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IBM announces new Linux-based thin client offerings

Aug 15, 2000 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

LinuxWorld — (press release) — IBM announced today two new Linux offerings for its NetVista thin clients that enable businesses to combine the inherent security, systems manageability and low cost of ownership of IBM thin clients with the flexibility and widespread application support of Linux. To date, no other thin client vendor has offered as comprehensive or flexible an offering.

The new offerings include:

  • TurboLinux 6.1 for IBM NetVista Thin Clients
  • IBM NetVista Thin Client for Linux N2200l
With this first set of Linux offerings, IBM has partnered with TurboLinux because of the extensive language support and robust system management features offered by TurboLinux 6.1. IBM already works with RedHat, Caldera, and SuSE on Linux offerings, and expects to partner with them on other Thin Client projects.

How the Solution Works

The new Thin Client Linux offerings provide businesses with a choice. TurboLinux 6.1 for IBM NetVista Thin Clients gives businesses the highest degree of customization available, allowing them to install and tailor their own configurations on Linux-, Windows 2000 and NT 4.0-based servers. This solution also allows businesses to customize applications for a specific thin client, using local flash memory.

Businesses that need to deploy thin clients simply and easily, needing only to access Windows, browser, or server-based applications, can deploy the NetVista N2200l thin client already pre-configured. This solution is easily installed, out of the box, with software based on TurboLinux 6.1.

IBM installation and advanced manageability tools designed to remotely manage Linux-based thin clients will be included through a set of CDs provided with these offerings.

Linux-Based IBM Thin Clients at Work

Over the past several months, IBM has worked closely with several organizations to develop new Linux-based thin client computing environments. One such customer is a national employment agency in Europe. To strengthen its business processes, the agency examined several different computing solutions and decided to implement Linux on the IBM NetVista N2200 with access to a Netscape browser and required plug-ins. IBM's Linux-based thin clients have, according to the agency, simplified the maintenance and access of kiosk-based sites to its customers. The agency's IT hotline reports that it very rarely receives emergency calls concerning thin clients.

Why Thin Client Computing?

  • A survey by IDC (story) indicates that thin clients are becoming increasingly popular. According to IDC, shipments of these devices increased a solid 90% in 1999, and in a recent IDC survey, almost 75% of respondents said thin clients are an acceptable alternative for some PC users. In fact, more than 50% of respondents have replaced PCs with thin clients.
  • The IDC survey indicates that the primary reason companies are purchasing thin clients is their reliability. The second most important factor in their decision is the ease of use, followed by performance.
  • The IDC survey also points out that the reasons why companies purchase thin clients vary by company size. Small sites (fewer than 100 employees) employ thin clients to improve their IT management practices and reduce desktop complexity. Midsize companies (100-499 employees are turning to thin clients because of the centralized control and ease of management they
    provide. Large companies (500 or more employees) purchase thin clients to lower their total cost of ownership.
Thin Client / Linux Compatibility and Appropriate Applications

Today's offerings are intended for any business that needs access to a wide and growing range of server-based applications. Such applications may be Windows-based, based on a browser, based on local applications in Linux, or Java-based on client offerings. Ideal industries include banking, large enterprises, retail — almost any business interested in using a server-based approach to information technology.

There exists a high degree of compatibility between thin clients and Linux, thanks to the server-based approach of thin client computing. Such an environment affords customers the ability to easily customize their end user environment and to take advantage of the rapid introduction of new Linux tools and applications. In particular, IBM's server-based offerings allow users to customize their solutions even further with additional functionality such as device drivers, plug-ins and latest client functions.

Technical Details

The hardware supported includes existing models of the N2800 with Ethernet or Token ring network interfaces. The N2200l is Ethernet only. The memory configuration is 64MB RAM (up to 288MB RAM), with a 16-bit audio data width. The software specifications include:

  • Netscape 4.7 with plug-ins from base distribution
  • Support for Serial and Parallel
  • ICA Client (Citrix metaframe 1.8 server) Devices
  • Local Emulator for 3270
  • Support for Keyboard and Mouse
  • JVM
  • Flash Management Tools
  • PPP/dial enablement
  • Thin Client Enablement Software
  • SNMP enablement (toolkit)
  • PAM LDAP and PAM SMB authentication
  • IBM Setup Utilities
  • Default Desktop: KDE
  • Optional Desktop: FVWM95
Further information about IBM's Netvista thin clients is available here

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