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Thin v. thick

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dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20

I wonder what you think of thin v. thick clients, on which side are you?

I see that thick client have a place where networking and the internet have poor speeds and reliability, but I think with the growth of the internet and networking inferstructure there will be a trend towards thin clients.

dylunio

Edit: Fixed link

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

The only URL I could find was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin_client at Wikipedia.

Eventually corps will wise up and go thin. There are just too many security standards being introduced in legislations across the planet right now, requiring everything to be locked up and the data to be more secure. Thick clients just don't cut the muster. Plus, administration is getting harder and harder and harder and harder. I just can't take it anymore. These security audits are tough. They'll have no choice but to switch systems to thin in many companies.

Even at home, thin makes sense. A PC in every room for $100? You bet. Put a rack in your personal office and put a thin client PC in each kid's bedroom, your spouse's personal office, your kitchen, your parents room, whatever. Get the thin clients off ebay for cheap. If they absolutely insist on Windows, connect them to Windows Terminal Services running in Xen on Ubuntu Server. (However, persuade them to run Ubuntu desktop or Novell desktop, if you want my opinion.) Oh, and if you want to transition people easier to Linux, start them on Windows with OpenOffice, explaining that it costs too much money to purchase MS Office every 2 years. Once they get used to that and appreciate the cost savings, it's a lot easier to suggest that they try Linux and have less lockups and viruses.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

I can see the benefit of thin clients in an increasingly networked world through high speed connections. However, I think it will take a good deal of time before thin client computing in majority of people's homes kicks in, at least when it comes to the thin client to internet relationship.

While broadband usage continues to increase, not everyone has cheap high speed enough or stable enough connections to be able to completely rely on that connection for their everyday computing.

However, what supermike describes is something practically everyone could do already. It is a "thin client to home network" relationship where the home network doesn't necessarily have to be connected to the internet 100% of the time and on a great speed for the whole thin clients game to work. It can connect on demand instead, saving costs for those who still don't have cheap high speed internet available.

That said I don't think thick clients are going away. Alot of ordinary people will still prefer to have a powerful PC with all the software they need locally instead of dependable on the network availability.

Also, there are certain concerns to consider regarding the world of thin client computing. In a "thin client to internet" relationship most software is on a central server. We have technical concerns to consider such as bandwidth and wether the central server has enough processing power to sustain so many connections and processes it has to do at the same time. And we have ethical concerns regarding companies that would build and own these central servers providing a certain service to users. Since the software on those servers is on their computer and therefore primarily under their control, does it mean it is proprietary? Can they monopolize on it somehow?

Free Software principles apply to these "client to server" relationships too. As long as the software is being used by many users, that software should be Free Software.

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Joined: 2005-12-20

I would say thin clients, but that is the only type i have used, so i am biased. Although, i wasn't that happy with them anyways

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

Thin client + remote server can easily get you the same kind of monopoly as cable tv. Think once about the cable companies with their "channel packages", and you know this is BAD. (each package contains a few interesting channels and lots of filler junk, so if you want all the interesting channels, you have to subscribe to ALL channels).

Of course everyone can set up their own client/server company, but the cable&telephony companies will always win because their services are faster simply because there is less network between the client and the server.

But thin clients in every room, connected to your own home server (which you can replace by a new faster one simply by moving an ethernet plug)... that's just awesome!

free-zombie's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-08

If you, or your company/friend/family member controlls the server, there are no problems. for most tasks, it is good. Except for games (need graphics and power well-connected...) and Windows (too PC-fixated. Terminal server is $$$)

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
"tbuitenh" wrote:

Thin client + remote server can easily get you the same kind of monopoly as cable tv. Think once about the cable companies with their "channel packages", and you know this is BAD. (each package contains a few interesting channels and lots of filler junk, so if you want all the interesting channels, you have to subscribe to ALL channels).

That's pretty much what I'm afraid of. And what US telcos are trying to do just reinforces that concern. They want to provide faster permium connections to content providers (websites) that pay them. The consequence would be pushing small (that is not so rich) websites aside and emphasizing the paying ones (regardless of the quality of their content). You pretty much get the kind of thing we have with cable TV.

As an end user you can still choose to surf other sites (ones that don't pay for premium traffic), but you're not guaranteed to actually get to them if your peer is using up the bandwidth for a paying service. You can easily see "no available bandwidth at this time" messages trying to visit some sites and of course, owners of those sites who'd loose traffic this way and be increasingly squeezed out by those who can pay will eventually just close their site off. And that's the kind of thing that ruins the whole sense of internet. And eventually these telcos would own the biggest central server to which you'd be practically compelled to connect and use.

We ought to keep our eyes open.

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