bortbox
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Contributor

Thin client Setups... HOW!?

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Dear VMware community,

Please excuse this post if it has been answered elsewhere (just a link to where it has been answered would suffice), but I can't figure this out for the life of me.

First, let me mention where my small media/production company uses VMware products.

Right now, we have a small collection of IBM servers, all running (2x) quad core Xeons, 16GB of RAM, and attached to Promise vTraks via iSCSI. They all run ESX 3.5 and have various guest machines that host our email system, web server, and a dozen other specialized servers that run mostly proprietary application essential to production.

We will soon be retiring these machines for newer / faster ones, and I would like to use them to host desktops for the administrative staff.

I have read several white papers extolling the benefits and successes of using VMware to deliver desktop environments throughout hospitals etc. How are they doing it? All the articles are very weak on technical details, and all the performance details from VMware are all benchmarks, and no architecture.

  • 1) What software is used on the server side? I am assuming it is ESX 3.5 on one server, and then another machine manages, distributes, and secures sessions. Is this right?

  • 2) What are people using on the thin-client side? If I have to use normal PCs with Windows XP to then load up the guest OS, than the only benefit of using the VMware solution is management, which is not very compelling as a solution.

What I am really trying to do is minimize the cost of deploying 20 desktops throughout our office, and a low-cost thin client solution is very attractive. Using VMware is prefered because I would like to offer different OSes to each staff member as Linux / Open Office would work fine for %70 of the clients, and XP for the other %30. I also want each staff member to have their "own" environment.

I am not asking for a full consultation as this is something I would expect someone to charge for (and I truly believe in paid consultants), however maybe there is a white-paper that is pretty detailed that I would be able to base a test environment on, so then I could present the idea to others in the company.

Thanks!

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mreferre
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I thought you wanted to provide Linux virtual desktops to thin clients ... not Windows virtual desktops to Linux clients of some sort.

Yes Linux does support client-side RDP.

Virtualization is a journey so that project is always work in progress (as it is more for many virtual infrastructures)

Massimo.

Massimo Re Ferre' VMware vCloud Architect twitter.com/mreferre www.it20.info

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mreferre
Champion
Champion

Hi bortbox.

How about this? http://www.it20.info/misc/vdiprojectsample.htm

It's a project I have been working on (on and off). You won't see any Linux discussion.... that might be tricky and would require a full document for itself.... (bottom line is that you have to choose an alternative protocol than RDP and you need to make sure your broker supports that - luckily Leostream supports most of the protocols).

Massimo.

Massimo Re Ferre' VMware vCloud Architect twitter.com/mreferre www.it20.info
bortbox
Contributor
Contributor

I won't have time for a while to read through the whole page, but I plan on soaking in every word (and I'm embarrassingly dislexic, this is going to take me a while). With just quick glance, I can already tell that there is much of what I need to know in there.

Since the post, I have started to whittle down the information a little. From some quick experimentation with Windows Terminal Services, I can tell you that Linux does support RDP, and I am know enough to build a lightweight distro that would get a terminal up the point of accessing an RDP server.

I have also found documentation for thin client compatibility with VDI, although I haven't completely grasped VDI yet.

I am going to start pouring over your info to see what was done to hand a computer a desktop.

Is this project :"finished" or is there any more discovery on your plate.

Thanks for the reply!

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williambishop
Expert
Expert

Why build a disro, you need to look up thinstation, you can point and click to create a linux client that can turn any pc into a thin client.

Ita feri ut se mori sentiat
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TomHowarth
Leadership
Leadership

For the sake of being fair. so now does Quest, there vWorkspace 6 product supports a suppisingly large mumber of remote protocols

If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or correct buttons to award points

Tom Howarth

VMware Communities User Moderator

Blog: www.planetvm.net

Tom Howarth VCP / VCAP / vExpert
VMware Communities User Moderator
Blog: http://www.planetvm.net
Contributing author on VMware vSphere and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing ESX and the Virtual Environment
Contributing author on VCP VMware Certified Professional on VSphere 4 Study Guide: Exam VCP-410
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mreferre
Champion
Champion

I thought you wanted to provide Linux virtual desktops to thin clients ... not Windows virtual desktops to Linux clients of some sort.

Yes Linux does support client-side RDP.

Virtualization is a journey so that project is always work in progress (as it is more for many virtual infrastructures)

Massimo.

Massimo Re Ferre' VMware vCloud Architect twitter.com/mreferre www.it20.info
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bortbox
Contributor
Contributor

Alright, I want to first say Massimo is awesome. That link was fantastic! I am awarding more points that I originally did if I am allowed to do so.

____________________

So, I see where my confusion is. People are just making vanilla RDP connections to ESX 3.5 VMs, and the connection broker just negotiates the log-in.

This simplifies everything.... except now I am a little disappointed. I was under the impression that VMware had a different transport protocol that was then translated to RDP by the connection broker; thereby providing me with something a little more efficient. If you can't tell by now, I don't care for RDP as I think the industry has outgrown it.

Does VMware have their own implementation of the RDP protocol that is more robust? The performance is an issue as my users are a little bit more demanding than the Office / Email suite. Many of them will need access to USB scanners (I know there is limited USB support over RDP has VMware improved this somehow?), and I have no problem with my admins watching Hulu or something during down time, but the A/V and sync issues I have experienced through previous RDP implementations was less than acceptable.

I am not talking about heavy multimedia, but that is the business I am in and it would be a shame if the staff couldn't even view our own online content.

Can anyone speak to their experiences towards providing desktops through thin clients that satisfied the needs of users as described, or am I just asking too much from the current state of the industry?

Thanks for all the help!

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williambishop
Expert
Expert

To allay your fears, the newest RDP protocol from Microsoft is an improvement, but there are numerous third party protocols in development, including one that is partnering with VMware that looks amazing....You can currently do other things, but the future is a lot better looking.

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bortbox
Contributor
Contributor

Does anyone have a link to a document detailing the changes in RDP per version. I am looking at a number of Thin Clients and they all conform to different RDP versions. Maybe one of them solves some of my problems.

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K-MaC
Expert
Expert

Hey William, I assume that the partnership you are refering to is VMware/Teradici?

http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/teradici_vmworld08.html

Cheers

Kevin

Cheers Kevin
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williambishop
Expert
Expert

Yeppers.

Ita feri ut se mori sentiat
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bortbox
Contributor
Contributor

Ok, I looked over Teradici's technology, and this solution seems a little unnecessary. I hope the project that they are collaborating with VMware doesn't require special hardware on both the server and client side.

It looks like the Sun Ray 2 does multimedia pretty well, and although I haven't evaluated it myself, I plan to. I have NO idea why Teradici's products require specialty / proprietary ICs when dealing with multi-media over a thin client setup, ESPECIALLY on the server end, since:

  • 1) Generic ICs that handle MPEG / MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 (AVC, etc) are a dime a dozen these days - Think: blu-ray players, cell phones, PMP devices, low power graphic chipsets with said features

  • 2) If any sort of "encoding on the fly" needs to be done, than there are a number of options that are a little less proprietary. One is using off the shelf GPUs for this sort of thing. We use NVidia GPUs on rendering servers that have no other purpose than encoder off-loading.

  • 3) All you would need to do is develop windows / linux codecs that deliver the raw streams to your client device's chipset instead of decoding the streams server side. I could work out an acceptable method of doing this on paper in a day, and if you let me use VFW instead of direct draw, I could write the software layer for this in a couple of weeks. A good DirectDraw developer could probably do the same.

I am primarily a hardware guy, but if anyone at VMware is listening, I would be happy to help with a scheme that would work very well for delivering multi-media from VM machines to terminals as long as that part of the solution could be kept open source to maximize adoption across multiple client providers. Bi-directional sound would be a little hairy, and you might need specialty hardware on the server side, but wouldn't guess that the market isn't as thirsty for that feature (maybe I am wrong, I could see the demand for VOIP being very attractive for call centers).

I hear RDP 7 handles all of these problems / features but is limited to Vista and W7 (ugh).

Anyone else out there have any solutions they are currently using?

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MikaA
Contributor
Contributor

I like the Sun Ray concept as well. We made a small installation last year and since the clients are completely dumb we can use the ones we have from almost 10 years ago if we want/need to. Multimedia is good enough and "our guy" says it's getting even better in the next few months.

Yes, I'm sure you can get better multimedia experience with some other solutions but you have to ask yourself whether it's worth the extra money.

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KellyOlivier
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

All of my thinc client experience is with Sun Rays. I used to work at a company that specialized in virtualization solutions, and we dealt with a lot of sun products. I like the Sun ray a lot. We used an in house connection broker with a selector GUI for the VM's, but now I see that sun rays are on teh HCL for View. Not sure how that works as the sun rays are managed by a package run on Solaris or Linux, but I would be interested to find out. The Sun rays are great though. The session mobility features with smart cards were one of the coolest features. Mike A is right about using old ones. I bought one on ebay for like 30 bucks for my home lab. They last forever and are only 300 bucks new. We used them for employee systems...however I remember playing youtube videos was a little choppy.

Thin clients are the way to go though. Congrats for checking them, and don't let them frustrate you. Once you understand the concepts, virtualizing the desktop just fits with the rest of what you ahve already done. If theres anything I have learned in IT though, there is no one stop desktop;-)

-kjo

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