Thin Clients easy? Try to find one!

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During one of my latest projects I was helping my customer with choosing a new Thin Client vendor and model. Only those of you who have been asked such a question and did proper research know that this may sound easy but in reality is a pain in the butt!

It sounds so easy, especially when you’re connecting to a Citrix backend because of the all new fantastic HDX System-On-A-Chip (SOC) models being released.

Let’s start with the HDX SOC which was supposed to be great and is marketed as a redirect everything device, which it isn’t.
The first problem is that finding a “true” Citrix HDX SOC device is hard because some vendors market their devices as a HDX optimized SOC, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the actual HDX SOC released by Citrix. So the first step is make absolutely sure it is the real deal, how I don’t know because the vendor sales and marketing teams have no clue what they are talking about.

When I finally found a true HDX SOC device, the HP T410, I was immediately unimpressed with the interface, the lack of a manual and configuration options. After that I found there actually is no redirection what so ever for Video, I tried flash, mpeg, avi etc. but it just won’t redirect content. I really don’t know whom to blame here, HP admitted it won’t while Citrix said it should. What it does tell us is that this just isn’t very mature technology yet.

The next step was to find a suitable device which is capable of delivering a true as-local experience with audio / HD Video and webcam support for Real time communications.

With so many vendors and models out there this proved to be hard because of all the marketing jibber jabber. I really wasn’t able to find a single vendor who was telling a true story; of course they don’t lie (it’s marketing)! They make up silly statements about HDX Flash optimized and HDX Ready, which tells us nothing.

I decided to take on another path of finding out which Citrix receivers offer the required features for my customer.  I found out that I needed either the Windows or Linux receiver Knowing this I checked the requirements for the receivers (OS version, Linux distro etc.).

After putting it all together I rechecked the vendor websites and was able to do a better selection of devices which should be suitable and ordered these as test models.

 Please remember I wasn’t the one saying Thin Clients are easy.

After performing a lot of testing and running into hardware failures, stability issues et cetera I ended up with a HP T510 HP ThinPro Linux based Thin Client, which is capable of redirecting HD 1080P Video (yes also flash) and supports dual monitor up to full HD per monitor. The T510, although ugly, is a great device capable of running some serious HD content and is priced somewhere in between a Zero Client and full blown fat clients which makes it fit right in the middle where it should be.

Wrap up

 This article is about my journey on finding a proper Thin Client device and what I ran into just to help consultants and customers who are trying to find a proper Thin Client.

       The most important advice is that you should really test drive different vendors and models and make sure it delivers

I’m not going to name and shame vendors and models because this article is not focused on them. It would be great to create a true comparison chart but I really don’t have the time and resources to build it right now.

This article is not about the FAT Client ThinKiosk vs Thin Client discussion. Please check a blog article by Kees Baggerman if you would like to know more about that. Citrix: Is there a future for thin clients?

Please let us know your experiences so we can help others on the journey to choosing the right Thin Client.

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  1. GregaGrega04-04-2013

    Hi Barry,

    When discussing Thin and Zero client, just maybe one info. Zero clients (SoC) are usually build on processors that cannot render Flash. Reason – Adobe has no support for Flashon ARM and similar processors. Other multimedia should be supported as long as there are codes burned into firmware. For example Wyse Xenith and nComputing N500 support variety of codes and you can really tell that redirection IS working.

    Receiver for Linux has support for Flash as for majority of other codecs – that’s why you got better results on true Linux Thin Client…

    So usually there’s no right or wrong general answers. As it’s very common in virtualization world – it depends on user’s needs. And as you already discovered – be careful about marketing!!! 🙂

    Cheers and thumbs up for your blog!

  2. DubocDuboc01-17-2013


    Could I connect the Linux ThinPro to a Netscaler VPX environment using Access Gateway + Storefront?

    • Dane YoungDane Young01-17-2013


      Unfortunately I have not tested this, so I am not sure if this will work.


    • Barry SchifferBarry Schiffer01-21-2013

      I don’t see any reason why not, storefront is html and when you click on an app/desktop it will send a launch.ica file just like the WI would.

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