Linux Thin Client Server
Tech-savvy or non-tech-savvy, you have probably heard about how Linux provides a desktop operating system with vast settings and configurations. It was the natural choice for companies that sought something unique in an OS. When we talk about its Thin Client approach, Linux allows businesses to set up workstations with minimum installations which offload the bulk of the work to a centralized server.
Some businesses are of the view that with all its options and components installed, Linux monopolizes resources that may affect performance and ultimately, add to costs. In other words, Linux Thin Clients had too many shortcomings to be considered a realistic option for employees to access their virtual apps and desktops from.
Linux distributions running K Desktop Environment (KDE) and graphical user interfaces such as GNOME can consume a significant amount of resources. This has led to cases where businesses interested in making a switch have shown reliance on PC hardware. Fortunately, as mentioned, one can prepare workstations with simple Linux installations that offload heavy workloads to a central server.
Linux distributions running K Desktop Environment (KDE) and graphical user interfaces such as GNOME can consume a significant amount of resources. This has led to cases where businesses interested in making a switch have shown reliance on fairly reasonable PC hardware. Fortunately, one can prepare workstations with simple Linux installations that offload heavy workloads to a central server.
How A Linux Thin Client Works
Linux Thin Clients are fundamentally PCs booting from an Ethernet card with a chip that requests an address from the server. They can also be PCs with a boot diskette that performs the same network boot function. These Thin Client PCs do not require a hard drive to offer an end-user all the functions they need. For this purpose, enterprises may opt for a Thin Client PC.
After the booting process, the unit requests the Thin Client server for an IP address, netmask, and default route through DHCP. The Thin Client is informed of the kernel to upload and where to discover it. One can then download the kernel via TFTP.
The Thin Client workstation boots once the kernel loads. In this scenario, the kernel assumes control and configures all the attached hardware. A file system image becomes a temporary root file system after being loaded into memory. In order to prepare the system, extra modules are loaded and further network configurations take place. A new file root system is mounted through the Network File System (NFS), after which the Thin Client is live, and it initiates the final states of the boot. A user can then log in at the Thin Client workstation and begin using Linux.
There are many advantages of using Linux now that it offers Thin Client computing with an improved OS for minimal system usage. Modern configurations support more peripheral devices compatible with fingerprint readers and barcode scanners. The endpoints are dubbed as high-performance PCs with multicore, 64-bit CPUs, and GPUs that address power user demands in multimedia, 3D, or CAD scenarios. Some even have the ability to support multiple monitors including 4k screens in VDI and server-based apps/desktops for cloud and hosted environments.
Vendors also offer models optimized for modern desktop technologies like VMWare, Citrix, and Microsoft. Others deliver maximum performance in VDI environments through protocols along the lines of Blast Extreme, PCoIP, RDP, HDX, HDX Premium, and HDX 3D Pro.
The question is: how does this match against Windows 10 IoT Enterprise Thin Clients? Let’s find out.
A Look Into Windows 10 IoT
Windows 10 IoT comes from the Windows 10 team that introduces world-class security, performance, and manageability to the IoT. Its primary objective is to assist companies in building their family of Internet of Things with protected devices. Administrators can then quickly provision, easily manage, and effortlessly connect these to a cloud strategy.
You may recall accounts of ATMs and similar devices running Windows XP in need of serious updating due to vulnerabilities to network or local access attacks. The result was a stripped-down version of the Windows OS with the ability to function well on average hardware, run a single use case scenario, or both. Take two common examples into account. Retailers often use this specific OS for POS (point-of-sale) systems and manufacturers may utilize it for simple prototype devices. It is important to note, though, that Windows IoT is not a rebranded edition of Windows formulated to get the most out of the Internet of Things. It also goes beyond serving the interests of large companies as we shall see in its variations; Enterprise and Core.
Devices which can only accommodate a single app or are assigned for a sole purpose are known as single app devices. The second category includes multi-app devices that are compact but run different apps. This points to two forms of IoT operating systems that facilitate one or more apps, as will be discussed below.
Windows 10 IoT Core
This OS is suitable for building a single or dedicated app. The devices either have or do not have any display. Although a display is needed throughout programming, employees do not necessarily require it except if their work involves viewing data. Primarily, it runs one Universal Windows Program (UWP) and different background processes to deliver information to the core app which the device was designed for. As a result, it only consists of the Windows 10 IoT OS.
Another factor is that IoT Core possibly runs on both ARM and non-ARM devices and compatibility with ARM enables you to run this version on basic, low-cost boards like Raspberry Pi. This is a good choice for both solo projects or experts in the manufacturing sector. Take the example of Microsoft demonstrating a Raspberry Pi 2 Robot which interacted with holograms using Windows 10 IoT Core. All one needs is the necessary resources to download and get started with IoT Core for personal use. This comes with a free license.
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
This includes both the IoT and the complete Enterprise versions. It enables specific parts of the main OS to be fixed in smart devices which then allows multiple apps to be run simultaneously. Basically, what we have here is a mix of Windows 10 IoTE and Windows 10 Enterprise OS.
The Enterprise flavor is primarily Windows 10 Enterprise equipped with additional lockdown controls which perform functions like getting Windows to display one kiosk app. In this scenario, service access is not meant for average users, although Windows will continue to run in the background. Consider a situation where one approaches a check-in kiosk and sees that the app has crashed, with Windows 10 in view. This is where IoT Enterprise comes in.
Like Windows 10 Enterprise, one cannot purchase IoT Enterprise in a store. Microsoft distributes licenses through OEM agreements and resale partners and companies receive its full power benefits in their workloads.
Why Choose Windows 10 IoT Enterprise on Thin Clients?
We now know that Windows 10 IoT relies on Windows’ years of expertise with embedded devices. This is exactly what makes the OS an ideal platform for powerful Thin Client computing technology. Industries such as finance, education, healthcare, government, and military have been quick to realize its benefits in VDI initiatives. Let’s examine them next.
Great User Experience
The platform comes with Windows Shell and modern lockdown controls like Custom Logon, UWF, Shell Launcher, and Boost Experience. The Thin Client endpoint is locked down to a definite set of applications through Shell Launcher and Assigned Access. Through Shell Launcher, admins can facilitate a UI similar to one generally associated with Thin Client devices. This friendly UI delivers the simplicity of logging into VDI desktops minus the anxiety of managing a local OS.
To deliver business transformation, ClearCube Thin Clients supporting Windows 10 IoT allows users to access all types of cloud environments and virtual workspaces with remarkable versatility and flexibility.
Robust Device Security
The solution eliminates the need to integrate different cloud and security technologies from multiple vendors. Instead, one receives a variety of benefits such as Azure IoT integration and pre-included security features. This means that the level of protection against malware, cyber-attacks, and unauthorized access in a Windows 10 IoT Thin Client environment is unrivaled. The system also integrates a Unified Write Filter (UWF) that safeguards standard writable storage media by stopping unwelcome write attempts. Once UWF-enabled, the administrators can restart the system from its pre-configured state for blazing boot speeds.
Moreover, ClearCube Thin Clients come with TPM encryption to thoroughly secure hardware through integrated cryptographic keys. Device policies are locked down to regulate the device so that it is only utilized for its defined purpose. Additional authentication management efficiencies and the latest threat protection solutions further prevent users from pressing certain keys or entering specific combinations that could expose important data.
Windows 10 Enterprise utilizes industry standards for enhanced connectivity and compatibility with other devices. This covers everything from workplace printers to specialist hardware including cash drawers and barcode scanners. The process of connecting and managing a device then becomes a hassle-free process. Furthermore, integrated support for Azure Active Directory and traditional domains simplifies connection to WANs, LANs, and cloud-based networks.
Why ClearCube Windows 10 IoT Enterprise Thin Clients?
As a leading computer systems manufacturer, ClearCube presents a wide range of innovative solutions that take endpoint performance to the next level. Let’s have a look.
EndPoint Manager Software
ClearCube® EPM uses cutting-edge technology to offer real-time computational performance metrics and analytics that guide decision-making processes and manage workloads effectively in Windows 10 IoT Thin Client environments.
EndPoint Manager’s comprehensive dashboard enables IT to configure, monitor and control multiple Thin Clients from a single console. The platform boosts security and efficiency and ensures high availability of endpoint deployments in time and mission-critical scenarios. It helps achieve real-time transparency over every device in deployment and maximizes communication capacity by organizing information flow between individual clients. Other capabilities that guarantee true performance include, but are not limited to:
- Multiple profile management for device groups
- Endpoint and server connections management
- Complete imaging of Thin Clients.
- Pre-boot OS authentication with enterprise-grade security protocols.
Sentral Management Suite
Sentral is known as the most extensive management software for centralized computing and virtual desktop deployments. This platform enables any client device to connect with backend components for a robust IT experience. It integrates two integral features: Connection Brokering and Element Manager. For this specific discussion, we shall look into the former and how it complements our Windows 10 IoT Thin Clients.
The Connection Broker delivers high availability support for Windows and Linux-based physical and virtual sessions. It maps connection routes from Thin Clients and Zero clients through network switches to host Windows and Linux-based virtual sessions or Blade PCs. One can create a specific browser-focused client which configures multiple broker connections including Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware. The option to configure a device with unique applications or settings for a specific business is also available.
Overall, Sentral assists in simplifying ClearCube Thin Client configurations with Windows 10 IoT by facilitating a controlled and specialized experience with improved security and manageability. It also makes for an intelligent management platform with a single-pane-of-glass, total control ability that covers thousands of endpoint devices.
Clearly, although Windows has the edge over Linux in most scenarios, what one opts for ultimately depends on their unique business needs. In any case, one should focus on centralized management for a successful Thin Client rollout initiative. For further details, please get in touch with a ClearCube specialist today.