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Old 18th June 2007, 13:30   #1
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Default Multi-computing from ONE computer? Any reviews on this?

Thanks to Mad Monkey for showing this - Linky. One computer provides a platform for upto 10 others to work together! Basically, the host computer serves as the "server" and multiple users can use that computer simultaneously with their own screen, keyboard and mouse. Each add-on computer costs only about Rs. 5,000.

Does anyone have any experience / inputs on this? Our office has 25 IBM's and we can save quite a packet if this solution is feasible in terms of reliability and speed.
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Old 18th June 2007, 13:45   #2
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This seems to be a viable solution if you have a very good server. I used one such product back in college with a SPARC machine ( 4 processor and 8gigs of RAM ) as server and sun thin clients as the peripheral devices. Its a good option if you have a unix/linux based system and can be extended easily to 50-60 clients provided you are on a gigabit network.

GTO sir I am not too sure if every new thin client would only cost Rs. 5000. The sun thin client we used was each around 400$ and that too when it came without any duty.
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Old 18th June 2007, 13:53   #3
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The above one is a cheap solution I agree but I have never seen these type of setup in daily use...one or two stations can work but if the number rose to a higher number the setup will have great bottle neck on the main PC end as the LAN has a limited bandwidth.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:02   #4
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This type of setup is common in corporate world.
It involves connecting a server with multiple "Thin Clients".

This type of setup is very useful wherein processing power is not needed much but many people use the server.
For example our college had a mail server connected by multiple "terminals". Since checking mail does not use much CPU, its a waste to have a full fledged computer on every desk. So one server was used, and people could do mail/browsing from 10 other "Xterms"
Even in corporate world its common.
For example most managers etc., have laptops. They can run their CPU intensive jobs on the server remotely and can also have a "VNC session" open. A server can easily support 10-15 VNC sessions.
Some history : Thin client - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

With the dawn of cheap computers, the price gap between thin clients and actual full fledged PCs has grown very small.
Thin client = Monitor+keyboard+mouse+limited processing
PC = Monitor+keyboard+mouse + Motherboard/CPU
With many econo motherboards offering in built graphics and sound, the price difference between going thin client route and a PC route is now only 3000-5000rs.
Due to this the focus is more on "distributed computing" rather than thin client approach.

Sun microsystems was a big pusher of this technology, and I have seen the "best" of these type of setups in Sun offices.
Cheaper PCs were the death knell of such technology.

Now thin clients are making a come back with virtualization technology picking up.
For example you can have a powerful server running 4-5 Virtual OS. That way you do not need to have a different PC for each development environment in the software world. Developers can connect to the OS of their choice through VNC and run CPU intensive jobs there. All other development is done on their desktops which are low power PCs. Earlier instead of these low power PCs you had thin clients, but due to the cost thing I mentioned, thin clients are really disappearing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thanks to Mad Monkey for showing this - Linky. One computer provides a platform for upto 10 others to work together! Basically, the host computer serves as the "server" and multiple users can use that computer simultaneously with their own screen, keyboard and mouse. Each add-on computer costs only about Rs. 5,000.

Does anyone have any experience / inputs on this? Our office has 25 IBM's and we can save quite a packet if this solution is feasible in terms of reliability and speed.
GTO does the 5000 price include monitor and keyboard and mouse. If so its a viable option, otherwise you can have a nice powerful expensive 4 CPU server in your office and all others can have low power low cost "PCs". Normal things email can be done on local machine. Things like database operations etc., can be done on the server.
This approach is currently being used in most companies.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 18th June 2007 at 14:05.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:04   #5
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We do save up on buying MS-Office packages for 40 workstations by using Terminal services from Windows 2k and 2003. So we buy one license and host it on a server. Clients use Remote Desktop connections to use MS-Office. That saves us 40 licenses.

EDIT: Some more info. Remote desktop comes standard with the Win2k installation package whereas it needs to be installed on Win XP workstations.

Last edited by moralfibre : 18th June 2007 at 14:08.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
We do save up on buying MS-Office packages for 40 workstations by using Terminal services from Windows 2k and 2003. So we buy one license and host it on a server. Clients use Remote Desktop connections to use MS-Office. That saves us 40 licenses.
Bingo! Biggest saver is the licensing cost. Same approach can be used even if PCs are used instead of thin clients. Cost intensive licenses are hosted on just one server and clients can connect to the server.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:12   #7
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We use citrix for remote applications. Log into the citrix server and use any of the softwares hosted there.

I'm not sure but even then you need a multi-user license as it may not allow multiple users to use the same application simultaneously.

Most of our programming is done on Linux or Sun systems which require licensed tools to run. The tools allow around 2-6 users to login simultaneously. So we use a X-client like Reflection-X to log into the Sun system and use the software.

When we want to run some CPU intensive process on a windows machine we have a dedicated windows Xeon system. We just use VNC and log into the machine to run the process.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:15   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by low_bass_makker View Post
The above one is a cheap solution I agree but I have never seen these type of setup in daily use...one or two stations can work but if the number rose to a higher number the setup will have great bottle neck on the main PC end as the LAN has a limited bandwidth.

we have 7 machines running on one simple ibm pc . think it is a 3ghz with 4 gigs ram running xp pro .

following programs are running on the thin clients

open office
microsoft office
thunderbird
tally
antivirus
and some calculations software .

best thing i feel is the ease of use .
ease of maintanance of hardware and software .

Last edited by Mad Monkey : 18th June 2007 at 14:35. Reason: cause i can
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:24   #9
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Ya these are known as ThinClients GTO. I have used them but you have to have a very powerful server.

The best thing is that everything stays on the server and you can monitor whats yers employees are doing but i dont think they will cost less that 15K...
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:35   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Does anyone have any experience / inputs on this? Our office has 25 IBM's and we can save quite a packet if this solution is feasible in terms of reliability and speed.
These solutions work however they are popular in those situations where the overhead of administering desktops is significant (yup that happens! Sometimes, managing systems is more expensive then systems themselves). If you are looking at this solution to save you significant h/w cost, then it isn't worth it considering the loss of flexibility.
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Old 18th June 2007, 17:48   #11
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Yup, thin clients (as you techies call them) have gotten much cheaper from the original days. I remember Monkey guesstimating a cost of 5000 per user. Thats not bad when you consider than an average braned PC costs 25,000! My staff only use their dual-cores for email, internet and MS office.

I would be surprised if MS havent caught up with the licensing issues on this yet. Whatever the loop hole, its still multiple users on one software. Apparently, there are tons of institutions in the US also which have adopted the ncomputing systems.

I am going for a demo one of these days, and if it looks good....you can expect a user report up soon.
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Old 18th June 2007, 17:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Yup, thin clients (as you techies call them) have gotten much cheaper from the original days. I remember Monkey guesstimating a cost of 5000 per user. Thats not bad when you consider than an average braned PC costs 25,000! My staff only use their dual-cores for email, internet and MS office.

I would be surprised if MS havent caught up with the licensing issues on this yet. Whatever the loop hole, its still multiple users on one software. Apparently, there are tons of institutions in the US also which have adopted the ncomputing systems.

I am going for a demo one of these days, and if it looks good....you can expect a user report up soon.
Also remember if the main server goes down , all the staff will be on break untill the server is fixed .

So a good back up or cluster setup is needed for the main server .
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Old 18th June 2007, 18:06   #13
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This is nothing but the rehash of dumb terminals from the 70s and 80s. GTO, often this one big server can cost lots and lots of money. As hondadude mentioned, this is more used to save OPEX (administration cost) rather than CAPEX. Having individual federated PCs like you do now is better than one big server. PCs you can upgrade on at a time, it is very cheap to do so too. But upgrading server is expensive, and it also presents single point of failure.

The idea of Network computing was Scott McNealy's biggest pipe dream. I am glad it remained so.
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Old 18th June 2007, 18:25   #14
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Actually Samu... Scott McNealy also did not dream it up from scratch. He was just trying to rehash an old idea with some garnishings. I remember when I started off years back we used to have 286-386 machines in vogue. All these machines used to be with a floppy drive at max but no hard disk. Hard Disks of even 80mb were a real costly affair in those days. So there typically used to be one 486 machine with a big (80mb) hard disk running a Novell Netware OS over DOS. Rest of the machines used to network boot on this server machine and work.

Of course it was not exactly thin client as even the remote clients used to have their own CPUs. However it came close to this concept. All the saving and retrieving used to be done on the server in everyone's allocated partition. Probably those were the Hybrid models of computing.
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Old 18th June 2007, 18:26   #15
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Who said Microsoft isn't doing anything

Microsoft researching split-screen desktop software - Engadget

This is being tested right now with multiple user input devices and multiple displays, not limited to a single display being split into two. Single computer, n video cards, 2n displays, 2n mice+kb.

In the education space, check this out...

Multimouse Makes Computer Learning a Communal Experience

Download details: Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Software Development Kit (SDK)

Last edited by reignofchaos : 18th June 2007 at 18:27.
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