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$100 card converts old PCs into Linux thin clients

Apr 28, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Igel has released an add-in card that enables old desktop PCs to be turned into Linux thin clients on the cheap. The “Igel TC Card” costs $100 and requires a computer to have an available PCI slot and an IDE interface, the company says.

(Click here for a larger view of Igel's TC Card)

The Igel TC Card is a PCI add-in card that requires a PC using a Pentium II 500MHz or higher, says the thin client vendor. Other requirements include at least 128MB of RAM and a graphic card with at least 8MB of video RAM (16MB recommended.) To install the card, users disconnect the computer's IDE cable from the hard drive and attach it to the card, whereupon the computer will boot from Igel firmware supplied via a CompactFlash card.

The firmware holds a copy of the company's regular Igel Linux distribution, which is touted for offering the following features and support:

  • Citrix ICA
  • RDP
  • X11R6
  • VDI support
  • NoMachine NX
  • Ericom PowerTerm LTC
  • ThinPrint
  • VoIP (SIP client)
  • VPN and Cisco VPN
  • 802.11b/g drivers
  • Firefox

The $100 price includes a free copy of Igel Universal Management Suite (UMS) remote management software for Linux, says Igel. The TC Card is said to offer both a server-based computing mode and and a “one click” Virtual Desktop Appliance mode.

Daimler Chrysler opts for TC Card retrofit

According to a story in ChannelInsider, Daimler Chrysler, the former owner of almost bankrupt U.S. automaker Chrysler Holdings, recently converted 1,000 of its Dell PCs into Linux thin clients using the TC Card. With recession-hammered companies looking to cut costs, and with thin clients costing between $150 to $500 per client, many firms are looking to find ways to convert their old PCs to thin client duty, says the story.

While a converted PC doesn't offer the power-saving benefits of an embedded thin client, it does save money on maintenance compared to running the PCs with full desktop operating systems. Meanwhile, a growing number of companies, especially in Europe, are also said to be consider the carbon footprint savings derived from extending the life of older systems rather than consuming more resources buying new equipment.

In January, Igel announced five new Linux-compatible UD (“universal desktop”) thin clients that come in four different form factors, with a choice of Via Eden, C7, or AMD Sempron processors.


Igel says its Igel TC card has a $185 list price but will be available through June for $100. More information on the promotion can be found here, and technical background on the product may be found, here.

The ChannelInsider story on the Daimler Chrysler purchase may be found here.

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