We contacted two of the big Linux operating system companies and requested some minor technical help in attempting to deploy our next generation thin client solution. Neither had the resources to help, so we are moving ahead and doing the engineering and design in-house. I invite anyone with access to Gartner to read study G00140085.
I believe the mistake being made by these vendors is that they are attempting to install Linux on the personal computer, instead of putting Linux on their desktop. The Gartner study shows that there is a 48% reduction in cost on the Microsoft Windows platform by moving it from an unmanaged PC environment to a centralized design with thin clients. 1/2 the cost, and no change in functionality. Imagine then what the savings would be if companies had the option to move to thin clients *and* Linux at the same. A major part of the cost in the white paper is licenses and software products. Imagine going into companies and telling them that they could save 60-70% on computing costs. Really, trying to shake off Microsoft Windows from their personal computers just isn't enough to warrant a change for most people. It doesn't offer the major cost reductions that are found with a complete, and stable re-design. Centralized computing using thin clients really works. There shouldn't be so few of us implementing and being the voice.
With that, I have been able to make significant headway this week on getting our design goals for our scheduled early 2007 rollout of new thin clients. We are deploying HP 5725 devices, and a new 2GB flash device has become available in the last week. I installed this 'disk drive' into the case and this increased capacity made it a LOT easier to load Linux and GNOME. Many thanks to the email messages and blog responses with ideas. We are going to experiment with some other 3D video cards and also are testing AIGLX instead of XGL. I was able to get Fedora Core 6 to install and with a kernel upgrade and a few packages it was working standalone in 3D.
[ In the shot below you can see the opened case. The flash device is circled. Installed Nvidia card into expansion slot. (Go to my blog if you don't see the images) ]
At this point, it was identical as a personal computer. Everything was running on the thin client. But our design goal is to move this to the server and turn these into thin clients. So we loaded Fedora Core 6 on a computer to simulate a server and then logged in remotely with XDMCP. The server recognized the video card and performance with Beryl is mostly, excellent; even over a network! We were really amazed at how well this works, even in prototype form. We hobbled together a quick new cubecap and the shot below shows a prototype of what our users will have early next year. This increase in capability will come in around 40 dollars extra per user for the video cards, with a projected duty cycle of 10 years -- and no support at their desks. The GNOME session and 3D elements are pushed down from one big server which is then upgraded every 3-4 years for hundreds of users.
[ In the shot below, Beryl cube running over the network via remote display, with Evolution, GIMP and GoogleEarth ]
Up next, testing of other video cards for performance and ease of installation.
Beryl guys: Nice job on what is running on Fedora Core 6. Some issues that seem to need work over remote display: wobble windows and initial startup time. I hope to work with you in the near future on testing over remote display.