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Linux thin clients add virtualization

Jun 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Igel Technology announced that firmware for all nine of its Linux-based thin clients models has been upgraded to support the Citrix XenDesktop Appliance virtualization technology. The upgrade also includes support for several dictation and speech recognition technologies.

(Click for larger view of Igel Proscribe thin client)

Desktop virtualization technologies like XenDesktop use hypervisors to divvy up the physical resources of central servers, creating a virtual machine (VM) for each user. A separate instance of an OS — usually Windows XP — exists for each user, whose thin client is then connected to it via compressed network computing protocols like Citrix's ICA (independent computing architecture) or Microsoft's RDP (remote desktop protocol). Compared to traditional network computing architectures, virtualization enables a more desktop-like personalization, its proponents claim, while still enabling centralized administration.

Like Linux thin client vendors Wyse and Neoware, Igel has been adding support for virtualization technologies as an alternative to the traditional imaging technique for delivering Windows desktops to thin clients. Last year, for example, Igel upgraded its Linux thin-client firmware to support VMware's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Citrix began shipping its XenDesktop technology in May, after acquiring hypervisor vendor XenSource. The product combines the Xen hypervisor with Citrix's ICA protocol, to deliver virtualized Windows desktops to thin clients running Linux, Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, and other operating systems (OSes). XenDesktop dynamically assembles a “pristine, high-performing desktop,” with personalized applications and settings, every time a user logs on, says Citrix.

Citrix's XenDesktop in action
(Click to enlarge)

According to Citrix, applications are delivered “only as needed and in the most appropriate way as isolated, de-coupled elements on top of the standard core operating system.” Citrix also claims that its virtual desktops provide users with an “instant on” experience and can be accessed remotely via low-bandwidth or high-latency WAN connections when necessary, due to the efficiency of ICA protocol.

New speech dictation features

Igel's latest Linux firmware upgrade also includes dictation support for Kuhlmann MBS-easy (which is based on Philips SpeechMagic technology) with Phillips SpeechMike mics. The support also extends to Grundig DigtaSoft Pro technology used with Grundig Dictation Mics.

Both solutions can be used in combination with applications being delivered to the desktop using the Citrix ICA protocol, says Igel. The dictation technology is targeted at the healthcare and legal sectors, where it will enable digitally captured recordings and text to be attached directly to patient and client files, says Igel. Earlier this year, Igel announced it was incorporating Philips SpeechMagic technology into its clients, although initially was bundling it only with a Windows-based tablet model.


The Igel Linux thin client firmware upgrade with XenDesktop and dictation support will be available with all new compatible thin client models, says Igel, and can be downloaded for free starting June 18th.

Igel's nine Linux-based thin clients which include the Proscribe model pictured above span a variety of desktop designs, PC upgrade cards, 19-inch LCD integrated units, and quad-screen units. Managed centrally by Igel Remote Management Suite software, the devices can now be upgraded to XenDesktop via a single click, Igel boasts.

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