
Sometimes we heard news like "Windows
server has received the highest commercially available security rating
EAL4" or "Linux has achieved EAL4 security rating". What does it really
mean? It means the development process producing that software includes
design reviews to ensure the software is secure enough to be used in an
environment where the programmers and administrators are loyal and
friendly and there is no dedicated attacks from hackers. Also note that
only the development process is checked, not a single line of code
is checked. More is here.
for CIO/IT manager
questions, ideas or experiences to share? Contact me at
28781313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.