Thin Client Configuration Guide

You have decided to adopt virtual desktop solutions and now have an important decision to make. How do you connect to VDI?

There are five options to choose from, and we shall explore each briefly. 

Thin Client

This compact, flexible, and low-cost device is very popular because of the many business benefits it brings. These include, but are not limited to: centralized processing, improved security, less downtime, cost savings from reduced energy usage, and simplified user desktop backup efficiencies. 

According to Financial Planning, a research publication by Verified Market Research reveals that the international Thin Client market was estimated at 1.15 billion USD in 2018. This figure is expected to reach 1.32 billion USD by 2026, indicating a CAGR of 1.73% from 2019 to 2026.   

Zero Client 

The powerful and versatile Zero Client involves minimal maintenance and is equipped with a processor designed for a VDI protocol, such as PCoIP. Decoding and display processes mainly take place in dedicated hardware, and a high-performance Zero Client device is capable of booting up in seconds. Also, updates on this endpoint are few and far between, unless there is a BIOS version update or an enhancement to the virtualization protocol. 

PC

Using a PC to connect to VDI requires a local OS, anti-virus, and other local software. This method does not decrease the premise-based hardware which IT must maintain and troubleshoot. In this situation, the most effective way to achieve all the benefits of VDI is to opt for PC repurposing software. ClearCube’s Cloud Desktop OS allows businesses to upgrade their IT resources to a virtualized environment by transforming hardware devices like PCs and laptops into Thin Client terminals. Connecting these terminals to backend systems or remote computers delivers all the features and functionalities of full-fledged VDI setups.

Phones/Tablets

Phones and tablets with dynamic configurations offer performance along the lines of full desktop PCs. Even this, users may have to face IT anxiety as a result of limited output efficiencies, such as lack of simple mouse support. 

Laptops

You can use Chromebooks or laptops with docking stations to connect to your virtual environment. However, doing so may involve extra power consumption and system maintenance. Moreover, the possibility of limited multi-monitor support is always there. 

Owing to its flexibility, a Thin Client computer is your best bet if you wish to support your virtual workspace seamlessly. So, let’s move on to the basics of setting up an environment backed by this endpoint. 

Preparation 

  1. Select the OS for your server.

Administrators commonly use Linux or Windows on the server. 

  1. Buy a server equipped with the memory, processor speed, and hard drive capacity required to run your Thin Client workstations.
  2. Make a list of the software, programs, and applications that employees using the workstations require. 

This includes word processing programs, spreadsheets, email, and general applications. Next, confirm that your software is updated, and you have the necessary software licenses. 

Point of interest: the email program Evolution is associated with Linux. 

  1. Build a test network by establishing a connection between the server and one or more Thin Client devices

Check that the server is performing as expected and install it alongside the workstations into a working Linux or Windows environment. 

Thin Client installed Linux’ is a topic which users often talk about, so let’s look into this first. 

Linux

  1. Install the OS on the server. 
  2. Install the terminal server software on the server and any other necessary software programs. 

These typically consist of OpenOffice, presentation software suite, spreadsheet, and a word processor similar to Microsoft Office. 

Point of interest: Samba is the standard Windows interoperability suite of programs that facilitate fast and secure file and print services for clients in Linux environments. It also allows file sharing with Microsoft servers. 

Windows 

  1. Install Windows Server 2008 and Windows Terminal Server onto the server. 
  2. Install Microsoft Platform Builder on the server. 
  3. Launch the Platform Builder and carefully follow the installation guide. 
  4. Install any applications that you need for your workstations. Common examples include Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel. 

Configuring The Network 

  1. Choose a firewall to secure the server against virus attacks, malware, and hacking attempts on the Internet. 
  2. Select a switch which connects the server to each client. 
  3. Connect the firewall to the internet and switch to the firewall.
  4. Use 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet cables to connect the server and workstations to the switch.  

Thin Client Windows 10 Licensing And Requirements

This is a commonly asked question on many IT forums. To address it, let’s imagine that a company with 100 users is considering using Thin Client devices for some basic tasks. If we look at what is needed, the following is an approximate checklist: 

  1. 6 Windows Server 2008R2 (Standard with no virtualization).
  2. 100 RDS User CALs
  3. 100 Windows Server User CALs
  4. 100 Office Standard licenses in a scenario where the 100 employees do not share devices.
  5. OS: 100 VDA subscriptions if the business is using the server OS and not serving up a virtual instance of the Windows Desktop OS. 

Setting up the Raspberry Pi as a Windows Thin Client 

This is an interesting proposition because many businesses look forward to the possibility of running Windows on Raspberry Pi Thin Client computers. Realistically, while this may not happen anytime soon, configuring a Windows PC as a server enables you to create a VDI session. You can then access this session with a Raspberry Pi device. 

Next, make a checklist of the following items:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
  • Formatted, blank microSD card
  • Windows computer
  • Keyboard, mouse, and monitor
  • PC that runs Windows 10 Pro or a version that supports terminal services. Note that you can also opt for Windows Server 2016. 
  • WTware, a Thin Client OS which creates connections to Windows RDS. The software works with Raspberry Pi 2, 3 (with WiFi onboard) and Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. 

Point of interest: You can power WTware from embedded monitor USB-hub and the software boots by network or an SD-card with available support from the Raspberry Pi’s PXE function. Once installed, users receive a Windows Terminal Server experience with desktop applications that run in a persistent session. 

Note that WTware provides just enough performance for regular office tasks. It enables booting from local media for the Raspberry Pi and is compatible with standard RDP servers. The OS integrates support for local hardware like smartcard authenticators and printers.

How to Install WTware on Raspberry Pi and in Windows?

Double-click to install the WTware installer on Windows. You can only do this once the installer has been downloaded. Then, place the Raspberry Pi’s microSD card in the Windows PC. If the card appears unformatted, simply download and then run the SD Card Formatter. Choose the card and apply Quick Format. Make sure to look into the CHS adjustment box that specifies the format size before clicking Format.

From the Start menu, click the WTware Configurator to run. This is a graphical interface that manages terminal configuration files and changes terminal settings. Select the SD Boot Card For Raspberry Pi icon that appears in the menu. Confirm that you have selected the right disk letter for the SD card and click Next

You are given two possible booting options:

Local: the Thin Client OS files are booted from the SD card.

Network: the SD card is configured for network boot on the Raspberry Pi and 3 models. For the Raspberry Pi 3, you can also configure a single boot from the SD card. This action programs the device to boot without the SD card later. 

How To Configure the Raspberry Pi’s Network Settings?

Begin by clicking Next to move to the Network tab. From there, specify a static IP for the Raspberry Pi or go for a DHCP server-assigned IP address. If you bring Wi-Fi into the picture, select the Workover Wi-Fi checkbox. 

Click Next and choose the configuration you want. Again, click Next and check the box to save parameters into an optional text file known as config.txt. This enables you to make changes to the Raspberry Pi’s configuration at some other point in time. Doing so also displays a screen where you can set the preferred resolution. Finally, click Next to set a Password to enter the terminal setup menu, and click Write to initiate installation. 

Raspberry Pi Configuration 

Eject and insert the media in the powered-off Raspberry Pi once the image is written to the microSD card. Power up the endpoint to boot it into the terminal management screen. Use the Network media option where you will be prompted to choose between Ethernet and WiFi (Wireless). Once done, set the wireless network and ensure that the configuration file is ready. Otherwise, you must revisit the Configurator, select the appropriate terminal according to the MAC address, and click the file to create an empty individual configuration.

You can now log into the RDP virtual desktop session to use Windows and the apps installed on the Raspberry Pi. 

Final Remarks 

Companies can easily set up, install, and configure Thin Client devices without involving a dedicated IT department. Even then, you should only do this with the help of an experienced vendor so that your business does not experience any issues along the way. 

For more details, please contact the ClearCube team.

Contact Us
Contact Us